On July 22th, 2013, George Miller, a Democratic congressman from California, and Rosa DeLauro, a Democratic congresswoman from Connecticut, introduced the Schedules That Work Act (H.R. 5159). The proposed legislation would grant employees or temporary workers a right to request schedule changes based on caregiving responsibilities, education and training pursuits, health conditions, or the ability to obtain and keep a second job, unless the employer has a bona fide reason for denying the change. The purpose of the labor standards bill is to provide more work schedule stability for lower-wage and hourly employees.
The bill seeks to give employees the right to ask for limits to fluctuations in their hours scheduled per day, week or month. If adopted, the bill would require employers to pay workers for an extra hour of work if they are called to work with less than a day’s notice. The bill would also require employers to pay for four hours of work when they send employees home after a few hours, a practice businesses often employ to save costs when business is slow.
Another provision of his bill would require companies to accommodate employee requests for schedules that will allow them to care for family members or attend school, unless there is a bona fide business reason to deny the request.
San Francisco and Vermont already have laws giving workers the right to request flexible or predictable schedules to make it easier to take care of children or aging parents. Last month, President Obama ordered federal agencies to give this right to request to two million federal workers.
Employers have been scheduling part-time employees only a few hours a week, and hiring more employees. This has required many part-time employees to obtain a second job, although this is difficult to maintain when one of both jobs give little notice of hours to be worked. The new legislation reflects a growing national movement to protect employees from assignment of just one or two days of work a week or requiring employees to work unpredictable hours. Such practices negatively affect families throughout the country.