LANSING — State Representative Robert Wittenberg (D-Oak Park) and Sen. Steve Bieda (D-Warren) are introducing legislation that will help people who work irregular shifts — such as low-wage retail and food service jobs, or workers who have more than one part-time job — to request more predictable work schedules. The plan would grant workers with certain scheduling needs the right to a predictable schedule, unless an employer can demonstrate a business reason for denying the request.

“Some of the hardest-working people I know are juggling two or even three jobs just to make ends meet, while raising children and trying to further their education,” Rep. Wittenberg said. “When their employers change their schedules weekly, it makes it impossible to plan ahead to get job training or to sign a child up for sports teams or learning activities. This bill will help these employees when they ask for predictable schedules so that they can improve their lives and better care for their families.”

Under the proposal, schedule accommodations must be granted under the following conditions:

  • A serious health condition of the employee
  • An employee’s responsibility as a caretaker
  • An employee’s enrollment in a career-related educational or training program
  • A part-time employee making a request due to another part-time job

Employers who demonstrate a bona fide business reason why such an accommodation couldn’t be made would be exempt. However, all other businesses would have to respond in writing to the worker’s request, and post schedules in a visible place. The proposal also contains fines for employers who violate the act.

I am proud to sponsor Fair Work Schedule legislation in the Senate,” Sen. Bieda said. “The employment and labor laws will have to be changed to meet the demands of new technologies and global labor realities. The way to tackle the changing workplace is to recognize a workers rights to a fair schedule.”

“It’s become increasingly difficult for families to manage family and workplace demands, especially as income has been falling and many people need multiple jobs just to pay the bills,” Wittenberg said. “This legislation provides workers with a useful tool that will enable them to request more reliable and predictable schedules. I’m certain that all of my colleagues want to help working families, so I’m counting on their support.”