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Oregon Passes “Fair Work Week” Law; Employers Must Plan Today For Tomorrow’s Legislation.

October 09, 2017 |

It’s happening, there’s no turning back, Oregon has passed Fair Work Week legislation and adherence to the law will be swift and comprehensive. In fact, various parts of the law take effect in 2018 which is only months away. Will your business be impacted; what will you need to do if you are impacted; how will you adhere to the legislation without failing to be compliant? Let’s answer some of your questions – and if we don’t answer all of them – feel free to reach out to us for additional clarifications.

WHO WILL BE IMPACTED

If you’re an Oregon employer with 500 or more worldwide employees in the sectors of retail, hospitality or foodservice, you must provide your hourly employees the provisions that are mandated in the legislation. Knowing who you are is the easy part, being compliant, well, that’s far more difficult.

HOW WILL YOU BE IMPACTED

There are many nuances within the law, which is referred to as Senate Bill 828, and not all aspects of the legislation will be enacted right away; in fact, there will be a phased-in approach to the 18 different sections of the law through the periods of 2018-2020, but it is your responsibility to keep a keen eye on when each aspect of the legislation is implemented. That said, here’s a brief overview of what the impact is:

  • Upon hiring, each employer must provide every new employee with a written, good faith estimate of what the employee’s work schedule will be including, but not necessarily limited to, the number of median hours there will be in a week and the policies regarding on-call scheduling and voluntary standby lists.Employers should maintain a list of available employees who have volunteered to work additional hours when needed – but here’s the key – the employer can communicate directly with those volunteers who can, at their discretion, accept or decline the requests to work additional hours.
  • Employers should maintain a list of available employees who have volunteered to work additional hours when needed – but here’s the key – the employer can communicate directly with those volunteers who can, at their discretion, accept or decline the requests to work additional hours.
  • You will be required to provide advance notice of work schedules to your employees. How far in advance? That will depend on the phased-in approach of the legislation. In 2018, the requirement will be one-week in advance, but that will climb to two-weeks in advance upon full implementation of the law in 2020.
  • Employees may inform employers of changes in their availability, generally at any given time, however, employers are not necessarily obligated to grant a specific request.
  • Now, here’s where the legislation gets tricky and you’ll need to be careful, watchful and compliant – employees may seek compensation for changes in their work schedules if employers are not acting in accordance with the law.

ADAPT, ADOPT, COMPLY AND THRIVE

There’s a lot to tackle here, for any size business, but the critical path to acceptance must certainly include the use of technology. There is literally no way, on every level, to succeed without having a technology review and implementation plan. First, you’re going to need to understand the dynamics of your customer-base as best you can; you’ll need to be one-part social scientists and one-part data scientists. You’ll never be able to provide your employees with accurate scheduling 2-3 weeks in advance unless you’re able to accurately predict traffic, demand, employee skill-sets that meet segmented demands, and the list goes on.

Second, you’ll need a labor scheduling resource to comply with the Fair Work Week law. Once you know the ebb and flow of your traffic patterns, you’ll need to implement the actual labor scheduling, and you’ll need to do it following the labor rules mandated by Senate Bill 828. This can’t be accomplished using a manual, homegrown system of spreadsheets and notes; in fact, the penalties for non-compliance might actually outweigh the costs of a workforce management system altogether. Even then, you’re still not out-of-the-woods.

Third, the labor scheduling software that you install should also include an application to manage absences, time-off, vacation requests, shift swapping, volunteering and all the other occurrences associated with absence management and time and attendance. Your schedules are going to need to be precise to curtail the compensatory aspects of the law.

Fourth, because the legislation mandates that you need to communicate the schedules in advance and that you need to not only send requests to your standby list, but also receive employee requests for their changes in availability, your workforce management tool must include some sort of communication protocol between you and your employees, and that most certainly includes a mobile application.

Fifth, because you’ll need to also manage your standby list – keeping it accurate and up-to-date, you’ll be required to have an automated process by which you can access the list, contact the individuals, and schedule and confirm the standby labor. This is a tall order in itself, but one that is frequently overlooked.

ARE THERE ANY EMPLOYER ADVANTAGES?

Well, there are a few. If an employer can implement a workforce management system that can accommodate all aspects of the Fair Work Week law (be careful, not many can, although Workloud is developed to handle these laws), and employers follow through with understanding the traffic patterns of customers by day-part and by specific needs and wants, then the advantages for employers will be significant.

According to Tommy Schroeder, Vice President of Workloud, an international workforce management company with offices in Boston, MA; Athens, Greece; and Madison, WI, “Employers in Oregon can harvest tremendous benefits from accepting the implications of the Fair Work Week law. Think of it this way; you’re going to have a more loyal labor pool and that’s going to reduce the costly and constant need for training and re-training. On top of that, you’ll no doubt have a more disciplined and satisfied workforce, and as well all know, that manifests itself in greater productivity. You’ll also know your exact accounting and payroll costs because vast fluctuations during a payroll cycle just can’t occur without remaining in compliance. And finally, employers will be able to embrace the principles of demand-driven scheduling because they’ll have a better understanding of their customer’s traffic patterns and shopping habits and requirements.”

But as Schroeder counsels, the enactment of the laws are quickly approaching, which means employers must begin their search for a vendor that can help them remain compliant and also turn the legislation into a win-win situation for all who are impacted. Schroeder also advises that this type of legislation is gaining momentum in other states, so businesses that might not be immediately impacted, could see this legislation in the not so distant future.

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Originally published October 9, 2017, updated December 6, 2017
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