New York City Fast Food and Retail Workers Look Forward to Fair Scheduling and Work Hours

by | June 6, 2017 | Overtime Law, Wage & Hour

New York City workers and employee advocates cheered as the city last week passed legislation designed to protect some of its most vulnerable workers.  After being approved by the City Council on May 24, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed the Fair Work Week legislative package into law on May 30, 2017, stating that “thousands of people are going to gain the stability and the respect they deserve [under the legislation].”

The Fair Work Week legislation creates a new chapter in the New York City Administrative Code to regulate the scheduling and work hours of fast food and retail workers in NYC.  The purpose of the Fair Work Week legislative package, as described by New York City Council Speaker Mark-Vivertio, is “to protect and enhance basic employment rights and to address many of the work-related challenges faced by those trying to make a living in fast food and retail.”

After the law goes into effect on November 26, 2017, fast food employees must be given reasonable advance notice of their schedules.  In addition to requiring employers to provide fast food workers written notice of their first work schedule no later than their first day, fast food employers are required to provide employees notice of subsequent schedules at least 14 days before the first day of any new schedule.

The Fair Work Week legislation recognizes that last minute schedule changes may occur, but in such situations, employees are entitled to premium pay.  For example, if a fast food employer changes the scheduled start time for an employee’s shift with less 7 days’ notice, the worker is entitled a $15 premium in addition to her regular pay.  And, if a fast food worker’s shift is canceled or reduced in length less than 24 hours in advance, the employee is entitled to a payment of $75.

Further, under the new legislation, a fast food employer cannot require an employee to work two back-to-back shifts with fewer than 11 hours between the end of the first shift and the beginning of the second shift.  Should a fast food worker agree to work such hours, she is entitled to premium pay of $100.

In addition, the Fair Work Week legislation restricts New York City retail employers from either scheduling retail employees to on-call shifts or changing their schedules with less than 72-hour advance notice.

The Fair Work Week legislation is the latest effort by New York to protect some of its most vulnerable workers.  In 2015, New York passed regulation providing that the minimum wage for fast food employees in New York City would be increased on a yearly basis, ultimately reaching $15.00 by 2019.

After the law becomes effective, employees may remedy violations of the Fair Work Week legislation by contacting NYC’s Office of Labor Policy & Standards (OLPS) or through private civil action.  New York City fast food and retail employers would thus be wise to become quickly familiar with the law.  You can be sure that employment lawyers are studying the Fair Work Week law in anticipation of future calls from clients.

A copy of the newly created chapter of the NYC Administrative Code regulating fair work practices can be found here.