Seattle City Council approves ‘secure scheduling’ measure; NYC next?
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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Seattle City Council approves ‘secure scheduling’ measure; NYC next?

A "secure scheduling" proposal introduced in August by Mayor Ed Murray and Councilmembers Lisa Herbold and Lorena González won city council approval on September 19. The ordinance aims to provide some stability in scheduling and predictability in income for service economy workers whose work hours vary every week and are routinely cut when staffing demands are lower than anticipated in the ebb and flow of the retail and restaurant industries. "Retail and food services employees currently bear a significant burden of unpredictability in the workplace: last minute schedule changes, inadequate hours, back-to-back shifts that prevent a good night's sleep, and being on call without being paid," according to a infographic touting the measure. Accordingly, the ordinance would require covered employers to give employees 14 days’ notice of their work schedules. Covered employers include retail stores and fast-food restaurants, coffee shops, and "drinking places" with at least 500 employees nationwide, as well as full-service restaurants with at least 500 employees and 40 full-service establishments worldwide. The ordinance would apply to hourly, nonexempt employees who work at least 50 percent of the time within city boundaries. Among the bill’s provisions:
  • Employers would need to provide employees, upon hire, a "written good faith estimate of the median number of hours that the employee is expected to work each week, and whether they will be expected to work on-call shifts. The estimate must be revised annually and whenever there is a significant change in those estimated work hours. (This would not be deemed a contract offer, according to the proposal).
  • Employers would have to offer additional hours to existing employees before hiring new workers (though there are seasonal hiring and other exceptions).
  • If an employer adds an hour to an employee’s schedule after it has been posted, the employee is to be paid for an additional hour of work.
  • Employees would have the right to decline closing and opening shifts with less than 10 hours between them. Employees who work shifts separated by less than 10 hours are to be paid time-and-a-half for those hours.
  • Employees would be entitled to "predictability pay," compensated for half the hours they don’t work when their scheduled hours are cut or they are placed on-call but are not asked to report for duty. (The provision would not apply when an employee requests the schedule change, and in other instances.)
  • Employees would have the right to request preferences of their desired schedule in order to care for a family member, attend school, or work another job.
Monday’s vote makes Seattle the second municipality in the nation to have passed a "scheduling" law; San Francisco enacted a similar measure in 2014. Is New York next? Last week, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called for introduction of "Fair Workweek" legislation that would mandate similar advance notice requirements of work schedules for that city’s 65,000 hourly fast food workers, specifically. According to a September 15 statement from the mayor’s office, Fair Workweek legislation would:
  • Require fast food employers to schedule a majority of expected shifts and publicly post a workplace schedule two weeks in advance;
  • Protect workers by requiring employers to provide additional compensation when workers are required to accommodate last-minute changes to their schedules for reasons within employers’ ability to plan or control;
  • Address problems created by the practice of "clopenings," or shifts that require employees to consecutively work closing and opening shifts with fewer than ten hours between them.

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