Fair Scheduling Bill Unfair to Business

At a time when Maryland hopes to rebuild itself as a business-friendly, forward-thinking center for commerce, HB 1175, The Fair Scheduling, Wages, and Benefits Act, takes backward steps by trying, once again, to burden businesses with unnecessary red tape that hinders progress and slows economic growth.

HB 1175 would require employers to provide schedules to employees 21 days in advance of work and require employers to pay the employee 1 hour of predictability pay for each shift that is changed.  

HB 1175 will hinder businesses by requiring employers to provide specified employees with specified estimates and work schedules within specified time periods and notify employees of specified changes; prohibiting an employer, except under specified circumstances, from requiring an employee to work specified hours; authorizing an employer to make specified changes to a scheduled shift within a specified period of time; requiring an employer, except under specified circumstances, to pay specified predictability pay under specified circumstances; and the “ specified” list goes on and on.

According to the bill’s fiscal note, “The bill has a significant impact on small businesses,” including a “significant negative impact on an employer’s ability to meet operational needs,” “an employer’s personnel costs could greatly increase,” and “employers are subject to civil penalties.”

Last year similar bills in the House and Senate, HB 969 and SB 688, received unfavorable report votes of 20-0, with two absentees, and 11-0, respectfully, in committee.

Then and now, the merit shop construction industry opposes such “fair scheduling” legislation because it prevents employers from being flexible in meeting the fluctuating demands of the economy. The nature of the construction industry is that project scope and deadline often change or expand at the last-minute, often through no fault of the contractor. Weather delays, funding issues, and client change orders are some of the reasons projects go beyond the initial size and completion date.

Requiring contractors to adhere to these inflexible regulations which force them to nail down specifics doesn’t work in an industry where the variables are often subject to change. Penalizing contractors for issues beyond their control, which would happen if this bill went into effect, doesn’t make sense. It’s like asking a surgical team to only clock in for two hours when the operation ends up taking four, and then fining the surgeon.

HB 1175 also creates additional administrative burdens for Maryland employers, and several business associations oppose the bill, including the National Federation of Independent Businesses and the Restaurant Association.

In fact, the surgery analogy isn’t far from the truth here. According to the Maryland-National Capital Homecare Association, which strongly opposed last year’s bill based on the following, the Fair Scheduling Act is “inconsistent with common scheduling standards in health care, and particularly in home care. The varying nature of patient health care needs requires that home care providers respond in real time to changing clinical requirements, hospital discharges, and changing patient/family caregiver schedules. Furthermore the State of Maryland and Medicare both require home care to be started within 48 hours of a referral – requiring flexibility in scheduling to meet patient care needs.”

Maryland’s businesses can’t operate under the unfairness of this “fair scheduling” bill. Yesterday, we heard more about the negative impact this legislation will have on business. We urge you to make sure the bill gets a “No” vote again this session.