I have an alert set up for “Adhoc Jobs” that sends me a list every day to my email. There is nothing to do at home so I decided to apply for this “Temp Warehouse Packer” job. The job ad is targeted at students as they advertise that you can work with friends and there is plenty of emojis being used. If you come across such a job ad, should you apply? I will share my experience of working as a Warehouse Assistant for a few days in this blog so you can make an informed decision.
Disclaimer: Your experience might vary between different companies even though the job title is the same.
What Do You Do As A Warehouse Packer?
The official job title is “Temp Warehouse Assistant”. Imagine yourself buying stuff online and just clicking add to cart. Every item has to be picked and packed then sent out to you. I was only involved in the “picking” step. You will be given a list of things to pick up and you have to walk through the warehouse to fill up carts and then drop off the completed orders at the endpoint for another group of people to pack them up.
There will be a standard amount of orders expected of you to complete every hour. There was once where there are about 10 packers and the target was 6,000 orders. If you do the math, this means that each of us needs to pick up 600 orders (about 60 orders per hour) that night. Each order usually consists of multiple items so it is impossible to do one order per minute.
There are both day and night shifts. I chose to do the night shift as there is a night shift allowance every night. I saw JC students (day shift) leaving the warehouse when I reported for work at night.
There is a 30 + 15 minutes break throughout the shift but you have to check out after the break starts and check in before the break ends so that you get paid properly. Imagine having a similar amount of break time for a manually intensive job as an office job. There is no food provided on most days so you will have to prepare your own food.
How Physically Intensive Is It?
The work environment is without aircon and masks have to be on the entire time.
You have to make 2-3 trips around the warehouse per hour, which adds up to about 20 trips in 8 hours. The job description on the ad says that there is a lot of walking and they are not joking. I checked my Google Fit app and on a non-OT night, I made 25,000 steps and on an OT night, I made 30,000 steps.
It might seem little for a 10 – 12 hour shift but remember you will have to drag a huge trolley while collecting merchandise that can add up to over 50KG. The trolley is also not in the best condition so it’s not so smooth. You will also need to use your body to start and stop the trolley’s inertia at every pickup point. I would estimate about 25 stops per trip. The trolley is so bulky that if I predict there is only a small number of orders in the next zone, I will just leave the trolley behind and just walk over to the pickup point without the trolley.
How Much Did I Get Paid?
I am paid S$9 per hour with a S$15 overnight allowance. If there is OT, I am paid 1.5x the base rate. I am not paid yet but I estimate the total to be about S$500. You get to choose before signing the contract if you want CPF. If you choose the CPF option, you will be considered a temp employee but if you choose the non-CPF option, you will be considered an independent contractor. So what’s the difference?
7 days at 8 hours each with overnight allowance
|Total Wages||7 x [(8 x S$9) + S$15] = S$609|
|Take Home Pay||S$544||S$609|
**As the amount is lower than S$750, the calculation is not just 20% and 17%.
If your total for the month exceeds S$500, you will need to deduct a portion to contribute CPF. If the total is less than S$500, you will gain the benefits of the employer side CPF.
If your total for the month is below S$500, you will lose out on the employer CPF portion.
As you can see, if you choose the CPF option, you get more overall but your take-home pay is less due to the CPF deduction. If you can afford to, always choose the CPF option so that you get more overall.
Read The Contract Carefully
If you have any questions regarding the contract, remember to ask the recruiter before signing up. Don’t sign the contract if you do not agree with what is in the contract. Check what are the penalties if you are unable to fulfil the contract. For example, I would need to pay a penalty if I miss any days of work unless I have an MC.
Should You Work As A Warehouse Packer?
Unless you really can’t find a job and you really need the money, or else I really cannot recommend this ad-hoc job.
As mentioned above, this job is physically very tiring. All the time outside work will be spent on recovering. It will be hard to do anything else. If you want to do some self-improvement course for a different skillset to leave this job, you probably have to do it on an off day. You also won’t have additional energy to exercise outside work. But this can also be a positive point where you can treat work as exercise. The break you get is possibly shorter than an office job so you only can take a small breather before grinding on.
Your height will also matter. If you are too tall, you need to keep bending down to reach for the low items. If you are too short, you won’t be able to reach stuff that is too high or too deep in the boxes.
It also takes a lot of strength to drag the trolley filled with merchandise across the warehouse like a tower defence game.
As a holiday or perm job, you will be too exhausted after work and holidays will be spent resting, you trapped in this cycle and it can hard to get out. Perhaps you can go on to become a supervisor after many years but there are limited slots and salary is sort of capped.
This can be a good thing and a bad thing. You don’t have to interact with anyone and you just have to pick up the orders according to the list and just repeat until you get off work. If I have to choose between the temp warehouse packer or a safety distancing officer, I will have some trouble picking as I don’t want to interact with anyone on the job.
It is a warehouse environment without aircon and masks have to be on the whole time. Safety shoes are also needed so if you don’t have your own, the company will provide them to you. If you don’t have your own safety shoes, your feet can hurt ALOT. I was limping after a few hours of work. The safety shoes are extremely uncomfortable as it doesn’t have a lot of support and the size doesn’t fit me after trying many of the shoes available. Imagine having to push a heavy trolley AND start and stop multiple times with an ill-fitting shoe.
At the end of the first training session, I had multiple blisters on my feet. I had to wear multiple socks for the second session to provide more cushion and to make the shoe fit better. I still get blisters but the socks can minimize the occurrence plus it provides cushion too. The short amount of break also doesn’t help.
If you own a pair of comfortable safety shoes, I believe the experience will be much better. A good pair will cost more than S$100 so it doesn’t make sense for me to purchase a pair just for a few days of work. I looked at some of them and there are safety shoes that look trendy instead of the blocky ones that were provided by the company.
Due to being so tired, your self-control will be lower. You won’t be able to have the mental capacity to make the right decision. For example, you will just eat anything you can get hold of instead of trying to eat healthily. At the end of an OT session, I was also tempted to take a taxi home but this will cost me 2 hours of work so I just took public transport.
The hourly pay is really quite low. Night shift pay makes slightly more sense due to the allowance. There are better paying and more comfortable jobs out there. There are also more benefits for jobs like F&B where you get a free meal.
The location of these warehouses is also usually quite far. This means that I spend about 2 hours travelling every day, which lowers the effective hourly pay by about 15%.
I am expected to make two-three rounds per hour which means S$3 – S$4 per trip is made. Every trip is usually 9 orders so I get paid S$0.30 – S$0.40 per order fulfilled.
After working, I can understand why they do not want to automate the entire warehouse. It is much cheaper to use manual labour, despite the inconsistencies and mistakes of humans. There is not enough margin to automate the entire process.
Skills Not Transferrable
The skills you learn on the job is probably not transferrable. Maybe it gives you some insight into the logistics of an e-commerce company but I guess that is it. If you can get a job as the admin staff for the warehouse, I believe the pay is higher plus the skills learnt can be used for you to get another job.
You see a job ad for a Temp Warehouse Packer Job and are wondering if you should do it? Unless you really can’t find another job and you really need money, I don’t think this is a job that you should do. It is physically tiring, pays little and has no transferable skills. But if you are looking for something that can train your body while you work and not interact with anyone, you can try out this job.
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