Councilmember Caroline Torosis discusses potential of fair work week ordinance with Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce members
On the heels of the recent passage of a Fair Work Week Ordinance in the City of Los Angeles, newly-elected Santa Monica City Council member Caroline Torosis has begun initiating discussions about whether such an ordinance could be beneficial in Santa Monica as well.
The LA ordinance, which is set to go into effect on April 1, 2023, is aimed at making the schedules of retail workers more predictable and sustainable by requiring employers with over 300 employees globally to provide schedules 14 days in advance, ensure at least 10 hours between shifts and compensate employees for certain schedule changes.
If implemented in Santa Monica in the same form, 84 businesses would be impacted with an estimated total of 1,633 affected employees, primarily along the promenade and at Santa Monica Place.
Torosis, who also serves as Senior Deputy of Workforce Development and Economic Opportunity for the Chair of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, presented on the potential for implementing a fair work week ordinance in Santa Monica to members of the city’s Chamber of Commerce this week, but emphasized that she was not currently planning on presenting anything to council on the matter and just hoped to gather community input.
“I’m really here to get feedback from you and engage in the discussion,” she said. “I’m here to know how this could impact your business, what you would or would not want to see in a potential ordinance and any challenges or things that are working for you and how you currently set your employees schedule.”
While she said a Santa Monica ordinance could be tailored to meet the unique needs of the city, she cited research from other places where Fair Work Week policies have been adopted with positive results including the City of Emeryville in Northern California and the State of Oregon, among others.
“There’s actually quite a robust amount of data on what the impact of these policies have been…” she said. “The weekly wages in the industries covered by the fair work week have grown faster on average than states without these protections, while improving employment stability and reducing employee turnover. There’s also evidence that workers stay longer and are more loyal to their employers with the [certainty of] the work schedules.”
She also clarified that this type of ordinance is targeted exclusively at the retail sector, and would not apply to restaurants, hotels, hospitals and other types of businesses.
Several members of the chamber raised concerns that fair work week regulations could act as a deterrent for businesses to come to Santa Monica and fill building vacancies, which have increased along the promenade and other retail centers in recent years. Torosis agreed that more needs to be done to incentivize filling those vacancies, but said she didn’t think a fair work week ordinance would hinder those efforts and could even result in a stronger business community overall.
“I believe that when we uplift our workers, and we uplift our businesses, everyone thrives,” she said. “And I don’t think that supporting our workers and supporting our businesses needs to be antithetical, in fact, I think that we can do both.”