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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 or listen to our on-demand webinar 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. Is your organization ready for the impact they will bring?

How to prepare

Protecting your business and staying compliant in the ever-changing compliance landscape is twofold. First, ensure you’re keeping a pulse on legislative changes by adopting government and compliance software to assist your organization. Utilizing technology that monitors legislation and ultimately helps you comply is one way to help reduce exposure and avoid costly fines.

Another is incorporating the right scheduling software that allows you to easily implement solutions to improve the experience you and your employees have when it comes to scheduling. Automating the scheduling process not only helps combat some of the workplace notions surrounding unfair scheduling, but also reduces the frustration and occasional chaos that can occur with a manual process.

Plus, implementing tech that’s mobile friendly and allows employees to access their schedules 24/7 with the ability to change shifts and input their availability can do wonders for increased job satisfaction and, as a result, employee retention.

Hourly employees expect more from their employers than just their paycheck. Providing a fair and efficient work schedule is one way to offer more to your employees and help your business stay compliant. Fortunately, doing this doesn’t have to add to your plate as an HR professional. To learn more, schedule a demo with Paycom today.


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
A former political leader with social service experience and expertise in the nonprofit industry, AJ Griffin runs Paycom’s government and community relations efforts, both on a local and national level. A former teacher and Oklahoma state senator with 20 years of experience working with and for kids and families in direct care service, Griffin earned a bachelor’s degree in hotel and restaurant administration from Oklahoma State University, and a master’s degree in human environmental science from the University of Central Oklahoma. Griffin lives in Edmond with her husband and their two daughters.