Predictive scheduling, or Fair Workweek Rules, seem to be the latest trend in workplace regulations to protect hourly workers. When San Francisco first enacted these laws in 2015, the intent was to provide more advance notice regarding work schedules and to ensure schedules were fair. For employers, however, these laws have signaled greater fines and penalties. With several more cities and two states now following suit, what exactly are the rules? Are they really necessary? And will they soon be coming to a city near you?
What are the Fair Workweek Rules?
There are four primary rules consistently found among the Fair Workweek regulations:
- Two-weeks’ notice: Schedules must be made available to employees for a minimum of two weeks in advance.
- Minimal changes: If the scheduler must make changes within that minimum two-week notice window, they must be documented and have good reason. Employers may also need to pay premiums to employees for any schedule changes made within that window if it’s for anything outside of filling in for a sick employee.
- No “clopenings” allowed: Employers cannot enact the practice of “clopening,” which is scheduling employees to work closing shifts and then having them return hours later to open the business. Employees must be allowed a rest period (11 hours) between the end of one shift and the start of another. If an employee must return prior to the rest period ending, the employer must pay a premium.
- Maintain records: scheduling records now must be retained for three years, including original hours, schedule changes, time off requests, shift swap or change requests, shift cancellations, and more.
Whether or not you are currently impacted, ask your timekeeping solution about their implemented adaptations to comply with the Fair Workweek Rules, such as flagging potential violations and allowing employees to easily trade shifts.
Who is affected by the Fair Workweek Rules?
The Fair Workweek rules are primarily aimed at large employers in the retail and restaurant sectors and have already been enacted in San Francisco, San Jose, Emeryville, Seattle, New York City, Oregon, Washington DC, and New Hampshire. If your business is not in one of those industries or areas, you may still need to prepare since these regulations are likely to drive changes to other businesses that employ blue-collar workers nationwide.
Are the Fair Workweek laws necessary?
At first glance, these laws seem a little extreme to employers. However, the working class that these laws are trying to protect are typically those with the lowest incomes (see statistics here). Many of them work more than one part-time job and/or are caretakers that have to juggle multiple schedules. Because these employees tend to experience greater work-family conflict and related stress due to their irregular shift times, these laws are to help employers consider the implications before mandating any last-second schedule changes.
What should employers do about the Fair Workweek Rules if they aren’t currently affected?
Rather than wait to be acted upon (and be penalized for violations), employers should start today by adopting the principles within these rules:
- Provide employees with two weeks’ notice of their schedules.
- Try to make very few schedule changes within the two-week window.
- Avoid scheduling employees for any “clopening” shifts.
- Consider allowing employees to choose their own schedules and/or request their input:
- Would they prefer to have the same, more or less hours?
- Which nights would they be available as back-up to come in if customer demands require additional working staff?
- Provide incentives for employees who were needed to clock in when they weren’t otherwise scheduled.
Adopting employee-friendly practices that include employee feedback will not only help employees feel valued, it will also create loyalty and help reduce turnover. Your proactive efforts may also improve manager relations with employees, particularly when it comes to dealing with scheduling problems. For more information about this or any other workplace regulation, please contact our HR experts at HR@stratus.hr.
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