Earlier this month, Chicago City Council’s Workforce Development Committee advanced the cause for predictable scheduling by introducing the “Fair Workweek Ordinance”. The proposed ordinance would require certain Chicago employers to give workers advance notice of work schedules and pay for last minute changes. While the City Council’s proposed measure has not moved forward, it mirrors a similar proposed State law titled the “Fair Scheduling Act” that the Illinois House tabled earlier this year pending Governor Pritzker’s inauguration.
A recent University of Illinois survey, summarized in the Chicago Tribune, reports that 70 percent of Chicagoans feel that unpredictable work schedules interfere with family and financial obligations. The survey found that over 30 percent get their work schedules less than one week in advance, and that 40 percent said they want to work more hours. Proponents of the bills say they aim to address these issues and assist low-wage workers make ends meet.
The Fair Workweek Ordinance would apply, with some exceptions, to employers with at least 100 workers and to restaurants with more than 250 employees and 30 locations globally. It would cover most workers making less than $50,000 a year.
Employers would initially have to give at least 10 days advance notice of workers’ schedules, increasing to 14 days advance notice within two years.
Employers who change workers’ schedules less than two weeks before a shift would have to provide an hour of “predictability pay” at the workers’ regular wage rate. Cancelations and hours reductions within 24 hours of the start of a scheduled shift would require payment to workers of half what they would have made had they worked as scheduled.
The Ordinance would also give workers the right to decline hours that start less than 10 hours following a prior shift, or time and a half pay if they’re forced to work the hours over their objections.
It would also require employers to offer existing part-time workers more hours before hiring new people – an obligation that could, in certain cases, bump up against employers’ ACA obligations to offer health insurance to full time employees.
Predictable scheduling regulation has strong support in both the Chicago City Council and the Mayor’s office, so this ordinance is likely to pass in the coming months once Mayor Lightfoot and the new Council get to work.
It’s less clear, however, whether Springfield will similarly advance such legislation; the Illinois House paused further action on the proposed Fair Scheduling Act in January of 2019 and has since taken no action on the measure.
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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.