In November 2014 the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed two new ordinances – together referred to as the Retail Workers Bill of Rights – aimed at protecting the rights of retail workers. The ordinances took effect in July 2015. As we enter the holiday shopping season, retailers are aggressively hiring contingent workers to augment their workforces. This will be the first true test of the impact of this new legislation.
The Retail Workers’ Bill of Rights aims to protect retail workers from erratic work schedules. The bill applies to chain retail employers operating in San Francisco with at least 40 worldwide locations, and 20 or more workers in the San Francisco metropolitan areas. Examples of such establishments include chain and big box stores, financial service businesses, movie theaters, and chain and fast food restaurants.
What problem is being addressed? Throughout the retail sector, computer algorithms help to manage inventory; making it possible to toggle the supply of inventory to the last minute and to keep it just-in-time. These algorithms also manage their workers’ schedules to meet requirements just-in-time. When sales boom, they deploy more workers and when they slump, the worker is asked to leave for the day – or made to wait in hopes that the situation will improve. Of course, the worker is paid only for the hours actually worked.
However, scheduling people‘s work is not the same as moving furniture and electronics goods around. Some of the issues that have gained the attention of lawmakers with the retail sector’s treatment of its workers include:
A recent study conducted by the research and policy center Demos and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) indicates that across America, people of color in the retail industry often hold the lowest-paid positions and are given fewer hours. Thirty percent of women in the retail industry live in poverty or near poverty. San Francisco hopes that the Retail Workers Bill of Rights will begin to turn this around.
To stay compliant with the tenets of the bill, employers will need to review their processes and make sure that:
Employees covered by the Retail Workers Bill of Rights include everyone, including temporary and seasonal personnel, who in a particular week perform at least 2 hours of work and who qualifies for state minimum wage, or is scheduled for an on-call shift of at least 2 hours, regardless of whether the person actually reports for the on-call shift.
Non-compliance with the law invites the imposition of penalties from San Francisco’s Office of Labor Standards Enforcement. Similar bills are under consideration in Minnesota, Milwaukee, New York and Santa Clara, as legislators take on the duty to fix workers’ issues.
We are monitoring the impact that these ordinances have on the use of seasonal contingent workers, and will report back to you in January. While this blog speaks to how the worker benefits from this legislation, we also want to report on this issue from the retailer’s perspective. Has it caused you to alter your seasonal hiring plans? How much administrative effort is involved in enforcing the ordinances? How often are you required to pay for hours not worked with situations require last-minute schedule changes? Let us know and we will publish your experiences.
Mail (will not be published) (required)
+ seven = 12
Thanks for Subscribing to DCR Blog.