The other shoe has dropped – and the weight of the wrecking ball – after last November’s election. Colorado’s opposition to Republicans on the ballot appears to have emboldened Democrats to be more pro-business than ever.
This came to light when news broke last week of what could be the mother of all business-disruptive laws. Called “Fair Workweek Employment Standards,” the soon-to-be-enacted measure will detail work schedules, wages and other conditions for workers throughout Colorado’s economy.
If approved, these sweeping policy changes could make day-to-day operations impossible for many businesses, even all sectors of the economy, that rely on a flexible workforce.
Restaurants in Colorado can be some of the most challenging. As our contributors to Colorado Politics pointed out in their report on the prospect, almost every food and beverage establishment (along with any retail business) would have to offer “premature pay” to workers who have been sent home early due to slow business or other. unexpected events.
That’s right; companies that by definition cannot predict how many people will walk in on a particular day or evening – they will have to pay workers for work they did not do.
Only another plague would be worse.
It says a lot about the amount that has just been increased in the 2023 legislative session. It means that the ruling Democrats are about to escalate their usual conflict with the government’s job creators – to a full-scale war. The bill’s author, Denver Democratic State Rep. Emily Sirota, comes from her unhappy party. The extent to which his careless position goes so far in this process will give an indication of the unknown lengths to which the rest of his team is willing to travel.
In addition to the food and beverage industry, the bill as drafted would have affected all retailers with 250 or more employees worldwide — although a few are located in Colorado. In the end, it’s every business: the place where you stop for coffee in the morning; where you buy groceries on the way home; where you drive your car. The list goes on; they are all at risk
The bill is a micromanager’s – make that, a micro-dictator’s – fantasy. It has a number of amazing controls that people who only think about their working time and salary in detail. It stops employers from being discouraged. And then, confuse them.
In the middle of the bill it says:
- Affected workers must be told their work schedule 14 days in advance – almost impossible for most workers.
- Employees must be paid one full hour’s pay for each time added to a shift and two full hours’ pay for each time removed from a shift. Layoffs – or simply closing – could be the result.
- Overtime pay is paid for any hours worked within 12 hours of the last shift.
All of this shows a complete lack of understanding of how the service economy works. Flexible planning is essential to running a discount retailer, fast food franchise, high-end restaurant – you name it. The ebbs and flows of customers demand this. That flexibility often fits the needs and lifestyles of employees, too. They may be students juggling work and college classes; parents who want to spend time with their children, or hire extra income from a full-time job.
The Colorado Chamber of Commerce has not acted on the bill, however, because it has not been introduced. But chamber president Loren Furman put it right.
“This proposal fails to recognize business imperatives, and we are concerned about the impact it will have on our financial position and competitiveness,” Furman told us. “It could impose new rules and restrictions on how employers operate, placing unnecessary and unreasonable burdens on businesses and workers.”
“We want Colorado to be a place where business leaders choose to invest, innovate and create jobs,” he said, “but policies like this only serve to drive companies out of the state.”