New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio recently signed a package of legislation known as the “Fair Workweek” bills, which will take effect on many of the city’s fast-food chains and retailers starting in November 2017. The package, comprised of five separate bills, includes the following (the first four of which apply specifically to fast-food eateries, and the last to retailers more generally):
- 1396-A: When new fast-food employees are hired, employers will be required to provide them with good faith estimates of their work schedules. For both new and existing employees, employers will also have to provide all workers with 14 days’ notice of their actual schedules. In addition to providing the schedule directly to the individual employees, employers must clearly post that schedule in the workplace. If changes are subsequently made to the schedule, the impacted employees must be paid a bonus ranging between $10 and $75 per instance depending upon how close in time to the shift the change occurs and whether the change is increasing or decreasing the shift time/hours. Notably, an employee is not required to work additional hours that were not included in the initial schedule, and any consent to do so must be memorialized in writing.
- 1388-A: Fast-food employees will no longer be forced to work consecutive shifts where they close one day and open the next unless at least 11 hours have elapsed between the conclusion and the start of the shifts. However, in the event that an employee consents in writing to work such a consecutive shift, the employer will be required to compensate the employee an additional $100.
- 1384-A: Fast-food employees will be able to direct their employers, in writing, to take deductions from their paychecks in order to make voluntary contributions to non-profit organizations. It will be the employer’s obligation to then remit payment directly to the selected non-profit. Employers, however, are not required to honor an employee’s request for such contributions unless the amount designated by the employee is at least $3 per week.
- 1395-A: Fast-food employers will be required to offer additional work shifts to existing workers before hiring new employees to fill those shifts. Notice of such shifts must be visibly posted in the workplace for a minimum of 3 days. Only if the extra shifts are rejected by existing employees or would subject the employer to paying existing employees overtime can the employer hire additional employees.
- 1387-A: For retailers employing at least 20 employees in NYC, “on-call” shifts will be banned. Absent specific exceptions (such as natural disasters or requests by employees for time-off or to swap shifts with other employees), retailers will also be prohibited from cancelling or altering work schedules within 3 days of the start of the shift, and such employee schedules will need to be posted at the workplace at least 3 days before the start of the shift.
The Fair Workweek legislation will largely be enforced by the New York City Department of Community Affairs’ Office of Labor Policy and Standards. In certain instances, employees will also have standing to pursue private complaints in court.
While the legislation will not become effective until November, the New York State Restaurant Association has already expressed strong concerns about the impact it will have on the fast-food industry. Not only does it fear that employees may lose flexibility and the ability to maximize their earning potential, but also that employers will likely face increased costs, penalties and administrative complications.