Predictive Scheduling Laws: What are they?

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If you run a restaurant, grocery store, or other business with a lot of hourly employees, crafting a good schedule is very important. The right schedule can save you money on employee wages while ensuring your customers’ needs are fully met. A new predictive scheduling law may have an impact on your usual scheduling practices. To avoid having to pay excessive penalties and fees, you need to be aware of how predictive scheduling works.

What are predictive scheduling laws?

Predictive scheduling laws are a type of fair workweek law meant to promote more predictable schedules. Unfortunately, they do this largely by penalizing employers for unpredictable ones. The laws typically still allow employers a lot of variation in employee scheduling. You can still alternate an employee between night and day shifts, for example, or change the number of hours an employee works. However, the big difference is that under these laws, employers are penalized if they don’t provide employees with enough advance notice.

The majority of predictive scheduling laws only target certain industries. Typically, the laws do not apply to very small businesses, businesses with mainly salary workers, and businesses that focus on fields like construction, fabrication, or entertainment. Instead, most predictive scheduling laws focus on retail, hospitality, and foodservice. This includes businesses such as grocery stores, fast casual restaurants, and hotels.

Do you operate in an area with predictive scheduling laws?

Whether or not you’re affected by predictive scheduling depends on where you operate. There are a variety of different laws in place across the United States. Some are enacted at the city level, others at the state level. Currently, the areas that have predictive scheduling laws in place include:

  • San Francisco, CA
  • Emeryville, CA
  • Chicago, IL
  • New York City, NY
  • Oregon
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Seattle, WA

In contrast, some states have laws in place that actually prohibit local city governments from creating their own laws around scheduling, minimum wage changes, and other employment matters. These include:

  • Arkansas
  • Georgia
  • Iowa
  • Tennessee

Remember: the laws are constantly evolving. If you’re not in a state where scheduling laws are prohibited, you’ll want to keep an eye on legislation at both the local and state level. Otherwise, you’ll want to keep an eye on legislation at the state level. With fair workweek regulations gaining popularity, you don’t want to be caught unawares.

Examples of Common Predictive Scheduling Laws

Predictive scheduling laws, like fair workweek, are becoming more and more common, but that doesn’t mean they’re all enacted in the same way. Below, we’ve provided a few examples of predictive scheduling laws to demonstrate some similarities and differences.

San Francisco

In San Francisco, all retail employers with more than 40 establishments worldwide have to follow predictive scheduling rules. Employers are required to give employees seven days of notice for any schedule change. If the employer fails to give this notice, they have to pay the employee between one to four hours of additional pay at the employee’s regular rate. The exact amount of predictability pay will depend on the amount of notice and the length of the shift. Furthermore, San Francisco also requires employers to pay a premium if they make an employee be on call but do not actually call the employee in to work. This premium will be somewhere between two to four hours of regular pay.


Chicago requires all employers with more than 100 employees or more than 30 locations worldwide to give at least 10 days of notice before shift changes. Outside of this window, employers to give employees an extra hour of pay for each shift change. If the change involves cancelling or reducing hours with less than 24 hours of notice, the employer has to pay half of what the employee would’ve received before the shift change. Starting on July 1, 2022, the amount of notice an employer has to give will expand to 14 days.

In addition to rules about shift change notice, the ordinance also gives employees the right to decline any shift that begins less than 10 hours after they last worked. If they do take the shift, employers have to pay 1.25 times the employee’s normal hourly rate. Employers must provide written notice for all changes and schedules. Also, they need to keep records of each employee’s history for up to 3 years.

New York City

New York’s predictive scheduling laws specifically target fast food and retail employers with more than 30 locations or more than 20 employees. Fast food employers have to give an estimate of scheduling times before hiring employees and write out schedules for seven days at a time. They must give 14 days’ notice of schedule changes or pay a premium. The premium is between $10 to $75 depending on how much notice the employee gets and whether their hours are increased or decreased.

How to Handle Your Schedule in a Place With Predictive Scheduling Laws

As you might imagine, predictive scheduling laws can put a lot of strain on business owners. In addition to the paperwork burden, managers will need to create schedules that comply with these new laws. For a more complete overview, we recommend our Fair Workweek eBook. The eBook covers all the basics, including the steps employers should take to avoid hefty fines and fees. It also provides a few extra tips for staying compliant.

The good news is, you can avoid most penalties by using a software that can forecast your sales and build schedules with great coverage in advance. If you suddenly anticipate needing more staff on hand, remember: you generally only have to pay premiums when you impose changes on employees. If you ask for volunteers to pick up additional shifts, on the other hand, you can effectively beef up your staffing levels without taking a penalty. Allowing employees to swap shifts is also another great way to add some stability to the schedule without compromising your labor budget.

Want more advice on how to navigate predictive scheduling? Sign up for a demo, and we’ll gladly walk you through the rules for your specific city or state.

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