Schedules That Work Act is the Next Assault on Profitability

Jul 29, 2014 8:59 PM  By

Here is the latest assault on our industry’s profitability – federal legislation requiring over scheduling part time worker.  Our call center and fulfillment centers in many cases use part time labor and flexible schedules to adjust to order and shipping variations that we could not predict in advance.  Or even a few days in advance.

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statis­tics, 66 percent of food service workers, 52 percent of retail workers, and 40 percent of janitors and housekeepers know their schedules only a week or less in advance.  Part time worker’s personal schedules have been complicated by Obamacare pushing employees to more part time positions to reduce the cost of health care expense.

U.S. Reps George Miller and Rosa L. DeLauro introduced a Schedules That Work Act (H.R. 5159) to help part-time workers secure stable schedules.  There’s another version of the bill brewing in the Senate. Senators Tom Harkin and Elizabeth Warren are the sponsors of the Senate’s version of the bill to be introduced in next few weeks.

According to the National Women’s Law Center’s summary of the Schedules That Work bill, it would have several goals: to provide employees with the right to request and receive a flexible, predictable or stable work schedule; ensure that employees who show up for a scheduled shift, only to be sent home, receive at least four hours’ worth of pay; and ensure that if employees’ schedule were to change, they are to be notified with a new schedule at two weeks before it goes into effect. It would also prevent employers from retaliating against employees who ask for schedule changes.  The link as a very readable four page summary but also has their political perspective.

AFL-CIO NOW (Political Action Legislation) touts an article, 11 Ways the ‘Schedules that Work’ Act Would Make the Lives of Working Families Better.  It also delivers the message that these are rights union workers have enjoyed for years.

Bloggers in the Internet sphere are blaming Obamacare, wage and price controls after WWII, etc., anything that suits their argument.  It demonstrates the vitriol this Act will add to the national stage in an election year.

I believe fairness to employees is important.  Our industry uses schedule flexibility to bring in or send home people when order levels vary not according to plans or expectations.  Not having the flexibility to adjust work schedules quickly will kill company profitability and ultimately sacrifice jobs.  Write your congressmen.  Find out what your state legislators are considering. Head this Act off.

Curt Barry is president of F. Curtis Barry & Company.