Starting this week, the New York State Labor Department is accepting comments on proposed new regulations for employee scheduling.
If implemented, the sweeping changes would affect how much notice retail and other service sector workers would get before they have to report to work.
"At the beginning of this process, we set out to strike a fair balance in scheduling for both workers and employers," said Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon when the new rules were announced. "The regulations advanced today accomplish just that."
Under the proposed regulations, employees who are called in to work and then sent home would be entitled to at least four hours of pay. They'd get another four hours of pay if they were called in to work for a shift that was not scheduled at least two weeks in advance.
Beth Cordello, a Rochester attorney specializing in labor and employment law, says the changes would affect a broad range of retail workers.
"It's working parents who don't know if they need child care or not, which is very expensive; it's students who are trying to get a degree and schedule their classes; it's people who are juggling multiple jobs; it's people who need routine health care and have a lot of appointments."
Cordello said the regulations are more aggressive than those being considered in other states.
Combined with New York's paid family leave program, which will be phased in starting January 1, she said the predictive scheduling rules would be a lot to adjust to, especially for small businesses.
But the Retail Council of New State issued a statement from president and CEO Ted Potrikus supporting the proposed changes:
Retailers thank Governor Cuomo and Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon for proposing a plan that creates a consistent and uniform policy on employee scheduling guidelines that will take effect across the entire state.
They did not rush recklessly into hastily-drafted laws or proposals that sound good in a press release but ultimately can discourage employers from providing the schedule flexibility that employees today want and need. We look forward to reviewing today’s proposed regulations in detail and are confident that we can reach with them the shared goal of retail job opportunities and schedule flexibility.
These regulations are stronger than any local law could be, particularly because state courts have reserved for the state the jurisdiction over worker protection issues such as employee scheduling.