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New York City employers in the fast-food and retail industries will soon have to comply with new employee-scheduling laws related to breaks between shifts, predictable hours, on-call scheduling and more. The New York City Council and Mayor Bill de Blasio approved five such laws that will take effect on Nov. 26.
Employers in these industries should check to see if they fall within the "retail" and "fast food" definitions under the new laws, said Aaron Warshaw, an attorney with Ogletree Deakins in New York City, noting that there is a narrow exception for small employers. Affected employers must start looking at their scheduling, hiring and other processes now to make sure they are compliant with the new requirements, he said.
"If the organization has a national scope, HR should ensure knowledge of all related laws to see if a national approach can be configured," said Richard Greenberg, an attorney with Jackson Lewis in New York City. He said HR professionals must take steps to obtain full knowledge of the business's operational practices with regard to scheduling.
Specifically in New York, employers must monitor any potential developments at the state level, because such laws could pre-empt any related obligations under New York City law.
[SHRM members-only toolkit: Complying with U.S. Wage and Hour Laws and Wage Payment Laws]
Summary of New Laws
The bundle of five new workplace laws includes four for the fast-food industry and one for retail establishments as follows:
"Employers in retail or fast food must immediately determine their obligations under the laws, review practices and train managers," Greenberg said.
Warshaw noted that the new laws stem from the "fight for $15" movement that has aimed to raise the minimum wage and add legal protections for low-wage earners.
"These efforts are intended to improve the working conditions of people in New York City and particularly those working in the fast-food and retail markets," he added.
He said he expects these laws to continue popping up in other cities and states.
California legislatures introduced a scheduling bill this year, but the measure has been put on hold for now.
Scheduling laws already exist in other jurisdictions, such as San Francisco and Seattle, and the trend is likely to continue, Greenberg noted.
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