In Focus: Business Leadership and Job Quality

Jun 20, 2017  |  PERMALINK »

Schedules that Work Act Would Establish Critical Worker Protections

By Liz Ben-Ishai 

As the Trump Administration tries to legitimize its draconian budget by pointing to the declining jobless rate and offering rosy economic projections, millions of workers in today’s labor force are struggling with a phenomenon that isn’t captured in traditional economic reports: volatile and unpredictable work schedules. Too many workers face inadequate notice of their schedules, last-minute schedule changes, on-call shifts, and wildly fluctuating hours per week. Today, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) introduced the Schedules that Work Act (SWA), a federal proposal that would curb employers’ most egregious scheduling practices.

The SWA would provide workers employed by businesses in the retail, restaurant, and building-cleaning industries with 15 or more employees with at least two weeks of advance notice of their schedules and compensate workers when employers make last-minute schedule changes. These policies would help workers to better plan for child care, enroll in training or higher education classes, hold second jobs, or manage their budgets, among other critical aspects of life outside of work. The bill also compensates workers for on-call shifts, guaranteeing them a minimum of one hour of pay for times when they make themselves available but are not asked to report to work. Workers who are scheduled for split shifts (shifts with nonconsecutive hours) would also be compensated for their time. In addition, workers in all industries, employed at businesses with 15 or more employees, would have the right to request changes to their schedules without fear of retaliation. Employers would be required to accommodate requests by workers with caregiving obligations, serious personal medical needs, enrolled in training or higher education, or with second jobs, unless employers can demonstrate bona fide business reasons for not doing so.

The introduction of SWA comes as several major cities have passed similar legislation covering workers in their jurisdictions, including San Francisco, Seattle, and New York City, among others. Workers around the country are organizing to pass these important protections because, just as fair pay and access to paid leave are crucial basic labor standards, so too is a stable schedule and fair compensation when workers accommodate employers’ requests for their flexibility.  

CLASP has numerous resources available to help explain the bill and scheduling policy more broadly.

CLASP urges Congress to quickly pass the SWA, addressing a major gap in the current set of labor protections available to U.S. workers. 

Jun 5, 2017  |  PERMALINK »

CLASP releases analysis of Trump parental leave proposal

In a time too often marked by division, one thing most Americans can agree on is the need for paid family and medical leave. As popular support for paid leave has grown, politicians on both sides of the aisle have begun to embrace it. Yet, proposals to address the country’s lack of any federal paid leave program vary widely—with some plans undermining rather than helping working families. Today CLASP is releasing an analysis of President Trump’s paid parental leave proposal, which the administration put forward as a part of its budget. We find that the Trump proposal has serious shortcomings. First, the proposal provides leave only for parents of newly born or adopted children, omitting millions of Americans with other caregiving responsibilities and those needing time to recover from their own illnesses. Second, by requiring states to finance paid leave through their unemployment insurance systems, the program threatens to harm unemployed workers while purporting to help parents. And finally, the proposal suggests that a Trump paid leave program would likely provide benefit levels so small that low-wage workers would largely be unable to make ends meet while taking leave.

Read the full analysis >>

May 26, 2017  |  PERMALINK »

Maryland Governor Vetoes Earned Sick Time Bill

By Zoe Ziliak Michel

After Maryland legislators passed the Healthy Working Families Act in both chambers earlier this year, Governor Larry Hogan vetoed the bill yesterday, preventing 750,000 Maryland workers from gaining the right to earn paid sick time. Had Hogan signed the bill, workers would have gotten this protection on January 1. Instead, the legislature will now have to mount a veto override effort in January 2018.

Hogan’s veto runs contrary to both the will of the state’s legislators, and that of the public and employers. A University of Maryland-Washington Post poll found that 84 percent of Marylanders support giving workers at businesses with at least 15 employees paid sick time, as the Healthy Working Families Act would ensure. And over 50 Maryland business owners have signed on in support of the act through the Working Matters Coalition, recognizing that paid sick time improves health and morale in their businesses. Working Matters Coalition Director Liz Richards stated, “By vetoing the Healthy Working Families Act, Governor Hogan has turned his back on 750,000 working Marylanders facing impossible choices between their job and their family because they are not afforded the basic dignity of being able to take a day off when they're sick. Governor Hogan's decision protects an indefensible status quo and prevents Maryland families, businesses, and communities from reaping the benefits of this bill as soon as possible.”

Luckily, the governor’s veto does not close the door on paid sick days for Maryland workers. Both chambers of the legislature passed the bill with veto-proof majorities. Thus, Maryland workers will likely still gain the right to care for themselves and their families without losing a day’s pay if, as anticipated, the legislature overturns the veto in the 2018 legislative session. Specifically, the law will allow workers at businesses with at least 15 employees to earn one hour of paid, job-protected sick time for every 30 hours worked, with a cap of 5 days (40 hours) earned per year. The leave can also be used as “safe time” to seek services necessary due to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. Employees of smaller businesses will earn job-protected sick and safe time as well, though it may be unpaid.

Ample evidence shows that paid sick time improves public health, increases access to preventive care—and is good for businesses’ bottom line.  Governor Hogan’s veto of the Healthy Working Families Act runs contrary to the interests of many Maryland constituencies—and defies common sense. Seven other states and over two dozen cities and counties have already recognized the benefits of guaranteeing paid sick time for their residents. Later this year, Rhode Island may pass similar legislation. For now, though, too many Maryland workers will still have to choose between their health and their paycheck.

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