This past May, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed into law new legislation called the “Fair Workweek” laws that will provide significant protections for retail and fast food workers in New York City. Both industries are notorious for scheduling issues regarding employees—including requiring employees to be “on call,” altering schedules at the last minute, requiring additional hours or subtracting them, and more. The new law restricts scheduling discretions by these companies and provides additional protections for employees as well. Employers will need to comply with these laws as of November 26, 2017.
The following explains how this new set of laws may cover you if you work in the retail or fast food industries. These laws are complicated, however, so if you have questions about your specific rights or possible violations, please do not hesitate to call our New York City employment attorney today.
The retail-specific laws apply to any company that primarily engages in selling consumer goods that employ 20 or more employees working at one or more locations. The law protects hourly and salaried employees and makes the following changes to the rights of retail employers and employees:
No on-call scheduling
Retailers were notorious for scheduling employees to be on call to come in based on customer volume. This meant that many employees had to be available to work in case they were needed even though their employers might not have called them to work. The Fair Workweek laws prohibit this type of scheduling for retail employees and prohibit requiring an employee to call in or be contacted within 72 hours of a scheduled shift to determine whether they need to report to work.
Seventy-two-hour scheduling notice
Retail establishments must create a written work schedule for all employees and provide notice of that schedule at least 72 hours before scheduled shifts. If employers usually transmit schedules electronically, they must transmit them at least 72 hours in advance. The law prohibits retail employers from adding shifts, changing shifts, or canceling shifts within 72 hours of the scheduled work time unless the employee consents to the changes in writing. The law includes exceptions for employees under collective bargaining agreements that discuss scheduling, as well as certain requests by employees to trade or cancel shifts. Fast
The law defines a “fast food establishment” as one that serves food and drinks that customers order at the counter and for which they pay before receiving food; at which customers can take food to-go, eat inside, or have food delivered; that has limited services; and that is part of a chain or franchise system that has at least 30 locations across the United States. The new scheduling restrictions only apply to hourly workers, while the pay deduction requirements apply to both hourly and salaried workers.
The Fair Workweek laws set out the following new provisions regarding fast food employers:
Estimate of hours
When an employee is hired, the fast food employer is required to provide a good faith estimate in writing of the hours and locations of shifts the employee can expect on a weekly basis. In the event of foreseen changes, the employer must provide the employee with an updated written estimate.
Fourteen-day scheduling notice
Companies must post seven-day schedules and provide them directly to employees within 14 days of the start of those schedules. If the schedule changes, an employee can choose to decline any extra hours that the employer did not assign on the initial schedule and must agree to extra hours in writing. If a schedule changes within 14 days, the law may entitle employees to receive a premium payment from $10 to $75 depending on the extent of the changes made and the notice received. Premiums will increase when an employee loses hours due to a change or if employers make a change with fewer than 24 hours notice.
Time between scheduled shifts
Shifts on consecutive days (or on the same calendar day) cannot end and begin fewer than 11 hours apart. This prevents employers from requiring employees to have a closing shift and then have to report to an opening shift within a few hours. Unless employees consent to such scheduling, they can earn an extra $100 if their schedules do not comply with this law.
Offering shifts to existing employees
Before a fast food employer hires new employees to cover necessary shifts, it must first offer those shifts to existing employees. Only if current employees reject the shifts or if working them would require overtime payments can the employer hire new workers.
Non-profit payroll deductions
This provision is not related to hours or scheduling but instead requires fast food employers to process deductions from paychecks if employees want to voluntarily contribute a portion of their pay to registered not-for-profits.
The laws set out additional requirements for employers to maintain certain records and prohibit any form of retaliation against employees who assert their rights under the Fair Workweek laws. The law allows for penalties imposed on employers that violate these laws, and it provides rights for employees to take legal action if employers violate their rights.
State legislators may also examine the rights and protections that retail and fast food workers need throughout the entire state of New York. If such legislation goes into effect, it may preempt the New York City-specific laws and may provide additional benefits to these employees. Braverman Law PC will continue to monitor changing local and state laws and keep you informed.
Consult With a New York Wage and Employment Lawyer Today
Braverman Law PC knows that the ever-changing nature of employment laws can make knowing and enforcing your rights difficult. We represent employees whose employers violated their rights under federal, state, and local New York City laws. If you want to discuss a possible case, please call (212) 206-8166 or contact us online.