The legislature's Committee on Children has rejected a bill drastically restricting how employers schedule employee shifts.

Normally, bills dealing with employee shift scheduling originate in the Labor and Public Employees Committee.

However, that committee's attempt to raise SB 321 failed when a meeting to discuss it and 19 other proposals ended with no action after hours of procedural wrangling.

The bill's advocates then turned to the Committee on Children, which agreed to raise it despite the proposal being a labor issue.

The bill failed on a 6-7 vote, with Democrat Pat Boyd (D-Pomfret) joining all Republican committee members in voting against it.

Last-Minute Changes

As originally written, the measure required that businesses provide at least 24-hours notice to employees of shift or other scheduling changes.

However, it became clear at a press conference prior to the bill's public hearing that its authors planned to make several changes before the committee acted.

Those changes included requiring 72-hour advance notice to employees of shift schedules and forcing employers to pay employees at one-half their normal pay for any canceled shift.

Business leaders testified that while providing employees advanced notice of their shifts is standard practice, there are still several industries that require on-call scheduling.

Changes included 72-hour advance notice of shift schedules and forcing employers to pay employees at one-half their normal pay for canceled shifts.
For example, daycare centers use it to comply with state-mandated student-to-teacher ratios when parents need last-minute care for their children.

The construction industry often changes employee schedules in response to the availability of building materials.

Penalizing employers for necessary working arrangements drives up costs and forces employers to adjust staffing levels to match swings in customer demand.

Compromise Blocked

When the Committee on Children met to take final action on the bill, lawmakers discussed in detail changes that penalize employers for using on-call scheduling.

Committee Republicans and some Democrats noted that while the issue was important and merited further study, SB 321 was too extreme.

They indicated support for a more limited proposal, but were thwarted when the bill's final language was shared with committee members just before the meeting began.

Despite the bill's defeat, advocates are expected to push for the measure's return via an amendment later in the legislative session.

Consider this an avoidable outcome where nobody won.

Rather than build a bipartisan consensus to move a compromise bill forward, the bill's primary supporters chose to push for an extreme one-sided bill.

That underscores the need for lawmakers willing to build well-informed, pro-business, and pro-worker legislation.

For more information, contact CBIA's Eric Gjede (860.480.1784) | @egjede