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NYC enacts "fair workweek" law

New York City is the third U.S. city to enact legislation requiring fast-food and retail employers to provide employees with advanced notice of work schedules. 

For anyone who has worked fast food, retail, or other jobs that involve a flexible and non-traditional workweek, you already know that it can be challenging to juggle work obligations with the many other duties and responsibilities that you have, particularly if you are a parent.

Having a schedule that can change on a moment's notice can make it difficult to find reliable daycare, schedule doctor's appointments, and otherwise care for yourself and your family.

That was the thought behind five separate bills that comprise New York City's "Fair Workweek" package, which aims to help employees in retail, restaurants and other industries have more reliable work schedules.

Having a schedule that can change on a moment's notice can make it quite difficult to get reliable daycare and schedule doctor's appointments, among other significant issues.

That was the thought behind five separate bills that comprise New York City's "Fair Workweek" package, which aims to help retail, restaurant and other employees have a more reliable work schedule.

The details

The bills, which take effect in November of this year, will require employers to:

  • Provide new hires with good faith estimates as to their work schedules;
  • Give employees at least two weeks' notice of their schedules, and post the schedule in an easily viewable area of the workplace; and
  • Pay employees a bonus of between $10 and $75 for making schedule changes without providing adequate notification to employees.

For fast food chains

In addition to the changes mentioned above, fast food employees will no longer be required to perform "clopenings," in which employees work the closing shift in the evening and the opening shift the following morning, unless at least 11 hours elapses between the closing and opening of the store.

Hiring all part-time workers

Perhaps one of the most important aspects of the bill requires fast food employers to offer open work shifts to existing employees prior to hiring new employees. Limiting the number of new hires could influence the number of employees who work part-time at a particular restaurant, thereby avoiding many of the labor protections available to full-time employees. However, employers will not be forced to offer additional hours to existing employees if the extra hours would cause the existing employees to work overtime.

A significant change

The full ramifications of the new law in NYC remains to be seen. However, employers may find it difficult to meet the new requirements, leading to legal liability and class-action wage and hour lawsuits.  

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