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Senators introduce Warehouse Worker Protection Act to improve safety and transparency

Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), and Bob Casey (D-Pa.) have introduced the Warehouse Worker Protection Act, which aims to protect warehouse workers from unsafe work speed quotas and increase transparency around quota policies.

If passed, the legislation would apply to many employers operating warehouse distribution centers. It would prohibit quotas that interfere with workers’ rights and safety, such as quotas that prevent meal and rest breaks required by law, discourage bathroom breaks, or violate health and safety provisions.

The act would require warehouse employers to provide each covered employee with a written description of any quota they are subject to, including potential disciplinary measures for not meeting the quota, and how the quota is calculated and monitored. Employers would need to provide notice two business days before quota changes.

Additionally, the bill directs OSHA to create an ergonomics standard for warehouse work and establishes new requirements for onsite first aid and occupational health services. It would also mandate that covered employees receive a paid 15-minute rest break for every 4 hours worked.

In a press release, the senators called out Amazon and Walmart, noting a recent report showing high injury rates at Amazon warehouses and that over half of Amazon and Walmart workers said quotas made it hard to take bathroom breaks. The bill has been endorsed by labor groups, including the Teamsters and United Food and Commercial Workers.

The Warehouse Worker Protection Act is at the beginning of what could be a lengthy legislative process. However, its introduction suggests a growing concern among lawmakers and labor advocates regarding the safety and well-being of the nation’s warehouse workers. Employers are advised to review their current quota and work speed policies for compliance with applicable laws.