Chicago’s New Scheduling Law Applies to Many Workplaces

Allen Smith, J.D. By Allen Smith, J.D. July 26, 2019

​Chicago's new predictable scheduling law, effective July 1, 2020, requires employers to notify low-income workers of changes to their schedules and applies to a wide variety of industries. Mayor Lori Lightfoot's office called it the most expansive predictable scheduling ordinance in the country. But industry groups won some concessions during negotiations over the ordinance, including the definition of covered employers and employees.

The ordinance says employers must schedule employees 10 days in advance, rising to 14 days in 2022.

It covers not just the hotel and retail industry, but also building services, manufacturing, restaurants and warehouse services. Even the health care industry is covered, though the law grants health care employers with some flexibility in emergency circumstances to ensure care will not be interrupted.

The law applies only to a business with at least 100 employees globally, 50 of whom must be employees covered by the law (see the discussion of the definition of "employee" below). The threshold for nonprofits and restaurants is 250 employees. In addition, restaurants must have at least 30 locations globally, meaning most small restaurants are exempt.

The ordinance, which the Chicago City Council and Lightfoot approved unanimously July 24, will be officially enacted at the next city council meeting, which is scheduled for Sept. 18, a mayor's office spokesperson said.

We've gathered articles on the predictable scheduling, including the new law, from SHRM Online and other trusted media outlets.

Limits Set for Definition of 'Employee'

Chicago's ordinance will not protect all employees. During negotiations over the bill, employer groups secured language limiting coverage to hourly workers earning less than $26 per hour and salaried workers earning less than $50,000 annually. "We would have preferred to see all hourly employees covered, but we understand this is a first step forward," said Jake Lewis, a spokesman for the Chicago Federation of Labor. "It institutes significant new protections for hundreds of thousands of workers so we are still supportive of the overall ordinance."


Law Sets Penalties

Violations of the ordinance will cost employers between $300 and $500 for each offense. If the company discriminates or retaliates against an employee for exercising a right under the law, the business will be fined $1,000. If an employer alters a worker's schedule later than 10 days in advance (or 14 days as of 2022)-, it must pay workers for an extra hour of pay in addition to their regular compensation. When an employer cancels a shift or reduces hours with less than 24 hours' notice, it will have to pay a worker at least 50 percent of that person's regular pay rate for any scheduled hours.

(Fisher Phillips)

Purpose of Predictable Scheduling Laws

Predictable scheduling laws address concerns about hourly workers who must juggle other responsibilities—such as child care and a second job—with their employer's demands, according to Benjamin O'Glasser, an attorney with Bullard Law in Portland, Ore. Oregon enacted the first statewide predictable scheduling law in 2017. "The laws operate from the premise that employers should not be able to externalize the costs of scheduling changes to their hourly workers."

(SHRM Online)

Laws Differ from Place to Place

Employers are challenged by the varying predictable scheduling laws in different cities. In New York City, certain employers must post schedules 72 hours in advance, with any subsequent changes prohibited. In San Francisco, employers must post schedules at least two weeks in advance. Any changes require the employer to pay an affected worker between one and four hours of additional pay, depending on how last-minute the change was. By contrast, Georgia and Tennessee have passed laws prohibiting their cities from enacting predictable scheduling laws.

(Fisher Phillips)

San Francisco Was First to Enact Predictable Scheduling Ordinance

Four years ago, San Francisco was the first U.S. city to enact a predictable scheduling law. Since then, in addition to Oregon, New York City and Chicago, predictable scheduling laws have been passed in Seattle and Philadelphia.

(SHRM Online)



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