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What rights do warehouse workers have in California?

three warehouse workers

Warehouse workers have rights and protections under California’s Assembly Bill No. 701, which became law and went into effect on January 1, 2022. If you work in a warehouse, your employer may no longer use pre-programmed algorithms to track your productivity.

As noted by Wired.com, the high volume of workplace injuries at warehouse distribution centers resulted in AB 701’s passage. Lawmakers discovered a programmed system referred to as “Time Off Task.” The program monitored the time that assembly line employees of a large distribution center stopped the flow of production.

How does the new law affect how I perform warehouse work?

Using barcodes and cameras, the Time Off Task program calculated how long workers failed to perform their scanning tasks. If the program showed an employee stopped for five minutes, a manager could write up and eventually fire the worker. The program, however, did not differentiate whether a worker took a rest break or needed to treat an injury.

Because of AB 701, you may now take reasonable rest breaks while working a warehouse shift. California’s meal break statute allows you to take a 30-minute uninterrupted meal break during a shift lasting at least five hours. You may also take a 10-minute break for every four-hour shift.

What may happen if I stop the production flow?

As noted on the California Department of Industrial Relations website, employers may no longer log the time for a break as missing a work quota. If you went to the restroom and it took you five minutes, your employer cannot claim you lost five minutes of productivity.

An employer cannot set a production quota that prevents workers from using the bathroom facilities or taking the rest and meal breaks stipulated by law. Warehouse workers may also request a written description of their employer’s expected production quotas.

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