Our Position on Employer Mandates – 2018 Advocacy Defined Series

New employer mandates emanating from Albany are a burden on Buffalo Niagara employers. However well intentioned, these mandates fail to recognize the negative impact they have on both employers and employees. That is why fighting back against these detrimental mandates is one of the Partnership’s 2018 Advocacy Agenda priorities.

The latest example of these harmful mandates is proposed on-call scheduling regulations released in late 2017 by the New York Department of Labor (DOL). The proposed regulation would require employers to schedule employee shifts at least 14 days in advance or pay a penalty to the employee equaling two-hours of wages at the state minimum wage. In addition, if an employee’s shift is canceled less than 72-hours in advance of a shift start, the employee would be  entitled to four-hours of call-in pay at the state minimum wage.

New York State Department of Labor

The DOL’s goal of increasing fairness for workers is an admirable one. However, this proposal fails to recognize that many businesses are ruled by unpredictability associated with seasonal demand, market conditions and weather patterns. Rain, snow and cold temperatures can all necessitate changes in staffing. These changes often cannot be predicted 24 hours let alone 14 days in advance of a shift.

Further the proposal does not take into account real-world, industry-specific scheduling challenges. Differences in industry can lead to inefficiencies when trying to apply a one-size fits all approach. The scheduling demands for businesses in the manufacturing industry for example, where traditionally orders are only received a few days to a few hours prior to when they are needed by the customer, make it impossible to set employee schedules more than a few days in advance of a scheduled shift. Increasing the already heavy regulatory burden on New York employers is not the solution to curbing isolated scheduling abuses or creating a state that is truly open for business.  That is the opinion we shared with the DOL in our formal comment on the proposal.

Office meetingUnfortunately, employer mandates do not end with on-call scheduling. As of January 1, 2018, New York is home to the most expansive Paid Family Leave mandate in the country. This new mandate will have a profound impact on employers’ administrative and productivity costs.

Under Paid Family Leave employees are permitted to take up to 8-weeks of paid time-off to: bond with a newborn child within the first year of life and adoption or foster placement within first year; care for a family member with a serious health condition; or relieve family pressure when a family member is called to active duty.

The leave is funded by weekly employee contributions at the rate of .126% of the employee’s weekly wage. There is a serious concern as to whether this rate of contribution will be able to cover the cost of the program. This concern will only grow as the financial strain of the program increases in subsequent years as both the duration of the leave and the amount of wages paid during leave increases. State leaders must keep their pledge not to pass the direct cost of Paid Family Leave onto employers and taxpayers.

On-call scheduling and Paid Family Leave are just the latest in a growing list of employer mandates either being proposed or officially imposed on Buffalo Niagara employers. The Partnership will continue to push back against these efforts and stand up for Buffalo Niagara employers in the face of efforts to further drive up the cost of doing business in New York.

2018 Advocacy Defined Blog Series Table of Contents: