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3 Things To Know About On-Call Scheduling

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By Christopher Coble, Esq. on April 17, 2015 10:57 AM

Good business means keeping costs low and earnings high to maximize profits. However, sometimes business practices can be too efficient, and workers are hurt by that efficiency.

One of those harmful business practices is on-call scheduling. New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is now investigating 13 large retailers, including Gap, Target, and Abercrombie & Fitch, for on-call shift practices that may violate the state's reporting time pay laws. The investigation comes after the office received complaints from workers who have been sent home early from shifts, told not to come in to work while already on their way to work, or who have to call in hours before their shift to see if they are scheduled to work.

Here are three things business owners should know about the law regarding on-call shifts:

1. Reporting Time Pay Laws

Eight states and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have reporting time pay laws that require some level of minimum payments for employees sent home early from shifts. The laws vary slightly from state to state:

  • California - When employees report to work, but are given less than half of the scheduled day's work, the employer must pay employee, at her regular rate of pay, for half of the scheduled day's work, up to four hours.
  • District of Columbia - When employees report to work as scheduled, but are given less than four hours of work, the employee must be paid for at least four hours, at the regular rate of pay for hours worked and minimum wage for hours not worked.
  • Massachusetts - If an employee is scheduled to work more than three hours but sent home before working three hours, the employer must pay employees for at least three hours at minimum wage.

2. San Francisco's Retail Workers' Bill of Rights

Last year, San Francisco passed the Retail Workers' Bill of Rights. This law requires retail chains that have 11 or more locations and employ 20 or more people in San Francisco to give workers at least two weeks' advanced notice of their schedule, or give workers additional "predictability pay." Workers must also be paid for canceled on-call shifts.

While this law only applies in San Francisco, other cities like Milwaukee, New York, and Santa Clara, are pushing for similar bills.

3. Schedules That Work Act

Last June, Congressman George Miller and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro introduced the Schedules That Work Act. This act mirrors the Retail Workers' Bill of Rights. Employers are required to give two weeks' notice of work schedules, pay employees an hour's pay for each shift changed within 24 hours, and pay for on-call shifts.

The bill died in the last Congress, but I wouldn't be surprised if a similar bill is introduced again soon.

If you need help ensuring that your business is complying with your state's reporting time pay laws, an experienced local business attorney will be able to help.

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