Amazon's Time Off Bots

Numerous bots on Github claim to allow Amazon workers to auto-collect voluntary time off work.
Amazon's Time Off Bots

Amazon warehouse workers are using bots to automatically and instantly claim precious time off slots before their coworkers, according to multiple Reddit posts by Amazon workers and Github pages for two of these bots viewed by 404 Media.

The Amazon workers are trying to claim voluntary time off, or VTO. VTO is separate from Amazon’s other version of time off of work, known as unpaid time or UPT, which is what makes it so valuable. Workers have a set amount of UPT, which they can use at their own discretion—but once it runs out, they can be disciplined or even lose their jobs. UPT is precious to workers, and VTO does not deduct from UPT reserves. 

“VTO is valuable because unlike UPT, we actually accumulate towards getting more UPT as opposed to using UPT and wasting it,” said one worker at a sortation warehouse in California, who asked to remain anonymous to prevent potential corporate backlash. 

When VTO is available, it is generally posted in the evening on an Amazon app used by workers to track their shifts, and the app sends a notification about the availability of VTO some moments later. The workers making the posts say, however, that by the time they’ve gotten the notification, the available VTO is gone. 

That might be because by the time workers check for VTO, another Amazon worker using a bot already snatched it up. 

Though questions about the VTO problem have increased over the last month, the problem itself is nothing new. Posts on the subreddit go back multiple years with questions about the same issue. Multiple people published VTO auto-acceptor bots to their Github pages some years ago. These bots are similar to the type of software some people use to automatically snatch up limited supplies of new gaming consoles at launch, sneakers, or other fashion items in high demand. 

“Tired of not getting VTO or VET? Well now you can get all the VTO or VET,” says the README file of one auto-acceptor for both time off and overtime hours. The bot was built using the Google Chrome TamperMonkey extension, and works by auto-refreshing the page until slots become available and automatically claiming them. 

Another auto-VTO bot created by Drake Main, who worked in inventory specification at an Amazon warehouse five years ago, is built entirely in Javascript and mimics how an actual person would interact with the interface. “I did this because I really didn't like my job,” the bot’s README file states. “It was 10 hours a day of extreme repetition of a very simple task. I took the opportunity for VTO whenever I could, but I was often not fast enough to get a slot. I decided I would automate the process.”

Main told 404 Media in an email that the process was always first come first serve. “There were always a limited number of slots and people would rush to get them as soon as it was announced,” he said. “You could claim the slots at your workstation, but you had to be pretty quick. I wrote the bot because I wanted to get a VTO slot 100% of the time it was available, which it did successfully.”

Do you know anything else about VTO bots at Amazon? I would love to hear from you. Using a non-work device, you can message me securely on Signal at +1 415 763 7705. Otherwise, send me an email at

The Reddit posts state that VTO is distributed in a somewhat random manner. An Amazon warehouse will offer VTO to its workers if a shift is particularly slow, and there’s no need for as many workers to be on the job if there aren’t as many packages to handle. Amazon lifestyle YouTuber S.B. described the policy in one video, titled “Where The VTO Go!?!,” by saying that, “You can actually leave the job for the day if the headcount is not needed, and that’s something that Amazon’s big on once it starts to slow down.” 

“Bro.. VTO,” one post on the Amazon fulfillment center subreddit reads. “How do people take VTO in .09 seconds? There is no way 3 weeks in a row on a Sunday that they take it and don’t give me a chance 😂💀 someone spill the cheat code.”

Another post asks if anybody else is having problems getting their hands on VTO or voluntary overtime hours (VET), because as soon as they get the notification, the VTO slot is already gone. “How is it that certain ppl get the notification before I do and get it filled up when I just got the notification a min ago,” the post reads. “For that many ppl to have filled up the shifts would mean said VET was posted way earlier than when I got the notification…why am I getting notifications for a shift that doesn’t exist? Any way to fix this or is this just an unfixable app glitch[?]” 

Some comments say the problem lies with a delay by the notifications. The “cheat code,” then, is waiting on the app for VTO to be posted. “People know what time they send them out so they are on the app the moment it gets dropped,” one comment reads. Another corroborates, “Yeah dude you gotta sit on the app to get things these days, I’m flex [an Amazon Flex driver] and I have to get on the app Friday at 5:58 to get the shifts I need before they’re taken when the notif goes out at 6:00.” 

“It has gotten very competitive to get [VTO],” the worker at the California warehouse said. “The times that I’ve wanted to get it, by the time I open up the app, it’s already taken. Within seconds of getting the notification. I know there’s also been times when I don’t get any notification for it, knowing it went out. I really don’t know how else can Amazon facilitate this system of distributing VTO to be honest. We have noticed trends in the times that they send out VTO, but they are always changing that though.”

An Amazon spokesperson told 404 Media in an email that VTO had long been provided on a first come first serve basis, and that opportunities were posted before shifts in the Amazon A to Z application. They said that Amazon was aware of the bots, but that such activities were prohibited and that there were safeguards that work to identify if they’re being used.

“I'm not really sure how the process could be improved since demand was high and supply was low,” Main said. “Maybe enforce a delay before allowing people to claim VTO who recently claimed it. Needless to say, I wouldn't have changed it at all after I got my bot working.”