Several U.S. states and municipalities are eyeing legislation that could change the way restaurant and retail employers schedule their employees for work. New York City is just the latest example.
A look at the playing field
These so-called predictive scheduling initiatives generally require restaurateurs and retailers to publish work schedules at least two weeks in advance or provide payment if schedules change. The trend has been gaining momentum in the last year. Legislation at the local or state level has been introduced in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, and Rhode Island.
These scheduling mandates were similar to ones that passed in San Francisco and Seattle. In New York, a city council hearing was held March 3. At that hearing, a series of six bills on the matter were introduced.
The challenge to employees
Although they reportedly are meant to help employees better balance their professional and personal lives, predictive scheduling mandates challenge employers, especially restaurateurs and small business operators, whose businesses are ruled by the unpredictability of seasonal traffic, customer demand, weather, holidays and turnover issues.
Because of those factors, industry experts say businesses don’t always require the same number of workers from week to week. The result: schedules can sometimes vary.
At the federal level, the 114th Congress introduced legislation on the issue in 2015. If passed, the Schedules That Work Act would require employers to provide written schedules two weeks in advance. Changes made within less than 24 hours would result in penalties. The bill is in committee.
If more action occurs, it’s likely to happen at the state and local levels.
In Washington, D.C., a scheduling bill was tabled last year, and a court rejected a ballot initiative on the issue in Cleveland.