At nearly the quarter point of the 2019 Legislative session, two labor issues have emerged as top priorities for retailers. They include regulating work schedules for retail and hospitality employers, and whether independent contractors would be reclassified as retail employees.
The bills on scheduling are HB 1491 and SB 5717. In short, they would require a 14-day notice of scheduling for employees, impose penalties and fees if schedules vary, and prohibit the flexibility of trading work shifts. These limitations are similar to a Seattle law currently in effect on major retailers that is causing complications for employers and employees alike.
SB 5513 and HB 1515 would effectively eliminate retailers from using independent contractors to provide a host of services including merchandise delivery, maintenance and construction among others.
Put simply, these bills will add dramatic costs for retailers, will make it very difficult to accommodate employees who desire flexible work hours, and add to the excessive mandates that have been, or are expected, to be adopted soon. These include a $1.50 an hour increase in the statewide minimum wage next year, new paid sick and safe leave requirements and premiums currently being collected to fund paid family and medical leave programs next year.
Washington Retail opposes these bills and is working to communicate the concerns of the business community during legislative committee proceedings.
Another high priority issue are bills that would regulate how quickly retailers had to report data breaches to the state Attorney General and the public. SB 5064 and HB 1071 would require reporting within two weeks to the Attorney General. Washington Retail is in communication with the Attorney General’s office to settle on requirements that would be less burdensome in the event of a security breach. The talks include deciding when a new law, if approved, would take effect.
If you have questions or comments, contact Mark Johnson, Senior VP of Policy and Government Affairs, at 360-943-0667 or [email protected]. or contract lobbyist Bruce Beckett at 360-480-5258 or [email protected].
The current session is scheduled to adjourn April 28.