OLS releases draft rules on secure scheduling

After several months of work, the Office of Labor Standards (OLS) has published a draft set of rules for implementing the secure scheduling ordinance passed by the Council last September.  Tuesday morning, they briefed the City Council on the rulemaking process and what topics they felt the need to address in those rules.

The rulemaking process, as OLS Director Dylan Orr explained, is intended to clarify potentially vague areas of the ordinance and “fill in the gaps” where the Council didn’t specify an exact method for implementing some function. Executive branch rules may not violate the text of the ordinance, not may they go beyond the boundaries as defined by the ordinance.

OLS began that process last October by holding a series of eight meetings with representative of both employees and employers to gather their thoughts on what needed further clarification, as well as recommendations for how to write the rules. It also met with the Labor Standards Advisory Commission, and had many separate meetings with stakeholders who wished to provide input.

Based on those conversations, they drafted and posted a set of rules on their web site. The public is now invited to review and provide comments on those rules. Comments are accepted by email, by paper mail, or by telephone to Karina Bull, who is leading the rulemaking effort. Contact information for all three methods is here.

Here’s a list that OLS provided of components of the draft rules:

Some of the key clarifications that OLS made in the rules include:

  • Clarity on what is an acceptable “bona fide business reason” for an employer to decline an employee’s request for work schedule preferences.
  • The ordinance doesn’t cover hourly employees who work in administrative or “professional, non-customer facing” positions, such as HR, payroll, and receptionists.
  • There is a “grace period” of 15 minutes for employers making changes to workers’ hours, to cover situations arising around the end of a shift. For example, if at the official end of a shift an employee is still finishing a customer transaction, the employer can ask the employee to finish that transaction before clocking out, without having to pay that employee “premium pay” as long as the extension is not longer than 15 minutes.
  • The ordinance specifies that employers don’t need to pay additional compensation for work schedule changes when they use mass and/or group communications to ask employees if anyone wants to add or drop a shift. The rules set requirements for what entails a “mass communication” and what information must be conveyed.
  • The rules clarify how the ordinance applies to temporary and staffing agency employees assigned to a location to do work that would be covered by the ordinance if it were being done by the business’s own employees.
  • The ordinance requires employers to give existing employees access to hours before hiring a new employees, but it provides an exception for new employees hired through diversity, young adult hiring and supported employment programs. To prevent abuse of those programs, the rules set limits on the number of employees that can be hired through those programs as exceptions to the “access to hours” rule.

OLS will be accepting public comments on the draft rules until March 28th. They hope to issue final rules by mid-April.