June 22, 2015

Fair Workweek Act will benefit ABQ economy

ISAAC BENTON is the City Councilor for Albuquerque’s District 2 and KLARISSA PEÑA is the City Councilor for Albuquerque’s District 3. 

It’s no secret that the nature of work in our state and country has changed dramatically. The demands of our modern economy have resulted in longer hours, less job security and stagnating wages. But even though much about the way people work has changed, public policies haven’t kept pace.

In Bernalillo County alone (where 82 percent of all residents live in Albuquerque), nearly one-third of hourly workers are employed in part-time jobs or jobs with variable hours.

Many people working hourly jobs to provide for their families are not offered earned sick leave and have little predictability in their scheduling.

City Councilor Isaac Benton

City Councilor Isaac Benton

Employers increasingly require full-time availability but offer only part-time hours, imposing particular burdens on working women, who disproportionately shoulder the burden of caring for children and elders.

Outdated scheduling practices like these are obstacles to creating an economy that works for everyone.

That’s why we are introducing the “Fair Workweek Act” for consideration by the City Council. This ordinance will protect and help build Albuquerque’s modern workforce, strengthening our economy by allowing working people to work hard, be healthy and get ahead.

Last minute scheduling makes it almost impossible to care for a family, work a second job or finish a college degree. The Fair Workweek Act will require businesses to post notice of schedules three weeks in advance.

Only with such advanced notice can employees manage their time well, plan a budget, care for their families and achieve success.

City Councilor Klarissa Peña

City Councilor Klarissa Peña

The ability to earn paid sick leave is also vital to the modern workforce and something our ordinance specifically addresses. We’ve heard stories from food servers, butchers, dental office employees and child care center teachers, all of whom have had to work sick because their employer doesn’t provide paid sick time.

When employees can earn and use paid sick time they will recover faster, avoid spreading illness to co-workers or the public and will be less likely to seek emergency health care services.

Other aspects of the ordinance require modest compensation for last-minute schedule changes; provide adequate rest time between shifts; and require employers to offer extra hours to current employees before hiring additional staff.

Every week it seems like another major business is changing their scheduling or sick leave policies to better reflect the modern workforce.

In the past week, Chipotle announced they would begin offering paid sick leave to hourly employees and T-Mobile changed their scheduling practices to better accommodate sick workers. This shows that more and more businesses understand the benefits of providing a fair workweek.

Businesses succeed when their employees have the flexibility and predictability they need to manage their lives and work most effectively.

The provisions in the Fair Workweek Act are fair, common-sense steps that will benefit our entire economy without undue expense to employers. The Fair Workweek Act will unleash the incredible potential of Albuquerque’s workforce to contribute to the long-term growth of our economy by addressing the challenging scheduling practices that are holding our community back.