business news in context, analysis with attitude

There was a piece in the Wall Street Journal the other day about how "proposed laws requiring employers to give workers more predictable and remunerative schedules are sprouting across the nation, drawing the ire of some employers as local governments wade into the debate over economic inequality.

"Largely aimed at part-time employees in the retail and food-service sectors that employ some of the lowest-wage workers in the country, the plans vary in scope but have common goals: give employees more notice of their schedules, more access to extra hours and extra pay for employers’ last-minute scheduling changes."

However, the story says, "employers call scheduling regulations a solution in search of a problem and say workers initiate most scheduling changes. They warn such laws would remove employer autonomy and penalize businesses because of a small group of bad actors." Employers seem to be most concerned about how such laws restrict needed flexibility and raise costs; they're also concerned about the degree to which they are required to provide documentation to regulators.

Among the communities that have passed or are considering legislation are New York City, Seattle, San Francisco, and San Jose, California.

Some political context: "President-elect Donald Trump has generally vowed to roll back regulations, but hasn’t been specific about laws addressing issues such as overtime pay and scheduling. Most of the scheduling legislation has come at the local level, however."
KC's View:
It is not a coincidence that MNB has three stories this morning in which the notion of political context for trends and decisions is being cited. It isn't (just) because this intrigues me. It is mostly because this specific moment is bringing about the collision of a lot of attitudes and opinions, strategies and tactics. It'll be coming up a lot, here and elsewhere ... and I say to my MNB friends who wish that politics would never come up in this context that there would be irresponsible of me to ignore these collisions.

In this case, I am completely sympathetic to companies and business leaders who say that these kinds of rules can be too restrictive and can result of too little of the kind of flexibility they need to be successful and efficient.

The problem, of course, is that there are bad actors - companies that exploit their workers and demand more from them than is reasonable, especially if these people have families and maybe even second jobs that they use to keep their families afloat.

Let's be clear. These kinds of regulations won't be passed in every locality. It is not a coincidence that communities such as New York, Seattle, San Francisco, and San Jose are in the forefront of this movement ... they tend to be more progressive. The question is whether, after a reasonable period of study, we find out the degree to which these new rules affected productivity and profitability.

The assumption is that it will hurt. But I generally tend to believe that happy, engaged employees are better for business, not a negative.