Chicago Proposes Fair Scheduling Ordinance- To affect Most Businesses

Chicago proposes secure scheduling law
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Chicago Proposes Widespread Restrictive Scheduling Ordinance

Chicago may soon follow San Francisco, Seattle, and Oregon by enacting a fair scheduling ordinance. The new ordinance was proposed in June and has not yet been voted on by city council members. Hailed as the newest progressive policy, secure scheduling law’s claim to create fairness for part time employees by requiring employers to either post schedules in advance or pay workers extra compensation.

However, not all employees have been thrilled by these new laws. In San Francisco, workers report dissatisfaction with the reduced flexibility and opportunities to pick up new shifts.  Yet, this would not be the first time that Chicago follows San Francisco and Seattle’s example.

Just last year, Chicago city passed a paid sick leave law that closely mirrored Seattle’s sick leave ordinance. Also like previous scheduling laws, Chicago’s law excludes unions. This is because these laws are usually union sponsored as a means to encourage non-union employers to unionize.

Overview of Proposed Fair Scheduling Ordinance

There are some major differences between Seattle or San Francisco’s Fair Scheduling Ordinance and the proposed ordinance for Chicago. One of the biggest differences is that Chicago’s ordinance proposes to include nearly every employer in the city while earlier restrictive scheduling laws mainly target retail and food employers.

However, the Chicago ordinance covers any employer with a physical presence in Chicago, who also qualifies for a Chicago business license. It also covers any employee who works at least 2 hours or more in the City of Chicago. The ordinance specifically includes workers at residential locations.

This means that even very small family businesses would be included. Also possibly included would be a family who hires a domestic worker for childcare or household work.

Employer requirements for Chicago’s Fair Scheduling Law

Chicago’s Fair Scheduling Ordinance has several major requirements

  • Employers must provide a “good faith” estimate of hours to be worked and estimated schedule prior to hiring an employee
  • Future employees can request before starting work that employers modify the good faith estimate of hours and schedule. Employers do not have to comply, but must consider the request.
  • New employees must be provided an initial schedule that runs until the posting of the next schedule.

Employers must provide at least 2 weeks notice of schedules and must post them in the workplace or send them electronically to all employees. Further employees can request in writing the electronic method for employers to distribute the schedules and employers must send it vía that method to that specific employee.

Fortunately, SwipeClock provides an Employee Self Service Portal that meets these requirements.

Employee Rights under Scheduling Law

Employees are given several rights under the new secure scheduling law. If their employer changes the schedule with less than 2 weeks notice, then the employee can either deny them or gets paid additional compensation.

Additionally, anytime an employer eliminates 4 hours or less from an employee’s’ schedule, the employer must still pay the employee for those lost hours. When 4 or more hours are eliminated, the employee must still be paid at least 4 hours of compensation pay.

  • Extra hours without advanced notice can be denied by employees
  • Extra compensation for any changes in the schedule
    • Extra Hours with 24+ hours of notice = 1 extra hour of pay
    • One extra hour of pay when an employee extends their shift
    • Reduced hours = 4 hours of compensation pay or the hours of the shift that are eliminated, whichever is less.
    • Changes in scheduled times with no reduction or addition in hours = one extra hour of pay

Exceptions to Employer Penalties for Shift Changes

There are a few situations that are exceptions to employer penalty pay.

  • When the business operations cannot begin or continue due to threats to the employer’s property or the employees.
  • When civil authorities recommend when work not begin or continue.
  • When public utilities fail to supply gas, water, electricity, or a failure in the sewer system.
  • Due to acts of nature such as flood, fire, explosion, tidal wave, drought, war, civil unrest, strikes, or other causes not within control of the Employer
  • When employees mutually agree to swap shifts

Offering Additional Hours to Employees

One of the biggest aspects of the proposed ordinance is the requirements for employers to post and offer additional schedules to employees before hiring more employees or bringing in temporary employees. The Chicago ordinance provides no exceptions to a minimum of 24 hours for employees to respond to extra shifts.

This means that when an employee quits unexpectedly, calls in sick, or fails to show up for a shift, the employer only has 2 choices. Either they can pay an extra hour of premium pay to call another employee in to work, or they can forgo bringing in an extra employee and expect the other employees to absorb the difference. In addition, there are other rules around additional hours.

