On November 22, 2022, the Los Angeles City Council voted to pass the Fair Work Week Ordinance. The new ordinance will go into effect April 2023 for retail businesses with more than 300 employees globally and with locations within the City of Los Angeles.
In this article, we’ll explain fair work weeks laws, what the new ordinance means for employers and employees locally and on a national scale, and how HR technology can help.
What are fair work week laws?
Fair work week laws, also referred to as predictive scheduling laws, aim to reduce the burden of fluctuating and unpredictable work schedules on employees. By providing workers with regular, predictable schedules, lawmakers believe that employees will be better able to manage family and caregiving obligations, pursue educational goals, and balance multiple part-time jobs.
The first fair work week ordinance was passed in San Francisco in 2015, and subsequent laws have gone into effect in Oregon, Chicago, New York City, Seattle, Philadelphia, and Emeryville, California. They commonly require that employers provide new workers with a good faith estimate (GFE) of their expected work schedule prior to their first day on the job, as well as subsequent regular advance notice of all work shifts. Employers who make late schedule changes or cancels shifts must typically provide the employees with “predictability pay.”
The details of the Los Angeles Fair Work Week Ordinance
The Los Angeles Fair Work Week Ordinance provides numerous protections for employees who work two or more hours a week in the city for a retail business. Under the law, retail employers must provide 14 days’ advance notice of employee work schedules. Employees will have the right to decline shifts that are added or changed after the 14-day advance notice. Even when workers accept late changes to their schedules, employers will owe them predictability pay.
There are numerous exceptions to the predictability pay requirement, however, including:
- When employees request the schedule changes
- When employees voluntarily accept schedule changes due to another employee’s absence
- When employees accept offers of additional hours in lieu of employers hiring new or temporary employees
- Changes in employee hours as a result of an employee’s violation of applicable laws or employer policies
- When the employer’s operations are compromised pursuant to the law or issues such as natural disasters
- Where the extra hours would result in overtime
On a national scale: LA’s Fair Work Week Ordinance compared to those in other cities
Similar to the laws in New York City, Seattle, Chicago, Oregon, and Philadelphia, the new Los Angeles ordinance restricts the use of so-called “clopening” shifts, which is when an employee is scheduled to close an establishment and quickly return to open the business the next day. The ordinance requires that retail employers must provide 10 hours of rest between shifts. An employee may waive rest between shifts in writing, but must be paid 1.5 times their regular rate of pay for the second shift.
Retail employers also must provide employees a good faith estimate of their work schedule prior to their hire, and within 10 days of an employee request. If the employer substantially deviates from the good faith estimate, it “must have a documented, legitimate business reason, unknown at the time the good faith work schedule estimate was provided to the employee, to substantiate the deviation.” Employees will have the legal right to request changes to their hours, times, or work locations. Although employers do not have to accept such changes, they must respond in writing and include the reason for any denial.
Lastly, similar to many other fair work week laws, the Los Angeles ordinance places restrictions on hiring new or temporary employees when such work may be given to existing employees. Prior to any new hiring, retail employers must offer the additional shifts to current workers if they are qualified and the additional work would not result in overtime. Such offers must be made 72 hours before hiring new employees, and employees will have 48 hours to accept the additional hours.
How HR technology can help
The Los Angeles Fair Work Week Ordinance demonstrates the ongoing interest of state and local lawmakers in regulating the specifics of employee work schedules in new and novel ways. Although the new Los Angeles regulation only applies to retail businesses, other fair work week laws extend to industries such as food service, hospitality, manufacturing, building services, and healthcare. Employers with unpredictable business requirements that necessitate variable employee schedules should remain especially cognizant of the evolving regulatory landscape.
Advanced workforce management solutions that allow automated employee scheduling, electronic notifications, and shift management capabilities can greatly alleviate the operational burdens created by predictive scheduling laws. HCM technology solutions can also help with records retention requirements when, for example, cities such as Los Angeles require employers to retain work schedules and other records required to demonstrate compliance for up to three years.