Seattle’s Scheduling Ordinance Turns Two Months Old: Are You in Compliance?

Kristina Markosova | August 21, 2017

We are almost two months into Seattle’s new Secure Scheduling Order – has your company come into compliance? The City of Seattle is giving employers a grace period until December 31, 2017 and will not issue any fines during this time (except for egregious violations). However, the Ordinance also creates a private right of action for anyone who has suffered financial injury as a result of a violation of the ordinance, meaning employees can seek recourse in court, so if you have not already done so, employers should strive to come into compliance as soon as possible.

Seattle’s Secure Scheduling Ordinance went into effect on July 1, 2017, shaking up the service industry. Under the new ordinance, retail and food service establishments with 500+ employees worldwide and full-service restaurants with 500+ employees and 40+ full-service restaurant locations worldwide have an additional set of requirements they must meet if they currently do (and want to continue to do) business in Seattle. The law covers hourly employees who work, or report to work, at a fixed point of sale location in Seattle for 50% of the services provided to the employer.

What Retail/Food Industry Employers Should Know: 

The most talked about part of the ordinance is that employers must post work schedules at least 14 days in advance. If an employer adds hours to the employee’s schedule after it is posted, the employer must pay the employee one additional hour of pay at the scheduled rate. 

In addition to the two-week advance notice of schedules, the ordinance sets forth several additional requirements:

Notice Upon Hire. Upon hire, employers must give employees a written good faith estimate of what hours the employee should expect to work.  

An Additional Interactive Process. Under the ordinance, employees may request schedule preferences regarding times and location of work, and employers must engage in an interactive process with employees to discuss these requests. Further, employers must grant a request related to a “major life event,” unless the employer has a bona fide business reason to support denying the request.

Right to Rest. Employers cannot schedule a closing and opening shift separated by less than 10 hours unless an employee requests, or consents, to such hours.  Regardless of request or consent, employers must always pay time-and-a-half for the hours separated by less than 10 hours.

Access to Hours. Before hiring new employees from an external applicant pool or subcontractors, including hiring through the use of temporary services or staffing agencies, an employer must offer additional hours of work to existing employees when those hours become available at their place of work as defined by the employer’s usual and customary business practice.

Last Minute Changes at a Price. If an employer makes changes to an existing work schedule, the change will likely come at a price. Notably, employees are not obligated to accept any additional hours. If an employee does agree to work extra hours or an extra shift, the employer must compensate the employee for an extra hour of work, in addition to the hours actually worked. If the employer’s schedule change reduces an employee’s hours, the employer must pay him or her “one-half times the employee’s scheduled rate of pay per hour” for cancelled hours. In other words, the employer must pay the employee for half of the shift that the employee did not work.

The Seattle Office of Civil Rights oversees compliance with the Secure Scheduling Ordinance and may investigate any reported violations.

For additional information, review SMC 14.22 – Secure Scheduling

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