back to article Amazon a prime target of warehouse law protecting bathroom breaks

In a clear shot at Amazon, Minnesota lawmakers became the third state congressional body in America to pass a law protecting warehouse workers from unfair quotas and allowing them proper time for toilet breaks and the occasional meal. Minnesota House Bill 36, was passed on Wednesday in the state senate by a razor-thin 34-33 …

  1. Ideasource Bronze badge

    No FIXED quotas

    There's a tricky wording, if I ever seen one.

    even worse they may have "dynamic quotas" or "sliding quotas" etc

    and therefore even more impossible to keep out of the danger zone from , let alone track by an effected worker.

    1. Falmari Silver badge

      Re: No FIXED quotas

      No that's bad wording they are admitting that current practices would fail to comply with the proposed law. Because they would be unable to tell a worker the quotas they are being held to.

      "Workers would also have the right to request a written description of the quotas they're held to, as well as 90 days of their own work speed data and aggregated data of employees in similar roles. "

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: No FIXED quotas

        "he right to request a written description of the quotas"

        Doesn't seem to worded in such a way that the "warehouse owner" has to actually comply though. Although keeping a record of all those who make the requests might be a good way of deciding who goes out the door first at the next round of redundancies or fired for "performance" reasons,

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No FIXED quotas

      "...achievable expectations ..."

      Considering you can't guarantee a quota, as it's more.of an expectation, I think that could be the realistic definition of quotas.

  2. alain williams Silver badge

    "employee injury rate at least 30 percent above the average"

    Surely law enforcement agencies should have the right to inspect any warehouse regardless of the injury rate ?

    1. cornetman Silver badge

      Re: "employee injury rate at least 30 percent above the average"

      > Surely law enforcement agencies should have the right to inspect any warehouse regardless of the injury rate ?

      Why? Law enforcement agencies are there to enforce laws. If they have a warrant or reasonable suspicion that illegal activity is occurring then they should be able to enter within safeguards.

      But these warehouses are private property: even the police have limits as to what they are able to do and where they are able to go, and rightly so, regardless of what you think of specific employers.

      The last thing we need are police that can go anywhere and do anything.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: "employee injury rate at least 30 percent above the average"

        I think using the term "law enforcement" might have been a poor choice of words on the OPs part. Whoever is responsible for enforcing health and safety in the workplace should have the right to carry out unannounced inspections and/or investigate accidents in any workplace. It's concerning that the Bill as written only seems to offer this power over p[laces that are 30% over the average. Surely it's their job to not only investigate all workplace accidents, but to put in place enforceable measures to lower the average as much as possible. Maybe it's a "freedom" thing? Companies are people and are "free" to act as they will, even if it causes injuries to others without "interference" from authorities? It's like there is an acceptable baseline of death and injury before action is taken to sort out the mess when the reality is that everyone should be working to minimise those number as much as possible. The most worrying thing is that in some (many?) cases, the workers accept that as normal and defend the situation.

        1. alain williams Silver badge

          Re: "employee injury rate at least 30 percent above the average"

          The reason that I used those words is that they are part of this paragraph in the article:

          The bill also gives Minnesota labor law enforcement agencies the right to inspect any warehouse that has an employee injury rate at least 30 percent above the average yearly injury rate for such workers, and to have inspection rights and safety meetings.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: "employee injury rate at least 30 percent above the average"

            Fair enough, a poor choice of words on the part of the article author then (who may be using the term because possibly it was in the press release). I think some people took "law enforcement" to mean cops, FBI etc though, so whoever chose the words in the first place is the one causing confusion despite being technically correct. It's a bit like calling the consumer protection department, or social services, "law enforcement". Technically, that's what they do, but you'd not normally call them "law enforcement" officers :-)

            In particular, Cornetman stated "The last thing we need are police that can go anywhere and do anything.", conflating civil enforcement of workplace safety regulations with cops busting in wherever they feel like for any reason they choose. That's the sort of confusion I was trying to help clear up.

            1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

              Re: "employee injury rate at least 30 percent above the average"

              Agreed. "Law enforcement officer" is a term that has a specific legal meaning in Federal law, and probably in the laws of each of the several states. It has important consequences, and that's why it's useful to know that, for example, TSA screeners are not law enforcement officers.

              Federal workplace safety inspectors are not LEOs, and my guess is that the Minnesota ones aren't either. So, yes, "labor law enforcement" (even without the "officer") is poor wording.

      2. Pete Sdev Bronze badge

        Re: "employee injury rate at least 30 percent above the average"

        I'd expect safety inspectors being able to inspect any workplace regardless of accident rate, including random spot checks.

        Then again, I live in reasonably civilised country.

        There's a huge difference between a workplace and a home, even if both are privately owned.

      3. Claverhouse Silver badge

        Re: "employee injury rate at least 30 percent above the average"

        The last thing we need are police that can go anywhere and do anything.

