SEATTLE (Legal Newsline) -- Seattle recently joined San Francisco as the only U.S. cities to pass a so-called “scheduling” law. The Secure Scheduling Ordinance, a collaboration between Seattle City Council members Lisa Herbold, Lorena González,
and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, seeks to provide a level of stability for
the city’s many shift workers.
The new law, which goes into effect in July, mandates that larger retailers and food service businesses
provide workers two weeks’ advance notice of their schedules and provide
compensation to employees who schedules are changed.
covers all retailers and fast food restaurants with at least 500 employees
worldwide, along with full-service restaurants with at least 500 employees and
40 locations worldwide.
covered include non-exempt hourly employees who work at least half
their hours in Seattle and at a regular location.
to Guy Brenner, a partner in the Labor & Employment Law Department
at New York law firm Proskauer Rose, it was desire of workers' advocates seeking to increase the
number of full-time workers that prompted Seattle’s ordinance.
“These types of
laws are typically pushed by workers’ rights groups seeking to provide
scheduling protections to certain workers," Brenner said. "This law is aimed at getting
employees enough hours to turn part-time jobs into full-time roles eligible for
benefits, like health care.
But Brenner says the
ordinance will have a serious impact on business.
‘First, it reduces flexibility and increases complexity
in scheduling employees.” Brenner said. “Employers must plan their
employees’ schedules 14 days in advance and must be aware of various
scheduling rules provided for in the ordinance.
“Second, the ordinance aims to increase the number of
full-time employees by requiring employers to offer available hours to existing
employees before employing new workers.”
According to a study commissioned by the city of Seattle, a lack
of hours and a lack steady hours are legitimate concerns for many Seattle-area
workers. The study says one-third of the city’s workforce workers lacked enough working hours.
Brenner, however, noted extra hours for workers adds to a business' overhead and the city council may have piled on when it added stiff fines and penalties for business
that don't adhere.
schedule isn't posted 14 days ahead of time, the employer is subject to
penalties” Brenner said. “A $500 fine per
aggrieved worker, plus a 50 percent increase in the fine for each subsequent violation
in a 10-year period up to $5,000.”
Although workers' rights advocates celebrated the measure, Brenner
says the law was not without opposition.
retailers opposed the ordinance, as well as some unions like the Full Service
Workers Alliance of Seattle and business groups such as the Washington Retail
Association,” he said.
San Francisco was first with a “secure scheduling law,“ but
Seattle has emerged as a leader of a national trend toward improving
worker protections. In 2012 Seattle passed
an ordinance requiring businesses to provide a corresponding hour of sick leave
for every 40 hours an employee works.
In 2015, the city implemented the first of its kind $15-per-hour
minimum wage law. Several other cities from California to New York have similar measures under consideration.
The Seattle City Council has indicated it
will study the effects of the new scheduling law for two years to evaluate
whether any changes should be made.
The ordinance is the Secure Scheduling Ordinance (SSO),