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Predictive Scheduling Laws: Everything Employers Need to Know

No employee wants to be surprised by abrupt shift changes. While emergencies can happen, frequent, last-minute rescheduling can make it difficult for people to manage their lives. Predictive scheduling laws in several states and cities seek to protect employees from abrupt shift changes by requiring businesses to provide schedules in advance.

While these laws help employees effectively plan their lives, they also produce compliance challenges for businesses. After all, scheduling enough talent to account for no-shows, sick days and bereavement can be tough, too. The Society for Human Resource Management explains certain industries have adopted on-call policies to offset these unexpected events, like in:

  • retail
  • food service
  • hospitality
  • manufacturing

Workers in these sectors are expected to be flexible. Predictive scheduling laws help ensure that flexibility stays within reason.

With so much predictive scheduling legislation emerging across the country, employers need to pay close attention to the laws in the states and cities they operate. And we’ll help!

First, let’s examine how predictive scheduling laws work broadly and their differences in certain jurisdictions. Then, we’ll explore how the right HR software simplifies predictive scheduling compliance.

What are predictive scheduling laws?

Also known as “Fair Workweek” laws, predictive scheduling laws help workers avoid abrupt shift changes by requiring employers to provide schedules early. They also help prevent unexpected “clopening” shifts — the practice of scheduling an employee to close and then open business the following day without sufficient rest.

Businesses that ignore these requirements could face fines and other penalties. At the same time, predictive scheduling laws often give employees the right to decline requests to change shifts. They can also help individuals establish reasonable expectations around flexibility and scheduling with their employers.

Some employees could fear retaliation when they push back on unreasonable requests — predictive scheduling laws help mitigate this concern. And while these rules are growing in popularity, they are not currently mandated at the federal level.

What industries does predictive scheduling impact?

Predictive scheduling laws tend to be most applicable to workplaces with hourly employees. Some of the most abrupt scheduling changes impact employees who earn minimum wage, but even supervisors could be subject to workplace whiplash if they can’t set their own schedule.

Consider these examples of employees who can be commonly affected by last-minute scheduling changes:

  • a front-desk attendant at a busy, high-volume hotel
  • a line cook for a 24/7 fast-food restaurant
  • a warehouse auditor who counts inventory overnight
  • a retail employee for a big-box store

States with predictive scheduling laws

As of 2018, Oregon is the only state with statewide predictive scheduling legislation. Oregon businesses with at least 500 employees in the retail, hospitality or food services industry must:

  • provide workers with a “good faith” estimate of their schedule
  • distribute written work schedules 14 days in advance
  • grant a minimum of 10 hours of rest between shifts

Employees may still voluntarily accept back-to-back shifts within 10 hours, but employers must pay time and a half their normal rate (aka “predictability pay”).

As more predictive scheduling laws emerge, it’s important to consult your state government’s website for new bills and other updates.

Cities with predictive scheduling laws

Predictive scheduling laws have gained the most traction in urban and densely populated areas. As of today, these eight cities — four in California alone — have enacted predictive scheduling laws:

1. Berkeley, California

Since Jan. 12, Berkeley’s Fair Workweek Ordinance requires businesses with 10 or more employees in the city to:

  • post work schedules two weeks early
  • provide 11 hours of rest between shifts
  • offer additional hours to part-time employees before opening a new position

Importantly, this only applies to employers in certain industries — including health care, hospitality and food service — with global head count ranging from 56 to 100 or more employees.

2. Emeryville, California

Introduced in 2018, Emeryville’s Fair Workweek Ordinance has given predictive scheduling guidance for retailers and fast-food restaurants with 56 or more employees globally and at least 20 working in Emeryville. The law requires employers to:

  • provide a two-week notice for work schedules and 11 hours of rest between shifts
  • compensate employees with one hour’s wage for any schedule changes made within 24 hours before a shift
  • accept an employee’s right to decline a shift if the employee is given less than a two-week notice about an upcoming shift

3. Los Angeles, California

Los Angeles enacted its Fair Workweek Ordinance on April 1. The law covers retail businesses with 300 or more employees globally and requires those companies to:

  • notify workers of their schedules 14 days in advance
  • provide 10 hours of rest between shifts
  • retain relevant documents — including work schedules — for at least three years

Employers that fail to comply with the predictive scheduling law could face fines and penalties beginning Sept. 28. Consult the city’s Frequently Asked Questions document about the ordinance for more information.

