Fair Workweek

Action Items

  1. Support the passage of SB 850, which would require employers to give employees a work schedule seven days in advance, with modification pay for schedule changes after the advance notice period.

  2. Closely monitor the enforcement of recently passed AB 1003, which raises penalties for employers committing intentional wage theft. Introduce legislation to strengthen ease of reporting and enforcement if needed.

  3. Explore additional policy ideas such as the following:

    1. A law that would give workers more time to rest between shifts (it's currently 10 minutes for every 4 hours worked or "major fraction thereof").

    2. An enhanced split shift law that would require employers to provide additional pay to workers who are required to work shifts that include a gap of unpaid time on the same day, without deducting the margin above minimum wage paid for that day.

    3. A law that would give workers greater access to paid hours if certain conditions are met. According to the US Department of Labor, access to benefits is greater in industries that have higher scheduled weekly hours of work.

    4. A law that strengthens anti-retaliation protections for workers who report noncompliance with wage and labor laws.

The exploitation of workers, particularly those making subsistence wages, is a disgrace. All workers should have the assurance of not being cheated out of their pay, as well as predictable work schedules from week to week. The introduction of scheduling algorithms have sometimes made the latter issue even worse. Columbia professor Cathy O'Neil vividly describes the detrimental impact of unpredictable work schedules on low-wage workers in her book Weapons of Math Destruction:

Scheduling software also creates a poisonous feedback loop. Consider Starbucks employee Jannette Navarro. Her haphazard scheduling made it impossible for her to return to school, which dampened her employment prospects and kept her in the oversupplied pool of low-wage workers. Since the software is designed to save companies money, it often limits workers’ hours to fewer than thirty per week, so that they are not eligible for company health insurance. And with their chaotic schedules, most find it impossible to make time for a second job. It’s almost as if the software were designed expressly to punish low-wage workers and to keep them down. The software also condemns a large percentage of our children to grow up without routines. They experience their mother bleary eyed at breakfast or hurrying out the door without dinner, or arguing with her mother about who can take care of them on Sunday morning. This chaotic life affects children deeply. They’re more likely to have “inferior cognition and behavioral outcomes.”

I will pledge my full support for the passage of SB 850, which will ensure a predictable work schedule for employees. I will also closely monitor the enforcement of AB 1003, which was recently signed into law. AB 1003 raises penalties for employers committing intentional wage theft. If additional measures for ease of reporting and/or enforcement are needed, I will introduce the appropriate legislation. I will also explore the policy ideas listed above in the Action Items: more rest between shifts, enhanced split shift law, greater access to paid hours, and stronger anti-retaliation protections.