I wrote the post below as an editorial in the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Because The Scheudles That Work Act is of national importance I want to make sure this issue receives the attention that it deserves by promoting awareness of it as broadly as possible. I hope you’ll take the time to read my editorial and pass it along to concerned citizens in your area.
Workers deserve some certainty in their work schedules. Why? Because we all have need to plan for child care, time for school, transportation, or simply time to pay bills and manage the household. It’s basic fairness.
But don’t you, a friend or an acquaintance work a job with unpredictable and irregular work schedules? You’ve probably noticed that irregular and on-call scheduling are increasingly common. It’s especially common in the fastest-growing areas of our economy—- cleaning, janitorial, retail and restaurant work.
These scheduling practices can devastate the worker and her/his family. The practices demand the worker choose between his job or his family. They often lead to the worker being fired.
Vermont and San Francisco have already passed laws to help employers and workers avoid this devastation.
Senator Tom Harkin has now proposed The Schedules That Work Act to help workers balancework duties with family duties. The Act helps both workers and employers by:
Protecting all employees from retaliation for requesting a more flexible, predictable or stable schedule.
Creating a process under which an employer considers a worker’s schedule request in a way that’s sensitive to the needs of the worker and her/his family. For example, schedule requests based on caregiving duties, health conditions, pursuing education or the need to meet the demands of a second job, must be granted, unless the employer has a good business reason for denying it.
Compensating retail, food service, and cleaning workers for at least four hours of work if an employee reports to work when scheduled for at least four hours but is sent home early.
Providing that retail, food service, and cleaning employees receive work schedules at least two weeks in advance. Though schedules may later be changed, one hour’s worth of extra pay is required for schedules changed with less than twenty-four (24) hours’ notice.
Providing workers an extra hour of pay if scheduled to work split shifts or non-consecutive shifts, within a single day.
Kudos to Senator Harkin! Some politicians and billionaire-driven PACs parrot “Iowa values” as a campaign slogan. Senator Harkin, on the contrary, uses those values to create legislation like the ADA and The Schedules That Work Act.