4. San Francisco, California

Enacted in its current form in 2016, San Francisco’s predictive scheduling law requires “formula retail establishments” with 20 or more employees to provide a two-week notice for work schedules and retain them — as well as payroll records — for at least three years.

A “formula retail establishment” (or “chain store”) is a business engaged in food or retail sales with at least 11 total locations. Use the city’s affidavit for formula businesses to determine if your business is covered.

5. Chicago, Illinois

Chicago’s Fair Workweek Ordinance from 2020 (signed into law in 2019) requires certain employers with at least 100 employees worldwide to provide:

  • two weeks’ notice for work schedules
  • one hour of predictability pay for shift changes made less than 14 days in advance
  • 10 hours of rest between each shift

Notably, restaurants are unaffected by this law unless they have over 250 employees and 30 locations total. Additionally, employees are only covered by this law if their business meets above criteria and they earn less than $59,161.50 in gross pay per year.

6. New York City, New York

Signed in 2017, New York City’s Fair Workweek Law requires fast-food employers to give workers:

  • regular schedules that “stay the same” week to week
  • a two-week notice for work schedules
  • predictability pay for abrupt changes and “clopening” shifts
  • just cause for reducing hours by more than 15%

Additionally, affected companies must post the NYC Fast Food Workers’ Rights poster in a visible area for employees.

7. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Like Chicago’s ordinance, Philadelphia’s 2020 (passed in 2018) Fair Workweek Employment Standards primarily affect retail, hospitality and food service establishments with over 250 employees and 30 locations worldwide.

The law requires covered businesses to provide work schedules two weeks in advance and pay employees predictability pay for any changes made to the schedules within a 24-hour period of an affected shift.

8. Seattle, Washington

One of the first predictive scheduling laws, the 2017 Seattle Secure Scheduling Ordinance affects retail and food-service businesses with 500 or more employees worldwide. The law requires these employers to:

  • engage in an “interactive process” with employees to establish a regular work schedule
  • provide 10 hours of rest between shifts
  • generate work schedules two weeks ahead of their effective date
  • compensate employees with one hour of predictability pay for any hours added to their schedules with less than a two weeks’ notice

Since the specifics of these laws vary, always consult a licensed attorney to verify which predictive scheduling guidance affects the cities and states where your business operates.

Which states don’t allow predictive scheduling?

As predictive scheduling laws gain traction elsewhere, four states prohibit their local governments from passing such legislation. Currently, predictive scheduling laws are banned in:

  • Arkansas
  • Georgia
  • Tennessee
  • Iowa

How does predictive scheduling impact employees?

At their core, predictive scheduling laws help avoid overworking or taking advantage of employees. One immediate benefit of this legislation is that it makes it easier for certain employees to plan their lives — potentially far in advance.

According to a study featured in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences over Seattle’s predictive scheduling laws, the rules helped improve employees’:

  • well-being
  • sleep quality
  • economic security

The long-term benefit of these laws to employees will likely become clear as more predictive scheduling guidance emerges across the country.

How does predictive scheduling benefit employers?

While predictive scheduling laws can be complex for businesses to manage, they can also help produce happier and more reliable employees. A collaborative study from The Center for WorkLife Law, a research organization at the University of California, revealed schedule predictability:

  • increased sales
  • boosted productivity
  • decreased turnover

How to comply with predictive scheduling laws

Predictive scheduling laws often introduce a litany of requirements. But they are not impossible to maintain — especially with a truly single HR software.

So much of predictive scheduling is dependent on effective time and labor management. Why not automate this tedious task and ensure no schedule unintentionally violates a predictive scheduling law?

Paycom’s time and labor management tools, for example, simplify accessing and understanding schedules for employees and their managers. Plus, a customizable drag-and-drop calendar lets employers easily assign shifts.

And the interface provides an instant, big-picture view of each worker’s availability. This way, leaders can easily identify any scheduling changes made within the last two weeks or see which employees haven’t received the required rest period between shifts.

Explore Paycom’s single software to learn how it helps manage predictive scheduling laws and other important compliance issues.


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.