Some Amazon employees may get $5,000-to quit

Jeff Bezos

Take this job and shove it-oh, and thanks for the $2,000.

Amazon said this week that it has started a program called Pay to Quit, in which it offers workers at its fulfillment centers between $2,000 and $5,000 to quit.

In his annual letter to shareholders, Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos said the company hopes its workers won't quit-but wants to give them the option.

"The goal is to encourage folks to take a moment and think about what they really want. In the long-run, an employee staying somewhere they don't want to be isn't healthy for the employee or the company," Bezos wrote.

The deal is offered once a year to fulfillment center staff who are employed directly by the company, an Amazon spokeswoman told NBC News in an e-mail.

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The spokeswoman said the company would not disclose how many people had taken the company up on the offer. About 40,000 people work at the company's fulfillment centers, she said.

In his letter to shareholders, Bezos said the first year the offer is made, it's for $2,000. That increases by $1,000 a year to a maximum of $5,000. The idea was invented by subsidiary Zappos.

The Seattle-based online retailing behemoth has been criticized in the past for working conditions at its warehouses.

In 2011, The Morning Call newspaper in Pennsylvania detailed conditions in which workers were pushed to work harder and harder, or face the possibility of losing the job.

In 2012, a separate Seattle Times story detailed the grueling pace at the centers, which are key to Amazon's efforts to get items to customers quickly and cheaply.

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The company said at the time that its No. 1 priority is its employees' safety and well-being.

-By CNBC's Allison Linn. Follow her on Twitter: @allisondlinn.

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