Are You Prepared for New York City’s Fair Workweek Laws?

Fair Workweek Laws setting standards

Article contributed by HotSchedules

New York City’s “Fair Workweek” legislative package took effect November 26, 2017, drastically changing scheduling practices for fast food operators and their

These Fair Workweek NYC laws will affect non-salaried employees at fast food chains with at least 30 locations nationally, including franchises of said chains. And in New York City, that impacts more than 65,000 fast food workers. The purpose of the Fair Workweek package is to give fast food employees more stability in their work schedules, allowing them to improve their quality of life when they’re off the clock.

Schedule flexibility has long been seen as one of the perks of the restaurant industry, both for employers and employees. Still, you can only expect so much certainty when you move at the pace of the restaurant industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 47 percent of part-time hourly workers ages 26 to 32 receive a week or less of advance notice for their work schedules.

Complexities Operators Need to Manage

As an operator, you want your employees to be present and engaged when they’re in your restaurant — that’s one of the reasons your guests are paying to eat there.

But you also want your employees to be able to manage their work-life balance. Studies continue to show that a healthy work-life balance drives employee engagement and overall satisfaction – which often translates to higher retention rates. But work-life balance can be hard to manage and achieve when work schedules are unstable — last-minute schedule changes can affect transportation, child care arrangements, familial duties and other professional commitments.

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That’s why the City of New York enacted the Fair Workweek laws in May.

“Working while raising a child is difficult, but raising a child while working at a job with unpredictable scheduling and paychecks is virtually impossible,” said New York State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky.

The Fair Workweek legislation maintains that fast food employers must:

  • Give employees written notice of schedules no less than 14 days in advance. (Changes within two weeks will incur payment of $10 to $75 to the employee, depending on the situation.)
  • Stop “clopenings” — employees must have 11 hours off between shifts. (If an employee works sooner than 11 hours after their last shift, they will be paid an extra $100.)
  • Give current employees the option to take new shifts before hiring any new employees. This will allow existing employees the option to move from part-time to full-time employment or give them the additional hours they want.
  • Allow employees to deduct part of their salary for donation to a nonprofit by payroll deduction.
  • Maintain compliance records for 3 years.
  • Not retaliate in any way towards employees for exercising their rights under these new laws.

It will be vital for fast food operators to have solutions in place that can help ease employee scheduling practices, automate documentation and help maintain compliance. Failing to comply won’t be cheap — the Fair Workweek regulations mandate that fast food establishments could face penalties of $500 for the first violation, $750 for the second violation and up to $1,000 penalties for each succeeding violation.

How to Help Prevent Non-compliance

So, how can restaurants manage these more complex regulations without hindering the flow of business? One method is finding the right technology partner; one that provides configurable labor and scheduling tools that help restaurants manage compliance, and reduce penalties and potential class-action lawsuits.

HotSchedules, which provides the first cloud-based intelligent operating platform for the restaurant industry, recently announced new predictive scheduling features that address the unique scheduling challenges with configurable labor rules, manager alerts to potential compliance violations, shift transaction reporting and continuous electronic documentation.

“Predictive Scheduling legislation has been a key compliance concern impacting many full-service and limited service restaurants – especially multi-unit franchise owners and their corporate franchisors. We developed new predictive scheduling features so that operators, HR teams, and finance teams can get in front of and manage the regulations and avoid potential penalties,” says David Cantu, Co-Founder and Chief Customer Officer at HotSchedules. “It’s also important that we provide scheduling and mobile communication tools for hourly employees so that they can achieve flexibility and work-life balance while still fulfilling the needs of the business.”

Operators should look for a technology partner with a proven track record of developing tools and apps that satisfy the needs of the hourly workforce and give operators configurations and intelligence to help their managers make more informed decisions.

For example, the new minimum hours threshold feature allows your company to set a default number of hours of rest between each shift. Visual alerts in the schedule will notify a manager if they have violated the threshold allowing them to correct the mistake before they publish the schedule. Furthermore, new schedule audit reports provide time-stamped documentation for all shift transactions and schedule modifications – both voluntary and involuntary.

These new features are configurable and will help your managers prevent and avoid compliance violations (and worse, class action lawsuits). Predictive scheduling mandates have the potential to be costly, but they don’t have to be.

To learn more about HotSchedules, visit their website.