Amazon will pay all of its U.S. employees a minimum of $15 an hour, more than double the federal minimum wage of $7.25. The retail giant, run by the world’s richest man, was criticized earlier this year after revealing its workers’ median pay was $28,446.

Amazon says the new rate will go into effect on Nov. 1, covering all of its full-time, part-time, temporary and seasonal employees in the U.S.

“We listened to our critics, thought hard about what we wanted to do, and decided we want to lead,” said Amazon’s founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, as the company announced the new pay scale Tuesday. “We’re excited about this change and encourage our competitors and other large employers to join us.”

In another change, Amazon will phase out its Restricted Stock Unit program for order fulfillment and customer service employees who are paid hourly. Those workers currently receive shares of stock if they meet certain conditions. But the company says the employees have said “they prefer the predictability and immediacy of cash to RSUs.”

For those hourly workers, Amazon plans to replace its RSU grant program with a direct stock purchase plan by the end of 2019. The net effect, the company says, will mean “significantly more total compensation” for the workers.

At the new pay rate, an Amazon employee who makes the new minimum wage would need to work more than 3 weeks (133 hours) to buy one share of the company’s stock, which currently sits above $2,000. And that’s before taxes and other expenses are taken into account.

[more at npr.org]