The online retail giant Amazon has faced criticism after reports show internal HR processes meant that staff at its warehouses were being underpaid for over a year.

Described as one of the “gravest human resources problems” at the company, a report by The New York Times details how Amazon warehouse workers were being paid less than they were entitled to due to a series of HR problems.

According to the report, a warehouse worker in Oklahoma found she was consistently being underpaid by Amazon despite reporting the issue several times.

Ms. Jones ultimately penned an email to Amazon’s founder and then-CEO, Jeff Bezos, explaining how she was “behind on bills all because the pay team messed up”, claiming she was crying as she wrote the message.

This launched an internal investigation which is said to have uncovered over 100 similar incidents at other warehouses.

The investigation allegedly found that “vulnerable people”, including new parents, workers dealing with severe medical problems and people on leave, were underpaid for at least over a year.

In addition, other staff across the US who had been facing medical problems were fired after an attendance software reportedly classed them as ‘no-shows’.

Automated telephone systems were then said to route calls to other countries, meaning that employees were left without adequate resources to contact their case managers.

It was found that staff in these countries were also not always well-versed in Amazon’s processes, allegedly giving out the wrong information to staff regarding taking leave.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, staff who wanted to return following leave found that the system was too overloaded and could not process them, meaning they lost out on several months of income.

To rectify this, Amazon stated that it is hiring hundreds of employees, streamlining systems, optimising its communications and training HR staff to show more empathy.

However, Bethany Reyes, Director in charge of Leave Services at Amazon, admitted that the wrongful terminations were “the most dire issue that you could have”.

This was confirmed by the company’s internal investigation report which described “inadequate service levels,” “deficient processes” and systems that are “prone to delay and error.”

This comes as Amazon is also set to receive a tribunal claim from law firm Leigh Day, representing Amazon delivery drivers who are currently not entitled to employee rights such as the minimum wage, sick pay and holiday pay.

Kate Robinson, a Leigh Day employment solicitor, stated:

It appears that Amazon is short-changing drivers making deliveries on their behalf.

Drivers delivering for Amazon have to work set shifts and book time off, yet Amazon claim they are self-employed.

For drivers on the other hand, earning at least National Minimum Wage, getting holiday pay and being under a proper employment contract could be life-changing,