Preparing Your Business for Adherence to Predictive Scheduling Laws
In the past two years, dozens of states, municipalities and cities have considered legislation that requires businesses that hire hourly workers, like retail stores and restaurants, to provide extra pay to employees for last-minute work schedule changes. Several major cities have enacted such measures into law, including New York City, San Francisco and Seattle. Predictive scheduling (often referred to as fair workweek) laws are designed to assist and protect employees by providing them with a schedule that gives them the ability to plan their lives beyond work.
With this trend growing in adoption, businesses need to look ahead and prepare to adhere to predictive scheduling laws. Right now, this is what employers need to know:
How Predictive Scheduling Affects Business
While the overall intent of predictive scheduling laws is to protect employees in the retail and food service industries, each city has unique restrictions and penalties. San Francisco led the fair workweek movement with its Formula Retail Employee Rights Ordinance of 2014, in which employers must provide notice of schedules two weeks in advance. Employers that fail to provide notice are penalized with steep fines.
Seattle’s Secure Scheduling Ordinance, which went into effect in July 2017, addresses the practice of “clopening.” This is when an employee closes up a business at night and then returns first thing in the morning to reopen it. Under this legislation, employers aren't permitted to have employees work shifts unless separated by at least 10 hours. If not, employers are required to pay time-and-a-half the employee’s hourly wage for any hours that infringe on the 10-hour window.
In November 2017, New York City launched its Fair Workweek Laws aimed at curtailing employers’ flexibility to establish and modify employee work schedules at whim. Penalties for violating the substantive provisions of these laws are considerable, including rescission of any discipline issued, reinstatement, payment of back pay and escalating fines for repeat violations.
How Employers Can Prepare
If your business is covered under new predictive scheduling laws, it’s time to take advantage of the tools available to ensure successful compliance.
Implementing a workforce management system that incorporates varied work shifts, streamlined schedule changes and enhanced communication processes is a must. If you're currently posting your schedules to a spreadsheet or printed paper, it’s time to switch to a digital scheduling solution.
Web-based scheduling tools can help effectively manage your workforce by facilitating communication between employees and scheduling managers. Schedules can be sent to employees via email or an app, providing the time-stamped data needed for documentation purposes. They also allow you to forecast your labor as a percentage of sales on a daily basis, helping you better predict your workforce needs.
While the new regulations predominantly target scheduling, they also impact hiring practices. For example, if you want to hire someone new to cover shifts in another location where business has increased, under new laws you'll need to offer open shifts to existing employees first.
Looking to the Future
As with any new legislation, there are its proponents and detractors. Advocates say that predictive scheduling makes it easier for lower-income workers to get ahead, allowing them to take classes, get a second job or plan for childcare. Opponents believe that the many variables that affect the retail and food service industries will make compliance difficult.
Regardless, the fair workweek concept is gaining momentum, so now is the time to get ahead of the curve and prepare your business. With savvy technology tools, workforce planning and predictive scheduling can improve your employees’ quality of life, reduce turnover and absenteeism, and ultimately enhance productivity. That marks a bright future.
Derek Jones is the vice president of business development at Deputy, an online HR and employee management system.
Related story: More Retailers Agree to Halt ‘On Call’ Scheduling