On March 15, 2017, State Senator Michael Skindell (D-Lakewood) introduced Senate Bill 101, the “Retail and Restaurant Employee Rights Act.” The Bill is intended to address hiring and scheduling practices of large retailers and fast-food restaurant franchises that employ part-time workers at relatively low wages, which results in many workers holding multiple jobs. The Bill takes aim at "just in-time" scheduling practices that are perceived to make it difficult for employees to hold second jobs or handle personal needs such as caring for family members.
Senate Bill 101 outlines a series of hiring, scheduling, and other provisions that employers must follow in order to make work schedules fair and predictable for their employees.
- Under the proposed law, employers would be required to offer additional work to any “available” existing workers before hiring or leasing new employees. “Available” workers include those who are scheduled for less than 35 hours per week and are qualified to perform that work.
- Employers would also be required to post their employees’ schedules publicly at least 14 days in advance, including both regular and on-call shifts.
- If an employer cancels a worker’s shift with less than 14 days’ notice, the employee must still be paid some compensation that will vary with the length of notice given. In addition, the legislation outlines pay for on-call shifts.
- The legislation also includes provisions requiring part-time and full-time employees to be treated similarly regarding hourly wages, employee benefits including healthcare, access to time off, and eligibility for promotions.
- Successor employers would also be subject to certain requirements to retain existing workers after a transition in ownership.
In a press release about the Bill, Senator Skindell explained that “[t]he proposed legislation would provide hours and retention protections for fair and predictable scheduling and treatment of part-time employees of some chain stores and fast food restaurants. It is imperative that we work toward increasing economic security and providing strong worker protections at the state level.” If enacted, the Ohio Department of Commerce would be responsible for the enforcement of the Bill’s requirements. Remedies for an employer’s violation of the proposed law would include requiring employers to offer additional work, reinstate employees, pay lost wages and penalties, and pay for enforcement costs and attorney’s fees.
Senate Bill 101 has the potential to dramatically increase the legal compliance burdens of retail and fast-food businesses operating in Ohio. Zashin & Rich, Co. L.P.A. will continue to monitor new developments as SB 101 proceeds through the legislative process in the General Assembly.
*Scott H. DeHart is the newest member of the firm’s Labor and Employment Groups and practices out of the firm’s Columbus, Ohio office. If you have questions regarding this proposed legislation, contact Scott at email@example.com or 614-224-4411.