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.