New York City Retail and Fast Food Workers Score a Win

Following in the footsteps of cities like Seattle and San Francisco, last week New York City's Mayor, Bill de Blasio, signed into law a package of "Fair Workweek" laws. The new laws will go into effect on November 26, 2017, and are aimed at ending so-called "abusive scheduling practices."

Under the new laws, retail employers with 20 or more employees, which are engaged primarily in the sale of consumer goods, will be required to post and provide employees work schedules at least 72 hours in advance. In addition, retail employers will generally be prohibited from (i) scheduling employees for any on-call shifts, (ii) cancelling any regular shift with less than 72 hours' notice, (iii) requiring an employee to work, without his or her written consent, with less than 72 hours' notice, and (iv) requiring an employee to contact the employer to confirm whether or not to report to work less than 72 hours before the scheduled shift.

Similarly, fast food establishments, broad defined as those businesses that are part of a chain with 30 or more establishments nationally, offering limited service, where patrons order food or drink items and pay before eating, will also be subject to several restrictions in scheduling employees for work. Employers in the food sector will now generally be required to (i) post work schedules at least 14 days in advance, (ii) give employees at least 11 hours off between shifts, and (iii) offer shifts to existing employees before hiring new workers.

Supporters of the new laws argue that workers in these industries need more predictable schedules to support their families and have a more stable life. Without a stable work schedule, they argue, these workers cannot pay rent, arrange childcare and/or go to school. Meanwhile, detractors argue the new laws will ultimately hurt employees because employers will end up cutting back on the number of part-time hires, schedule fewer employees per shift, and offer less scheduling flexibility in order to avoid penalties and the possibility of being sued.

While the new laws will almost certainly face legal challenge, employers in the retail and fast food sectors with operations in New York City should begin reviewing their scheduling practices and develop practices to comply with their upcoming obligations. Because some of these changes may require a full-scale revision of current practices and policies, employers should not delay. November 26 is only months away.

If you have questions about New York City's Fair Workweek laws or your employee policies and practices, please contact Jason Oliveri or your regular Hinshaw laywer.

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