On April 4, NJCJI’s Alida Kass appeared before the Assembly Women and Children Committee to testify against the “New Jersey Schedules That Work Act.” A1117, which is being sponsored by Assemblywomen Sheila Oliver (D-East Orange) and Pamela Lampitt (D-Voorhees), is another example of well-meaning legislation that would have a broad, negative impact on our state’s business community. If enacted, it would curtail flexible scheduling, and expose businesses to lawsuits over scheduling disputes.
Kass’s written testimony submitted on behalf of NJCJI read as follows:
The core purpose of bill is the relatively modest idea that employees should not be inconvenienced without reason, and employers where feasible should provide relatively predictable schedules. That seems a reasonable concept because employers, like most people, are typically fairly reasonable people. And as a result, when an employer’s scheduling processes and accommodations do not track prescriptions of this bill, there is typically a good reason for it.
Since labor markets are highly competitive, those employers are also paying a premium for the additional flexibility. That arrangement works to the benefit of employees whose schedules are sufficiently flexible to accommodate split schedules, last minute changes, and the like, as well as employers who find the efficiency gains are worth the corresponding wage premium.
This bill would take that option off the table. It would no longer be enough for an employment arrangement to be working to the mutual benefit of both parties. Instead, they would have to be looking over their shoulder to wonder whether the state of New Jersey is okay with it. The enforcement section provides for both direct state enforcement as well as incentivized litigation with double damages and fee-shifting.
The exception for schedule changes by mutual agreement of course does not solve the problem. The wage premium is based on the baseline flexibility of the employer to set and change schedules. If an employer is barred from taking adverse employment actions when that flexibility is not available, he loses the benefit of that deal.
The reality is there are a host of trade-offs that go into employment relationships, and each individual employer and employee can order the hierarchy of factors differently. The attempt to micro-regulate these relationships with a combination of state regulatory enforcement and incentivized litigation ultimately works to the benefit of no one.
On behalf of our members, we respectfully request a NO vote on A-1117.
At the close of testimony, the committee voted 4-2 to advance the bill. NJCJI will continue to monitor this legislation, which may now be taken up by the full Assembly for a floor vote.
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