Predictable Scheduling Laws Are Trending—Is New York City Next?

Unpredictable work-scheduling practices in the restaurant and retail industries have caused several cities across the country to pass legislation providing greater stability for workers. Following in stride, New York City lawmakers introduced a pair of bills that, if passed, would restrict and penalize last-minute scheduling changes in the retail and fast food industries.

Retail Employee Scheduling
Int. No. 1387 would prohibit “on-call” scheduling for retail employees. This bill applies to NYC retail employers, defined as “businesses with five or more employees engaged in the sale of consumer goods, including but not limited to appliances, clothing, electronics, groceries, and other household items.” For purposes of the proposed legislation, “on call” means any time a retail employee is required to be available to work and to contact the employer or wait to be contacted by the employer to determine whether the employee must report to work. The bill forbids employers from cancelling scheduled work hours within 72 hours of the shift’s start time or requiring employees to work with fewer than 72 hours’ notice, unless the employee consents in writing. It also prohibits employers from providing a retail employee with less than 20 hours of work in a 14-day period (offset by hours an employee requests to take off during that period). Notably, the bill also requires retail employers to post at the work site a physical copy of the work schedule of all employees, at least 72 hours prior to the start of the scheduled work hours.

Fast Food Employee Scheduling
Also introduced was Int. No. 1396, which aims to make the schedules of fast food workers more predictable. The proposed legislation would require NYC fast food employers to give employees a “good faith estimate” of their work schedule upon hire and a written work schedule (covering a period of no less than seven days) at least 14 days in advance of the schedule. Covered fast food employers would include those that (i) have as their primary purpose serving food or drink items; (ii) where patrons order or select items and pay before eating and such items may be consumed on the premises, taken out or delivered to the customer’s location; (iii) offer limited service; (iv) are part of a chain; and (v) are one of 30 or more establishments nationally, including franchises. This bill would require businesses to pay premiums of $15 to $45 per shift for schedule changes with less than 14 days’ notice, and a $75 premium per shift when work hours are cancelled or reduced with less than 24 hours’ notice. Schedule changes would include canceling, reducing, or moving shifts, adding additional hours to scheduled shifts, and adding shifts.

The New York City Council's Committee on Civil Service and Labor conducted a recent hearing on these bills on March 3rd. If passed, each bill will take effect 180 days following its adoption.

Read more about
the proposed retail employee scheduling legislation

the proposed fast food employee scheduling legislation