New York is on the verge of passing a law requiring employers to disclose production quotas to warehouse workers and allow those workers to take required breaks without punishment.
The Warehouse Worker Protection Act (WWPA) is expected to soon be signed into law by Governor Kathy Hochul and would take effect 60 days later.
This law is meant to address the “rapid growth of just-in-time logistics and same- and next-day consumer package delivery” by regulating companies that use quotas at warehouses and logistics centers, according to law firm Seyfarth Shaw.
Companies like Amazon have come under fire over the past few years due to climbing injury rates in their distribution centers, which are often blamed on quota systems that require employees to work too quickly.
California introduced a similar law on warehouse quotas in September 2021, which went into effect January 2022.
What is a quota?
Under the WWPA, warehouse employers with quotas would have to:
- provide notice of those quotas to employees, and
- refrain from using quotas that would prevent employees from taking breaks.
This applies to any employer who controls the wages, hours or working conditions of 100 or more employees at a single warehouse distribution center or 500 or more employees at one or more warehouse distribution centers in the state.
Quotas are defined as work standards requiring employees to perform at a specified productivity speed or where their actions are categorized by the time they spend performing, or not performing, tasks and failure to complete a task performance standard would have an adverse impact on their employment.
Warehouse distribution centers are defined under the WWPA by the North American Industry Classification System Codes based on industry:
- Code 493 for warehousing and storage
- Code 423 for merchant wholesalers, durable goods
- Code 424 for merchant wholesalers, nondurable goods
- Code 454,110 for electronic shopping and mail-order houses, or
- Code 492,110 for couriers and express delivery services.
Records of employee work speed must be kept
Employers will be required to provide written descriptions of each quota and the adverse employment action that could result if the employee fails to meet that quota. Notice regarding quotas will have to be provided to current employees within 30 days of the effective date of the WWPA, when new employees begin work and within two days of any changes to the quota.
If an employer takes adverse employment action based on the quota, it must provide the employee with the quota that applies to them. If an employee is terminated or otherwise separates from employment, records covering the six-month period prior to the date of separation must be kept for three years and made available to the state’s Commissioner of Labor on request.
Employers will also be required to “maintain records of each employee’s work speed data, aggregated work speed data for similar employees at the same establishment, and the required written notices of the quotas.”
Current and former employees would have the right to request a written description of each quota they were subjected to, a copy of their personal work speed data and a copy of the aggregated work speed data.
An employee “may not be required to meet a quota that prevents them from taking meal or rest periods or using the bathroom, including reasonable time to get to and from the bathroom.”
Violations lead to civil, criminal penalties
The bill also contains language prohibiting employers from retaliating against workers who exercise these rights.
The WWPA doesn’t include a private right of action by employees to enforce these rights in court. Instead, it authorizes the state Labor Commissioner to assess civil penalties of:
- up to $100 for a first offense, and $500 for subsequent offenses
- penalties up to $20,000 for retaliation, and
- penalties up to 100% of unpaid wages.
The bill also provides for criminal penalties for violators.