Fair Workweek: What Is It and How to Comply

Work schedules can sometimes be a little too flexible. Many employers give employees too short of notice for scheduled shifts or shift changes. Fair Workweek aims to remedy this common problem for workers across America. These Fair Workweek initiatives are becoming more and more popular, and cities are following the lead of places like Chicago and New York, some of the first to pass initiatives like this.

What exactly is Fair Workweek? 

Fair Workweek is a policy and legislation measure that protects workers in retail and foodservice industries. It requires business owners to share employees schedules in advance, and even compensate employees when their schedule changes without the proper notice.

This is causing a big ripple in the way that business owners approach scheduling their employees, and it means fundamental changes to the way that employees are managed. 

The following is a guide to what you need to know about Fair Workweek initiatives, and what to do when on-call scheduling is no longer an option. 

There are several requirements that need to be met in order to adhere to Fair Workweek regulations.

The Top Things You Need to Know about Fair Workweek

Employees are entitled to compensation

Fair Workweek laws have been passed in cities such as San Jose, New York City, Philadelphia, and Chicago. The “predictive scheduling” or “secure scheduling” that Fair Workweek entails means that there must be a minimum notice by employers, as well as additional pay for employees if their schedule changes without proper notice. 

This does not mean that making changes to schedules is no longer allowed; it merely means that employees are entitled to compensation, and rescheduling now comes at a price for employers.

If an employee’s schedule is changed without seven days notice, the employer owes the employee one to four hours of additional pay, called “predictability pay.” Also, they can receive half of the scheduled pay if the employer cuts their regularly scheduled hours. 

The Economic Policy Institute believes that this new policy is here to stay. They noted that this is no different than the way that employees are entitled to higher minimum wage or paid sick days, and has highlighted the need to update the current labor policy’s to reflect today’s times and culture. It also recognizes that families need predictable and sufficient work hours for societies and communities to flourish. 

Not complying could be costly

Not getting on the boat with this new labor policy if passed in your state could have high costs. In Chicago, if an employer violates the policy, a single violation could cost up to $500. With repeated offenses, this could become a significant problem for companies.

Similar to the way that overtime works, small changes can add up to high costs for employers. As more and more employers get on board with this new policy, the non-compliance costs and consequences will only get worse.

Several larger retailers that are not following these crucial policies are already being called out on their violations. Not only are they dealing with the cost, but they’re also dealing with public scrutiny for their improper management of their employees.

The consequences of not following the Fair Workweek policy will cause more harm than good, and most companies have noticed this and banned all types of on-call scheduling that violates Fair Workweek standards. 

To be compliant you must understand what Fair Workweek is comprised of. This includes understanding the rules and regulations, and requirements.

Ensuring you’re compliant with Fair Workweek starts by implementing a few simple changes. These changes can help make adhering to Fair Workweek as easy as possible.

Beginning to comply entails a few simple steps

Starting to follow the Fair Workweek policy can be broken down into several managing steps. A few of these are listed below:

Stop scheduling “clopening” shifts

Clopening shifts, which require an employee to work closing on a late shift and then work an opening shift early the next morning, are the most significant alarm for unfair scheduling.

Fair Workweek will ensure that employees cannot work a closing shift, and then an opening shift the very next day. The Fair Workweek laws require employees to be provided with a rest period of at least 9 hours before working their next shift.

Even if a business does is not required to comply with Fair Workweek laws right now, it’s a good step forward to stop scheduling these types of shifts. 

Make schedules with minimal possible changes needed

Now, a schedule is a must-have. It is no longer a luxury for employees under Fair Workweek policies. Business owners should use scheduling software and think about accounting for as many changes as possible. The schedule should not be treated as concrete and as one of the very last things that can be changed in the business. The schedule should also account for employee availability to ensure minimal changes.

Share digital copies of the schedule in advance

At least two weeks in advance is a reasonable time to share a schedule with employees. Sending out digital copies is much easier on both employer and employee – providing that the employee has internet access and will be able to access their sent schedule immediately. Scheduling software that allows employees to access their schedule from their phone anytime is a great option. 

Documentation is key

Getting written consent from employees that they have received their schedule is a protective step for businesses. This makes sure that there is a record of the employee saying that they will work the hours on the set schedule.

Keeping this documentation handy if the employee changes things up will help the business avoid penalties later on. In case a conflict arises, taking the step of having documentation for received schedules is the key to complying with this crucial Fair Workweek policy. 

Why should you comply with Fair Workweek?

Compliance can lead to better company culture

Happy employees are, indeed, productive employees. This doesn’t just mean handing out raises, higher salaries, or free bagels on Tuesdays. It means improving the day to day experience of the employee so that they can genuinely enjoy doing their job – and will even do it better. Inc.com has found that a good company culture attracts more employees than just higher pay. 

Fair Workweek contributes to a better company culture overall. It makes for a better workplace environment because employees can now feel like they are owners of their time and not at the mercy of a much too flexible schedule.

Fair Workweek prioritizes work-life balance and allows employees to be more engaged with their jobs and in improving the business. Employees that show greater work-life balance show higher loyalty to their employers overall, making this a brilliant decision all around. 

It will be hard at first, but it’s for the best

The process of complying with the Fair Workweek policy won’t happen instantly. Instead, it will require some growing pains. While compliance can come in several easy steps, the initiation of the policy can be hard.

It requires more effort from employers and employees to communicate about the best schedule and ensure that everyone is happy. To get ready for these laws, businesses can practice creating these schedules without the penalty. This will help everyone get used to the new policies and allow them to adjust slowly. 

Another essential part of successfully adhering to a Fair Workweek is by answering questions. The business owner may not always be there to answer questions, so training the next in line, managers or supervisors, is essential to making sure employees know all there is to know about these policies. Employees will want to know what is and isn’t allowed with the new Fair Workweek laws, and businesses should be ready to answer them.

Fair Workweek brings scheduling consistency to employees and in turn makes them happier and more productive - further improving your business operations.

Fair Workweek doesn’t just improve home and work-life balance for the employee, but can also improve your business environment. Employees will be happier and in turn more productive and loyal to your business mission.

Fair Workweek: Better for Everyone

While getting used to the Fair Workweek may be tricky, making adjustments one step at a time will help the process run smoothly. These laws are meant to improve scheduling for everyone and encourage more human scheduling practices overall. It will take some getting used to for everyone, and it is the right thing to do. Converting on-call schedules to new Fair Workweek schedules can be done by utilizing exceptional tools available, and by getting written consent from employees.

Overall, this new scheduling system is all about having the right resources in place at exactly the right time that they are needed. While on-call scheduling may have seemed like it worked, Fair Workweek scheduling will help productivity and improve company culture.

Unpredictable scheduling can weigh hard on everyone, and it aims to eliminate this. Fair Workweek scheduling will allow employees to have a dependable schedule to count on, and help businesses in general run smoother. 

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