New York labor department puts predictive scheduling regulations on hold

Feb 28, 2019

Credit freeimages.com/Dwayne Blee

The New York State Department of Labor has, for now, dropped its proposed changes to laws that affect workers who can be called into work at short notice.

The proposal would have required employers to give workers extra "call-in pay" if they were on call but not asked to come in, sent home early, or had a shift cancelled less than 72 hours before it was scheduled to start. 

The plan was based on employee complaints about a car wash in Queens but critics said it was used as a one-size-fits-all approach.

The Labor Department made revisions to its proposal in December after hearing extensive feedback from small and medium-sized businesses and their advocates, like Rochester Chamber of Commerce CEO Bob Duffy, who said the regulations would have hurt employers and employees alike by leading to job cuts.

"I learned a lesson many, many years ago," Duffy said. "Government cannot impact the market. The market will always adjust and make decisions, so as rules come down and put pressure on business owners, they're going to take a step back, because they have to make a profit."

Duffy said he is not unsympathetic to workers, who explain that being subject to last minute scheduing and unpredictable hours makes it difficult to juggle school and family obligations.  

"So many of our businesses really have systems inside that take care of that,” he said. “I think sometimes when government tries to make a rule, they don't remember or maybe don't understand that a lot of these CEOs and business owners care about their employees like family members and do take steps to do this. They also have to make money and stay in business."

Michael Kracker, executive director of the pro-business group Unshackle Upstate, says there should be a balance between the needs of employers and their employees.  He said regulations should could be put in place to target 'bad actors' who are unfairly treating workers.

"But what the proposal was doing was really punishing businesses who really weren't doing anything wrong and are subject to sometimes volatile business conditions," he said, "whether it's weather or industry specific issues. They're doing their best to notify their employees when they can, but this would have really put a very difficult burden on them to be in compliance."

A spokesperson for the New York State Department of  Labor said in a written statement that due to the constraints of the regulatory process, the decision was made to let the process expire and re-evaluate in the future, possibly in partnership with the state legislature, which would have a broader authority to balance the various concerns of workers, businesses, and industries.