Advance notice of work schedules gets an airing before NH House committee

Measure would affect businesses with 10 or more employees

Giving workers a week’s notice of their schedule and a 10-hour rest between shifts is apparently too much for at least some businesses.

“This would open up a nightmare,” said Rep. Philip Bean, R-Hampton, at Wednesday’s hearing of the House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services Committee hearing, in using his construction business as an example.

Most business organizations didn’t testify on Wednesday, but nine registered their opposition to House Bill 1451, including the NH Retail Association, the Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire, Associated General Contractors and the Timberland Owners of New Hampshire. (A similar bill in the Senate gives two weeks notice.)

The sponsor, Rep. Timothy Josephson, D-Canaan, was the only one who testified in favor of the bill. Josephson, who said he spent the last 14 years working in restaurants, said that a common practice was to post the schedule on a Sunday for the week starting Wednesday, but sometimes you might not get it until the day before, or even the day of, the first shift you have to work.

“You leave all these people wondering when they are going to work, trying to arrange child care, or their other job,” he said.

The rest period was mainly to handle an open-and-shut case, involving an employee who closes for the night and opens the next morning.

A person might not get into bed until midnight and have to wake up four hours later to get up for a 5 a.m. shift, he said. That’s not just bad for the worker, he added, but for the employer, because “a tired employee is not a productive employee.”

While most employers try to be more sensible in scheduling, “without any oversight, they are looking for people, and if people are willing to do that, that is what happens.”

His bill would only apply to a workplace with 10 or more employees or with two locations. The company could request changes to the work schedule if it gives “timely notice,” but the employee would have the right to refuse.

There are no exemptions in the bill, though Josephson said it was not intended to apply to emergency personnel. But representatives from the NH Hospital Association, Granite State Independent Living and the Home Care Association of New Hampshire all said they would oppose the bill unless the employers they represent are exempted.

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