In the last few decades, “just-in-time” scheduling has been one of the most prevalent labor trends in the retail and hospitality industries. This form of scheduling involves giving associates a tentative work schedule and then cancelling shifts or asking associates to come in to work or leave early depending on the amount of work available.
This scheduling practice provides workers with little notice upon cancelling a shift and can lead to income instability. The implications of unpredictable scheduling may also take a toll on employees’ health. An Economic Policy Institute report states that 26% of employees with irregular and on-call schedules experience frequent work-family conflict and have higher stress levels on the job, impacting performance and productivity.
In recent years, however, legislation around these scheduling practices has tightened as newly enacted laws are providing low-wage associates with more predictable schedules and pay. As lawmakers continue to crack down on scheduling practices, it’s crucial that employers not only remain compliant to avoid the risk of crippling penalties and fines, but to help ensure better work-life balance, which may in turn improve the productivity of associates.
In response to the growing concern of unstable work hours, many cities have started to pass employee scheduling laws. These laws, also known as fair scheduling or predictive scheduling laws, address a wide range of concerns faced by employees, such as predictable hours, premium pay for schedule changes, so-called “clopening” shifts, adequate rest time, and additional hours for part-time workers.
These policies and regulations vary by jurisdiction, but many of them share common themes, such as:
Failing to heed scheduling laws may put some employers at risk of financial penalties. Additionally, if employers fail to adhere to predictive scheduling laws, employees in some jurisdictions can file private civil actions for damages and legal fees. Employers that comply with scheduling laws should nevertheless also work to reduce the likelihood of needing to pay scheduling premiums in some jurisdictions.
Fines and premium payments aren’t the only price employers pay for non-compliance and poor scheduling practices. Physical exhaustion and strenuous work pace may lead to significantly lower employee productivity, and potentially more stress and work-family conflict. Low productivity and absenteeism are both hidden non-monetary costs employers may have to pay on top of possible fines and penalties that may be incurred.
With the ever-evolving regulatory landscape and increasing employee expectations, it’s important now more than ever to assess the implications of adding, cutting, or switching shifts, providing advance notice of schedules, allocating hours fairly, and allowing for rest periods.
Adhering to changing scheduling compliance laws and providing your associates with the power to take control of their own schedules can mitigate risk, both from a compliance and employee experience standpoint.
Download the guide, Managing regulatory compliance in retail and hospitality, to learn more about effectively managing compliance across scheduling, benefits, and payroll.