L.A. law aims to make retail workers’ schedules more predictable. Is it working?

 A year ago, Angelica Belmont faced chaos due to her work schedule at a Los Angeles CVS. She often had short notice for afternoon shifts, closing the store at 10 p.m. and returning to open at 6 a.m. This irregular schedule disrupted her sleep and made it challenging to coordinate her children's school pickups. However, their lives have gained stability since a new city law mandated large retailers to provide schedules at least two weeks in advance. The Fair Work Week ordinance in L.A. necessitates predictability pay for any changes made within the 14-day window and mandates at least 10 hours of rest between shifts or extra pay. Belmont now knows her schedule three weeks ahead and receives compensation for short-notice changes and back-to-back shifts.

CVS strives to provide employees with ample notice and predictability for their work schedules. This change has significantly improved Belmont's life, allowing her to plan appointments and coordinate school pickups more effectively. The urgent need for scheduling laws is recognized as unstable work schedules lead to unstable incomes, poor sleep, and psychological distress. L.A. and other cities have adopted scheduling laws to address this issue and ensure fair treatment for retail workers.

Under the L.A. law, employees can notify their employer of any violations, and if unresolved, file a complaint with the city's Office of Wage Standards. Violating employers face penalties, and the city has been enforcing the law since October. The law aims to provide a recourse for workers and establish a standard for employer compliance, ensuring fair treatment for all. While compliance with the law appears to be mixed at this point, it is expected to improve over time.

The Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, the Los Angeles County Business Federation, the California Retailers Assn., and the California Grocers Assn. did not provide commentary for this story. Concerns about the ability to adjust staffing for unforeseen events are acknowledged, while the laws require additional compensation for last-minute scheduling changes. Moreover, consistent and predictable schedules can lead to increased employee loyalty and benefit companies.

The L.A. County Board of Supervisors is anticipated to vote on a similar schedule ordinance in April, aiming to strengthen the workforce and enhance control and predictability for employees. The need for such protections is underscored by the experiences of workers such as Jasmine Brandon, who faces inconsistent schedules at Food4Less, leading to fatigue, stress, and difficulty in managing family and personal appointments.  

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