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Fair scheduling debate heats up, splits opinion among Minneapolis restaurants

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Trouble is brewing in the Minneapolis small business community, as proposed changes to workplace pay and scheduling being considered are leaving a sour taste in some mouths.

Opinion appears to be divided on the City of Minneapolis' intentions to implement new standards under its Working Families Agenda.

What is the proposal?

The changes would see workers accrue one hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked; and make employers set employee schedules 28 days in advance.

If an employer changes, cancels or shortens a shift with less than a day's notice, workers would still get "predictability pay" of four hours.

The changes are designed to improve conditions for non-salaried workers who tend to work in the service industry, who face unpredictability over their working hours and often work even when they are not well enough to do so. The City says a lack of fair scheduling disproportionately affects women and people of color.

The only way that businesses could avoid the fair scheduling rule is if they have a collective bargaining agreement with workers that waives the law.

Complaints among restaurant industry

There appears to be a split among small business owners about the changes, which could be discussed by the City as soon as next month and implemented as early as January.

Much of this was on display at a meeting at Common Roots Café at 26th & Lyndale in south Minneapolis Thursday.

The Southwest Journal reports that this was intended to be a press conference in which the café and a few other local business owners – including Frank Brown of the Minuteman Press and Julie Kerns of Junket: Tossed and Found – were set to speak in favor of new standards that all businesses must honor.

But it instead turned into a heated debate as other business owners in attendance made their own views known, and according to WCCO, they say the fair scheduling law in particular could put them out of business.

The Southwest Journal notes that there were several objections relating to restaurant and outdoor businesses, who think that it is unreasonable to expect them to schedule their shifts 28 days in advance.

This, they say, is because they can't predict how busy they will be a month ahead of time and therefore don't know how many staff they'll need, and in the case of outdoor businesses, they can't predict what the weather will be like.

The changes also affect "on-call" shifts, where workers are given little advance notice that they are needed for work.

"I could not prepare a schedule that goes out 28 days to save my life. It's just not practical to do," said Gus Parpas, co-owner of Christos Greek Restaurant, told KARE 11 earlier this week.

He told the TV station that many of his workers are students, artists and parents who need flexible schedules, and he also has a catering business that needs to make "last minute accommodations for large groups."

Café's message of support for fair scheduling

But on the other sign of the coin are businesses like the Common Roots Café, which posted a lengthy and well-received

">comment on Facebook summing up its own feelings on fair scheduling.

They say the proposal put forward by the City is by no means perfect, and hopes it can work through issues to avoid putting an "undue burden" on small businesses,

But the overall aims of predictable schedules and guaranteed sick pay is something the eatery ultimately backs, saying: "We stand in support of a city-wide ordinance that addresses these concerns and makes Minneapolis a better place to make a living and a life."

The café acknowledged the changes "will be challenging for small business," but adds: "We believe that we can work together to set a higher standard and make Minneapolis a national leader in supporting workers and their families."

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