calendar1Over the last few weeks, I’ve heard lots of grumbling about the employment law proposals being floated at the Connecticut General Assembly.  But it wasn’t until recently, that I understood how serious one proposal is.

Last week, proponents of House Bill 6933 held a press conference to have the legislature pass a measure requiring employers to post employee schedules 21 days in advance —or pay a “predictability tax” if that schedule is changed in any way. CBIA has more details here and describes it as a “Catch-22” for employers.

From an employment law perspective, the proposed bill would add yet another serious of layers for employers to have to address. The bill would require employers to provide employees with a minimum of 21 days notice of their schedules. Any changes to those schedules would result in the employer having to pay a “predictability” tax/penalty of anywhere of 1 hour of pay to 4 hours of pay or perhaps more.

Employees who are unhappy with the results could then file a claim with the Connecticut Department of Labor.

But that’s not all. Employees who believe that they should be compensated for the “predictability” pay could then file a claim in Superior Court for treble (read: triple!) damages and attorneys’ fees.

And under the bill, the employer could not defend itself by saying that the employee and employer have agreed to waive the predictability pay; in other words, the employee cannot say “I don’t need the three weeks’ notice”.  It would be mandatory.

Obviously, this is a class-action lawsuit bonanza waiting to happen.  All employers in the state — no matter how large or small — would be subject to this new law, if passed.

Putting aside the politics of such a proposal, I have little doubt that this proposal would be very onerous for employers to follow.  At the public hearing on this measure, there were many examples provided by non-profit employers and others that describe the difficulties that such a proposal would have.  Even the state’s judicial branch expressed serious reservations.

If this is an issue of concern to your workplace, you may want to contact your local legislature to share your opinion before the measure comes up for a possible vote something this year.

  • Jay Wolman

    Proposal: the legislature should have to give it a 4 month test run. If they can make it work 100%, then it becomes law.

  • A similar bill was before the Maryland General Assembly this session. It did not make it out of committee. A truly ridiculous scenario for many businesses: health care, retail, food service…..

  • Maggie Ferron

    From the perspective of the employees who are forced to get childcare and transportation and then called off at the last minute- and still may be forced to pay for these services- this type of legislation would be an important protection. Robert Reich wrote a great piece about this (http://robertreich.org/post/116924386855). This “flexible” work schedule creates a one-sided advantage for employers who can have their cake and eat it too, to the detriment of their employees. The employers get coverage when it is convenient or profitable for them, and employees may or may not get the wages they rely on to pay their bills. These employees forgo other opportunities to earn a living, while employers continue to shave their labor budgets.

    This scheduling practice is simply not consistent with the concept of fair dealing between employers and employees. If business gets slow, it’s not the end of the world for the employer to have to pay an employee for a few hours’ work when that employee arranged his or her life to be there and work for the employer. The effect on the employee who gets a call hours before his or her shift and doesn’t get paid will suffer far worse consequences.

    In this instance, employers need to respect employees and not treat them like fungible warehouse merchandise that can be cancelled at any time. This law is imposing the concept of “efficient breach,” which is something any business understands.