State Watch

California bill would force companies like Amazon to guarantee restroom breaks

A California bill that would require companies like Amazon to guarantee restroom breaks is moving through the state's legislature. 

The bill, AB-3056, was introduced earlier this year and passed the state's house in June and is currently being reviewed by the state Senate. The bill aims to ensure that workers are not penalized for spending time using the restroom or washing their hands. 

The bill would apply to warehouse workers of large retailers across California like Amazon, Target and Walmart. California - the country's most populous state - has more warehouses than any other state in the U.S., according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The bill would also require these employers to pay employees overtime if they have to work beyond the time they were scheduled to complete a quota set by the company.

The bill's author, assembly member Lorena Gonzalez (D), said that workers have complained about automated monitoring systems that generate a warning when too many people are considered off task. 

"Automated systems generate warnings when too many time off tasks occur in a worker's shift, and accumulated warnings can result in workers being fired without a human manager even being involved," Gonzalez said in a statement on May 20. 

The California Chamber of Commerce, which Amazon is a member of, sent a letter to the state assembly in June expressing its disagreement with the bill. The group claims that it burdens employers and hurts employees.

In a statement to The Hill, an Amazon spokesperson said the company does not "penalize someone who needs to use the restroom or wash their hands, and we welcome policymakers into our buildings if they'd like to see our positive work environment for themselves."

Updated: 6:22 p.m.

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