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Proposed California Employment Law Targets Varying Work Schedules

Food service and retail workers already know this, but work schedules in these industries can vary greatly from month to month, or even week to week. California State Senator Connie Leyva is well aware of these challenges as she had worked in grocery stores and in representation of grocery store union members for three decade before her run for political office. Sen. Leyva co-authored a similar bill last summer that failed to prevail. Now she's tackling the problem again with Senate Bill 878.

SB 878

This proposed legislation won't change how retail, grocery store and California restaurant employers schedule workers, or even how responsive they must be to their employee's requests. Instead it requires employers to provide at least 7 days notice on 21-day work schedules. Estimated costs to the Department of Industrial Relations range between 1 million and 3.6 million dollars. It's believed that these financial expenditures will be necessary to add more staff to handle the expected increase in wage and retaliation claims.

Some changes under this bill include the following:

  • Employee will be paid for one additional hour at regular wage when the employer changes his shift within 7 days but at least one day prior to the shift.
  • Worker will be paid additional half-time for hours worked when his work shift is changed within a day of the shift start.
  • On-call shift workers will receive additional pay if their shift is changed. The extra payments will equal half their scheduled hours, subject to a minimum of two hours and a maximum of four hours.

These rules only apply to changes made by the employer.

The Opposition

Not surprisingly, many employers strongly oppose this proposed law. They argue that the new rules will actually kill jobs and destroy schedule flexibility. Moreover, it put the onus on employees to deal with last minute schedule changes, deterring the ability to pick up extra hours at the last minute. As of March, San Francisco already implemented changes in this area for specific employers. They are required to provide 2 week's notice to a worker of any work schedule changes. Opponents of SB 878 point to San Francisco as evidence of the new law's problems, claiming that it has been very problematic for businesses. Proponents deny that there are major issues. So, if adopted, how will the new law affect California statewide? At this point, only time will tell.

If you are facing a wage and labor dispute in California, contact a seasoned employment lawyer to review your circumstances and determine how best to proceed to protect your rights.

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