Oregon is the first state to mandate that the state’s largest employers in the retail industry, as well as in the hospitality and food service industries – those with more than 500 workers – provide employees with their schedules, in writing, at least a week ahead of time. They’ll also have to give workers a 10-hour break between shifts, or offer them “stress pay.” The law, called the Oregon Fair Work Week Act, targets on-call scheduling in lower-wage industries, such as fast food and retail. Fair scheduling has increasingly become a major issue for low-wage workers, particularly in these sectors, as companies often rely on such employees to be available for last-minute schedules with little to no notice. This often causes workers’ schedules to fluctuate a great deal, and makes planning for child care, transportation, and other responsibilities more difficult.
San Francisco, Seattle, and New York City all have similar scheduling regulations and ordinances in place. The Oregon law may be a sign that the movement is about to jump from cities to states. A handful of other blue-state Attorneys General also are looking into similar legislation. Scheduling laws are just the latest addition to an agenda of state-level progressive legislation, inspired by city-level reforms, to help the 25 million Americans who work in retail and food service. Other pro-worker legislation passed in states such as Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, and Tennessee includes paid sick leave laws, bans on non-competition agreements, and minimum wage hikes.
Conservative states have, not surprisingly, opposed the movement. But voters seem to generally approve of protections for low-wage workers. In November 2016, Arizona voted by referendum to mandate paid sick days, signaling that the trend is even expanding into traditional red states.
The Oregon law goes into effect in July 2018.