Proskauer Rose LLP.

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.

The measure 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.

Employees covered include non-exempt hourly employees who work at least half their hours in Seattle and at a regular location.

According 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.

“if a 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.

“Numerous 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), CB 118765

Want to get notified whenever we write about Proskauer Rose LLP ?
Next time we write about Proskauer Rose LLP, we'll email you a link to the story. You may edit your settings or unsubscribe at any time.

Organizations in this Story

Proskauer Rose LLP

More News