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Fair Workweek FAQ

Fair workweek initiatives change how employers create and manage employee schedules Here's an FAQ on common questions we get from employers and schedulers around fair workweek and how it affects them!

We recently shared a blog post on predictive scheduling laws and initiatives and how they are on the rise. Aimed primarily at retail and hospitality industries, these laws are to help shift workers achieve work-life balance. With a huge focus on employee scheduling, predictive scheduling laws are now cornerstone in general workforce management practices. These initiatives are also known as “fair workweek programs” and have forced many business owners to change how they operate their businesses. Here, we’re going to break down a fair workweek FAQ! But first, let’s look more at what fair workweek laws are.  

What is Fair Workweek? 

Fair workweek laws aim to make employee scheduling more transparent and fairer in particular shift work industries. They are for the benefit of hourly, part-time, and shift workers, and are designed to help them achieve a better balance between work and their personal lives.  

Generally, hospitality and retail businesses deal with fluctuating staffing demands. This leads to the use of last-minute scheduling practices, which are seen as unfair to employees. When we consider that workers in these industries are often living pay check to pay check, it’s easy to see why fair workweek initiatives are essential. Unlike on-call or “just in time” scheduling, predictable schedules allow shift workers to plan their lives accordingly – attend school, arrange childcare or work another job. Read more about fair work week and predictive scheduling laws here

Fair Workweek Q&A 

So, now that we know a bit more about fair workweek and predictive scheduling laws, let’s take a look at some frequently asked questions. These questions are often asked by employers to help them better understand how to handle workforce management under these laws.  

When did fair workweek start? 

Let’s start this one off by explaining that each city/state/municipality can set their own fair workweek laws – they are not federal regulations. In fact, San Francisco was the first city in the United States to pass fair workweek laws. This happened in 2014, with many other cities following suit. From 2015 to 2017, large companies and retailers started using fair workweek practices as standard employee scheduling procedures. This was a result of multiple state attorneys putting pressure on them regarding their previous scheduling practices. As of today, 2 states and 8 municipalities have enforced some form of fair workweek regulation, with more to follow.  

Why did Fair workweek laws come about? 

To be honest, it appears that these fair workweek regulations came about for many reasons, but the main one was research. To understand this, it’s important to note the fundamentals of workforce management; having the right people, in the right place, at the right time. Retailers and hospitality organizations often believe that on-call scheduling is the best way to match staffing to demand. However, this is simply not the case. If this was true, you would assume that most schedule changes are due to increased/decreased customer traffic, right? Well, according to the Harvard Business Review, only 30% of schedule changes are actually due to customer traffic. The other 70% are generally related to sick calls, no-shows, or shift swaps – all of which are linked to scheduling practices.  

fair workweek employee scheduling

When employees have a general idea of how many hours, or what days they will work, there are fewer reasons for schedule changes. There is also evidence to suggest that productivity increases when employees have predictable schedules under fair workweek initiatives. So, while these laws were brought about to protect employees, they ultimately benefit the organization too!  

Which Employees do Fair Workweek laws apply to? 

As mentioned above, these fair workweek initiatives are aimed at specific workers in specific industries. This differs depending on the specific laws in particular industries, but generally part-time/hourly workers in hospitality, retail, and food services organizations are protected. Depending on the area, there are further specifications based on a minimum number of employees and locations, etc. In general, fair workweek laws do target larger businesses with multiple locations and a large workforce, but can certainly still apply to smaller businesses in certain locations too. 

What does this mean for necessary schedule changes? 

At the end of the day, businesses always have to expect the unexpected. Regardless of predictive scheduling, there will always be emergencies, sick calls, and unexpected issues. With these problems, come necessary schedule changes. Under fair workweek initiatives, making these changes is not impossible, but may come with a price. Depending on the area, if you change an employee’s schedule on short notice, you might need to compensate them with 1-4 hours of pay. The amount of pay depends on the period of notice provided and the length of the shift. We recommend checking your local municipality laws to find out more about these fees.  

What do I need to remember when creating my schedule? 

While all fair workweek laws are slightly different, most of them include the same basic employee scheduling requirements.  

fair workweek clopening
  • Employee schedules must be provided to employees up to 21 days in advance depending on local laws. 
  • Electronic copies of schedules must be provided to employees. 
  • “Clopening shifts” are not prohibited. Clopening shifts are when employees are on closing and opening shifts within the same 10-hour window.  
  • Employers should provide “good-faith” estimates of predicted hours for all new employees. 
  • Employers must give long-term employees priority to claim additional hours before seasonal workers. 

So, depending on what your current employee scheduling processes are, you might need to adapt your practices to be compliant. If you manually create your schedules, you will likely have to make quite a few changes. However, if you use employee scheduling software, you can simply create new business rules around fair workweek laws to be compliant.  

Celayix software can help you be fair workweek compliant, while also saving you time and money. If you’d like to hear more about how, you can request a free live demo today! You can also sign up to a free trial account here.