Lisa Morrison loves her job in the floral department at Safeway on U.S. Highway 20 in Bend, but she said the company’s practice of giving three days’ notice of work schedules has created a lot of stress in her life.
So, she made two trips to Salem this year with representatives of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555 to lobby legislators on the workplace scheduling bill that passed June 29 with bipartisan support.
“We didn’t think it was going to pass, but I was celebrating merrily when I heard it did pass,” she said.
Oregon’s workplace scheduling legislation, Senate Bill 828, which Gov. Kate Brown is expected to sign, will apply to retail, restaurant and hospitality companies with more than 500 employees worldwide. Starting July 1, 2018, Oregon will require those companies to give seven days’ notice of workweek schedules. Then on July 1, 2020, the advance notice requirement shifts to 14 days.
Another major provision of the act addresses so-called “clopening” shifts, in which workers close a store and then return to open it. Oregon will require at least 10 hours of rest between shifts, unless employees consent otherwise.
The Oregon legislation could affect anyone who works at a national retail chain, including grocery stores, department stores and corporate-owned restaurants. Some retailers will have to make more changes than others. Starbucks, for example, has already changed its practices and says it posts schedules 14 days in advance.
“It’s a good law to have,” said Bekah Perkins, who works at the downtown Bend coffee shop Looney Bean, which is exempt from the law. In past retail jobs, she said she’s had as little as two days’ notice of the next week’s schedule and as much as two weeks. The predictable schedule is something she likes about her current job. “I get two weeks in advance, and I know what I’m doing with my life.”
Seattle, Washington, D.C., and New York have passed their own workplace scheduling laws. That’s one reason Republican Sen. Tim Knopp of Bend said he got involved with the bill, which was amended to reflect feedback from major industry lobbies, including the Northwest Grocery Association and Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association. The law preempts local governments in Oregon from creating their own workplace scheduling laws. Knopp said that was a “critically important” element.
The Center for Popular Democracy in New York is pushing “fair workweek” legislation around the country, and Oregon is the first state to adopt it.
Knopp said he also sympathized with retail and hospitality workers who are working more than one job while also trying to care for children or elders.
Posting schedules on less than a week’s notice is common practice in the grocery industry, said Jeff Anderson, secretary-treasurer of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555. The local represents about 24,000 people at Safeway, Albertsons and Fred Meyer stores in Oregon and southwest Washington, he said, and about 700 of those workers are in Bend, Redmond and Madras.
The union contracts require Safeway and Fred Meyer to post schedules by noon Thursday for the workweek starting the following Sunday, Anderson said. Fred Meyer posts schedules for the next two weeks, though changes are often made to the second week, he said.
A Safeway spokeswoman did not respond to a request for information about the company’s scheduling practices.
“This new law supplants many years of bargaining history where all terms and conditions of employment — including scheduling rules — have been agreed upon as a package,” Fred Meyer spokesman Jeffery Temple stated in an email. He said Fred Meyer already complies with the seven-day notice requirement and has scheduled 10 days in advance for many years.
“We also already give employees at least eight hours’ rest between shifts, so adhering to the 10 hours between shifts aligns similarly with our philosophy.”
Morrison said she felt the impact of Safeway’s scheduling a year ago when she was going through post-surgery physical therapy. “Once in a while I would get lucky, and I would be able to keep my appointments,” she said.
Scheduling is a constant source of distress for co-workers who have children or rely on their Safeway jobs to make ends meet, Morrison said. “They’ll look at you in the break room with a look of stress,” she said.
Workers need to know how many hours they’ll be working, as well as which days, so they can budget, Morrison said. The Oregon legislation requires companies to provide “good faith estimate” schedules, including the median number of weekly hours, to new hires.
Oregon will allow employers to create a voluntary standby pool, which they can draw upon for last-minute needs of the business, and they can make late schedule changes for unforeseen events, such as bad weather. Otherwise, employers could be subject to penalty pay for late schedule changes.
Oregon’s law doesn’t apply to small businesses, including franchisees, or other industries, like call centers, where workers complain about unpredictable scheduling.
“We got a lot of people going, ‘Add us, add us,’” Anderson said. Call center workers were especially interested in being covered by Oregon’s fair workweek law, but they were left out, he said. “We felt we had to focus this law on what we know to be the bigger abusers of this standard.”
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