The rapid growth of just-in-time logistics and same-day/next-day delivery has put tremendous pressure on companies to fulfill orders and ship goods as quickly as possible. In turn, businesses have placed added pressure on warehouse employees to keep pace, occasionally leading to unfair expectations and unsafe work environments.
However, new laws in New York and California aim to protect workers and improve safety within warehouses and distribution centers. This will make it imperative that businesses have the right labor management processes and systems in place, both to help with compliance and create a culture of high performance and positive employee morale.
About the Warehouse Worker Protection Act
In December 2022, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed legislation aimed at improving employee safety and protection within the state’s warehouses and distribution centers. Modeled after a similar bill passed in California in 2021, the Warehouse Worker Protection Act “will protect warehouse distribution workers from undisclosed or unlawful work speed quotas and includes protections for workers who fail to meet unlawful quotas.”
The legislation requires that employers disclose any mandated productivity quotas and work speed data to their employees so they better understand their productivity rate and the company’s expectations. The new law prohibits employers from requiring workers to meet unsafe quotas that prevent them from taking state-mandated meal and rest breaks or from using the bathroom. It also protects workers from disciplinary action or firing for failing to meet undisclosed speed quotas or quotas that do not allow enough time for proper breaks.
Employers must provide employees a written description of each quota upon hire or within 30 days of the act’s effective date (February 19, 2023), and within two business days of any quota changes.
Creating a Fair and Transparent Work Environment
While met with some criticism, the goal of the act is to ensure fair and transparent labor standards and performance monitoring – something that’s beneficial to both employers and employees.
With several more states, including Minnesota, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Washington, looking to pass similar bills, and businesses everywhere trying to boost employee retention, it’s important for companies to have the right labor management tools and processes in place.
Here are several ways a labor management system (LMS) can help organizations comply with new labor regulations and create a culture of safety, transparency, accountability and productivity.
1. Clear Labor Standards and Expectations
Utilizing engineered labor standards is essential to worker success by creating fair, safe and accurate performance expectations. In fact, having engineered labor standards can boost worker productivity by as much as 15 percent while maintaining a safe working environment, which ultimately leads to a culture of positive morale. Today’s LMS utilizes multi-determinants to assure performance expectations accurately reflect the work content and environment and account for safe (and mandated) work practices.
2. Continual Employee Observation and Coaching
Companies want to get the highest levels of performance out of each employee and put them in a position to thrive. To create this environment, it’s important for managers to monitor and track real-time employee performance and regularly engage with them to maximize that performance. If improvement is needed, an LMS will automatically identify underperforming workers who may need additional training or coaching. Consistent and meaningful engagement between managers and employees using real performance data helps create a positive coaching environment that improves productivity and morale without compromising safety.
3. Real-Time Performance Reporting
An LMS can support real-time performance reporting for individual employees as well as teams, departments, facilities and more. This helps employers maintain records of each employee, alongside performance data of similar employees, as required by the Warehouse Workers Protection Act. LMS provides managers with the data and business intelligence tools needed to identify operational gaps to better plan and adjust their resources in real-time.
As several more states and businesses take steps to provide safe, fair and transparent work environments for warehouse workers, having labor management solutions in place will become increasingly important. A tier-one LMS will not only help create consistent engineered labor standards and reporting within individual facilities but across your entire network.
Fair performance metrics and proper reporting are now being mandated by a few states. The number of states that will enact laws similar to the Warehouse Workers Protection Act is sure to rise in the near future. Now is the time to act so that you are in compliance.