States have started banning productivity quotas with 5 already banning or considering a ban on productivity quotas. The labor shortage is woven into the fabric of supply chain management these days, and few aspects of the industry are unimpacted. Warehousing and trucking lead the way with the struggle to find qualified and reliable staff, and retention is even harder. In a reflection of the difficult work environments, a trend to shut down on-the-job productivity quotas in warehousing is under way, with three states now having passed legislation to encourage warehouses from using such quotas. While some large, well-known companies may bemoan such laws, they may ultimately serve to help fill empty jobs within the industry.
The latest state to pass laws that oversee productivity quotas is Washington, with House Bill 1762. The legislation requires employers give potential employees information about productivity quotas and any penalties they might incur for not meeting them. Warehouses would also have to spell out incentives for meeting or beating quotes, and any quotas must include time for meal and rest breaks, as well as time to access tools and safety equipment for the jobs. The first two states to pass similar legislation were California and New York, and the states of Connecticut and Minnesota are considering their own similar quota limitation legislation.
States banning productivity quotas
In general, the new laws in all three states are aimed at large distribution centers. In California, for instance, the law targets any single distribution center with more than 100 employees, or any company with at least 1,000 employees in the state. Employees of these big operations and companies have launched charges of the dangerous work environments due to the quotas. Part of the underlying issue has been the massive uptick in consumer demand for faster and faster delivery. To keep up with demands, some of the large e-commerce companies have grown at a rapid pace, demanding the warehouse workers push product out the door ever faster. Adding quotas has led to a myriad of worker injury complaints. A coalition of labor unions got involved and together, they have documented the uptick in injury rates, and taken the findings to the federal government for stricter enforcement of safety laws. While the Department of Labor is getting involved, some injured and unhappy workers and their unions are taking their cases to the state level, where laws like those in California, New York and Washington are making their way through the legislation.
For any warehouse in the habit of using employee production quotas, it’s worth examining the nature of that practice. The current and pending state laws vary from one location to the next, but all target quotas with disciplinary ties, and most allow employees to request their own set of productivity data. If employees claim their employer has retaliated against them for failing to meet the quota, the new laws allow for investigation into the punitive action. If your state isn’t among those already considering quota restriction laws, be prepared that it may come your way. Now is a good time to brush up on your policies.