Retailers need time off from mandated scheduling

Jan 22, 2020
Written by Renée Sunde, President & CEO

It’s going to be a challenging year as retailers across Washington State adjust to several new regulations including:

  • A $1.50 an hour increase in the minimum wage now up to $13.50
  • A greatly-expanded pool of employees eligible for overtime pay with and eventual floor of $79,800
  • Guaranteed paid family and medical leave up to 12 weeks
  • New state requirements for paid sick and safe leaves of absence

The new rules have added to the cost of doing business and made requirements for many retailers more burdensome. In light of the added employer obligations, it’s not time for the Legislature to consider more regulations regarding mandates on work schedules.

Washington retailers ask state legislators to hold off consideration of House Bill 1491 and its companion, Senate Bill 5717. They would require retailers with more than 100 employees and franchises with more than 25 employees statewide to post fixed work schedules at least 14 days in advance or face stiff penalties, compensation requirements and fines. The recordkeeping requirements would be onerous and employers would be unable to hire until available work hours were first offered to employees currently on the payroll.

The state bills include requirements similar to a Seattle scheduling ordinance. There are circumstantial reports in Seattle of reduced work hours, fewer job opportunities for young applicants and inflexibility for retail workers whose work schedules now conflict with their personal lives. Much more needs to be learned about any ill effects in Seattle before expanding similar requirements statewide.

The retail environment is dynamic. Customer demands ebb and flow, weather can upset the best-laid plans for sales and employees often struggle to balance their work and personal lives. Managers need to remain nimble to negotiate demands on their stores and customers.

Retailers simply need more time to implement and adjust to new regulations already in effect this year. Adding scheduling requirements would only add weight to the adjustments stores are just beginning to assume this year. This year’s abbreviated 60-day Legislative Session is not enough time to be sure about adding new regulations on retailers.

Washington Retail is committed to working with legislators to learn how mandated scheduling works in Seattle and other cities and whether it should be expanded here. We’re asking for the opportunity to work together before adding further requirements we may regret later.