Both the New Jersey General Assembly (A1117, reported out of committee on April 4) and Senate (S1397, introduced on February 11, 2016) have introduced bills to enact the “New Jersey Schedules That Work Act,” a law that would dramatically curtail New Jersey employers’ ability to schedule their employees’ shifts.

First, each of these bills would grant employees the right to request that their employers change  (a) the number of hours they work, (b) the time of their work hours, (c) their work location, (d) the amount of notification they receive for work schedule assignments, and (e) the fluctuation in the number of hours they are scheduled to work on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Employers would be required to respond to such requests by engaging in a timely, good-faith interactive process with requesting employees that includes a discussion of potential schedule changes that would meet the employee’s needs.

Further, if an employee’s request relates to his or her (1) serious health condition, (2) responsibilities as a caregiver, (3) enrollment in a career-related educational or training program, or (4) a part-time employee’s second job, then the employer would be required to grant the request unless the it had a bona fide business reason for denying the request.

Beyond affording scheduling protections to employees, the bills also would require employers to offer minimum reporting pay for certain retail, food service, or cleaning employees sent home with fewer hours worked than their scheduled hours of work each day, and would require employers to provide at least one hour of pay to certain on-call or split-shift employees. 

The bills would also require employers to provide written notification to new hires regarding their work schedules and the minimum number of expected work hours the employee would be scheduled to work per month, 14 days’ advance notice of changes, and an extra hour of pay to employees who receive late notice of certain shift changes.

prior version of this bill, introduced last year, was unsuccessful.