Here’s to do­ing noth­ing

State’s in­ac­tion on pro­posed sched­ul­ing rule, as drafted, was the smart move

The Buffalo News - - OPINION -

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 busi­nes­sun­friendly 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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