        ""This is nobody's business but our own"

      4. TheBadja

        Re: "employee injury rate at least 30 percent above the average"

        Doesn’t the local fire board have the right to inspect premises to see if they are conforming to standards? Or do they have to wait until people die in a fire? I’m genuinely interested if that is the law in the US. In Australia, the work safety regulator has the right to enter premises to see that everyone on site is safe, including safe materials handling practices, shift lengths, work demands etc. are safe and will not cause injury or harm. It is a condition of the company holding a license to run a business.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'd be screwed

    With bathroom breaks, takes me a while to take a dump. IBS pretty sure is the cause so you never want to finish and go, always hang around in case more comes. Lovely, not really, quite fucking annoying. And I always need a cubicle, can't stand being next to someone else while their peeing and then they fart. And don't get me started on US toilets, what the hell is the really low doors and the gaps for!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'd be screwed

      what the hell is the really low doors and the gaps for!

      Major overflows. You want it to build up in your cubicle until it pins you to the ceiling?

      1. aerogems Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: I'd be screwed

        What if I do?

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: I'd be screwed

      what the hell is the really low doors and the gaps for!

      To provide an inexhaustible source of material for comedians, apparently.

      At least we've moved beyond the era of coin-operated pay-before-you-go stalls.

      1. aerogems Silver badge

        Re: I'd be screwed

        "At least we've moved beyond the era of coin-operated pay-before-you-go stalls."

        Not everywhere. Sometimes in the downtown areas of large cities, public restrooms are still basically coin-op. Pretty sure it's some small amount, probably doesn't even cover the cost of replacing the TP, but it's still pay to, er, play.

    3. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

      Re: I'd be screwed

      There are several reasons for the gaps. One is safety, so you can be seen if there is a problem. This came about from a few people kicking off on the can and not being discovered until the decomposing smell got strong Another reason is to keep people from using them for doing drugs or having sex.

      That being said, I am no fan of the mostly open cans anymore than anyone else is, but at least there's an unwritten rule to not look.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I'd be screwed

        Where else are we supposed to have sex since they took away the Xerox machines?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    when Amazon employees were injured at twice the rate as those working in Walmart facilities.

    Hardly surprising given what noted bleeding pink, Red Flag singing, card carrying socialists Walmart are.

  5. aerogems Silver badge
    WTF?

    Even worse is that so many legislators voted AGAINST a law requiring human beings to be treated with a basic level of respect and dignity. And for that matter, why is it so hard for companies to treat employees with basic respect and dignity?

    As far as Amazon goes, this may well actually help SAVE their business. By their own estimates, they've pretty much exhausted the supply of workers willing to take their shitty warehouse jobs, and robots can't do all of the work yet, so what are they going to do if they fire everyone for arbitrary reasons and can't find anyone new to hire? Doesn't anyone think more than the next quarter ahead anymore?

  6. EricB123 Bronze badge

    Disgusting

    How awful that we need laws to allow one to go to the bathroom. You'd think that would be as natural as breathing.

    1. CountCadaver Silver badge

      Re: Disgusting

      Tell that to UK schools who tell kids they should go on their break and no they can't leave their class.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Disgusting

        Schools have multiple breaks timetabled during the day. Factory workers don't.

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Disgusting

      You'd think that would be as natural as breathing.

      Please stop giving Amazon ideas.

    3. aerogems Silver badge

      Re: Disgusting

      A sad but true fact, is that it wasn't until the Clinton administration in the US that workers had the legal right to bathroom breaks at all. So, every time you are standing at a urinal, or sitting on a toilet while at work in the US, you can thank Bill Clinton for enshrining that as a legal right, not just a "perk" your employer could take away from you at any time.

    4. Ideasource Bronze badge

      Re: Disgusting

      The employer borrows the body and mind of the employee in return for a wage.

      Bathroom, mental breaks, and nutrition are the equivalent of oil changes, gas, and warming up an engine to avoid damage.

      Naturally all such should be the employers cost.

      You ever try throwing money out of forklift it doesn't work.

      You actually have to provide what it needs.

      You ever try to throw money at an engine to perform maintenance from business related use?

      The engine only responds to physical situations and actions to maintain it.

      If you're going to borrow or rent someone else's property it's expected to return it similar condition that you borrowed it.

      If only people were treated half as responsibly as other essential equipment.

      1. aerogems Silver badge

        Re: Disgusting

        I've always said that if an employer wants me to wear a specific uniform, it's their job to provide it to me, at their expense.

  7. hayzoos

    Amazon not mentioned . . .

    Then why is Amazon making public statements in regards to this law?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bathroom laws

    Such laws should also stipulate bathroom quality and their numbers.

    Sharing busy, smelly, dirty bathrooms is another argument to work from home.

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