The controversial New York City Fair Workweek laws are scheduled to go into effect on November 26, 2017 at the conclusion of Thanksgiving weekend.  We previously blogged about the new laws shortly after their enactment earlier this year (post available here).  The legislation package, consisting of 5 bills, will directly impact New York City fast food restaurants and retailers by curtailing employers’ flexibility to establish and modify employee work schedules, among other limitations.

Some of the key changes impacting operators in the fast food industry include the following:

  • Employers will be required to provide “good faith estimates” of anticipated work schedules for all new hires.
  • Employers will be forced to provide all fast food workers with at least 14 days’ notice of their actual work schedules. Those schedules must then be conspicuously posted and displayed in the workplace.  Subsequent modifications will subject the employer to a range of monetary penalties payable to the affected employee(s).
  • Absent written consent by the employee (and an additional $100 in compensation), “clopen” schedules (closing a restaurant one night and opening the following morning) will be banned unless at least 11 hours have elapsed between shifts.
  • Employers will be required to offer additional work shifts to existing employees before hiring new workers to fill those shifts.
  • Fast food employees will be permitted to voluntarily direct employers, in writing, to take deductions from their paychecks (of at least $3 per week) in order to make contributions to non-profits; it will then be the employers’ obligation to remit payment to the designated non-profit .

In addition to the changes specific to the fast food industry, after November 26 all New York City retailers with at least 20 employees will be barred from scheduling “on-call” shifts and cancelling/altering work schedules within 72 hours of an employee’s scheduled shift start.

With the Fair Workweek legislation becoming effective only a few weeks from now, New York City fast food restaurateurs and retailers are strongly encouraged to consult with their legal advisors and reform their scheduling protocol and procedures.  Failing to do so may unnecessarily expose them to otherwise avoidable fines and penalties for violating the new laws.