Fair Scheduling Ordinance For Seattle Retail & Food Service Employers

By: Washington State Employment Law Lawyer Elizabeth L. Van Moppes

Seattle became the second major U.S. city to pass an ordinance addressing schedule predictability and flexibility for workers and employers. The “Secure Scheduling Ordinance” calls for better estimates and notification of hours, ensures workers have the right to rest between shifts, ensures workers receive predictability pay for erratic scheduling, and creates guidelines for employers looking to offer additional hours.

Before this ordinance became law, large retail and food service establishments face inconsistent staffing needs on a daily basis, resulting in workers bearing the burden of irregular scheduling practices. A study commissioned by the City of Seattle found that such scheduling practices create serious financial and family hardship for some Seattle workers, disproportionately affect employees of color, and negatively impact parenting and childcare responsibilities. The study also found that 70 percent of Seattle workers have on-call shift responsibilities, with the majority of employees having less than 6 hours’ notice when called into work.

“Creating equity in Seattle means providing workers with access to a reliable schedule that meets their life and financial needs, while balancing the daily realities facing large employers,” said Seattle Mayor Ed Murray. “This ordinance isn’t just about knowing when to clock in. It’s about ensuring that we are taking concrete steps to combat income inequality,” said Seattle City Councilmember Lorena González. “When almost one in three workers say they aren’t getting the hours they need to make rent or pay for childcare, we have a real problem. This bill provides a solution to that real problem. I am proud that we as a City are standing up once again for the cities hourly workers, who we know are primarily women and people of color.”

The proposal extends to retail and quick or limited food service establishments with more than 500 employees worldwide, and full service restaurants with more than 500 employees and 40 full-service restaurant locations worldwide. Among key provisions of the ordinance:

  • Two weeks advance notice of work schedule to employees with non-voluntary additions or subtractions to schedules requiring predictability pay
  • Good faith estimate of workers’ hours provided upon hire
  • Right to rest measure, ensuring at least 10 hours between closing and opening shifts (addressing so-called “clopenings”)
  • Access to hours measure, requiring that employers give notice to current employees of new, additional hours available before hiring additional staff
  • On-call protections measure, whereby employees will receive half-time pay for any shift they are on-call and do not get called into work

For additional information, see http://www.seattle.gov/council/committees/civil-rights-utilities-economic-development-and-arts

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