Many cities have recently started to pass their own employee scheduling laws. Called “fair workweek” or “secure” or “predictable” scheduling rules, they cover several topics, but share the same goal: to provide low-wage employees with more predictable schedules and pay. Read on to find out where this is happening, who the rules apply to, and what employers should do.  

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Fair Scheduling Trend Gains Momentum with Wins in New York City and Oregon

Thu Jul 20, 2017

Scheduling can be one of the most frustrating parts of any manager’s job. As if employee availability, shift trades, last-minute emergencies, illnesses, weather, break and minor work rules, split shifts and reporting time pay weren’t enough factors to consider, many cities have recently started to pass their own employee scheduling laws. Called “fair workweek” or “secure” or “predictable” scheduling rules, they cover several topics, but share the same goal: to provide low-wage employees with more predictable schedules and pay. New York City is the most recent city to enact these rules, but it won’t be the last.

Where’s this happening?

Six U.S. cities have passed scheduling laws as of July 1, 2017: Emeryville, San Francisco, and San Jose, California; New York City, New York; and Seattle and SeaTac, Washington. A proposal was introduced in Chicago, Illinois in late June, and a bill passed the Oregon Senate last week. Pending Governor Kate Brown’s signature, Oregon will be the first U.S. state to pass a statewide scheduling law (sources say she is expected to sign).

Activity on the coasts is often an early indicator of a future trend, as are dead and withdrawn proposals. Congress, 14 states, the District of Columbia, and at least five cities have introduced some form of scheduling legislation since 2015. We believe this number will continue to grow, similar to the proliferation of proposals to increase state and local minimum wages.

Who do the rules apply to?

Which employees are covered by these laws is often a complex question having a lot to do with your business operations. However, the rules share some common elements:

  • They require employees to work within city boundaries for a certain amount of time.
  • They cover hourly, non-exempt employees who are either part-time or work in certain industries (usually retail, foodservice, and hospitality).
  • They have a business size requirement, typically measured by employee headcount, and have rules about how to count employees working for franchises and chains.

What are the requirements?

While each city’s requirement is different, we’ve found quite a few similarities. We expect variations will continue to be common as cities act as laboratories for different approaches.

Table of rules by city

What should I do?

You can take a few easy steps to reduce the impact the rules will have on your business. Here are our pro-tips:

Pro-tip #1: Continue to follow these changes at the state and local levels. Use our chart as a starting point for your research and build a table of all applicable requirements so you can compare and contrast them.

Pro-tip #2: Consider two factors in determining coverage: first, if your business is covered, and then if your employees are covered.

Pro-tip #3: Review your scheduling policies to identify gaps and accommodate changes. Costly premium pay requirements can be avoided with policy changes and careful planning.