War on Women: Workplace Flexibility Fails Again in California

Judy Lloyd
President of Altamont Strategies

Efforts supported by countless business organizations to promote greater flexibility to employees’ schedules have once again failed in California.  This week, two measures authored by Senator Bob Dutton (R-Rancho Cucamonga) were killed legislatively by Democrats during a hearing of the Senate Industrial and Labor Relations Committee.

Both bills were listed as “job creators” by the California Chamber of Commerce on the 2012 list of legislation that would improve the state’s job climate and help California’s economic recovery.

S.B. 1114 would have allowed employees to opt into an alternate work week schedule of up to 10 hours per day and 40 hours per week. S.B. 1115 would have allowed businesses with 10 or fewer employees to establish alternative workweek schedules of up to 10 hours per day and 40 hours per week.  SB 1114 failed on a 1-4 vote, while SB 1115 was defeated, 1-3; both on party-line votes.

I have always been a proponent of such measures because they –

(1)  Give employers the opportunity to offer flex-scheduling to its workers

(2)  Ease traffic as workers would likely stay off congested highways one work day per week – also saving on gasoline in this era of higher prices at the pump

(3)  Give family time options to workers allowing them flexibility to volunteer at their child’s school, schedule their child’s doctor appointments or attend a daytime school assembly.

Senator Bob Dutton in a statement said:  “These measures would have helped both the employee and employer during these tough economic times. Instead, the Majority Party continues to send the message to the business community that they’re not interested in making it easier for businesses to create jobs in this state. It’s not surprising that California continues to have the second highest unemployment rate in the country and is one of the most expensive places to do business in the United States.”

Workplace flexibility was among Presidential priorities during President Bush’s Administration when I worked at the Labor Department.  I see it highlighted again on the U.S. Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau website.  It will be interesting to see in weeks and months ahead how President Obama’s Labor Department, headed by former California 32nd District Congresswoman Hilda Soliz will handle this issue which is clearly not favored by Democrats or unions in California.

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