Always Watching: Amazon Internal Documents Reveal System That Tracks Workers Every Minute

Jeff Bezos at Blue Origin press event ( Joe Raedle /Getty)
Joe Raedle /Getty

Amazon is well-known for its strict employee time tracking and quick firing of workers it believes are not performing adequately. Now, internal documents provide greater insight into how Amazon keeps track of its workers every minute. Spreadsheets reportedly show that Amazon tracks workers down to the minute, including the amount of time they spend in the bathroom and other violations such as “talking to another Amazon associate.”

Vice reports that a new filing gives insights into how Amazon tracks and records every minute that its employees spend “time off task” (TOT) using radio-frequency handheld scanners that warehouse workers use to scan customer packages.

ROMEOVILLE, IL - AUGUST 01: Workers pack and ship customer orders at the 750,000-square-foot Amazon fulfillment center on August 1, 2017 in Romeoville, Illinois. On August 2, Amazon will be holding job fairs at several fulfillment centers around the country, including the Romeoville facility, in an attempt to hire more than 50,000 workers. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

AURORA, CO - MAY 03: A worker moves packed boxes at the Amazon fullfillment center May 3, 2018 in Aurora, Colorado. The million square foot facility, employing 1,000 fulltime employees, has over 2 million products ready to ship to customers globally. (Photo by Rick T. Wilking/Getty Images)

 (Rick T. Wilking/Getty Images)

The documents were filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) as part of a dispute at the company’s recently-unionized Staten Island JFK8 warehouse. The documents show that workers can receive a written warning for accumulating 30 minutes of time off task in a day. The workers can be fired if they accumulate 120 minutes of time off task in a single day or if they have accumulated 30 minutes of time off task on three separate days in a one-year period.

Spreadsheets reportedly show that Amazon tracks workers down to the minute, including the amount of time they spend in the bathroom and other violations such as “talking to another Amazon associate.” Workers are also punished for going to the wrong floor of a warehouse and in one example, an 11-minute gap in a worker’s schedule in which they said they did “not remember” what they were doing.

Amazon also singles out “top offenders” who accumulate a number of TOT infractions and instruct managers to speak to them. One example script for speaking to a “top offender” states:

Your recent time-on-task performance has fallen below behavioral expectations. On [DATE] at various points throughout your scheduled shift you were observed to be off-task for a total of [total TOT minutes after subtraction]. This number was reached by calculating all of your TOT for the day which totaled [Total TOT without subtracting breaks/standup] minutes then subtracting 12 minutes for standups and 17 minutes for each of the paid breaks. During a ‘Seek to understand’ conversation you stated that you faced the following barriers [FINDINGS FROM STU]. These behaviors are violations of Amazon’s Standards of Conduct and Attendance policy. ‘Failure to adhere to starting time, quitting time, or break time policies, or wasting time’ is considered a Category 2 violation of the Standards of Conduct.

Read more at Vice News here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address [email protected]

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