Illinois metropolis becomes fourth US city to require advance notice of work schedules

As we predicted here, the Chicago City Council passed the “Chicago Fair Workweek Ordinance” on July 26, 2019. The Ordinance replaces a similar predictable scheduling ordinance that had been proposed and tabled earlier this year. It aims to curtail employers’ use of so-called “standby time” work scheduling practices that often result in wide, unpredictable fluctuations in workers’ work hours and income from week to week.

Here are a few of the most notable aspects of the Ordinance:

  • It covers employers in the retail, hotel, manufacturing, restaurant, building services warehouse and health care industries.
  • It will apply to businesses that have at least 100 global employees, 50 of whom are eligible to be covered by the city’s scheduling rules. Initially, workers who earn less than $26 per hour, or $50,000 per year, will be covered; the wage thresholds for coverage will increase each year in proportion to the increase in the Consumer Price Index. The Ordinance also prohibits employers from attempting to avoid triggering coverage of the Ordinance by changing workers’ pay, or by hiring, rehiring, firing, or suspending (even temporarily) workers, among other specified prohibited acts.
  • It imposes a variety of new workplace posting and record retention requirements.
  • It will require employers to provide workers upon hire with a good faith estimate in writing of their projected work schedule, their anticipated number of weekly work hours, and whether they can expect to work any on-call shifts. It will also require employers to respond in writing to requests made by new hires to modify their projected work schedule.
  • It will require employers to post work schedules no later than 10 days before the first day of any new work schedule (expanding to 14 days after June 30, 2022). Employees who are victims of domestic violence or sexual assault or who have a family or household member who is a victim may request that their schedule not be posted.
  • Should an employer ask a worker to work previously unscheduled hours that are later added to the schedule without providing the above 10 (or 14) day notice, it must allow the worker the right to decline the hours. An employer must also pay workers a premium rate of 125% their regular rate of pay for shifts that begin less than 10 hours after the end of their previous day’s shift or allow the worker to decline such “short turnaround” shifts.
  • With few exceptions, an employer must pay one hour of “predictability pay” (calculated at the worker’s “regular rate” of pay), to each shift in which the employer alters a worker’s work schedule less than 10 days (or, after June 30, 2022 ,14 days) in advance, to either add hours to a shift, change the date or time of a shift, or (with less than 24-hour notice) cancel or shorten a shift.
  • When an employer needs to fill additional shifts of work, it must first offer the work to existing workers who are qualified to do the work before hiring new workers, and also must distribute the hours in a manner that does not discriminate based on race, color, creed, religion, ancestry, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, age or marital or family status. When practicable, existing part-time workers must be offered the time first – an obligation that could, in certain cases, bump up against employers’ ACA obligations to offer health insurance to full time employees.
  • Employers who violate the ordinance may be fined between $300 to $500 per offense. Workers may also sue employers for violations and collect damages, including reasonable attorney fees.

Stay tuned to this blog for more guidance on the Chicago Fair Workweek Ordinance in the months ahead, as well as updates on efforts in Springfield to advance similar predictable scheduling legislation statewide.

The full text of the ordinance can be found here.


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Gary Savine is an Illinois employment lawyer and founder of Savine Employment Law, Ltd. in Chicago. Gary regularly advises human resources professionals on recently enacted employment laws.