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California lawmakers introduce ‘fair scheduling’ bill

California lawmakers introduce ‘fair scheduling’ bill

Large food, retail employers would be required to schedule shifts two weeks in advance

State lawmakers in California introduced a bill Tuesday that would require large food and retail employers to schedule workers at least two weeks in advance, or face penalties for last-minute staffing changes.

Known as the “Fair Scheduling Act,” Assembly Bill 357 was introduced by State Assembly members David Chiu, D-San Francisco, and Shirley Weber, D-San Diego. As introduced, the bill would apply to food and retail employers with 500 or more employees. It is designed to address the growing number of employers implementing “just in time” and “on-call” scheduling practices to minimize labor costs.

The bill is the first of its kind at the state level, and aims to improve working conditions for part-time and low-wage workers, who often struggle with issues like child care, balancing shifts between two jobs, finding transportation, and pursuing education and training.

“Without fair and predictable work schedules, more and more Californians, particularly part-time and low-wage workers, are struggling to plan for basic life necessities, like child care or a much-needed second job,” Chiu said in a statement. “California can lead the way once again by providing for fair scheduling for the men and women on the front lines of an increasingly unequal economy.”

The lawmakers said the Great Recession has fundamentally changed California’s workforce. The state now has the largest percentage of hourly workers in the country.

Last year, Chiu, who served previously on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, introduced a similar bill there, which takes effect in July. That bill affects employers with more than 20 employees, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

AB 357 would require large employers to pay penalties if shifts are changed with less than two week’s notice. What those penalties would be remains to be seen. The meat of the legislation is yet to be determined, and the bill is seen as a placeholder for further development.

Matt Sutton, vice president of government affairs and public policy for the California Restaurant Association, declined to comment on the specific legislation, given that details are not yet available.

The restaurant industry is expected to vigorously oppose attempts to further regulate scheduling, which is often based on unpredictable factors that likely won’t be addressed with a one-size approach.

“We’re staffing based on customer demand and foot traffic,” Sutton said. “Even the weather could be an issue. None of that is predictable.”

Contact Lisa Jennings at [email protected].
Follow her on Twitter: @livetodineout

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