65,000 hourly employees set to benefit from New York City’s ‘Fair Workweek’ legislation

65,000 hourly employees set to benefit from New York City’s ‘Fair Workweek’ legislation

June 20, 2017


New York City’s ‘Fair Workweek’ legislation is set to come into effect November 26, 2017 bringing with it a range of new scheduling requirements for employers operating in the retail and fast food industries. This article explains the nature of the changes, how they impact employers and what employers can do to ready themselves for stricter labor laws, which are becoming the norm both across the United States and internationally.  

Why the Fair Workweek?

In a nutshell, Fair Workweek aims at protecting hourly workers from the hardship associated with unpredictable scheduling. While Fair Workweek targets the fast food and retail industries it comes on the back of significant year-on-year growth in the number of hourly workers in labor markets globally. Across the United States, nearly one in five Americans has an unstable work schedule; in New York City alone there are 65,000 fast food workers. Unpredictable schedules make it nearly impossible to budget expenses or plan for the future. When announcing his support for the Fair Workweek bills September 15, 2016 New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said “Too many New Yorkers are being put in untenable situations – taking care of kids and aging parents, and then being forced to deal with an arbitrary schedule at a job where they still don’t always make ends meet. We’re talking about tens of thousands of fast food workers from all walks of life struggling to juggle everyday tasks. New York City is committed to being a city that does all it can to help people live healthier, more stable lives. Fair Workweek legislation will do just that.” These measures will give hourly fast food employees more stability and predictability, while preventing employers from under scheduling workers and forcing them to remain ‘on call’, the scenario whereby employees do not know if they will be called into work or not.  

Impact to employers?

Employers that are covered by the Fair Workweek regulations will be required to undertake the following scheduling practices:
  • Provide a written ‘good faith estimate’ of weekly work hours, dates, times, and work locations at the time of hiring a new employee
  • Provide a written work schedule no less than 14 days in advance of the work week
  • Post schedules in a conspicuous area at the workplace as well as providing them directly to each employee
  • When making a change to a schedule, providing the updated schedule to the affected employees and re-posting the schedule at the worksite within 24 hours of the change
  • When looking to fill an additional shift the employer must notify employees that work at that location before extending the invite to other employees or hiring additional staff/contractors to fill the shift.
In addition, penalty rates will apply to financially compensate workers for any of the following scheduling related transgressions:
  • Cancelling regular shifts with less than 72 hours notice
  • Requiring an employee to work, without his or her written consent, with less than 72 hours notice
  • Scheduling an employee to work two shifts with fewer than 11 hours between them on multiple days, a practice known as ‘clopening’.
  • Scheduling employees for on-call shifts

What can employers do to guard against such labor laws?

Keeping up with scheduling requirements such as those laid out in the Fair Workweek is a tough job for all businesses; creating and distributing employee schedules is a time intensive task and changes are inevitable so management of schedules is an ongoing burden. Fortunately, employee scheduling solutions have come on in leaps and bounds in recent years and competitively priced software packages are available for businesses of all sizes. Employee schedulers can drastically cut down the amount of time to create a schedule and can also improve the accuracy of schedules by taking into account variables such as staff unavailability and time off. In the modern digital age of smart phones managers and employees alike can benefit from mobile apps that allow them access to the scheduling information they need, when they need it, as well as the ability to collaborate and communicate in real time via a safe, secure and professional channel. Lastly, look for scheduling products that factor labor law compliance into your schedules so that you will be notified when a scheduling rule is broken and have the opportunity to rectify in a timely fashion thereby minimising exposure to penalty rates.