Seattle has enacted an ordinance and administrative rules regulating scheduling practices for retail, food service establishments and full-service restaurants that addresses the following topics, effective July 1, 2017.   

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Seattle, Washington Secure Scheduling Ordinance and Final Administrative Rules

Jun 26, 2017

Background on the Ordinance and Rules:

Seattle has enacted an ordinance and administrative rules regulating scheduling practices for retail, food service establishments and full-service restaurants that addresses the following topics, effective July 1, 2017:

  • Advance notice of work schedules
  • Employee requests for schedule changes
  • Employer-initiated schedule changes and premium pay
  • Rest periods between shifts and premium pay
  • The “scheduled rate” to be used in premium calculations
  • Offering additional work to existing employees before adding headcount
  • Required notices and postings
  • Records retention

The ordinance and rules have several components and applies to retail and food service establishments with 500+ employees worldwide, full-service restaurants with 500+ employees and 40+ locations worldwide, and employees who work at fixed locations that are within Seattle’s geographic boundaries at least 50% of the time.

Selected highlights are below:

1. Advance Notice of Work Schedules:
    Employers must provide a good faith estimate of an employee’s work schedule at the time of hire, including:

  • The median number of hours employees can expect to work each week
  • Whether the employee will be expected to work on-call shifts
  • Good faith estimates must be revised at least once per year, or whenever there is a significant change in the employee’s schedule
  • Employers must provide employees with a written work schedule (can be electronic) at least 14 calendar days before the first day of the work schedule
  • For newly-hired employees, or those returning from leave, employers may provide schedules from the employee’s start or return date to the last date of the currently posted schedule

2. Employee Requests for Schedule Changes:
    Employers must allow employees to communicate limitations or changes in work schedule availability, and express any preferences for work hours and work locations where applicable

  • Employees can request specific schedules, and employers must either approve or deny them within 3 weeks of the request date
  • Employee requests for schedule accommodations related to the following “major life events” must be granted unless the employer has a good faith business reason for denying them:
    • Changes in transportation or housing
    • Personal serious health conditions
    • Caregiver responsibilities
    • Enrollment in career-related educational or training programs
    • Other employment
  • Denials of employee schedule change requests must be provided to employees in writing

3. Employer-Initiated Schedule Changes and Premium Pay:
    If an employer adds or subtracts hours from an employee’s schedule after it has been posted, it must:

  • Allow the employee to decline to work additional time
  • Pay the employee a premium:
    • For adding hours: 1 hour at the employee’s scheduled rate in addition to pay for time worked (excluding hours employees voluntarily pick up resulting from teammate absences)
    • For subtracting hours: 0.5 times the scheduled rate on all time subtracted (excluding time for unpaid meal or rest breaks)
    • Premium pay is not required if: rounding under a punch policy would allow the employee to be paid in full for the extra time worked (ex: employee is scheduled until 4:00 PM, but clocks out at 4:02 PM and the punch policy rounds up to 4:05 PM)

4. Rest Period Between Shifts and Premium Pay:

  • Employers must allow at least 10 hours between the end of an employee’s work shift and the beginning of another, regardless of whether the shift occurs in one or more calendar days
  • If an employee begins work less than 10 hours after their last punch out, the employer must pay the employee a premium of 1.5 times the scheduled rate on all time within the 10 hour window (excluding time attributed to split shifts where the second shift begins 4 hours or less from the end of the first)

5. The “Scheduled Rate” to be Used in Premium Calculations:

  • The “scheduled rate” is the rate applicable at the start of the employee’s posted schedule for the shift in question
    • If an employee is scheduled to earn more than one rate over the course of a scheduled shift, the rate in effect at the start of the schedule needs to be used
    • If the employee is scheduled to earn overtime or a shift differential at the start of a shift, these rates would need to be used in the premium calculation instead of the employee’s hourly base rate

6. Offering Additional Work to Existing Employees Before Adding Headcount:

  • Employers must post additional work hours to all qualified existing employees on their payroll for at least 3 consecutive calendar days before hiring new employees or contractors
  • Hours cannot be offered to a single employee only if they are capable of being split between multiple employees

7. Required Notices and Postings:

  • Employers must display a workplace poster from the Office of Labor Standards detailing employees’ secure scheduling rights in an accessible section of the workplace

8. Records Retention:

  • Employers must retain documentation of the following items for 3 years:
    • Good faith estimates of work schedules
    • Employee requests for schedule changes
    • Denials of employee requests for schedule changes
    • Work schedules
    • Time and pay records
    • Postings of additional work hours