Breaks, Burden of Time

I don’t believe there are any laws in Indiana regarding break times for employees. So, as far as I know, Amazon SDF8 does not have to offer its employees any breaks, other than an unpaid lunch. However, from my experience, standard practice would prescribe two fifteen minute breaks for an eight hour shift, and an extra break for a ten hour shift.

As I mentioned above, SDF8 employees get two fifteen minute breaks for a ten hour shift, shortened to ten for walk time. For an eleven hour shift, the second break is twenty minutes, shortened to fifteen for walk time.

So, not only are breaks shortened by walk time to and from workstations and pick mods, the time worked between breaks is excessive. In my opinion, these excessively long work sessions, coupled with inadequate break times, are important factors effecting worker fatigue, burnout, low morale, and turnover.

I noticed during peak, the second break of twenty minutes, shortened to fifteen for walk time, felt unusually relaxed. Another employee noticed it too, “If they would just give us fifteen minutes instead of ten, it would be so much better. Everyone would benefit.” As a solution to breaks, for our regular, ten hour shift, as well as the peak eleven hour shift, I suggest two twenty minute breaks, shortened to fifteen for walk time, and a third break of fifteen minutes, shortened to ten for walk time. This break schedule places the burden of walk time back on the company, where it must lie, and allows for reasonable rest periods for human workers moving continuously and repetitively for ten to eleven hours per day, four to five days per week.

As with many Amazon policies, the sacrifice is to be made by the least paid, already heavily burdened, most stressed employees. It is a general company strategy to compel Tier One employees to sacrifice in the spirit of vague customer-centrism. Employees are expected to maintain a high rate all day with no rests until break. Break is then shortened by walk time. It makes for a grueling day, day after day. HR issues, administration issues, scheduling and pay discrepancies, ERC (Employee Resources Center) issues, HUB issues, password issues are all expected to be taken care of during the employee’s two ten-minute-per-day breaks, half hour lunch, or off the clock. If a worker wishes to deal with these issues during work time, it is time off task and subject to disciplinary action.