New York City will soon adopt a series of laws which limit fast food employers’ ability to shift employees’ schedules on short notice. The legislative package, designated “Fair Workweek,” was signed into law on May 30, 2017, by NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The package’s stated purpose is to ensure low-wage workers’ hours won’t be changed or cut at the last minute. “Predictable schedules and predictable paychecks should be a right, not a privilege,” Mayor de Blasio said at the signing ceremony.
The new regulations will affect around 65,000 fast food employees and will guarantee that schedules be formulated at least two weeks in advance; employers who do institute sudden changes are required to pay a premium to employees, the cost of which ranges from $10 to $75 depending on the number of days of notice employers provide prior to schedule alterations.
Employers are now also required to formulate schedules in a way that provides fast food workers at least an 11 hour reprieve between consecutive shifts, and gives part-time employees the opportunity to claim open shifts (as long as the added hours do not require employers to pay overtime) before hiring more workers to cover vacancies.
Additional legislative conditions include banning the practice of keeping retail workers on unpaid call and also allowing fast food workers to deduct a portion of their pay for contribution toward worker advocacy organizations and similar non-profits (but not unions).
Critics of “Fair Workweek,” including the New York State Restaurant Association, believe that the regulations will drive up expenses and overcomplicate record keeping. “This legislation unfortunately is going to hurt these quick service establishments, many of which are franchises and are owned by what you would deem small business owners,” comments NYSRA regional exec Kevin Dugan.
Those who support the legislative changes, such as the Service Employees International Union, as well as a few smaller unions, argue that fast food workers are often subject to unfair schedule revisions, such as upcoming shifts being cancelled without prior notice, or last-minute additions that are incompatible with other job schedules, or family obligations.
New York is the third and largest US city to institute “Fair Workweek” legislation, following San Francisco and Seattle. The NYC legislation will take effect in six months, and similar laws are pending in Connecticut, Minnesota, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Oregon and Texas.