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Editorial: State’s inaction on proposed scheduling rule was smart move

Whoever said that sometimes doing nothing is the same as doing something had it right when it comes to the state Department of Labor’s inaction on its potentially disastrous “predictive scheduling” requirement.

However it happened, changes to the onerous on-call scheduling rules will not be implemented. They would have been disastrous for some businesses, especially small ones trying to survive and some that are weather dependent but unwisely covered by the proposed change.

Predictive scheduling would have required employers to post schedules 14 days in advance and to pay workers as much as four hours’ wages for last-minute scheduling changes. The state agency allowed the proposal to expire without taking any action. Someone must have considered the potential wage loss.

Consider Delta Sonic. The car wash estimated the rule would have cost $3 million to $15 million per year and eliminated 3,700 jobs over the next seven years. It would have increased operating expenses as business was forced to move from a hand-dry model toward automation.

The company’s president, Ron Benderson, stressed that he wants to remain in the people business – one that often gives teenagers their first jobs. But the rule would have it made that all but impossible.

The proposed regulation would have forced the company, which is weather dependent, to pay more than 1,000 employees to report to work on rainy days with little to do, or remove them from the schedule and pay them each four hours’ wages to stay away. It would have been easier and far cheaper just to turn to automatic dryers.

The rule would have made an already business-unfriendly New York State even more hostile. Whatever – or, whoever – prompted the agency drop the matter, good job.

This is not to say there weren’t legitimate issues behind the proposal. In retail businesses, for example, sudden schedule changes are routine and can play havoc with child care needs. Those issues can be addressed again but without the broad overreach that would have undermined businesses where such scheduling is appropriate and, in the case of Delta Sonic, actually valued by its young workers.

As Unshackle Upstate, a business advocacy group, observed, dropping the plan is a “step in the right direction” in making New York more competitive and business friendly. Executive Director Michael Kracker said: “This one-size-fits-all approach would have hurt businesses – especially small businesses – that are already struggling to survive in New York’s harsh business climate.”

So, here’s to government inaction. In this case, it was a good business move.

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