Oregon Enacts First-of-Its-Kind Comprehensive State Scheduling Law

Author: Rena Pirsos, XpertHR Legal Editor

August 14, 2017

Food service, hospitality and retail industry employers operating in Oregon with at least 500 employees will soon be required to comply with a new law that regulates how they are to schedule employees' work hours. The signing of this law on August 8 by Governor Kate Brown makes Oregon the first state to regulate such practices. Similar laws have been enacted at the local level in New York City, San Francisco and Seattle.

The new law also affects franchise and chain employers that share ownership in more than one business and have 500 employees worldwide. It provides the method an employer must use to calculate the number of employees it has for the purpose of determining whether the employer is subject to the law's provisions.

Employees covered by the law include those who are nonexempt and work in retail, food services, hotels, casino hotels and motels. The law excludes employees who are exempt under the administrative, executive and professional employee exemption of the Fair Labor Standards Act, as well as leased workers and independent contractors.

Key Compliance Requirements

The following summarizes the basic requirements covered employers must comply with, effective July 1, 2018 (unless noted otherwise):

  • Provide new employees with a detailed written estimate of their work schedules in the language in which the employer usually communicates to employees (the law specifies the required details to be included in the estimate);
  • Provide all covered employees with a written work schedule at least seven calendar days before the first scheduled work day, including all shifts for the work period (this period increases to 14 days, effective July 1, 2020);
  • Timely notify affected employees if the employer makes any changes to the written work schedule (but not if an employee makes changes);
  • Pay employees additional wages (as detailed in the new law) for changes the employer makes to work schedules without advance notice;
  • Refrain from requiring an employee to work a shift not previously included in the written schedule;
  • Allow employees to make scheduling requests based on their preferences and availability to work;
  • Post written schedules in a clearly visible and accessible location in both English and the language in which the employer usually communicates with employees and keep records of compliance with the scheduling law;
  • Provide all employees with 10 hours off between shifts, unless an employee requests or consents to work during this time period (additional wages must be paid if an employee is required to work during this10-hour rest period); and
  • Refrain from discriminating or retaliating against employees who exercise their rights under the scheduling law (e.g., file a complaint with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries or a private civil action in court - provisions regarding enforcement, right of action and administrative remedies and penalties take effect January 1, 2019).

"Voluntary Standby List" Option

The scheduling law also gives employers the option of creating a "voluntary standby list" of employees who the employer may ask to work extra hours in situations such as unexpected employee absences and high customer demand. Employees must request or agree, in writing, to be included on this list. Employers who choose to create a list must comply with certain employee-notification requirements.

Preemption of Local Laws

The new law preempts local governments in Oregon from enacting any requirements relating to work schedules. This will prevent a patchwork of differing scheduling laws from developing across the state, making compliance for covered employers easier.

How Employers Can Prepare

This broad scheduling law is sure to have a substantial impact on affected employers. Employers should take steps now to ensure compliance with all the new requirements before July 1, 2018. These steps should include:

  • Developing policies, procedures and appropriate written communications for managing employee scheduling;
  • Updating employee handbooks accordingly;
  • Training supervisors and affected current employees;
  • Obtaining required posters to display in the workplace (posters are forthcoming); and
  • Planning for the creation and maintenance of required compliance records.