Why it matters: Just in time for the holidays, a San Diego lawmaker announced her plans to introduce a bill under which employers would have to pay twice the normal wages to employees who work on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) expressed concern about the rise in businesses that are open on the holidays and the possibility of retribution for employees that refuse to work. In other California legislative news, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors enacted a pair of ordinances with a year-round impact. Touted as first-of-its-kind legislation, the so-called “Retail Workers’ Bill of Rights” mandates that all “formula retail stores” must provide a predictable work schedule for employees and offer additional hours of work to part-time employees before hiring new workers, among other requirements.
In recent years, more and more businesses have elected to remain open on major holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas. “If it’s so important to force employees to work on a traditional family holiday, it’s only decent to compensate them fairly,” Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez said in a press release.
She intends to introduce a legislative proposal that would require California employers to pay employees double when they work on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Gonzalez cited statistics that more than three-fifths of the country’s large employers and one in five small businesses have Thanksgiving shifts.
“Each year it seems like we lose more and more of these family holidays to the demands of work,” Gonzalez said in a statement. “The further expansion of work demands on employees in retail and restaurants, for example, is not being accompanied automatically with a holiday pay premium, and so it’s imperative for employees who are losing out on their Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays to boost their boss’s profits are paid fairly for that sacrifice.”
Three states – Maine, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island – currently have laws on the books banning major retailers from opening on Thanksgiving.
Meanwhile, in San Francisco, the Board of Supervisors sent two ordinances to Mayor Ed Lee for a signature. Both apply to “formula retail stores,” defined as businesses with at least 11 or more stores nationwide and at least 20 or more employees in the city. The Hours and Retention Protections for Formula Retail Employees ordinance requires employers to retain part-time employees in their positions if a company is bought or sold for at least 90 days and mandates that employers offer additional hours of work to part-time employees before hiring new workers.
Pursuant to the second ordinance, the Fair Scheduling and Treatment of Formula Retail Employees, covered entities must provide a written work schedule at least 14 days in advance with a “good faith estimate” of the hours and shifts for each employee. In the event of shift changes or unused on-call shifts, employers must pay employees additional compensation (dubbed “Predictability Pay”) for a schedule change made on less than seven days’ notice.
Notice and record-keeping requirements are included in the laws, which also prohibit retaliation.
Importantly for employers, both ordinances include a private right of action for violations; employers can also face compliance actions and administrative fines from the San Francisco Office of Labor Standards Enforcement.
To read the Hours and Retention Protections for Formula Retail Employees ordinance, click here.
To read the Fair Scheduling and Treatment of Formula Retail Employees ordinance, click here.