The Easiest Way to Comply With Predictive Scheduling Laws

Jul 6, 2021
Regulatory Compliance

Are you subject to a predictive scheduling law? “Fair scheduling,” “secure scheduling,” or “fair workweek” laws protect employees from the uncertainty of on-call and fluid scheduling. They are popping up in states and municipalities across the country.

Employers have long used just-in-time and just-enough-staff scheduling to limit labor costs and adapt to fluctuating staffing demands. However, these methods put an excessive burden on lower income working families. They also harm people working more than one part-time job and students trying to juggle school and employment.

Are You Ready to Comply With Predictive Scheduling Laws?

Regardless of your opinion on these regulations, you may have to adhere to one soon. The laws are not uniform, but many include the following requirements:

Good Faith Estimate of Schedules Upon Hire

Employers should provide new hires a good faith estimate of the schedule they are likely to work. If anything changes, the employer must notify the employee of schedule changes 14 days prior to the change taking effect.

Advanced Notice of Schedules

Managers must provide employee schedules at least 14 days before the first shift starts. In some places, the requirement is 21 days. Employers who need to make changes may have to pay extra hours to the employee for the change.

Employee Schedule Preferences

Employees can indicate schedule preferences without negative repercussions. Managers must make a good faith effort to work with the employee. This doesn’t mean that the employer must go without coverage to accommodate employees’ requests, but it does mean that whenever possible employers should try to accommodate them. Workers can choose their preferred location, maximum weekly hours, desired shifts, and the times they prefer not to work.

Filling Last Minute Shifts

Employers who find themselves in a bind with a no-show have limited resources in which to fill a vacant shift. Advanced scheduling laws usually prohibit short-term changes. As a result, the employer may be restricted from calling in another employee to work. It helps to maintain a volunteer list. These are employees who want extra hours and are willing to come in on short notice. Be aware, however, that the you may still have to pay the employee extra for a last minute shift.

Restrictions on Last-Minute Shifts

When a vacant shift arises, restrictive scheduling laws usually require that employees be offered the shift first. There may be a 24- or 48-hour advance notice requirement. The employer cannot seek outside help to fill the shift unless co-workers have had 24 or 48 hours to respond and volunteer to take extra shifts. The purpose of this provision is to ensure employers give extra hours to existing employees first. However, it can put the employer in a bind when an employee calls in right before the shift start time.

Notice of Schedule Changes

Employers must provide employees with prompt notice of any schedule changes. Laws usually require at least a 24-hour notice, however.

“Fair notice” may give the employee the right to refuse the schedule change. Otherwise, it might simply require the employer to pay a premium although the employee must accept the change.

Premium Pay for Schedule Changes

This is also called predictability pay. It ensures employees who depend on a certain number of hours per week can still depend on “equivalent” wages if their manager reduces their hours. For example, if you have an employee who is scheduled to work 8 hours and you cancel that shift due to changes in customer demand, you may have to pay the employee for at least part of the canceled shift.

Another example of premium pay affects employees who work additional non-scheduled hours. A common scenario is if a manager asks an employee to stay another 2 hours after their end time, The employer might have to pay them for 2 hours plus 1 hour of premium pay.

Between-shift Rests and Clopenings

Many laws restrict work days to a maximum number of hours. They may also require mandatory rest periods between shifts. These rest periods are commonly set at 8 or 10 hours of rest between the end of the first shift and the beginning of the next shift.

The practice is commonly called clopening. A clopening is when an employee works a closing shift and then starts an opening shift soon after. This occurs in restaurant and hospitality more often than other industries.

Recordkeeping and Assumed Guilt

It’s important to remember that most scheduling laws assume employer guilt first. If the employee complains of a violation, it is the employer’s responsibility to prove compliance. Paper documents and manual recordkeeping puts you at risk. Employers can use automated scheduling tools that track changes, employee notifications, and employee responses. Remember, it doesn’t matter if you have the records if you can’t find them.

Notice of Employee Rights and Anti-Retaliation

Secure scheduling laws require employers to notify employees of their rights under the law. In addition to a poster, employers should include it in the employee handbook. Fortunately, HR portals makes this easy. Managing a handbook electronically is the only way to go.

In addition, anti-retaliation also applies. Employers can’t penalize employees who assert their rights, refuse to work shifts with little notice, and who notify their employer of their preferences.

Manual Scheduling is No Longer Practical

Now, how can you make sure you comply? First off, if you are still using manual scheduling methods, it’s time to automate. It is virtually impossible to comply with predictive scheduling provisions with basic spreadsheets.

WorkforceHub Simplifies Predictive Scheduling

Swipeclock presents WorkforceHub, an HR solution that simplifies predictive scheduling compliance.

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