On Thursday, June 14, 2018, Councilwoman Helen Gym introduced legislation that mandates employers in the fast-food, retail and hospitality industry give at least two weeks’ notice of schedules, offer hours to existing employees when they become available instead of hiring new employees at a lower rate, and pay employees when shifts are canceled.

The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia has serious concerns with the legislation introduced today that will create a rigid mandate for employees and employers related to their work schedules. This is yet another anti-growth out of sync initiative introduced in City Council. The mandated scheduling employee /employer legislation will restrict and discourage economic growth. Our city has a 26 percent poverty rate, therefore our collective focus should be on an inclusive economic growth agenda that creates jobs for Philadelphians. Legislation such as the one proposed earlier today discourages this and threatens many more families living in poverty than it will help. Over and over again, from here in Philadelphia to Seattle and New York, small and large business owners have shared with Councilmembers that the unintended consequences of such legislation would be a reduction in the number of jobs available for part-time workers, like college students, working mothers and others who need a flexible schedule, a reduction in the opportunity to earn extra hours, and a reduction in the number of businesses who bother to open up shop in Philadelphia. This legislation is totally at odds with what our modern citizens expect from their employers: flexibility.

Under the guise of improving worker flexibility, this copycat legislation hurts the very industries where we are seeing growth—the very industries that have put Philadelphia on national and international business site selection lists and travel and tourism lists. This legislation is even out of alignment with the City’s own workforce development strategy as schedules for non-exempt employees are issued with less than one week’s notice. The one size fits all approach that is within the crux of this legislation lacks compassion and the practical reality of what it means to juggle life and work.

Similar legislation has been introduced in New York City, Seattle, San Francisco, Oregon and other municipalities; mandating employers within fast food, retail and hospitality industries to provide employees with their schedules one to four weeks in advance and require employers to provide employees with “predictability pay” if changes to work schedules are made within this window. “Predictability pay” is a form of premium pay designed to penalize employers who make last-minute changes to employee schedules. The amount of predictability pay that must be paid in addition to the employee’s regular compensation depends on how much notice was given to the employee. Under these proposals, companies with 250 or more employees and retail chains would be subject to compliance.

Unintended consequences should not be underestimated. As shared with the Chamber in a number of discussions with businesses with operations in New York City, companies must track all shift changes and keep records for compliance purposes. The added compliance efforts offers less flexibility as employers are less likely to make changes once schedules have been posted.

We are hopeful that since this bill has now been introduced, the prime sponsor will take pause, and seek a wide range of input from Philadelphia-based employers. We look forward to reviewing the bill as well as working with City Council to further encourage business and job growth in the City of Philadelphia.

Please direct questions regarding this and other public policy positions of the Chamber to Yvette Núñez at ynunez@chamberphl.com.

Chamber members with feedback about or experience with advanced scheduling who would like to lend their voice to the conversation should contact our advocacy team at advocacy@chamberphl.com.