City weighs scheduling rules

Businesses could be required to schedule employees nearly one month in advance and compensate for schedule changes.

A biker passes by Blarney Pub & Grill on Wednesday. In September, the Minneapolis City Council issued a proposal for a city-wide ordinance that would change the way all businesses, like Blarney, are allowed to schedule their employees. The changes would require businesses to establish employee shift schedules twenty-eight days before their shift.

Liam James Doyle

A biker passes by Blarney Pub & Grill on Wednesday. In September, the Minneapolis City Council issued a proposal for a city-wide ordinance that would change the way all businesses, like Blarney, are allowed to schedule their employees. The changes would require businesses to establish employee shift schedules twenty-eight days before their shift.

Keith Min

Businesses in Minneapolis could soon be required to have schedules for employees completed almost a month in advance. 
 
Early last month, the Minneapolis City Council introduced a measure that would require businesses to schedule employees 28 days in advance, compensate them for schedule changes made less than 24 hours before the start of their shift and pay workers time-and-a-half when they have less than 11 hours between shifts. 
 
Employees would also earn overtime pay for shifts longer than eight hours.
 
The proposed ordinance would also require businesses to provide employees with paid sick leave. 
 
Mental illness, sexual assault, domestic abuse and family emergencies would all qualify for paid sick time under the proposal. 
 
While some business owners and the city say the measure would improve workers’ lives, others say the move could hurt businesses throughout the city.
 
“It will cost more for businesses to operate,” said president and CEO of the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce Todd Klingel. “Plus, it removes flexibility that is necessary for many businesses.”
 
He said he believes the ordinance would distance the relationship between employers and employees, in addition to being impractical.
 
“[The proposed ordinance] can have all kinds of unintended consequences,” Klingel said. 
 
Should the ordinance pass, Dinkytown Business Alliance president and Blarney Pub & Grill owner Mike Mulrooney said he would have to schedule work times around events, like the Oct. 17 Gophers football game, that don’t yet have a start time. 
 
“If Minneapolis wants to be a city that is friendly to businesses, this is an absolute slap in our faces,” he said. “I have yet to hear anybody from the city council or the mayor explain how it’s going to help the employer.”
 
But Danny Schwartzman, owner of the Common Roots Cafe in Uptown, said the ordinance would improve the community because employees would feel good about their work.
 
“It’s an extension of basic worker rights,” he said, comparing it to the 40-hour workweek, which was controversial in the past but is generally accepted today.
 
Requiring employers to share work schedules with their employees in advance would help relieve the problems that are common with current scheduling practices.
 
Additionally, the earned sick-time part of the proposal could help improve hygiene in workplaces, Schwartzman said. 
 
“It helps to prevent people from feeling like they need to come in to work sick,” he said.
 
The director of the Main Street Alliance of Minnesota, Corinne Horowitz, said she supports the proposal, but the measure would need to be tweaked to be business-friendly. 
 
“We are working on figuring out what is more manageable,” she said, adding that the current 28-day notice is excessive. “We think something 
more like two weeks out would be more manageable.”
 
Horowitz said she plans to speak at a press conference Thursday, where several local business owners will voice their support of the proposal.
 
Earlier this year, San Francisco enacted a similar resolution.