New Bill Aims to Give Workers Reliable Schedules

California Connection
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SACRAMENTO — There’s a new labor bill being discussed at the Capitol. Supporters believe it will lead to happier, more productive employees, but critics say it could backfire and put too much of a burden on businesses.

Jennifer Greenough says even after 15 years with the same company, getting a reliable schedule as a grocery store employee is a struggle.

It’s very difficult to only be able to plan one week ahead, the mom of two said.

Jennifer and her husband both work for the same company, but even as employees covered by union contracts, they get their schedules the Friday before the upcoming week, one business day before the schedule goes into effect.

“It’s hard to plan those doctor’s appointments or Girl Scout stuff,” Greenough said.

“Not knowing when you’re working makes it hard to plan any of those life things,” said Senator Connie Leyva (D-Chino).

Leyva is a former grocery store employee and manager. She co-authored SB878 — the reliable scheduling bill.

It would require employers to give one week’s notice of a three-week schedule, so it would allow workers to be able to plan their lives and when they’ll get paid.

The law would require, for example, that employers publish a schedule on Friday, Sept. 2 that would go into effect Friday, Sept. 9 through Thursday, Sept. 28, giving employees their schedule for three weeks at a time.

If an employer wanted to change the employee’s schedule without the employee’s consent, they would have to do so a week before the change. If they don’t give enough notice, the employer would have to pay a penalty to the employee. There are several exceptions to the penalty.

“The bill is a solution in search of a problem in our opinion,” said Bill Dombrowski, CEO of the California Retailer’s Association.

According to Dombrowski, many major retailers like Target and CVS schedule their employees several weeks out already. He also takes issue with the penalty for changing schedules, seeing it as another burden on business that can backfire.

“They just passed a $15 minimum wage, now they want to restrict how we do scheduling. How are we going to keep our stores open?” Dombrowski said.

Leyva said the bill would not restrict employers’ ability to determine employee schedules or to allow or disallow schedule requests. She says the bill would simply give employees at least one week’s notice of the schedule as determined by the employer.

The Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce also takes issue with SB878. CEO Peter Tateshi tells FOX40 he finds the penalty for schedule changes particularly concerning. He also said he would be willing to work with legislators to find a compromise.

If the bill makes it through the legislature and governor’s office it would go into effect January 1, 2017.

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