Thursday, February 11, 2016

More Maryland General Assembly Workplace Law Updates…

And the story continues…..

As expected, bills presented in last year’s session are returning, with a few tweaks. Happy reading!

SB 664 - Fair Scheduling, Wages, and Benefits Act (Cross filed with HB 1175)

I believe this is the single worst employment-related bill I’ve seen presented in Maryland. SB 664 would have devastating effects on businesses of all types and sizes. I honestly can’t imagine what our legislators were thinking in drafting this.
Specific provisions:

  • Upon hiring, provide a good faith estimate of hours/days/times the employee is expected to work, including any on-call shifts.
  • On or before first day of work, provide a schedule for the first 21 days of work.
  • Provide each employee with an initial work schedule at least 21 days before the first day of the schedule.
  • Notify employee of any change(s) made to initial schedule before changes take effect and provide a revised written schedule within 24 hours of making the change.
  • Post a schedule at least 21 days before the start of each workweek that includes all schedules, for all employees (including those not scheduled to work), and update that posting within 24 hours of any change.
  • May not require an employee to work additional hours not included in schedule, unless agreed to by employee in writing. Does this prohibit requiring regular or overtime hours without getting permission from the employee? I think we know what that means.
  • If a change is made within 21 days of the first scheduled shift, one hour of "predictability pay" must be paid to the employee as a penalty for every shift that is changed. Seriously? A penalty for responding to business needs?
  • Must pay 4 hours of wages if an employee reports to work and/or is notified within 24 hours before the first hour of a shift that the shift was cancelled or the hours reduced.
  • Must post a notice of additional hours of work available, to include the process by which employees may notify the employer of a desire to work the additional hours and criteria the employer will use to determine the distribution of those additional hours.
  • Employer cannot hire new employees/independent contractors/temps until 7 days after the posting of the additional hours, and only if no current employee elects to work the additional hours. Must also document process and reason for hiring additional employees/independent contractors/temps. Wow. Just wow. No words for this.
  • Must also make reasonable efforts to offer employees training opportunities to gain skills necessary to work additional hours if different from their primary job skills.
  • Must pay same hourly wage for jobs that require substantially equal skill, effort, responsibility and duties, regardless of number of hours employee is scheduled to work. Not sure where this is going….seems too obvious to be the real intent.
  • Must have same eligibility to accrue employer-provided benefits and paid/unpaid leave (and other benefits of employment) regardless of number of hours scheduled to work. Does this prohibit having differing benefits packages for part time employees vs. full-time employees?
  • Include predictability pay in statement of earnings.
  • These provisions will be unworkable for many industries, including retail, food service, health care and manufacturing. This will essentially prevent an employer from responding to business or staffing needs in a timely fashion. Employees get sick, have family emergencies or quit, resulting in the need to change the scheduling for other staff – none of which is "predictable". Consumer demand changes, vendors and customers have needs that result in changes to production or provision of services and are not always "predictable".

    This bill also seems to prohibit a business from requiring overtime without "permission" from employees. It appears to prohibit offering different benefits to part time vs. full time employees.

    Legitimate, real world business needs and practices virtually guarantee that violations would occur.

    SB 940 - Payment of Wages - Minimum Wage and Repeal of Tip Credit

    Here we go with raising the minimum wage again. Previously Maryland passed a law with a schedule of increases in the minimum wage. SB 940 expands on that: 

    Changes the minimum beginning July 1, 2016 to $10.10 per hour, and
    July 1, 2017 to $11.90
    July 1, 2018 to $13.25
    July 1, 2019 to $14.25
    July 1, 2020 to $15.00

    And thereafter increased by the average percent growth of the CPI.

    I still can’t see that flipping burgers is worth these amounts. There is no consideration of what a job is actually worth. These efforts mistakenly equate the worth of the job with the "worthiness" of the person holding the job. That’s a social statement, not an economic factor.

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