The Oregon legislature passed the Fair Work Week Act (SB 828) on June 29, 2017 and the potential new law awaits Governor Brown’s signature before implementation. If implemented, the new law would be the first of its kind adopted by a U.S. State.
Supporters claim passage of the Fair Work Week Act as a win for workers in the retail, hospitality and food service industries. Opponents of the Fair Work Week Act criticize the new regulations and predict that they will drive economic growth away from Oregon.
Following is an overview of the main elements of the Fair Work Week Act.
Who is Covered
The Fair Work Week Act applies to businesses in the retail, hospitality and food service industries with 500 or more employees worldwide (“Covered Employers”).
Hourly wage employees are generally covered by the Fair Work Week Act. However, salaried workers and workers on lease from outsourcing firms are generally exempted from the requirements of the Fair Work Week Act.
New Key Restrictions
Assuming that Governor Brown signs the Fair Work Week Act into law, then effective in July 2018, Covered Employers will be required to provide employees with seven days’ notice describing their schedules, including on call shifts for the following week. Effective July 1, 2020, the seven-day notice period becomes even longer at two weeks.
After a work schedule is set, the Fair Work Week Act requires additional pay to the employee if a Covered Employer requests a change in the set work schedule. In addition, the Fair Work Week prohibits Covered Employees from scheduling work shifts that do not allow specified rest time between shifts unless the employee consents and receives additional pay for time worked during the rest time.
For violations of the Fair Work Week Act, the affected employees and the State of Oregon will be able to seek penalties and other remedies in court.
How Workers and Businesses May Choose to Lessen the Impact of the Restrictions
Despite the new restrictions imposed on Covered Employees, the Fair Work Week Act also creates the concept of a standby list. By adding themselves to a standby list, workers can voluntarily accept additional work hours from Covered Employers without the advance notice and extra pay requirements of the anticipated new law.
Theoretically, the standby list means that before needing to pay extra for last minute work requests and shift changes, Covered Employers should be able to dip into a pool of standby employees who are willing to accept last minute work hours without the extra pay required by the Fair Work Week Act.
However, whether the standby list concept proves successful at balancing the needs of Covered Employees and worker rights advocates remains to be seen.