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Ind. addresses restaurateurs’ new issue: Scheduling restrictions

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The Indiana Senate approved a bill yesterday that prohibits county and municipal governments from passing laws that inhibit the ability of restaurants and other employers to make short-term changes in workers’ schedules.

The move was the latest action on an emerging issue for restaurants. Some areas want to make the income levels of hourly workers more predictable by preventing employers from changing work schedules days or hours before a shift begins. The regulations typically also prohibit employers from sending workers home mid-shift if business is slow.

San Francisco passed a law in 2014 that requires employees to provide monthly work schedules, with penalties assessed if changes are made short-term. The legislation is intended to help workers manage their income with more foresight and less fluctuation from paycheck to paycheck.

Similar legislation was subsequently introduced in the California legislature.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) introduced federal legislation last summer that set new scheduling rules specifically for the restaurant, retail and foodservice industries. The bill required employers in those fields to provide new hires with a guarantee of hours and a work schedule that could not be changed within 14 days of a shift.

A proposal introduced last month in the District of Columbia would require that employees of chain restaurants be provided with a schedule 21 days ahead of time. If the schedule should change within that time, the employer would have to compensate the affected worker with pay for four hours of work.

The measure also prohibits restaurants and retailers from hiring new employees until they have increased the hours of their existing workforce.

In Indiana, no legislation restricting restaurateurs’ scheduling flexibility apparently has been introduced. The bill approved by the state would prohibit local areas from passing scheduling rules and restrictions.  Proponents say the measure is necessary to prevent a patchwork of regulations from arising for restaurants and other industries with a high population of hourly employees.

The bill has been forwarded to the state’s house of representatives.

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