Retailers: D.C. Scheduling Law Would Have “Sweeping Unintended Consequences”

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nrf logoWashington –The National Retail Federation weighed in today on behalf of Washington, D.C.’s 7,000 retail establishments against proposed restrictive scheduling legislation being considered by the D.C. city council.

“Scheduling mandates are restrictive for all parties involved and have sweeping unintended consequences” NRF’s Senior Vice President for Government Relations David French wrote in a letter to the city council’s Committee on Business, Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.

The proposed city-wide law would require retailers and restaurants to post schedules for their employees 21 days in advance, with steep penalties attached to any changes made thereafter.

In its letter, NRF elaborated on how this restrictive approach “ties the hands of employers and takes away the flexibility and opportunities that many D.C. residents seek in a retail job.”

“The local retail industry is competitive and fast-paced and revolves around a number of variables. Currently, if an employee calls in sick, wants to attend an event at their child’s school, needs extra time for a school paper, or any other host of circumstances, retailers are able to accommodate those often last minute requests by offering those shifts to other employees without incurring government penalty. Similarly, if a delivery truck is delayed because of bad weather or it unexpectedly warm December weather increases foot traffic, retailers are able to adapt to ensure proper staffing levels and great customer service. These circumstances cannot be predicted 21 days in advance and an employer should not be punished with a fine for accommodating an employee’s schedule change or other circumstances beyond [the employer’s] control.”

NRF also warned, “The District’s unique geographic location makes it extremely vulnerable to competition from surrounding jurisdictions that are not subject to the same laws.” When compared with other states, D.C. has the second-highest unemployment rate in the country. The District’s jobless rate of 6.6%  in November 2015 was significantly higher than neighboring Virginia (4.2%) and Maryland (5.3%), according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The letter concluded, “The council should proceed with caution when considering measures that place D.C. businesses and employment opportunities for our residents at a competitive disadvantage.”

Last year, San Francisco passed similar legislation, and similar bills are under consideration in Massachusetts, New York, and California, as well as in Congress.

According to the National Law Review, the D.C. Council has been increasingly active in raising (and passing) new employee-friendly laws. In the past 18 months, the D.C. Council has passed the Wage Theft Prevention Amendment Act, Protecting Pregnant Workers Fairness Act of 2014, Fair Criminal Record Screening Act of 2014, and Wage Transparency Amendment Act, and has recently proposed a plan to provide D.C. employees with 16 weeks of paid sick leave.

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