NJ lawmaker wants to give workers right to alter work schedule
Your rights as a worker in New Jersey would expand immensely if a measure moving through the State House in Trenton becomes law.
Known as the "New Jersey Schedules That Work Act," the measure from Democratic Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver is meant to guard employees from retaliation by their employer for requesting a schedule change.
"Often when people make a decision to go do what they need to do for their families, they find out that they're fired right on the spot if they're not compliant," Oliver said during testimony in front of the Assembly Women and Children Committee.
Under her measure, employers with 15 or more workers would be required to engage in a "timely, good faith interactive process" with any employee who attempts to change the terms and conditions of employment as it applies to their availability, location and the amount of notification they need before receiving work schedule assignments.
If any of those requests are made due to serious reasons, such as a health condition or the employee's responsibility as a caregiver, the employer must accommodate the employee unless there's a "bona fide business reason" for denying the request.
"I think that as legislators, we are challenged to find a sweet spot and happy medium where we are protecting interests of both sides of the situation, and I think this bill does that," Oliver said.
The measure also requires that, for certain low-wage workers, employees provide more predictable and stable schedules.
Christina Renna, vice president of the Chamber of Commerce of Southern New Jersey, said while the measure has good intentions it would tie the hands of employers throughout the state.
"This legislation shifts the balance of power in many ways from the employer, the business owner, to the employee to be able to really schedule around their family needs," Renna said during testimony against the bill. "What this bill does is paint with such a broad brush."
The committee hearing also noted opposition from several other groups including the New Jersey Retail Merchants Association, the New Jersey Business & Industry Association and the National Federation of Independent Business.
The measure was advanced by the Assembly Women and Children Committee earlier this month.