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Oliver, Lampitt Bill to Establish "New Jersey Schedules That Work Act" Clears Assembly Panel

Bill Discourages Retaliation Against Retail, Cleaning and Food Service Employees Who Request Work Schedule Change Due to Certain Circumstances

(TRENTON) – An Assembly panel advanced on Monday legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Sheila Oliver and Pamela Lampitt to establish the “New Jersey Schedules That Work Act” and guard employees against retaliation by their employer for asking for a work schedule change.

The bill (A-1117) provides that employees may request a change to their work schedules without fear of retaliation, and requires that employers consider these requests. The bill also requires employers to provide more predictable and stable schedules for employees in certain low wage occupations. Employer is defined as any employer that employs 15 or more employees.

“Employees must not be discouraged to take the time off they need for serious health related reasons or to pursue educational goals,” said Speaker Emeritus Oliver (D-Essex, Passaic). “Similar legislation has been proposed in Congress. However, we have the opportunity here in New Jersey to make a difference in the way retail, food service and cleaning employees are treated in the work place.”

The bill permits employees to apply to their employer to request a change in the terms and conditions of employment as they relate to the following: the number of hours the employee is required to work or be on call for work; the location where the employee is required to work; the amount of notification the employee receives of work schedule assignments; and minimizing fluctuations in the number of hours the employee is scheduled to work on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

“This is about fairness in the workplace for those working in certain occupations,” said Lampitt (D-Camden, Burlington). “Every employee, regardless of what they do, should be able to adjust their schedule without fear of reprisal by an employer.”

If an employee applies to the employer to request a change in the terms and conditions of employment, then the employer must engage in a timely, good faith interactive process with the employee that includes a discussion of potential schedule changes that would meet the employee’s needs. This process must result in the employer either granting or denying the request.

The bill also provides that if an employee makes a request for a change in the terms and conditions of employment because of serious health condition of the employee, due to the employee’s responsibilities as a caregiver, or due to the employee’s enrollment in a career-related educational or training program, or if a part-time employee makes a request for such a change for a reason related to a second job, then the employer must grant the request, unless the employer has a bona fide business reason for denying the request.

The bill was approved by the Assembly Women and Children Committee. It will now return to the Assembly Speaker for further consideration.