A new proposal of the New York State Department of Labor that's designed to provide employees fair wages has some local small business owners concerned about their bottom lines. Our Matt Hunter explains.
COLONIE, N.Y. – Employing more than 700 workers at his family's 21 Hoffman Car Wash locations, Tom Hoffman, Jr., says the schedules of his staff are constantly shifting.
"Most of our employees, this is their first job. These are kids in high school and college," Hoffman said from his company’s location on Central Avenue in Colonie Thursday. “Our scheduling and staffing levels fluctuate primarily because of the unpredictable weather in the Northeast. If we have snow storms coming in, we may have to reduce staffing, and then when we have a beautiful day like today, we have to call in people."
It is mainly because of that reason he's concerned about a proposal under consideration by the New York State Department of Labor.
Designed to provide employees a fairer wage, the state is considering requiring employers to provide employees an extra two hours of pay if they're called in to work a shift with less than 14 days' notice. Hoffman says that two-week threshold would be nearly impossible to comply with in his industry.
"It is just going to cost small businesses around the state an enormous amount of money, and we are going to have to pass those costs along to our customers,” he said.
"That is where this loses its effectiveness, loses its practicality," Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce President Todd Shimkus said.
Shimkus says he's received calls from numerous concerned members, including the owners of Healthy Living Market and Cafe.
"That, for a place like Healthy Living, is a $50,000-a-year increase in their expenditures,” Shimkus said. “It just isn’t affordable. It isn’t practical."
There are certain exemptions for employees who earn 10 times the minimum wage over the course of a week and those who volunteer to cover the shift of a co-worker who calls out for whatever reason. Hoffman still expects it would add more than a million dollars to his annual labor costs.
“The impact on our business is going to be reducing labor, this is a job killer," Hoffman said.
A New York State Department of Labor spokesperson says the proposed regulations are still not finalized, and that the agency is still accepting comments and concerns from business owners and at firstname.lastname@example.org. More information can be found at the agency’s website.