Decoding New York City’s Fair Workweek Law and what it means for you

New York City and State are joining a growing number of regions moving to implement laws that protect shift workers. Late last year, the Fair Workweek Law was introduced to set out shift scheduling guidelines for employees in retail and hospitality. The law has a rather specific impact on the management of affected businesses. Here is how it works and how you can stay compliant.

The Fair Workweek Law covers employees who perform at least one of the following tasks at a fast food establishment in NYC: customer service, cooking, food or drink preparation, delivery, security, stocking supplies or equipment, cleaning, or routine maintenance.

It also covers retail employees. This refers to retail businesses where more than 50% of sales transactions go to retail consumers in a calendar year at one or more locations in New York City. Retail businesses that do not meet this definition are not subject to the Law.

Employers are required to provide employees with a written notice of work schedules (Good Faith Estimate) containing all an employee’s scheduled shifts. The rules provide that, on or before an employee’s first day of work, the employer must provide an initial work schedule containing all shifts the employee will work until the start of the first shift on the next work schedule. The employer must also issue an updated work schedule as required by the advance scheduling provisions of the Law.

In addition, the law provides that employers must pay an amount between $10 and $75 in “premium pay” for any changes to an employee’s schedule that is made less than two weeks in advance. A schedule change premium is required when the total change to a shift exceeds 15 minutes.

Furthermore, an employer must pay the employee a $100 premium if the employee is involved in both the opening and closing of the establishment. This is known as a “clopening shift”. It involves working two shifts over two days when the first shift ends and there is less than 11 hours between shifts.

The employer must secure written consent from the employee for all shift changes.

Employers must retain the electronic compliance records described below for the noted period of time. If an employer fails to retain or produce records, employees receive a “rebuttable presumption” in their favor when they bring their complaint in court. This means that the burden will be on employers to show they did not violate the law.

Employers must retain records of: worker hours each week, each worker’s shifts worked, including date, time, and location, Good Faith Estimates of work hours provided to workers, Workers’ written consent to work clopenings and to schedule changes when required. You must also retain each written schedule provided to workers and all premium payments to workers, including dates and amounts.

All of these records must be retained for three years. These new compliance requirements put a pretty hefty burden of record keeping on the business owner to stay in compliance. This is where technology can be imperative in documenting and facilitating your compliance.

Deputy and Xero can make predictive scheduling a breeze:

  • Trade shifts: as a requirement of the Fair Workweek, trading shifts between employees is easy BUT employees can only trade shifts with others that are trained, available, and won’t exceed overtime or other compliance rules.
  • Send schedules electronically: publish employee schedules using text messaging, email and push notifications to instantly alert your team so they know exactly when and where they should be.
  • Monitor penalties: automatically detect and add Premiums (penalties) to the timecard for manager review and approval. Submit to payroll with a click.
  • Make your schedule visible: deploy schedules to your employees and managers in a few days, eliminating exposure of non-compliance.  

This post serves as a cursory overview of the law. For more information, consult with your trusted accounting professional.

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