The Minneapolis City Council is considering a kind of anti-business law that is new to me: a sweeping fair scheduling law that would require employers to give employees a schedule and, if the schedule must be changed to accommodate the flow of business, before the month is out, pay employees extra for the inconvenience.

A number of business leaders, including those who run funeral homes (whose clientele are notoriously hard to schedule in advance), are arguing that the law would be unworkable and unfair. Because of opposition, this is on hold, but Minneapolis is proceeding with a mandatory paid sick leave proposal.

V. John Ella, a Minneapolis labor and employment lawyer, has a good piece in today's Wall Street Journal today about the rise of laws by municipalities that make it very difficult to do business.

Municipalities enacting sweeping laws include the District of Columbia, where the City Council is considering a proposal that would give D.C. residents up to sixteen weeks of paid family and medical leave.  There is also a leave of up to twenty-four weeks for bonding with a new baby. The Obama administration supports the D.C. proposal. Even the liberal Washington Post said in an editorial that the proposal goes way too far.

The U.S. has also become a mosaic of different minimum wage  laws that baffle employers operating in several different cities.  There are also local laws that prohibit or limit drug testing of employees or make it illegal for an employer to ask a potential employee about criminal history. (I don't know about you, but I'd regard this as important to know before welcoming someone aboard.

Employers, according to Ella, are finding it hard to operate in an environment where cities can enact draconian laws that apply only locally:

A 2011 survey by ADP showed that half of responding small- to midsize businesses lacked confidence that they would be able to keep up with constantly changing workplace laws and regulations. More than half saw this landscape becoming more challenging over the next few years. But non-compliance is risky and potentially expensive, especially when employers face large class-actions over technical wage-and-hour issues. In 2014 American businesses paid about $400 million to settle wage-and-hour lawsuits alone.

The challenge for employers is not only the cost of higher wages or paid sick time. Multistate employers compelled to monitor new developments in thousands of cities instead of 50 states find the task overwhelming. Employers also have to track where each of their employees lives, or moves to, and works. Complying with the three-tiered patchwork of federal, state and local regulation means more opportunity for contradiction, as some laws’ requirements are the opposite of other laws. Changing a national payroll system to comply with the paid sick-leave ordinance in Passaic, N.J., might violate the law in San Francisco.

A revolt may be brewing:

A backlash is already under way. Twelve states, including Florida, Georgia and Wisconsin, have enacted laws barring local governments from requiring businesses to provide paid sick leave. Fifteen states, including Pennsylvania and Colorado, have banned the enactment of minimum-wage requirements anywhere in the state.

Elsewhere, employers will have to try to keep complying with new municipal employment laws as they pop up like mushrooms. There is no sign that the Labor Department will stop encouraging local and state governments—such as Montana and Rhode Island, which have also received money from the federal government to fund feasibility studies on paid sick leave—to go where Congress does not want to tread with burdensome legislation.

We want people to have good jobs with benefits–but the companies that do the hiring can't operate in this environment.

Somebody should tell the Department of Labor that, before you can have extensive benefits, you have to have a job.