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On the Clock: Understanding Predictive Scheduling Laws and Your Business

Time is a valuable commodity, and efficient and effective workplace scheduling is key to making the most of this resource. Maintaining a schedule that works for both employer and employee is also critical to ensuring your operation runs smoothly.

Scheduling has historically been a problem area for many businesses, with unpredictability causing issues for employers and employees. As a result, policymakers have taken steps to create balance for all parties by passing predictive scheduling laws or “fair workweek” laws. These laws are intended to give hourly employees the benefit of planning their lives beyond work, especially in industries like retail and hospitality.

Read below to learn how your organization could be impacted by predictive scheduling laws.

Understanding predictive scheduling laws

Before we dive in, I want to address the 2019 California court ruling in Ward v. Tilly’s, which helped lay the groundwork for predictive scheduling. In the case, the court ruled that schedule predictability was a necessity that enabled employees to plan around second jobs and make child care arrangements, among other things.

As of early 2021, a handful of jurisdictions have established predictive scheduling laws, including Oregon, New York City, Seattle, Chicago, Philadelphia, Emeryville and San Francisco. San Jose has also adopted an Opportunity to Work ordinance, which requires employers to offer additional shifts to qualified part-time employees before hiring new workers. Legislation regarding employees’ schedules has also been proposed in Massachusetts.

The rules vary by jurisdiction, with some providing guidelines for when employees should be made aware of their schedule as well as how they receive shift requirement information, while others have full-blown predictive scheduling laws. In New York City, the law mandates retail and fast food employers to provide employees with advance notice of their upcoming schedule and give current employees priority in working shifts if they become available. A recent case, International Franchise Association v. City of New York, challenged this law. The court ruled that fair workweek laws in New York City do not conflict with state labor laws and must be upheld.

At the federal level, the Department of Labor doesn’t have a requirement regarding predictive pay. However, some state and local scheduling laws financially penalize employers for changing an employee’s schedule without providing the required advance notice, even if the number of hours remains unaltered.

More sweeping changes regarding predictive scheduling are expected to come this year. To maintain compliance, it’s important to stay up to date on a shifting legislative landscape. Please continue to follow the Paycom blog for more updates that matter to your organization.


Disclaimer: The information provided herein does not constitute the provision of legal advice, tax advice, accounting services or professional consulting of any kind. The information provided herein should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional legal, tax, accounting or other professional advisers. Before making any decision or taking any action, you should consult a professional adviser who has been provided with all pertinent facts relevant to your particular situation and for your particular state(s) of operation.

About the author
Author picture, AJ Griffin
AJ Griffin
AJ Griffin, Paycom’s Director of Government and Community Affairs, manages interactions between one of the nation’s fastest-growing technology companies and government officials and community groups across the country. She is a proud graduate of Oklahoma State University and earned her master’s degree in education from the University of Central Oklahoma.