  • All new hours must first be offered to existing employees (Who are qualified for the work)
  • Employers can divide the hours among employees, but must do so fairly and without discrimination
  • Employers cannot distribute the hours in a way to avoid qualifying employees for the ACA (Affordable Care Act)
  • Employees have 72 hours to respond to requests for work that covers more than 2 weeks
  • Employees have 24 hours to respond to requests for work that is for less than 2 weeks.
  • Employers can either post regarding additional hours or provide a written offer to employees, including on the employer’s website.
    • Employees must have ready access to the employee portal (website)
    • Notice must inform how employees can accept the extra hours
    • Notice must include anticipated shifts and hours
  • Employers must maintain the written offers for at least 3 years

Right To Rest: No Clopenings

Employers will be required to provide employees at least 11 hours between shifts. This prevents the use of clopenings- when an employee closes a business and returns hours later to work an opening shift. If an employee does not get at least 11 hours between shifts, employers must pay the employee time and a half and the employee must agree to the shifts in writing.

  • No less than 11 hours of rest between shifts
  • Less than 11 hours requires premium pay of 1 ½ pay and the employee’s written acceptance

This will eliminate the flexibility that college students and other employees seeking flexible schedules enjoy. In one study, only 13% of part time employees were unhappy with the varying nature of their shifts.

Employees Protected for Requesting Changes and against Retaliation.

Chicago’s proposed law assumes that employees and employers have no current methods of communication and that employees are not able to ask a manager to change their schedules under current laws. It enforces specific communication requests that employees can make.

Employees would have the right to request changes to their schedules, including increased or decreased hours, changes in days worked, or specific hours worked. Employees will also be allowed to request shift swaps with other employees and part year employment. Employers cannot retaliate against employees for requesting these changes. Employers must respond to employee’s requests in writing.

Additionally employees are protected against retaliation for asserting their rights under the proposed ordinance.

This would include discharging, reducing the compensation for the employees, or taking any adverse action against the employee including discipline, suspension, transfer to a lesser position, or any lesser job classification or security. Retaliation prohibited also includes reducing employee hours, denying them additional shifts, or other negative behaviors.

Notices & Posting Requirements for Employers

Chicago City would provide notices of the proposed ordinance, but employers would be required to post the notices in their business locations. Further, the notices must be provided in English and in any other prevalent language used by employees.

  • Notices to be posted at the business location
  • Notices in English and any other prevalent language
  • Provided to New employees upon Hire
  • Must provide employees with employers name, business address, and phone in writing

Payroll Record Retention

Employers must maintain payroll records for at least 5 years. These records must include:

  • Employees name
  • Hours worked
  • Pay rate
  • Initial posted schedule and all changes to that schedule
  • Documentation of time and method for offering additional hours to employees
  • Employers must provide employees this documentation upon request
  • Records must be maintained for 5 years

Proposed Penalties for Non-Compliance

Chicago City will be responsible for the enforcement of the ordinance and to provide rules and clarification around it. Employees have up to 3 years to file a complaint about a violation of this ordinance. The can file complaints with the City. The city can investigate and enforce the ordinance. Methods of enforcement include many aspects:

  • Any remedy available to the City to enforce the ordinance
  • Businesses can become ineligible for City transactions
  • Administrative Fines can be fined to the employer
    • $1,000 for each employee retaliated against
    • $500 for failure to provide notice
    • $500 for failure to provide advanced notice of schedules or changes
    • $500 for failure to provide predictability pay for changes (per employee per day)
    • $500 for failure to offer additional hours to existing employees
    • $500 for failure to providing Right to Rest of 11 hours to employees
    • $500 for failure to respond to employee’s request in writing
    • $500 for notice and posting failures
    • $500 for not maintaining payroll records for required 5 years
    • $500 for not allowing the City to access payroll records
    • Reimbursement of Cities administrative costs of enforcement and attorney’s fees
    • $500 additional sums for repeat offenders, per employee
  • Employees can also pursue remedies through civil action.
    • Employers who lose in civil court would be required to reimburse the employee’s costs and attorney’s fees
    • Pay punitive damages
    • Injunctive relief

Let SwipeClock Help

Businesses in Chicago recently had to adjust to the City’s $0.50 minimum wage increase, the new paid sick leave law, which went into effect in July.

The proposed secure scheduling law would be nearly impossible to maintain compliance without advanced payroll software such as SwipeClock offers.

In addition, these businesses already have to also comply with Federal Overtime Laws, the Family Medical Leave Act and any other national or local laws that are enacted. SwipeClock provides a comprehensive array of workforce management and time tracking tools that can help businesses to more easily stay in compliance with local and national laws.

Records are effortlessly kept for years and accrual is automatically tracked and reported to employees according to the state and city laws. Additionally, with geo-timekeeping clocks, businesses can effortlessly track time worked in specific cities to ensure compliance.


Chicago proposed Fair Scheduling Ordinance

Written by Annemaria Duran. Last updated October 27, 2017

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