LOS ANGELES (KABC) — The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday voted in favor of an ordinance that requires retail employers to provide employees with work schedules at least 14 days in advance and take at least 10 hours off between shifts.
The Los Angeles Fair Work Week Ordinance, proposed by Councilor Curren Price in 2019, has undergone various discussions and changes over the past three years. It attempts to mitigate the unpredictability of retail workers’ work hours.
Price said the regulation – which will return to the council for a second vote next week – will affect an estimated 70,000 workers at major Los Angeles retailers.
“We need to recognize the gaps and the multiple concerns our workers face, and we need to put their needs ahead of company profits,” Price said. “This is the least we can do to show them our sincere appreciation and gratitude for the work they are doing.”
According to a UCLA study cited in the regulation, 80% of Los Angeles residents of 140,000 who work in the retail sector have “unpredictable, short-term and fluctuating work weeks that are beyond their control,” and more than three-quarters receive less than a week in advance of their schedules.
“My experience with my scheduling is different every week,” said Heidi Lopez, who works at a grocery store. “I don’t know when I work in the morning, when I work in the evening. I plan to close until midnight and then come back at six in the morning.”
The regulation, which will come into effect once approved next April, only applies to retail businesses with 300 or more employees worldwide.
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Council President Paul Krekorian described the ordinance as “a catalytic change in the way retail will operate in our city,” and Councilman Paul Koretz called its passage “one of LA City Council’s proudest moments.”
“It makes many things in life possible and workable without causing undue harm to employers,” Koretz said.
The regulation also requires employers to provide workers with a “good faith estimate” of their work schedule upon hiring. If workers work a shift that starts less than 10 hours after the previous shift, employers would have to pay one and a half times wages.
The council approved 11 new posts in the Bureau of Contract Administration to help implement and enforce the regulation.
The ordinance “represents the strength and value of the labor movement,” according to Councilor Monica Rodriguez.
“This monumental change and passage of this new regulation, I believe, will help to be a catalytic force in helping us lift more families out of poverty,” Rodriguez said.
Other major cities including San Francisco, Seattle, New York and Oregon have passed similar policies, according to Price’s motion.
Steve McCarthy, vice president of public policy and regulatory affairs for the California Retailers Association, had asked the Council’s Committee on Economic Development and Employment to delay implementation of the regulation until September 2023 to give stores more time to revise their policies, introduce new software and train management. McCarthy also requested that an administrative process be initiated before any lawsuits are filed under the ordinance.
“Retailers and other businesses continue to grapple with COVID-related regulations, supply chain challenges and labor shortages,” the association said in a statement. “Even as the pandemic finally recedes, many of these challenges will remain for some time, so these policies result in significant new compliance hurdles being piled onto what is still an extraordinary time.”
Employees are not required to seek coverage for scheduled hours when they are unable to work for a reason covered by other laws. Employers would also have to offer current workers additional hours before hiring new workers.
Employers can be fined up to $500 per penalty for violating the ordinance, payable to the employee.
Rob Nothoff, policy director of the Los Angeles Federation of Labor, said the ordinance had been “thoroughly analyzed” and reviewed over the past three years.
“Put simply, we have a good jobs crisis here in Los Angeles, with frontline retail workers voicing their demands for better wages, benefits and working conditions,” Nothoff told the committee. “That kind of politics helps answer that bell.”
A lack of workplace safety measures has unnecessarily slowed the region’s economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and created barriers for those hoping to enter the workforce, according to Katie Duberg, policy organizing director for California Work & family coalition.
“Parents and those caring for a critically ill family member need to know their schedule in advance to both work and arrange childcare, elder care or other caregiving responsibilities,” Duberg told the committee.
Amardeep Gil, director of the grocery store & Retail Campaign at the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy said in a statement that when the campaign for the ordinance began five years ago, the group envisioned a “Los Angeles retail economy that provides reliable jobs and stable incomes for working families.” “.
“Today, we’re one step closer to that reality: retail workers will finally be able to plan their budgets, take care of their families, and juggle work and school,” Gil said.
The City News Service contributed to this report.