Otherwise known as advanced scheduling laws, they require employers to jump through predetermined requirements. When employers miss a step, high penalties are imposed. These penalties can include fines to the governing authority and “premium pay” to the employees affected. The laws assume employer guilt unless the employer can show full compliance through their records.
These laws are so costly to employers, both in terms of penalties and in terms of the time and administrative cost to employers. As a result, this article will cover 10 critical aspects that employers should understand restrictive scheduling laws. (For a full list of where scheduling laws have been enacted check out this page)
Rule #1: Good Faith Estimate of Employee Schedules
Employers must provide new employees with a good faith of the schedules they are likely to work. The schedules must be fairly accurate and employers are often bound to these good faith estimates. If anything changes the employee must be notified of schedule changes 14 days prior to the change taking effect. Good Faith Estimates must be provided before or on the first day of work.
Rule #2: Prior Notice of Schedules
Employees must be provided with their schedules (and all changes) at least 14 days before the first shift starts. In some places, the requirement is 21 days. Employers who need to make changes must pay extra hours of pay to the employee for the change. These are wages that have zero ROI because the employee doesn’t work them, they are premium pay.
Rule #3: Employee Schedule Requests
Employees must be allowed to provide schedule preferences to the employer without any negative repercussions. Employers must make a good faith effort to work with the employee. This doesn’t mean that the employer must go without coverage to acquiesce to the employee’s request, but it does mean that whenever possible employers must try to accommodate employee preferences. Employees can submit the location they prefer to work, the number of hours they want when they want to work, and the times they prefer not to work.
- Preferred location
- Preferred schedules
- Desired hours
- Desired time not to work
Rule #4: Restriction on Additional Hours
Employers who find themselves in a bind or with an MIA employee, have very limited resources in which to fill a vacant shift. Advanced scheduling laws usually prohibit short-term changes. As a result, the employer is restricted from calling in another employee to work. Employers who need to fill short-term vacancies can maintain a voluntary list. This list can contain when employees are willing to take extra shifts, such as mornings, but not evening shifts. It can also include how many extra hours, such as 5 hours, but not 10, and so forth.
Rule #5: Restrictions to Fill Shifts
When a vacant shift arises, restrictive scheduling laws usually require that employees be offered the shift first. Often there is a 24 or 48-hour notice requirement. The employer cannot seek outside help to fill the shift unless employees have had those 24 or 48 hours to respond and volunteer to take extra shifts. The purpose of these laws is to force employers to give all extra hours to existing employees.
Instead, it means that an employer simply cannot fill a vacant shift when the employee fails to show up for work. As most shifts are less than 24 hours long, there is not sufficient time to make sure employees are willing to work. That means that other employees must carry the additional workload. Employers simply cannot call a temp agency to fill a shift when the shift starts without enough notice for the employees to have time to respond.
For example. Monday morning, your manager gets a call. Two employees are sick. They will both miss today. Since 24 hours go until Tuesday morning, your manager simply has no way to fill the shift. The most they can do is to ask employees still on shift if they will work later. That only works if those employees aren’t booked at the same time as the missing shift.
- Additional hours must be offered to existing employees first
- Employees must have 24 hours to accept an additional shift
- Which makes it hard/impossible to fill sudden vacancies with temporary help
Rule #6: Schedule Changes Notice
Employers must provide employees with prompt notice of any schedule changes. Schedule changes can occur in a smaller than a 14-day window. Most scheduling laws require at least a 24-hour notice, however. There are also tiers based on if the notice is at least 1 day or at least 7 days advance notice.
This “fair notice” is supposed to allow employees to refuse or accept the changes in the schedule. Some laws require the employee to accept or refuse, other laws simply require the employer to pay a premium and the employee must accept the changes.
Rule #7: Premium Pay for All Changes
It’s also called predictability pay. That means that employees who may be depending on working 26 hours a week and whose schedule is changed to cancel a shift, can still depend on “equivalent” wages. In other words, if you have an employee who is scheduled to work 8 hours and you cancel that shift due to changes in customer demand, the employee must still be paid at least 4 hours of the canceled shift.
Another example of premium pay requires that employees who are scheduled for additional hours get premium pay. Ask an employee to stay another 2 hours: that means you will pay them for 2 hours plus 1 hour of premium pay.
Rule #8: Required Rests and Clopenings
Secure scheduling laws restrict employee work days to a maximum amount. They often also create mandatory rest periods between shifts. These rest periods are commonly set at 8 hours or 10 hours of rest between an employees end of shift and the beginning of the next shift.
This restricts employers from a practice commonly called Clopening. Clopenings is when an employee works a closing shift and then starts an opening shift. This occurs in restaurant and hospitality businesses more regularly than other industries.
Rule #9: Recordkeeping and Assumed Guilt
Restrictive scheduling laws assume employer guilt. If the employee complains of a violation, it is the employer’s responsibility to prove compliance.. This means that paper documents and manual recordkeeping is a sure way to a penalty. Employers should rely on automated scheduling tools that track changes, employee notifications, and employee responses. These tools retain records and are easy to pull them up.
Remember, it doesn’t matter if you have the needed records if you can’t find them.
Rule #10: Notice of Employee Rights & Anti Retaliation
Secure scheduling laws require employers to notify employees of their rights under the law. In addition to a poster in the workplace, employers are usually required to provide notice upon hiring a new employee and in the employee handbook. This can usually be done electronically through an employee portal.
Among employee rights, employers are restricted from penalizing employees who assert their rights, refuse to work shifts with little notice, and who request schedule preferences.
As you can see, these rules can be difficult and time consuming for employers to comply. However, it doesn’t have to be as difficult. Automated scheduling provides the tools from which employers can quickly create a schedule, see employee requests, and distribute electronically to employees. It allows employees to swap shifts, with manager sign-off. Automatic scheduling can help employers to more accurately predict scheduling needs through historical data and forecasting. That means fewer changes and less penalty pay.
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