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Just in Time for Black Friday, San Francisco Passed the First Ever Retail Worker Bill of Rights

San Francisco’s retail staff will have more stable hours and the possibility to work overtime

(Photo: HENRY ROMERO/Reuters/Corbis)
smithsonian.com

Earlier this week, San Francisco became the first U.S. city to pass a bill of rights for retail workers. New city ordinances will ensure workers have more stables schedules, access to overtimeand compensation for last minute schedule changes, Fortune reports. Managers will also be required to post schedules at least two weeks in advance, and existing employees will have the chance to fill hours before the management hires new help.

About five percent of San Francisco's businesses will be subject the retail reforms, Fortune continues. The new legislation will apply only to businesses with 20 or more locations and that have at least 20 employees in San Francisco. The bill of rights has already been approved by the Board of Supervisors and now just requires the San Francisco mayor's signature before it's put into action, Fortune reports. So far, San Francisco is the first to move forward with such a bill, although Congress did discuss the issue in July.

While some argue that San Francisco's reforms will hurt business owners, there is growing national support for better treatment of hourly workers, the New York Times reports. Around 7.5 million employees—double the number in 2007—currently work part time but would like to work full time. Nearly half of all part time workers are given one week or less notice about their schedule, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Having predictable hours can make the difference between taking on another job, signing up for a night class or being able to commit to picking up the kids after school, the Times points out. According to the results of a University of Chicago study, the economy, in turn, would benefit. Workers wouldn't get burned out and quit as often, and part time ones can also seek second jobs if desired. As the study authors told the Times, “We’re confident that we can move forward with policies that work for workers as well as business’s bottom line.”

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