Flexible Workweek Bill Set for Hearing

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JobCreatorA California Chamber of Commerce-supported job creator bill providing employers with the flexibility to accommodate employees’ needs is scheduled to be considered by the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee on June 22.

SB 985 (Berryhill; R-Twain Harte), the 15th job creator bill identified this year, provides employers with the opportunity to accommodate employees’ needs as well as business demands by allowing employees to request a voluntary, flexible workweek agreement that can be repealed by the employee at any time with proper notice.

The CalChamber and a coalition of chamber of commerce and employer groups are supporting SB 985 because it seeks to eliminate the burdensome alternative workweek election process and allow the employee the opportunity to request a four, 10-hour day workweek schedule that will address the needs of both the employer and employee.

California Traps

California is one of only three states that requires employers to pay daily overtime after eight hours of work and weekly overtime after 40 hours of work. Even the other two states that impose daily overtime requirements allow the employer and employee to essentially waive the daily eight-hour overtime requirement through a written agreement.

California, however, provides no such common-sense alternative. Rather, California requires employers to navigate through a multi-step process to have employees elect an alternative workweek schedule that, once adopted, must be “regularly” scheduled.

This process is filled with potential traps for costly litigation, as one misstep may render the entire alternative workweek schedule invalid and leave the employer on the hook for claims of unpaid overtime wages.

Small Employer Relief

SB 985 would relieve employers, especially smaller employers, from the administrative cost and burden of adopting an alternative workweek schedule.

Pursuant to SB 985, at the request of the employee, an employer would be able to implement a flexible work schedule that allows the employee to work up to 10 hours in a day or 40 hours in a week, without the payment of overtime. Employers should be able to negotiate through a written agreement, revocable by either party, the daily/weekly schedule that satisfies the needs of both the employee(s) and the employer.

Action Needed

The CalChamber is urging members to contact their senators and members of Senate Labor and Industrial Relations to ask them to support SB 985.

An easy-to-edit sample letter is available at www.calchambervotes.com.

Staff Contact: Jennifer Barrera

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Jennifer Barrera
About Jennifer Barrera
Jennifer Barrera, senior policy advocate, works with the executive vice president in developing policy strategy and represents the CalChamber on labor and employment, taxation and legal reform issues. Before joining the CalChamber in September 2010, she worked at a statewide law firm that specializes in labor/employment defense. She also advised small and large businesses on compliance issues, presented seminars on employment-related topics, and authored articles in human resources publications. Barrera earned a B.A. in English from California State University, Bakersfield, and a J.D. with high honors from California Western School of Law.