The New York Department of Labor has proposed changes to New York’s on-call regulations that could significantly impact the way many Buffalo Niagara employers manage their operations, particularly how they schedule part-time hourly employees.
Under current regulations any employee, whose weekly wages do not exceed 40 times the minimum wage, who reports for work on any day must be paid at least four hours, or the number of hours in the regularly scheduled shift, whichever is less, at the basic minimum hourly wage.
The proposed regulation requires that any employee, whose weekly wages do not exceed 40 times the minimum wage, who reports for work on any shift must be paid at least four hours of call-in pay. Unlike under the current regulation, call-in pay under the proposal is calculated at the employee’s normal hourly rate. Thus, it may be higher than the minimum wage standard set forth in the current regulation. Of course, this not the end of the Department of Labor changes.
The Department is proposing to not only change the current on-call regulation but also significantly expand the regulation to encompass many situations not currently addressed.
The proposed regulation would also establish a 14-day advance notice standard for scheduling and provide two hours’ extra pay for last-minute assignments. It would also expand existing reporting pay of at least four hours to now include last-minute cancellations (defined as within 72 hours of the scheduled shift start) and assignments and on-call shifts requiring workers to be on stand-by to come into work. A small consolation is that call-in pay here is defined as minimum wage and not the employee’s normal wage as it is above. However regardless of the rate of pay the fact is that under this proposal employers would be required to pay employees to not work.
While the Department of Labor’s goal of increasing fairness for workers is an admirable one, adopting a one-size fits all approach to anything is rarely a good idea. The proposed regulation does not take into consideration differences that exist between employers based on industry, seasonal demand, market conditions, weather patterns or employer size. The results of which could lead to employers offering employees less flexibility in making schedule changes, scheduling less employee shifts and perhaps offering fewer part-time jobs. The Buffalo Niagara Region current ranks second to last among our peer metro regions in job growth. A regulation that threatens to further stagnate the region’s job market at time when job growth is needed more than ever is just not good policy for the Buffalo Niagara region.