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New Seattle Law Aims to Protect Workers from Erratic Schedules

New Seattle Law Aims to Protect Workers from Erratic Schedules Image courtesy of www.seattletimes.com

A new law that went into effect last week billed as the “secure scheduling law,” essentially protects workers in Seattle from dealing with erratic schedules. According to a news report in the Seattle Times, the law applies to retail, food services or drinking establishments in the city with 500 or more employees worldwide. Under this new law, employers are required to provide each employee with a written forecast of median hours per workweek.

What the Law States

Before the work schedule is posted, employer must grant schedule requests related to major life events such as those relating to health, caregiving, housing and transportation. Employers should also give hourly employees their schedules 14 days in advance and pay time-and-a-half for any hours worked between closing and opening shifts that are separated by less than 10 hours. The law, which was passed by the City Council last September, is intended to help retail and food service workers who have complained in the past that they suffer from erratic and unpredictable work schedules.

The law was sparked by a New York Times story about how scheduling software was causing chaos in many workers’ lives. A Starbucks barista was prominently featured in that article. Workers at other companies subsequently shared their stories including getting notice of their work schedules just a day in advance, and getting far fewer hours than they requested or expected.

Other retailers have also come under fire for their on-call scheduling practices. Employers including Starbucks, Safeway, QFC, Macy’s, Nordstrom, Costco, REI, Red Robin, IHOP, McDonald’s, Subway, and Denny’s are examples of companies that would be covered under this new law.

Compliance Will Be Key

It remains to be seen how well employers will follow the law and how good city officials will be about following through and making sure employers comply with the law. We hope there is a good reporting system where employees can confidentially report violations and good protections in place for employees who blow the whistle on employers who violate the law.

In California, our law firm has represented a number of workers in wage class action lawsuits for not being paid what they are owed or for being made to work additional hours without meal breaks. These types of laws are necessary to ensure to enhance workers’ quality of life and to help make sure that their employers do not exploit them. If you or a loved one has faced unfair treatment from your employer, contact an experienced California employment attorney to explore your legal rights and options.

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