133: New York City’s Fair Work Week

Penalties for violating the Fair Work Week law range from $500 to $2,500 per occurrence depending on severity.
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Penalties for violating the Fair Work Week law range from $500 to $2,500 per occurrence depending on severity.

Back in 2016, Seattle passed their Secure Scheduling Law. This law actually takes effect on July 1, 2017. You can hear more about the Seattle Secure Scheduling Law by going to our website, www.smallbizbrainiac.com and pulling up episode 73. Thomas Lindsay gives a great summary of the Seattle law.

New York City, never ones to be outdone, has taken Seattle’s lead and passed their own secure scheduling law known as the “Fair Work Week” law. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, back on May 30, signed the Fair Work Week into law. The law is designed to provide predictable work schedules and predictable paychecks for tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of workers in the fast food and retail industries.

The New York City Fair Work Week law goes into effect on November 26, 2017.

Employers, already heavily burdened with costly regulations, will now need to make sure they follow all of the scheduling regulations that come with this new law. The Office of Labor Policy and Standards is the department that is responsible for enforcing the new legislation. The law consists of five separate bills that apply to either retail or fast food establishments, or in some cases, both. Let’s take a look at what each bill consists of.

Retailers:

Bill 1387-2016 addresses on-call scheduling for retail employers.

This will ban the practice of “on-call scheduling” for retail employees. On-call scheduling is when an employer requires an employee to be available to work, to contact the employer or to wait to be contacted by the employer, to determine whether the employee must report to work. This bill will prohibit retail employers from cancelling, changing or adding work shifts within 72 hours of the start of the shift (except in limited cases).

The bill also requires a retail employer to:

    • Post the schedule for the retail employees’ schedule 72 hours before the beginning of the scheduled hours of work.
    • Provide (upon request by the a retail employee) a written copy of said employee’s work schedule for any week worked within the prior three years, or to provide (upon request by the a retail employee at the work location) the most current version of the work schedule for all retail employees at the at work location.
    • Provide an employee upon request a copy of his or her work schedule for any week worked within the prior three years and the most current version of the work schedule for all retail employees at that work location.

That’s a level of records retention that many retailers may not currently maintain. The summary of hours worked in that week may be easily retrieved from payroll reports, but you may not have the daily scheduled hours breakdown unless you have a more sophisticated software solution that allows you to set and save schedules.

Fast Food Employers:

The next three bills apply to employers in the fast food industry.

Bill 1388-2016 addresses what is known as “clopenings.” This bill states that it “would ban “clopenings” for fast food employees; fast food employers would not be allowed to require fast food workers to work back-to-back shifts when the first shift closes the establishment and the second shift opens it the next day, with fewer than 11 hours in between. The employer will need to pay an employee who works a “clopening” shift $100 for each instance that such employee works such shifts.” So you can’t schedule an employee to close, then schedule them to open the following day UNLESS you pay that employee an additional $100 on top of their regular earning for that day.

Bill 1395-2016 requires fast food employers with available hours to offer shifts to existing employees before hiring new employees. This bill is intended to provide part-time fast food workers with a path toward additional hours and full-time employment, should they want it. Employers would only be required to offer hours to current employees up until the point at which the employer would be required to pay overtime, or until all current employees have rejected available hours, whichever comes first. Only after the employer had exhausted options to provide shifts to current workers would the fast food employers be free to hire additional part-time workers.

This bill is part of a package of bills aimed at improving working conditions related to employee work schedules. If all this wasn’t enough, the employer must also post a notice informing employees of the available shifts or hours. The notice must be posted for 3 calendar days in an accessible location. Also, if you own multiple fast food locations, you must offer hours to employees of those other locations before hiring any new employees.

This is egregious overstepping if you ask me. Nothing like someone who knows very little about your business telling you how to run your business.

Bill 1384-2016 allows fast food employees to designate part of their salary to a not-for-profit of their choosing and require employers to deduct and remit such donation to such not-for-profit. A written notice informing employees of their rights and the employer’s obligations regarding nonprofit contributions must be posted. So now you as an employer are required to get involved in your employees philanthropy. I think it’s wonderful if you have employees that are so inclined to contribute to well meaning charities, but this is another ridiculous burden on employers.

Fast Food and Retail Employers:

Bill 1396-2016 will make the schedules of fast food employees more predictable. It will create general provisions for a fair work week chapter of the Administrative Code and will require certain fast food employers to provide employees with an estimate of their work schedule upon hire and a work schedule 14 days in advance (including all shifts). This bill will require a premium to be paid to employees for schedule changes made by the employer with less than 14 days’ notice to the employee. Changes to schedules will mean canceling, shortening, or moving shifts, adding additional hours to scheduled shifts, and adding shifts. This bill is part of a package of bills aimed at improving working conditions related to employee work schedules.

Penalties:

Penalties for violating the Fair Work Week law range from $500 to $2,500 per occurrence depending on severity and may include additional wages and interest due. There is a statute of limitation of 2 years for any employee or former employee to report any violations.

Precedence:

Start preparing now if you have any employees in the retail or fast food industries in the New York City area. If you are not an employer in New York City, this could be a harbinger of things to come as we have seen a lot of these employment laws get started in one jurisdiction and then all of the sudden they begin to spread like a bad virus.

 

About the author, Thomas

I have 20 of years insurance industry experience in C-level management, focusing on all aspects of workers compensation, risk management, loss control, employee benefits, HR, payroll and professional employer organization (“PEO”) operations. Currently, I am the owner and CEO of Humanly HR, and founder and host of SmallBiz Brainiac; a podcast providing employer intelligence to small business owners.

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