Will restrictive scheduling be the “next $15 minimum wage”?

By: Emily Makings
2:20 pm
November 5, 2019

Politico has a story about restrictive scheduling proposals in the states:

Several states, including Massachusetts and New Jersey, are considering so-called fair workweek laws that would arm workers with a set of rights, such as requiring that employees be given advance notice of work schedules and are compensated for canceled shifts.

The effort has been described by some in the labor movement as the “next $15 minimum wage,” with major cities adopting fair workweek ordinances and several Democratic presidential candidates taking up the cause on the campaign trail.

There’s also been legislation introduced in Congress, but it’s unlikely to advance as long as Republicans control the Senate and President Donald Trump is in office.

That’s why advocates are taking an approach similar to the one they’ve used on other issues affecting low-wage workers, such as the $15 minimum wage and paid sick leave: Start at the grassroots level and go from there.

Still, just six cities (including Seattle) and one state (Oregon) have enacted scheduling laws. In the Washington Legislature earlier this year, a statewide scheduling bill was introduced but not passed. (I compared the proposed state bill to Seattle’s ordinance here.)

According to Politico, “[Rachel] Deutsch, of the national Fair Workweek campaign, said several states are primed to adopt fair workweek policies. The Massachusetts Legislature held hearings on a bill in the spring, and she predicts that Washington state, New Jersey and Connecticut will enact measures in the 2020 session.”

We have written before that labor laws and regulations like this distort the compensation mix in ways that might not be appreciated by all affected workers. The Politico story adds some anecdotal information from Seattle:

Jacque Coe, a spokesperson for the Seattle Restaurant Alliance, said that since the city of Seattle implemented a fair workweek law two years ago, restaurant managers have complained that they spend more time doing paperwork and must pay workers more if they pick up any last-minute catering gigs, and that the rigid scheduling has made it more of a headache for workers to trade shifts.

“A lot of people enter the hospitality industry for the flexibility,” Coe said. “We are hearing frustration over the paperwork required when a team member wants to switch shifts on short notice. It becomes a frustration for both the employee and employer.”

Categories: Categories , Employment Policy.