Restaurant Owners Move to Block California Fast-Food Worker Law
Workspan Daily
September 09, 2022

Just days after California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law a measure designed to set wages and improve working conditions for the state’s fast-food workers, a coalition of restaurant owners have moved to at least temporarily block the legislation.  

As AP News reports, a group known as Protect Neighborhood Restaurants has filed a referendum request with California’s state attorney general, the first step before the law’s opponents can begin gathering signatures. If the alliance of restaurant owners collects enough signatures, the law would not take effect unless it’s supported by a majority of voters, according to AP News.  

If the law stands, it will create a 10-member Fast Food Council with equal numbers of workers’ delegates and employers’ representatives, along with two state officials, who will be empowered to set minimum standards for wages, hours and working conditions in California. 

The law’s opponents, however, say it will raise consumer costs, is not necessary and will create a “fractured economy” with different regulations for different types of restaurants, according to AP News.  

“As a result of backroom politicking, Governor Newsom has signed a lie into law and maligned all of California’s quick service small businesses and local franchisees as bad employers,” the Protect Neighborhood Restaurants coalition said in a statement.  

“It is saddening that the industry is looking for a way out of providing a seat at the table amongst all stakeholders,” the bill’s author, Democratic Assemblyman Chris Holden, told AP News, saying that fast-food workers make the multi-billion industry possible, and that “giving equal representation of employees and employers is the recipe for sustainable, long-term growth in an inclusive manner.” 

Survey: Nearly Half of Workers Not Taking Time Off 

New research finds that a significant number of employees are not taking personal time away from work, with 42% of workers reporting that they have not taken a vacation during the past 12 months.  

In a survey of 1,000 employees, Eagle Hill Consulting found that 47% of workers cited the expense of taking a vacation as the biggest impediment to taking time off. Another 31% said “self-imposed pressure to stay on top of work” factored into their decision to not take vacation, with 27% saying the same about their heavy workload. Twenty-five percent indicated that they don’t have any paid time off, with another 25% saying they have no colleagues available to cover for them if they took a vacation.  

For those that do take vacation, many are not fully disconnected from work, with 28% of respondents taking vacation reporting that they still check work emails and messages while on vacation, and 6% saying they continue to work during their time away.  

“Employees really need time to disconnect from work, especially as we continue to see high burnout levels across the U.S. workforce,” said Melissa Jezior, president and CEO of Eagle Hill Consulting, in a statement. “And ideally, employees should fully disengage from work rather than constantly checking email and responding to messages.” 

“It’s not just employees who benefit from taking time off. When there is time to rest and take a break from job pressures, employers are far more likely to have an engaged workforce at its peak performance. It’s incumbent upon employers to create a culture that encourages employees to both regularly take time off and fully unplug from their job while they’re away.”  

NLRB Proposes New Joint Employer Rule 

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking designed to address the standard for determining joint-employer status under the National Labor Relations Act.  

The notice proposes to rescind and replace the joint-employer rule that took effect on April 27, 2020, with the recommended changes intended to “explicitly ground the joint-employer standard in established common law agency principles, consistent with Board precedent and guidance that the Board has received from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit,” according to an NLRB statement.  

Under the proposed rule, two or more employers would be considered joint employers if they “share or codetermine those matters governing employees’ essential terms and conditions of employment,” such as wages, benefits and other compensation, work and scheduling, hiring and discharge, discipline, workplace health and safety, supervision, assignment and work rules, according to the NLRB. The Board proposes to consider both direct evidence of control and evidence of reserved and/or indirect control over these essential terms and conditions of employment when analyzing joint-employer status. 

Joint employment has been “one of the most contentious labor issues for many U.S. businesses since the Obama administration, when the NLRB had adopted a similar standard that trade groups said was unworkable and would curb franchising,” wrote Reuters’ Daniel Wiessner.  

A rule adopted during the Trump administration requires that companies have “direct and immediate” control over contract and franchise workers in order to be considered joint employers, according to Reuters. The new proposal would rescind that rule, “which was favored by business groups,” and would broadly affect industries, such as manufacturing and construction, that rely heavily on staffing agencies and contractors to provide workers, as well as franchises likes McDonald’s Corp. and others that are not typically involved in franchisees’ day-to-day operations.  

Research Predicts Talent Shortage Will Continue 

According to new iHire research, finding qualified job candidates remains among employers’ biggest hiring challenges.  

In a poll of more than 500 employers, 65% of respondents said the applicants they receive are unqualified, with a slightly larger number (68%) reporting that they receive too few applicants. In addition, 82% of the companies surveyed indicated that they anticipate the talent shortage continuing throughout the upcoming year.  

A separate survey polled more than 4,200 workers, revealing that many job candidates would prefer to work remotely, but some are finding remote opportunities tougher to come by. For example, 23% of job seekers surveyed reported having trouble finding remote work, compared to 6% saying the same in a similar poll in 2021. In the employer survey, 29% of responding organizations said they foresee candidates’ preference for remote work hindering their ability to hire in the next 12 months.  

“The talent shortage has become a long-term issue rather than a passing trend, according to our State of Online Recruiting Report’s year-over-year survey findings,” said iHire President and CEO Steve Flook, said in a statement. “All the while, voluntary resignations, economic concerns and candidates’ continued interest in remote work are just a few of the challenges complicating hiring in today’s tight labor market.”  

Editor’s Note: Additional Content 

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