Retailers caution D.C. scheduling law would have “sweeping unintended consequences”

WASHINGTON – The National Retail Federation weighed in on behalf of Washington, D.C.’s 7,000 retail establishments against proposed restrictive scheduling legislation being considered by the D.C. city council.

“Scheduling mandates are restrictive for all parties involved and have sweeping unintended consequences."

David French, Senior Vice President for Government Relations

“Scheduling mandates are restrictive for all parties involved and have sweeping unintended consequences” NRF’s Senior Vice President for Government Relations David French wrote in a letter to the city council’s Committee on Business, Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.

The proposed city-wide law would require retailers and restaurants to post schedules for their employees 21 days in advance, with steep penalties attached to any changes made thereafter.

In its letter, NRF elaborated on how this restrictive approach “ties the hands of employers and takes away the flexibility and opportunities that many D.C. residents seek in a retail job.”

“The local retail industry is competitive and fast-paced and revolves around a number of variables. Currently, if an employee calls in sick, wants to attend an event at their child’s school, needs extra time for a school paper, or any other host of circumstances, retailers are able to accommodate those often last minute requests by offering those shifts to other employees without incurring government penalty. Similarly, if a delivery truck is delayed because of bad weather or it unexpectedly warm December weather increases foot traffic, retailers are able to adapt to ensure proper staffing levels and great customer service. These circumstances cannot be predicted 21 days in advance and an employer should not be punished with a fine for accommodating an employee’s schedule change or other circumstances beyond [the employer’s] control.”

NRF also warned, “The District’s unique geographic location makes it extremely vulnerable to competition from surrounding jurisdictions that are not subject to the same laws.” When compared with other states, D.C. has the second-highest unemployment rate in the country. The District’s jobless rate of 6.6 percent in November 2015 was significantly higher than neighboring Virginia (4.2 percent) and Maryland (5.3 percent), according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The letter concluded, “The council should proceed with caution when considering measures that place D.C. businesses and employment opportunities for our residents at a competitive disadvantage.”

About NRF

The National Retail Federation is the world’s largest retail trade association. Based in Washington, D.C., NRF represents discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and internet retailers from the United States and more than 45 countries. Retail is the nation’s largest private-sector employer, supporting one in four U.S. jobs — 42 million working Americans. Contributing $2.6 trillion to annual GDP, retail is a daily barometer for the nation’s economy.