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Jun 29, 2017  |  PERMALINK »

With bipartisan support, Oregon becomes first state to pass comprehensive fair scheduling law

By Liz Ben-Ishai

Increasingly, workers across the country are demanding fair work schedules. Today, their movement took a major step forward as Oregon’s legislature approved Senate Bill 828, making Oregon the first state to pass legislation to establish fair scheduling standards for thousands of retail, hospitality, and food service workers employed by large chains. The governor has indicated that she will sign the bill into law. This important bipartisan victory will also help fuel the momentum behind fair scheduling campaigns around the country.

Oregon’s legislation will ensure that retail, hospitality, and food service chain workers receive one week advance notice of their schedules (increasing to two weeks by 2020), compensation for last-minute schedule changes and for on-call workers who are not called into work, and a right to have input into their schedules. Workers will also have the right to rest between shifts and to receive a good faith estimate of their weekly work hours upon hire.

The new law will go a long way toward addressing significant challenges facing Oregon workers. A survey of 750 Oregonian workers conducted in 2016 found that 72 percent of workers receive less than two-weeks’ notice of their schedules; 73 percent experience changes to their schedules after posting; and 44 percent have worked back-to-back shifts, including closing shifts followed by opening shifts (referred to as “clopening”). Nearly one quarter had worked on-call.

Unfortunately, these conditions are not unique to Oregon—workers around the country struggle with unpredictable and unstable work schedules that wreak havoc on their families, finances, and lives. However, today’s victory bodes well for continued momentum at the state and local levels, and ultimately, the passage of a federal fair scheduling law. Oregon joins major cities like Seattle, San Francisco, and New York City in taking this important step. CLASP commends the Oregon advocates and workers whose persistence and dedication led to this important outcome.

Bipartisan support for this bill suggests that regardless of their party affiliation, policymakers are recognizing the injustices of volatile work scheduling—and the struggles of low-income people more broadly. As politicians in Washington, D.C. threaten to drastically undermine the nation’s social safety net through draconian budget proposals and drastic changes to programs that would compromise the economic security and health of millions of American families, they would do well to look to the bipartisanship on display in Oregon as a model.

Jun 22, 2017  |  PERMALINK »

San Francisco Leads on Fair Scheduling, But Better Enforcement Needed

When San Francisco passed the Formula Retail Employee Rights Ordinances (FRERO) in November 2014, it broke new ground for workers’ rights. FRERO was the first public policy to attack unfair scheduling practices and has bolstered support for similar policies around the nation.

Scheduling on the Cutting Edge, a new report from CLASP and Young Workers United, highlights FRERO’s great promise as well as the work still needed to effectively implement it.

The report, based on a survey of 241 workers covered under the law, finds that FRERO provides critical protections to workers but needs to be better enforced.  Low public awareness, lack of business compliance, and limited outreach and enforcement resources are reducing the law’s impact.

The first law of its kind, FRERO requires retail employers to provide workers at least 7 days’ notice of their schedules. It also requires them to compensate workers when shifts are changed or cancelled with insufficient notice (known as “predictability pay”) or when they are “on call” but ultimately not needed. Additionally, FRERO requires employers to offer available hours to current workers before hiring new staff.

FRERO has the potential to be a game-changer for many lower-income workers, helping them to plan their lives, arrange child care, pursue education, and manage finances. Indeed, surveyed workers said predictable schedules brought stability to their lives. However, more than a year into implementation, just 18 percent of workers were familiar with the law. Moreover, many workers said their employers weren’t complying with every rule. Among workers who experienced shifts changes—including cancelled or added shifts—with less than a week’s notice, just 30 percent received predictability pay. Furthermore, despite the fact that many workers expressed a desire for more hours of work, a majority said they weren’t offered additional hours before employers hired new staff.

Advocates and community-based organizations in San Francisco, including YWU, have been working diligently to spread the word about FRERO, despite limited resources. YWU is part of a collective of community-based organizations that partner with San Francisco’s enforcement agency to raise awareness about FRERO and other worker protections. These efforts have empowered workers to challenge unfair labor practices, including by filing claims with the Office of Labor Standards Enforcement (OLSE), the agency enforcing the law. Yet as the report notes, more resources are needed as the collective undertakes outreach on a growing number of laws, including FRERO.

In addition to highlighting the need for resources to support community-agency partnerships, the report calls for increased, dedicated staffing for FRERO enforcement at OLSE and recommends that OLSE approach enforcement strategically. It should focus its efforts on high-violation areas and be proactive about identifying violations, as opposed to waiting for complaints.

A growing number of cities and states are considering—and passing—fair scheduling laws, which could help protect millions of workers from volatile scheduling practices that wreak havoc on families and create economic instability. The study released today points to the need to ensure adequate resources and staffing for enforcement of these laws in order to maximize their impact. 

Read the report.

READ MORE >>

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. 

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