California Could Aorce Amazon to Reveal Productivity Quotas that Critics Say Limit Workers’ Bathroom Breaks
The California Senate is expected to vote this week on a bill that would force warehouse businesses like Amazon to provide restroom breaks. The law, AB-3056, would require warehouses like Amazon to reveal productivity goals and work speed data to government bodies. It was previously passed by the state legislature in May.
One source of concern among politicians, including Lorena Gonzalez, the bill’s author, has warehouses’ use of algorithms to track employee development. Many critics have stated that warehouse workers have been compelled to compromise on regular breaks, even going so far as to limit their usage of restroom breaks.
Ms. Gonzalez, who is also a member of the California legislature, said in a statement in July that firms had coerced warehouse workers to work faster “and risk their own bodies in the process.”
“Automated systems generate warnings when too many time off tasks occur in a worker’s shift, and accumulated warnings can result in workers being fired without a human manager even being involved,” she said in another statement in May.
The legislation has been opposed by business groups that claim it burdens employers. Rachel Michelin, president of California Retailers Association – on whose board Amazon sits – said: “They’re going after one company, but at the same time they’re pulling everyone else in the supply chain under this umbrella.”
In a letter to the state assembly, the California Chamber of Commerce, of which Amazon is a member, branded the bill “unnecessary and inappropriate government intrusion into micromanaging” of an employer.
Amazon did not comment on the bill, but a spokesperson told that “performance targets are determined based on actual employee performance over a period of time.”
According to the spokesman, Amazon considered the employee’s experience as well as their health and safety, and that performance-related termination accounted for just around 1% of all terminations.