Almost half of all workers in the retail and hospitality industries work part time. Most other industries use much fewer part-time workers. There are a few reasons employers in retail and hospitality use so many part-time workers. Generally, retail establishments, hotels, and restaurants tend to be busy on certain days and times and can be very slow during other times. Part-time workers can help fill the need during busy times. Also, part-time workers are often cheaper for employers because part-time workers usually do not receive the same benefits as full-time workers.

Part-time workers may be very flexible on scheduling, but for some part-time workers, unpredictable scheduling can make finding child care and other part-time positions or going to school very difficult. Some cities have begun taking notice of the difficulties facing part-time workers, and have begun enacting laws designed to protect part-time employees from unpredictable scheduling. In many cases, these protections for workers start at the local level and then expand to other cities and states.

San Francisco was the first city in the country to enact legislation that required employers to protect part-time employees from unpredictable scheduling, as well as offering other protections. The legislation took effect in late 2015, and only applies to companies with at least 40 retail establishments worldwide and 20 or more employees in San Francisco. The law requires those employers to offer extra work hours to existing part-time employees before hiring new employees or using contractors. Employees will often use temporary workers to pick up extra hours to avoid turning a part-time employee into a full-time employee, which would mean extra benefits for the employee.

San Francisco also requires those employers to provide new employees with an estimate of the employee’s expected minimum number of scheduled hours per shift, and the days and hours of those shifts. Employers must post schedules two weeks in advance, and if the employer changes an employee’s schedule with less than a week’s notice, the employer has to pay a penalty to the employee. Part-time workers must also be treated similarly as other employees with starting wages, paid and unpaid time off, and eligibility for promotions.

Recently, San Jose passed a bill that went into effect last month. The law in San Jose does not only apply to chain establishments – instead, it applies to employers with more than 35 employees who are subject to San Jose’s business tax. Under the law, employers are required to offer extra hours to existing part-time employees before hiring more employees. The employers then must use a non-discriminatory process to distribute hours among part-time employees. San Jose’s law also requires employers to retain records for new hires that document the employer’s effort to first offer the additional work to part-time employees. Those records must be kept for four years.

It’s very likely that these protections for part-time employees will expand to other cities and possibly the state of California. At Liberty Law, Micha Star Liberty believes that part-time workers are a valuable addition to any workforce and should be treated as such. If you are a part-time worker and you believe that your legal rights have been violated by your employer, call Micha Star Liberty, Oakland employment rights attorney, at 510-645-1000. She can help. Call today to learn more about her firm or to schedule a free consultation on your case. She works with clients throughout the area, including in San Francisco, San Jose, Tracy, Fairfield, Hayward, Berkeley, Sacramento, and throughout the Bay area. Call today for your free consultation.

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