Fair Work Week: Oregon the First State to Curb Schedule Abuses

Oregon is set to become the first U.S. state requiring certain businesses to furnish workers with a week’s notice of their job schedules and a minimum of 10 hours rest between daily shifts under a bill that won final legislative approval last week.

FAIR WORK WEEK

The bill, dubbed the “fair work week” act by supporters, is aimed at giving greater predictability to low-wage employees whose hours tend vary widely from day to day or week to week. Democratic Governor Kate Brown is expected to sign the bill into law.

The measure would go into effect next year and apply to Oregon workers on the payrolls of retail, food service and hospitality companies with at least 500 employees worldwide where abusive scheduling practices have become increasingly common.

Under the bill, those companies must provide employees in Oregon, starting on July 18, with written estimates of their work schedules seven days in advance, with the required scheduling notice increased to two weeks beginning in July 2020.

RELATED: Coast-to-Coast American Workers Fight for Stable Schedules

Workers also would be entitled to a break of at least 10 hours between work shifts from one day to the next, and to receive extra pay if they agreed to a shorter rest interval – typically between closing hours at night and opening hours the next morning.

Moreover, the bill protects employees from workplace retaliation for merely expressing a scheduling preference to their bosses.

RELATED: Yes, We Can Do Something About Insecure Work in America

Work schedule predictability has emerged as a major issue causing growing anxiety in the American labor force even as the U.S. jobless rate has fallen to below-average levels.

Supporters of Oregon’s bill cite recent studies showing volatile work hours becoming increasingly common, posing difficulties in managing personal finances, arranging for child care and making doctor’s appointments, especially for single working parents.

One in six Oregon workers reported having less than 24 hours notice of their job shifts; nearly three-quarters said they were notified of work schedules two weeks or less in advance; and 44 percent said they had worked back-to-back shifts, such as closing one day and opening the next, according to a report from the Labor Education Research Center of the University of Oregon and Portland State University.

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How the Law Works

Under SB 828, retail, hotel, and food service establishments that have 500 or more employees worldwide must:

  • Provide new hires with a written good faith estimate of their work schedule
  • Post work schedules at least 7 days in advance (14 days after July 1, 2020).
  • Provide at least 10 hours between work shifts (unless the employee requests or consents to work otherwise, in which case they earn time-and-a-half for hours worked less than 10 hours after the previous shift)
  • Compensate employees for schedule changes: An extra hour of pay for each time more than 30 minutes is added to a shift, or the date or start time of a shift is changed with no loss of hours, or an additional work or on-call shift is added; and an extra half an hour of pay for each scheduled hour that an employee doesn’t end up working because the employer cancels a shift or changes the start or end time of a shift.
  • Pay half-time for each hour that an employee is on-call but isn’t called in to work.

The employers aren’t required to pay for schedule changes that employees initiate. And they can maintain a standby list of employees who are willing to work extra hours on short notice in case of unanticipated customer needs or unexpected employee absences.

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Oregon’s legislation, which sponsors say would mark the first of its kind in the nation, follows the enactment of similar measures by several cities, including Seattle, San Francisco and San Jose, California.

The bill cleared the Oregon’s House of Representatives on Thursday on a bipartisan vote of 46-13. The state Senate passed the measure last week on a vote of 23-6, following extensive negotiations between Democrats and Republicans.

YOUR TURN

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