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Fair Workweek Laws: Is Your City Next to Adapt?

Fair Workweek Laws: Is Your City Next to Adapt?

It may have been a relief when you showed up to your retail job in high school and were told that you were not needed for your shift because they were slow. But what if your family was counting on the money you were to be making during that shift to feed them for the week?

The nation’s part-time labor workforce is crippled by unpredictive schedules that can require being on-call or not knowing your weekly schedule until hours before your first shift.

This isn’t anything new for the part-time labor force. Jannette Navarro, a barista, told her story to the New York Times in 2014 about the toll her erratic schedule took on her and her son. Between finding child care, buying food for the week, and trying to save money to move out of her aunt’s house, it was nearly impossible for Jannette to get ahead with her hourly job’s horrendous scheduling practices. This story is too familiar for many here in the United States.

In Philadelphia alone, almost 80 percent of workers don’t have a regular daytime work schedule and 45 percent cannot predict weekly income because their schedule is so chaotic.

With fair workweek laws already passed in Seattle, New York City, San Francisco and the state of Oregon, could Philadelphia be next?  In June 2018, Councilwomen Helen Gym proposed a new bill to bring a fair workweek law to Philadelphia. We will discuss consistencies among the other fair workweek laws to see what they could bring to hourly workers in Philadelphia and other cities across the United States.

Compensation for Schedule Changes

San Francisco’s Formula Retail Employee Rights Ordinances requires employers to provide employees with their work schedules two weeks in advance. This is the same requirement for Seattle, Oregon and New York City’s fast food workers. New York City’s law differs for retail workers where employers are only required to give 72 hours of advanced notice.

Many of these laws have penalties for employers who change the schedule within a certain amount of time from the start of the shift. In San Fran, if changes are made less than seven days in advance, the employer must pay a premium to the employee at one to four hours of pay at the employee’s regular rate of pay, depending on the length of notice and the length of the shift.

In Seattle, if the employer schedules additional hours, they must provide an additional hour of pay plus wages earned. On the flip side, if hours are subtracted from the schedule, the employer must pay for half of the hours not worked, plus wages earned.  

Retail employers in NYC cannot add a shift or cancel a shift with less than 72-hour notice. For NYC fast food employers, there is are nine different fees that they can be subject to depending on when the scheduling change happened and what type of change it is. Oregon’s law also requires additional pay when changes are made seven days prior to the beginning of the work week until July 1, 2020. After that date, they will be penalized for a shift change a full two weeks prior.

Right to Rest

Have you ever heard the word, clopening? This term refers to the shift that closes at night and opens bright and early the very next morning. Almost all the laws that passed mention the penalties associated with scheduling the same person on both of those shifts.

In Seattle and Oregon, employees whose shifts are less than ten hours apart must be compensated at 1.5x the scheduled rate of pay for the hours worked less than 10 hours since the previous shift ended. For example, if your shift ended at 11 p.m. and you had to report back at 6 a.m., there would only be seven hours between shifts. That means you would be compensated at 1.5x your pay for three hours.

In NYC, fast food employers cannot schedule someone to work two shifts where there is less than 11 hours between shifts, unless the employee consents in writing and is paid a $100 premium to work the shift. Now that wouldn’t make clopening so bad!


Among the other cities and states that have already enacted a form of a fair workweek law, they generally apply to chain stores. However, the type of industry, store count and employee count all are different across these laws.

For example, Seattle’s Secure Scheduling Ordinance applies to hourly workers at large food service and retail establishments with 500 or more employees worldwide or full service restaurants with 500 or more employees and 40 or more retail locations. Generally, each passed law across the country specifies a certain number of employees and locations for the law to be applicable to.

Good Faith Estimates

Oregon’s Employee Work Schedules Law requires employers to give new hires a good faith estimate of the median number of hours the employee is expected to work in a month. This requirement is standard in all fair workweek laws that have been passed thus far.

Right to Input

As an employee, wouldn’t you want the right to weigh in on your schedule? As it may be common practice for most employers, Seattle’s ordinance is the only one that specifies that employees can identify limitations or changes in work schedule availability.  


Although it may seem like these practices can put business owners in a tough position, there are many statutes that cover employers when employees purposely change shifts, or the business has unforeseeable changes. There has also been a study conducted that shows more consistent scheduling can lead to higher sales and productivity.

There are many different scheduling software companies that can make you and your employees lives easier. But for when the scheduling isn’t right, be sure you are able to easily track your employees time, so you can compensate them to stay compliant with these laws. PrimePay’s Time Clock system manually manages time cards so you don’t have to. For more information on PrimePay’s Time Clock, click here.