According to SHRM, employers and employees have been grappling with scheduling issues for decades: “Employees prefer predictable and reliable schedules, while employers need flexibility.” Predictive scheduling attempts to provide employees with advance notice of their work schedule.

In response to the negative impact unpredictable scheduling has on employees, a number of major U.S. cities and states have passed predictive scheduling laws to embolden workers to balance the time needed for second jobs and child care needs—as well as improve overall work-life balance. Though many agree that predictive scheduling legislation is important, jurisdictions have taken several different approaches. That’s why it’s important for employers to understand predictive scheduling laws, where they are enforced, and how to remain compliant.

The origin of predictive scheduling laws

In the landmark ruling from Ward v. Tilly’s, the California court stated that schedule predictability was essential to the employee’s ability to manage other parts of life including child care, school, appointments, and even social plans. Predictive scheduling laws, also known as employer scheduling laws, essentially let employees know in advance when and how many hours they’ll be working. However, legislators across the U.S. have passed different requirements to address this problem. For example, businesses in the city of San Francisco are required to post schedules at least two weeks in advance. Businesses in Washington, D.C. must post 21 days in advance. There are also different rules that govern potential schedule changes after posting, payroll compliance, and mandated rest periods between shifts.

What you need to know about employer scheduling laws

Despite the differences in predictive scheduling laws across multiple locations, there are some common elements to note:

  • All predictive scheduling legislation requires advanced posting of work schedules.

  • Any changes to a posted schedule require the employer to pay the employee “predictability pay.”

  • Employees must take mandated rest periods between shifts to prevent back-to-back closing and opening shifts, also known as “clopening.”

  • Additional work hours must be offered first to current part-time employees before new employees are hired.

  • Employer must maintain documentation about predictive scheduling practices.

Who is affected by employer scheduling laws

Businesses of all sizes are affected by predictive scheduling laws. In particular, employers who operate in major U.S. cities including San Francisco, New York City, Chicago, Seattle, and Philadelphia. The state of Oregon has also implemented strict predictive scheduling laws. These laws tend to have the most impact on the retail and hospitality industries, where businesses employ greater numbers of shift workers.Predictive scheduling laws also impact employees. Fast Company reported over 80% of workers in Connecticut faced unstable scheduling and most agreed that it negatively impacted their ability to offer their family financial and emotional stability. When implementing predictive scheduling, participants in a recent pilot study experienced a 5% increase in productivity and a 7% increase in sales.

Be prepared for predictive scheduling

The most successful firms are adopting new strategies to comply with predictive scheduling laws and better meet the needs of employees. Here are three best practices you can use to increase employee happiness and minimize risk:

  1. Audit your business locations

    Check each of your locations carefully for different predictive scheduling law requirements. Make sure you comply with posting timeframes and be prepared for other staffing needs.

  2. Minimize liability risks

    Stay up to date with any location-specific law changes and keep all employment and payroll records up to date. For example, in San Francisco, you must update your wage statements to include a separate line item for “predictability pay”.

  3. Use technology

    Use time scheduling software or apps to simplify the creation and posting of schedules. Offer voluntary schedule swapping to employees to minimize the need for last-minute changes.

Get help for compliance with employment laws

Get help for developing conflict-free staff schedules to comply with predictive scheduling laws. Asure Software’s cloud-based time and attendance solutions allow you to develop schedules, track employee time, and automate the collection and calculation of payroll.

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Talk with one of experts to explore how Asure can help you reduce administrative burdens and focus on growth.

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