PORTLAND — Oregon’s Democratic lawmakers say they will be tackling a new workplace issue next year: a practice they’re calling “flexible scheduling.”
“It’s going to be a big deal,” said Sen. Michael Dembrow, a Portland Democrat who took up the issue Thursday, the second day of Capitol hearings meant to shape next year’s agenda.
Dembrow says he plans to introduce legislation in 2017 that would require some employers to give workers early notice of scheduling changes.
It’s not clear yet which companies would be covered by the proposal, but it would likely be similar to laws in Seattle and San Francisco. Those cities require companies with 500 or more employees to provide two weeks’ notice of scheduling changes. In Seattle, employers must also provide compensation.
Getting buy-in from businesses might take some work, however. When lawmakers tried to hold a work group on the idea earlier this year, every business interest walked away at the first meeting.
The Oregon Farm Bureau, Oregon Trucking Association, Associated Oregon Industries, Northwest Grocery Association and Portland Business Alliance all signed a June 1 letter withdrawing from the group.
Sandra McDonough, president and CEO of the Portland Business Alliance, said some of these regulations can have a negative impact on workers.
“The reality is that when employees get sick, they should stay home,” McDonough said. “And when they do, an employer needs the flexibility to call on another employee to take their place.”
Dembrow countered that people in low-wage jobs have been disproportionately affected by the practice.
“Employees who are already scrambling to find child care and who are working multiple part-time jobs might find they have a new assignment just a day or two before they are supposed to show up,” he said. “Unfortunately, it’s something we are seeing a lot of, especially in the retail and hospitality industries.”