Los Angeles Moves to Implement Stricter Policies on Retail Employers

By Sophie Li
Sophie Li
Sophie Li
November 24, 2022 Updated: November 29, 2022

The Los Angeles City Council voted on Nov. 22 to approve the so-called Fair Work Week ordinance, requiring retail employers to provide work schedules to employees at least 14 days in advance and to ensure at least 10 hours of rest between shifts.

The ordinance—which will go through a second vote next week—was proposed by Councilman Curren Price in 2019 and had gone through various discussions and edits for the past three years. It will impact an estimated 70,000 workers at large retailers in Los Angeles, according to Price.

“As we enter the holiday shopping season, we are reminded of our responsibility to support and protect our retail and grocery workers,” Price said in a statement.

Under the ordinance, retail and grocery businesses of more than 300 employees globally—such as Walmart, Target, Trader Joe’s CVS, and Walgreens—would fall under the restrictions.

If passed, city officials said they hope the ordinance prevents the practice of “clopening”—a term commonly used when staff are scheduled to close the store and return first thing the next morning to reopen the business.

The ordinance would also require employers to provide 1.5 times pay if employees work a shift that begins less than 10 hours from the previous shift. It would also mandate that employers offer additional hours to current employees before hiring new workers.

Additionally, employees would also not be required to find coverage for scheduled hours if they are unable to work for a reason covered by other laws.

Employers could be fined up to $500 per penalty for violating the ordinance, with the amount payable to the employee.

According to a 2018 UCLA Labor Center study cited in the ordinance, 77 percent of retail workers in the city receive less than a week’s notice of their schedules, and 80 percent of the retail sectors lack a set work schedule.

It also mentioned 45 percent of workers have problems using childcare due to their work schedules, and 43 percent of student workers had to miss class due to a scheduling conflict.

The ordinance also requires employers to provide employees with a “good faith estimate” of their work schedule upon hiring.

Additionally, the council approved 11 new positions for its office of Bureau of Contract Administration to help implement and enforce the ordinance.

One organization representing retailers is asking for more time to adjust to the ordinance if it is ultimately approved.

Steve McCarthy—vice president of public policy and regulatory affairs of the California Retailers Association—had asked the council’s Economic Development and Jobs committee for a delay in implementing the ordinance until September 2023 to give stores more time to revise their policies, introduce new software, and train management.

McCarthy also asked for the inclusion of an administrative process before lawsuits are filed under the ordinance.

Other cities such as San Francisco, Seattle, and New York have passed similar policies, according to Price’s motion.

City News Service contributed to this report.

Sophie Li