Shift Swaps and Fair Workweek: How to save money and keep employees happy

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In this post, we’ll explain how shift swaps can help you solve some of your fair workweek headaches. If you’re in one of many states where fair workweek laws are in effect, you may be struggling to stay compliant. Most scheduling and timekeeping tools aren’t designed to handle complex rules around overtime, “clopens,” and required meal and rest breaks. Even if your software warns you about potential problems, it likely does not automatically compensate employees for working outside the law-defined norm.

The following probably characterizes you or someone you know: your software provider told you their product could handle fair workweek, but you’ve come to find out that it can’t. Like many businesses, you’re struggling to keep up with employee premiums so that you don’t violate the laws and leave yourself wide open for an extremely costly lawsuit. Sound about right?

You’re not alone.

Many restaurant and retail businesses are coming to find out that their scheduling and attendance software can’t keep up with fair workweek legislation. This is becoming more of a problem, as the fair workweek movement isn’t losing momentum – it’s here to stay. In fact, more and more cities and states are responding to workers’ calls for predictable schedules. Here’s how shift swaps can help keep your workforce happy and save you thousands of dollars in fees.

What counts as a fair workweek violation

A cornerstone of fair workweek regulation is predictable schedules. This means that employers are required to post schedules 2 or more weeks in advance (the number varies depending on where you are and which laws apply). Typically, it also means that if an employer makes a change to a posted schedule, they’re required to compensate the employees affected by that change. In some areas, this is commonly referred to as “predictability pay.”

However, in most places where fair workweek laws are present, the rules state that employers are only accountable when they initiate the schedule change. If an employee volunteers for a shift or initiates the change, the employer is off the hook. This is an incredibly important distinction.

And by the way, if your software provider doesn’t help you track who initiated the change, you need a better solution. You’re leaving yourself wide open for a lawsuit, and you have no way of proving your compliance with fair workweek. Before you worry about shift swaps, make sure you have an audit trail for schedule changes.

How shift swaps help minimize fair workweek fees

Shift swapping is the practice of trading shifts among employees. For example, one employee contacts another and indicates that they would like to trade shifts. Or, a worker indicates that they would like to give up a shift, and another worker picks up that shift. Whatever the method, the critical part is that shift swaps are initiated by your employees.

What does this mean for you? Well, it’s simple. It means that if employees can keep good schedule coverage amongst themselves, you don’t have to. And if you don’t have to, you’re not on the hook for premiums. Remember, in most cases, employers are only required to pay out if they initiate the schedule changes. If workers are changing their own schedules, that’s okay.

But what about labor coverage?

If you’re concerned about losing control over your labor coverage, don’t be. A good scheduling software will still let you have the last say in whether a shift swap should occur. Or, a really good scheduling software, like TimeForge, can help you ensure that only employees with the same skill levels swap shifts. That way, you never have to worry about too many inexperienced cashiers on the floor at the same time. You can be confident that even with shift swaps, you still have the right staff on hand.

In general, you want to look for a system that makes it easy for employees to trade shifts online while still giving managers some control over the schedule. This will significantly reduce the burden on managers to find last minute replacements, as well as the amount of money you owe in compensation fees because of last minute schedule changes. It’ll also keep employees happy, too.

How shift swaps and fair workweek help keep employees happy

The reason for fair workweek in the first place is that unstable schedules are hard on employees. Workers need to know when they’re going to work, and for how long, so that they can plan their finances and maintain work-life balance. Parents need time to make arrangements for childcare. Students need time to study for upcoming exams. When workers don’t have some say in when they work, they’re understandably more stressed, unprepared, and unhappy. They’re also more likely to miss shifts, and even when they do show, they’re less productive and engaged. It’s a recipe for high employee turnover and low employee satisfaction.

But no matter how far out one plans, life happens. A family member gets sick. A baby-sitter becomes unavailable. And that’s where shift swaps really benefit employees. When workers have the option to give up shifts or pick up shifts, they can better manage their other responsibilities – and life’s unexpected curveballs. When they can do that, they’re happier, more productive, and more engaged. They’re also more likely to actually show up for work, which is a boon for managers who often struggle to find reliable shift-work staff.

Moreover, when employees work out their shifts among themselves, it can save you a ton of money in premiums. It’s a win-win situation for both employee and employer.

Shift swaps and fair workweek: the bottom line

Shift swaps can greatly reduce the burden that scheduling changes impose on your managers and on your business. When you give employees the option to initiate changes to their schedules among themselves, you keep them happy and protect your bottom line. And it’s not as difficult as you think it might be. The right scheduling software can easily handle shift swaps and ensure that managers still have some control over who works and when.

Due to the increasing prevalence of fair workweek regulations, many software providers are scrambling to build fair workweek into their scheduling and attendance solutions. They may have told you that they could keep you compliant, only to find out that their software can’t handle the ofttimes complicated logic of fair workweek scheduling. You might even be on your second or third solution by now and still without success.

We can help.

TimeForge had fair workweek figured out years ago. Our software actually does handle every aspect of fair workweek compliance, plus labor forecasting that is 98.87% accurate. But you don’t have to take our word for it. Drop us a line or schedule a demo, and we’ll gladly show you – with a live version of our software, not a premade slide presentation – exactly how TimeForge will solve your fair workweek woes.

PS: If you found this helpful, check out our latest post on bid shifts and fair workweek. In it, we describe 3 ways that bid shifts help deal with fair workweek requirements while keeping employees happy.

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