Citing the complexity of the issue, the Washington Retail Association is urging Seattle Mayor Ed Murray to slow down drafting “secure scheduling” legislation designed to give retail workers more predictability in their work hours.
The Washington Retail Association is urging Seattle Mayor Ed Murray to slow down drafting “secure scheduling” legislation designed to give retail workers more predictability in their work hours.
“Given the complexity of this issue – and the very real risk of its unintended consequences adversely impacting our employees – we urge you to slow down the drafting process to ensure the best possible understanding of] its impacts,” the retail association wrote in a letter to the mayor Tuesday.
“Employee scheduling is an extraordinarily complex process for businesses,” the letter continues. “A myriad of factors impact how businesses schedule their employees, from the size and type of business to weather and employee illness.”
The mayor and city council have been working on a “secure scheduling” law for months, with worker and employer groups meeting separately to pin down what could work for them.
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The law is designed to address the erratic and variable schedules of retail and food service workers, some of whom say they aren’t assigned enough hours to make ends meet, that their hours fluctuate wildly week to week or that they don’t get much advance notice of their schedules.
A city council committee plans to hear the main points of what will be in the draft legislation next Tuesday.
A public hearing is scheduled for Aug. 16.
The committee will meet for two more hearings before aiming to get legislation to the full council by mid-September.
The retail association contends that many of the provisions under consideration, and a “one size fits all” scheduling law covering different kinds of retailers, would result in fewer hours and less flexibility for workers.
”If we had more time to evaluate it, we’d appreciate it,” Jan Teague, president and CEO of the Washington Retail Association, said in a phone interview Friday. “We’re still trying to study the issue with them and get them to understand us. We don’t see that they really understand our different kinds of business models. We’re not all the same.”
The association said in its letter that it has submitted public records requests to the mayor’s office to shed more light on how the scheduling legislation is being developed, and to better understand a city-commissioned study on Seattle retail and food workers’ scheduling practices and their effects on employees.
The association had expressed “serious concerns about the methodology and presentation” of the study in an earlier letter to Mayor Murray last week.
The retail group said it wants time to review the public records before legislation goes to the city council.
The group also has concerns about several provisions that are under consideration including:
• Requiring 14 days advance notice of schedules.
• Not distinguishing between employee-initiated and employer-initiated changes in work schedules, meaning employers would pay a higher wage to a worker called in to fill a shift for a sick co-worker.
• Requiring a five-day period for employers to offer additional hours to existing employees before they can hire new ones.
• 10 hours rest between shifts.
Details on those provisions are still being worked out.
Currently, there is some distinction being made between employee-initiated and employer-initiated schedule changes, said Alex Clardy, legislative assistant to Councilmember Lisa Herbold, who’s spearheading the scheduling law, along with Councilmember M. Lorena González.
If an employee wants to swap shifts with another employee, they can do so without the employer having to pay a higher wage to the worker covering the shift. If an employee gets a flat tire on the way to work, and the employer sends out a “mass communication” rather than asking a specific employee to fill the shift, the employer would not pay the higher amount to the worker who fills in, Clardy said.