Predictive Scheduling: The Good, The Bad, and The Complicated

Predictive Scheduling: The Good, The Bad, and The Complicated

More and more, new labor laws affecting hourly workers are emerging across the United States. Each new law brings with it a hefty fine for those organizations caught unaware. If you are still grappling with how to best comply with the new regulations around predictive scheduling, read on. We’ll clarify what these laws are, why they came about, and what you can do to prepare for these legal requirements.

What is Predictive Scheduling?

A growing number of cities across the country, including New York City, San Francisco, Berkeley, Emeryville, San Jose, Seattle, Philadelphia, and Chicago, as well as the states of Oregon and Vermont, have adopted new predictive scheduling laws to give workers more predictability over their schedules.

While predictive scheduling laws differ from place to place, they follow a similar set of rules:

  • Employers must post the schedule in advance, usually between 7 and 14 days before the first scheduled shift
  • Employers must offer a written estimate of each employee’s anticipated work schedule at the time of hire
  • Additional hours must be offered to current, part-time employees before hiring a new employee
  • Extra pay is given to employees if an employer changes the schedule after the posted schedule (“predictability pay”)
  • There must be an adequate rest period between shifts unless a worker volunteers to work during a rest period
  • Employers must keep all records, for a certain amount of time, about the schedule

Why Are Predictive Scheduling Laws on the Rise?

Hourly workers, especially those in the retail, food, and hospitality industries, have begun asking for predictable schedules to balance their work and personal lives better. Receiving schedules in advance helps workers schedule appointments, plan their monthly income, find childcare, and spend time socializing with family and friends.

When you consider that most hourly workers currently have schedules that vary each week, often with shifts that run outside of typical daytime hours, finding childcare can be difficult, not to mention the inability to predict regular earnings for budget planning.

Hourly workers are also speaking out about on-call work assignments, where employees are asked to be ready to work but may not be called into work. Some workers are asking for more stable work schedules with consistent work hours each week, while others are merely tired of getting called into work at the last minute to make up for staffing errors or an unpredictable surge in demand.

Additionally, following the 2008 recession, many workers converted to part-time service work, often filling their wage gap with several part-time jobs. Hourly workers want to know their schedules ahead of time so they can coordinate between their jobs. Clearly, predictive scheduling laws help give hourly employees the benefit of planning their lives beyond work.

Predictive Scheduling Is Getting Mixed Reviews

However, predictive scheduling for hourly workers is not without controversy. After San Francisco implemented their predictable schedule ordinance in 2014, both employees and employers noticed some new issues:

  • Workers had less flexibility with their schedules
  • Employers had a hard time accommodating fluctuating labor needs
  • Businesses were unable to offer extra shifts at a moment’s notice, which meant fewer available shifts for workers and loss of income

While predictive scheduling laws are well-intentioned, businesses and employees may find themselves with additional dilemmas. Many workers are left asking if stable schedules are worth losing shift availability and schedule flexibility.

Many hourly workers prefer working schedules outside of regular daytime hours so they can go to school, help with childcare, or work other jobs. Flexibility is also beneficial for employers, who often experience variations in demand depending on the day or season.

Changes to scheduling laws can be difficult, especially when those changes bring positive opportunities and new challenges in one fell swoop. In cities and areas where predictive scheduling regulations are in place, both sides are doing their best to adjust.

For instance, businesses combat fluctuating labor needs by offering a volunteer schedule sign-up list for employees interested in working additional shifts. Companies are also seeing less turnover as employees improve their work/life balance.

However, with predictive scheduling laws still unfolding in new cities, compliance is far from easy. Larger employers with locations in multiple areas tend to be the most affected, although even smaller employers can find themselves facing an overhaul of their staffing systems as well. Even if your organization hasn’t been impacted by predictable scheduling laws yet, you should consider how they could impact your business in the future.

How Can You Prepare for Predictive Scheduling Laws?

While the widespread implications of predictive scheduling remain to be seen, one thing is sure; scheduling complexities aren’t going away. New labor and scheduling laws are only increasing the pressure on businesses and their scheduling systems.

Organizations with hourly workers see just how complicated scheduling can get as more cities and states adjust to the concept of a fair work schedule and updated labor laws. Keeping track of workforce availability, necessary trainings, overtime constraints, and communication needs, all while staying compliant with the latest labor law changes, demands a more sophisticated solution than years past. Simply put, spreadsheets just can’t cut it anymore.

Many organizations opt for an automated scheduling solution that can centralize strategic and tactical staffing needs into one solution. These technologies enable managers to develop schedules in advance, determine employee availability, allow adequate rest time between shifts, and maintain all of the operational rules needed to keep operations compliant.

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