How to Stay Compliant with Work Schedule Laws

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Change is in the air when it comes to labor laws on how employers can schedule shifts for hourly workers. Many cities are implementing predictive scheduling laws that require employers to give employees advance notice of their work schedules, and some states have proposed to enforce the idea as well.

The purpose of the laws is to give hourly employees a “good faith” estimate of their workweeks. However, with “good faith” comes the great responsibility for restaurant owners and managers to stay compliant and avoid any lawsuits or fines.

First, What Exactly is Predictive Scheduling?

There’s no standard set of rules from city to city when it comes to the new predictive scheduling laws, but they tend to have a few similarities. First, employers must notify their employees of new work schedules a certain number of days beforehand. For example, Chicago’s recently adopted Fair Workweek Ordinance requires business owners to notify their employees of their upcoming shift schedules at least 10 days before the workweek begins, and that will increase to 14 days by 2022.

Most predictive scheduling laws also require employers to give extra pay to employees if an employer changes the schedule, provide adequate rest periods between shifts, and keep all scheduling records for a certain amount of time.

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While predictive scheduling is currently enforced by certain cities, some states have implemented similar types of laws, such as New York’s Spread of Hours Law. This statute mandates that service industry employers give employees whose workday begins and ends more than 10 hours apart an extra hour of pay, known as a Spread of Hour rate.

Remember: when it comes to staying compliant, technology can be your best friend. Here are some tips and tricks on how to utilize 21st century tools to follow the law – and give your employees a fair workweek at the same time.

Let a Scheduling App Do the Work for You

To help alleviate the stress of getting into the groove of predictive scheduling, consider adopting a software that takes away the headache of building employee schedules. For example, Homebase’s free scheduling app allows you to create and publish a work schedule in just a few minutes – and if you keep the same schedule week to week, you can easily copy it over or even schedule weeks in advance.

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Your entire team will also be alerted when a new schedule is published (which you can do from anywhere through the app) to ensure they receive it as quickly as possible.

Enforce Breaks Without Doing Any Extra Work

Predictive scheduling laws require you to ensure that employees have enough rest time in between shifts – but it’s common for restaurant employees to work doubles, so a break in between is key to staying compliant.

Homebase’s Time Clock app allows you to set time clock rules, enforce the schedule and breaks, prevent early clock-ins, and even track hours and break times across your whole business, to not only make sure everyone is getting the proper amount of rest, but to ensure you’ve got the proper documentation to prove your compliance.

Increase Compliance by Increasing Communication

While the scheduling app alerts your employees of their newly-published schedules, it’s a good idea to double-check everyone received it. Homebase’s in-app messaging system cuts communication time by allowing you to send messages without text or email, set up groups and receive read receipts – so you know when an employee has gotten the information you sent them.


Keep Your Documentation in One Place

With new laws comes a new risk for lawsuits – and with predictive scheduling laws requiring employers to hold onto documents such as timesheets for a certain period of time, it’s important to have a strategy in place to do so.

The Homebase app keeps track of your timesheets, clock-ins and clock-outs, and even breaks – to ensure you’ve got everything you need to not only stay compliant, but to prove that compliancy, should the unfortunate lawsuit arise.

Using an automated solution takes the time and stress out of predictive scheduling for both you, your managers and your employees. Consider tossing the spreadsheets and taking on an app like Homebase to increase the happiness of your entire team – and potentially avoid breaking the law.

About Homebase: Homebase powers team management and staffing as part of CHECK® Business Tools. Homebase helps you save time, reduce costs and make hiring easier. Recruit quality candidates, track labor costs, simplify payroll and streamline team communications with just one tool. Learn more about Homebase by visiting team management and staffing in CHECK Business Tools.

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