This year, there is another effort to enact a “predictable scheduling” mandate on California employers, SB 850 (Leyva), which many believe would impose an unfair, one-size-fits-all, scheduling mandate on retail and food employers that penalizes these employers with “additional pay” for making changes to their employees’ schedule. Some of the concerns with such a scheduling mandate are as follows:

One Size Does Not Fit All: This proposal targets any “genheral or retail” establishment with a number of employees and/or locations that includes large retail establishments, restaurants, grocery stores, movie theaters, banks, etc. All of these “retail” establishments have different business models and products that impact their scheduling needs. Accordingly, a scheduling mandate does not work across the board for all of these varied businesses.

Limits Employer’s Flexibility to Respond to Last-Minute Employee Needs/Customer Demands: A mandatory notice of employee schedules does not work for all “retail” establishments and does not consider events that can create a last-minute change including product promotions, new releases, weather changes, reservation cancellations or requests, or local events, all of which can have a huge impact on business demands.

Moreover, the more employees, the more likely businesses will have last minute scheduling changes due to employee needs. This bill discourages employers from being flexible and making such changes by threatening employers with penalties and litigation.

Hurts Part-Time Workers: This proposal would harm part-time workers by: (1) reducing last minute offers of additional hours of work out of concern an employer will be penalized; (2) limiting an employer’s ability to accommodate a part-time employee’s other work schedule/job out of fear of being penalized; and, (3) limiting the number of part-time jobs available in order to avoid scheduling changes or requests. 

Significantly Increases Litigation: A notice mandate and penalty schedule is very similar to the rigid 30-minute, uninterrupted meal period penalty litigation that employers were subjected to for more than a decade with huge exposure for any violation under Labor Code Section 2698 et. seq., the Private Attorneys General Act, that provides a $100-200 penalty, per employee, per pay period for any violation, with automatic attorney’s fees for the employee only. 

Chris Micheli is a Principal with the Sacramento governmental relations firm of Aprea & Micheli, Inc.