SALEM — Employers are asking for significant revisions to a bill that would mandate two weeks’ notice for employee schedule changes and penalty pay for changes without the required notice.
The requirements would apply only to retail, hospitality and food services establishments with 100 or more employees in the United States and 25 or more in Oregon.
If passed, the so-called “predictive scheduling” legislation would be the first statewide law of its kind in the nation. Only local jurisdictions, such as San Francisco and Seattle, have passed comparable policies. Similar legislation stalled in the Oregon Legislature in 2015.
A public hearing on the new bill in the Senate Workforce Committee went forward Monday despite several amendments in the works, said Sen. Kathleen Taylor, D-Portland.
Some of the amendments give exemptions for weather-related schedule changes, said Taylor, the committee chairwoman. A complete list of the planned amendments was not immediately available Monday night.
Employers described the proposed regulations as “onerous.”
Betsy Earls, a lobbyist representing Associated Oregon Industries, the Oregon Retail Council and the Oregon Business Council, said the bill curtails employers’ ability to manage store operations and gives “too many hard lines that employers have to follow.”
While the legislation gives exemptions for certain circumstances, it fails to account for the many different scenarios employers encounter, business owners said.
Shawn Miller of the Northwest Grocery Association said the bill would punish employers and employees by removing flexibility from scheduling and put businesses at a competitive disadvantage with companies in other states. The association compiled a chart comparing the legislation to the Seattle ordinance and noted that the Oregon bill is more burdensome.
For instance, Miller requested that lawmakers give an exemption for collective bargaining agreements, as the City of Seattle did in its ordinance.
Not all employers oppose the bill. Representatives from the Main Street Alliance of about 3,500 small business owners spoke in support of the proposed regulations.
Sen. Michael Dembrow, D-Portland, sponsored this year’s legislation after convening a work group on predictive scheduling last year. Several members from the business community boycotted the work group meetings because they said they felt attempts to regulate and tax businesses in Oregon have become increasingly overreaching and anti-business. At the time, they pointed to Ballot Measure 97, which sought to tax certain large corporations on sales. Voters defeated the measure overwhelmingly in November.
Surveys, however, show that employers often schedule employees with less than 24 hours’ notice, said Mary King, a labor economist and professor at Portland State University. King and two researchers from the University of Oregon recently completed a report on their research. With such short notice, some employees cannot find child care, make doctor’s appointments, work second jobs or attend school, she said.
Emerson Wood, a kitchen manager from Portland, testified he was required to work more than 80 hours a week at a restaurant and developed blisters on his feet from overwork.