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Measure aims to help workers balance needs of work, family and school

East County News Service

November 5, 2017 (San Diego) -- State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D-San Diego) announced this week that she will author legislation in 2018 to prevent erratic scheduling practices that have become common in part-time workplaces.

Predictable work schedules are needed in order to protect workers who are forced to balance their work and family responsibilities, she said.

"California has job protections like the 8-hour workday on the books because we value workers’ time,” said Assemblywoman Gonzalez Fletcher, who chairs the Assembly’s Select Committee on Women in the Workplace. “I’ve been a single breadwinner mom who has had to juggle the unpredictability of family responsibilities with my duties at work, but I have also been fortunate enough to have a predictable work schedule and child care to assist my family. I know many working moms who are not so lucky, which is why it’s time to provide workers with a fair heads up on when they’re needed at work.”

The Assemblywoman’s bill will address a growing problem facing working families. A recent University of Chicago study shows 83 percent of part-time hourly workers reported unstable work schedules that fluctuated from month to month and approximately half are provided a week or less notice in those work schedule changes.

The Assemblywoman will propose requiring employers to provide additional advance notice so workers can better plan their responsibilities of family, other jobs and school. Popular opinion has reflected support for this policy, as a CBS/New York Times poll in 2015 showed 72 percent of the public favors requiring employers to notify their workers of a change in work schedule.

The measure is expected to draw support from labor organizations, but will likely be opposed by some business groups.

Gonzalez Fletcher has championed issues facing working women, young families and low-wage hourly workers. In 2014, she authored the nation’s first state law to guarantee all private sector workers could earn and use paid sick leave (AB 1522). In 2016, she authored the nation’s first law to provide farmworkers – 400,000 of whom live and work in California – with overtime after 8 hours of work in a day or 40 hours of work in a week (AB 1066). This year, Gov. Brown signed into law her AB 480, which created the first state-run diaper bank in the nation to assist young families who are trying to hold down a job with the diapers they need to keep their infants in child care.

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Shift Work

I worked full time. My shift changed every week or month, it sucked. Get eight hours of sleep? Over three days. It affected my mood and relationship with friends and family.

When my kids were in school and working, shifts were brutal.

They didn't care if the kids had a mid-term the next day,  or had to be at another job early in the morning; they'd get night shifts with no notice, or just a day's notice for the next week's shift.  Seems like employers shoudl be required to respect students' school schedules, but some don't. One worked at a movie theatre, the other did various odd jobs includng clothing store, coffee barrista, veterinarian, etc. before finally getting a job with steady, predictable hours. More and more, kids have to work 2 or 3 jobs to afford college, and hours often conflict; our daughter once had to stay for a late night inventory at one job into the wee hours, even though her Starbucks shift started before dawn the next morning. 

These unpredictable schedules made it nearly impossible to schedule even family holiday dinners -- and sometimes we had to celebrate without one of the kids due to having to work on a major holiday.  I miss the days when retailers and other businesses were closed on holidays to give family time together.