Scheduling for some employees could become a lot more predictable under proposed New York state regulations that would penalize employers who call workers in or cancel their shifts without adequate notice.
Proponents said the New York Labor Department rules would ensure a less disruptive work life for employees, especially those who work a second job or need child care. But some employers and their advocates criticized the proposed changes as too costly and restrictive.
The rules were drafted after the Labor Department held hearings around the state last year. The comment period ended Jan. 22. The department hasn’t yet issued the final rules.
The proposed changes have four key parts:
• If an employer fails to inform an employee of a schedule change at least 14 days in advance, the company would have to pay that worker an extra two hours at minimum wage, which is currently $11 on Long Island and $12 to $13 in New York City, depending on the size of the company.
• If an employee’s shift is canceled less than 72 hours before it begins, the employee would have to be paid for four hours at minimum wage, or fewer hours if the worker’s shift was shorter.
• An employee required to be available to work for any shift must be paid four hours of on-call pay.
• An employee required to contact his or her employer less than 72 hours before the start of a shift to confirm whether to report also must be paid at least four hours at minimum wage.
The current call-in regulation requires employers to pay employees for at least four hours when they report to work but are sent home early. Now, the payment requirement has been extended to scheduling changes and on-call situations.
The rule would cover hourly employees in a variety of industries such as retail and health care, who constantly face changing schedules, experts said.
But the proposal would exempt workers who are covered by different wage orders, such as those in the hospitality industry, which includes restaurants and hotels, as well as those in building services and agriculture. And the proposal also exempts full-time workers it labels as “highly compensated,” defined as those earning weekly wages that are at least 40 times the minimum hourly wage. And the rule wouldn’t cover workers whose contracts provide call-in pay.
Reaction to the proposed regulations has been mixed.
“The draft call-in pay regulations are an important effort to address widespread instability in hours of work and, therefore, income for low-wage workers,” said Helen Schaub, state director of policy and legislation at Local 1199 SEIU United Health Care Workers East in Manhattan.
But Republican state Sen. Phil Boyle, chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Economic Development and Small Business, who conducted a hearing on the proposed changes in January, said he wants the proposal withdrawn.
“It could have a devastating effect on jobs in New York state,” he said. “I don’t know what the Labor Department was thinking.”
The Business Council of New York State Inc. also has blasted the proposal.