Fair Workweek Laws: Another New Compliance Challenge for Employers

In addition to the spread of paid leave requirements, many employers must now also comply with fair workweek laws.  “Fair workweek” initiatives, also known as “predictive scheduling,” require employers to provide work schedules to employees in advance and pay employees if those schedules change without sufficient notice.

Prior to enactment fair workweek laws, employers generally scheduled employees on an as-needed basis.  Most schedules were prepared one or two weeks in advance.  Many employers also used “on-call” or “just-in-time” scheduling to contact employees on short notice if additional staffing was needed.

In places covered by fair workweek laws, late scheduling is generally no longer allowed.  Instead, employers must provide schedules to employees well in advance.  If late changes are made to the schedules, employers must compensate affected employees for those changes.  For example, in San Francisco, schedule changes with less than seven days’ notice result in one to four hours of additional pay for the employees whose shifts changed.  And in Chicago, if an employee agrees to work different hours than their original schedule, the employer must pay the employee one hour of “predictability pay.”  In addition, Chicago employees can receive half of their scheduled pay if their employer cuts their hours.  Starting to see the picture?  Violation of fair workweek laws result in increased labor costs for employers (i.e., paying employees for hours not worked) as well as potential fines and penalties from the jurisdictions enforcing the laws.

The states of Oregon and New Hampshire currently have fair workweek laws in place.  In addition, larger cities such as San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago have also imposed fair workweek requirements.  The laws mainly focus on the healthcare, hospitality, manufacturing, warehouse, hotel, retail, and food service industries. 

So what can an employer do?  First, prepare.  Even if you’re not currently in a fair workweek location, the trend is for these types of rules to increase across the country.  Begin thinking now about how you would comply with a fair workweek law.

Second, leverage technology.  Manager time spent on scheduling and communication with employees can be made more efficient by using an online or app-based schedule tool. 

And finally, stay flexible.  Initiating a fair workweek scheduling process will require a decent amount of effort.  But putting in time to prepare on the front end, and using technology, will help the process become more manageable.

Contact one of our attorneys though our Ask an Attorney portal if you have more questions.

Written by Mikel Johnson