Predictive Scheduling legislation, also known as Fair Scheduling, Fair Workweek, and Secure Scheduling, was designed to protect workers primarily in retail and food service industries who have unpredictable schedules. The legislation sets forth rules and associated penalties to make businesses give sufficient notice of working hours, provide additional pay for changes to that schedule, and/or give time or pay for back-to-back shifts.

The new Fair Scheduling laws are based on the idea that unpredictable schedules make it difficult for employees to budget, arrange for transportation and childcare, and/or do other things with the “captive” time including schooling or a second job. For example, if an employee is considered “on-call”, they can’t make plans for other activities during that time, and if they don’t report to work, lose out on income, thus making the employee captive to the employer, but not getting paid for it.


Fair Scheduling Impact on Employers

The heaviest hit industries are retail and restaurants who depend on flexible scheduling to best meet supply and demand while also maintaining company profitability. Not complying with the new laws can result in penalties that will cut into profits as well, so where is the balance? How do you make Fair Scheduling work?


Schedule Smarter

It may seem impossible to create a schedule two-weeks in advance and not make changes to it. However, being proactive, rather than reactive, is a business tool and philosophy that moves managers out of the mode of “putting out fires”.

Start with getting employee availability nailed down and asking all employees to commit to it. Put the burden of shift change needs on them. Consider a process that audits availability on a regular basis, especially if you have students with changing class schedules on your staff.

Seeing employee availability on a regular basis will also clue you into staff who miss or trade shifts in a pattern, so you can address it before it becomes a bigger problem. With these new laws in place, you may not be able to hire immediately, so watch for the employees who are reliable and those who aren’t. Profitability will come down to having the right people in the right places, rather than bodies filling schedule holes.


Give Time

Once you have availability, work to create consistency by posting schedules with as much notice as possible. Of course, there will always be conflicts, but with lots of notice, it is easy to make a shift swap, as well as schedule their personal tasks outside of work hours. Posting a monthly schedule, for example, could help employees to schedule a needed dental or medical appointment.  It may also help employees see upcoming holidays where they may want to change shifts and they can put in time off requests with extra notice rather than waiting until the last minute. It may be a process that takes some extra effort to implement, but in the long run, it will help everyone to be more secure.


Get Information

Use technology and data to prepare for fluctuations in staffing needs. What was trending last year at this time? How about the last three years? What has changed that may impact sales? What is causing the under-staffing? What is causing over-staffing? Rather than sending staff home, what other tasks could they complete that are needed? What are your scheduling variances – that is, when was an employee scheduled versus what they actually worked and why is there a difference?

All these questions will help to create a pattern of predictability. Likely, management is doing this on some level, but in order to keep profitability and comply with labor law, there is a need to make this even clearer. Many companies are turning to technology to help them with data-driven decision making to manage their labor costs.


Let Employees Help Each Other

Build processes that make it easy for employees to change shifts with each other, see open shifts, and communicate safely. Protocol that empowers employees to fix their own problematic schedules and then seek management for approval, will save a lot of headaches over those which require managers to do all the juggling.

Consider who you may be able to cross train so shift swapping can be more successful. Employees who are sent home for being “un-needed” feel the effect on their morale as well as on their pocketbook. Source:

Instead, cross training can create an opportunity for the staff to do different tasks, rather than be sent home. Consider what other tasks can be completed when it is a slow sales day, that will create a win-win scenario for both the employer and employee.

If “on-call” staffing is critical for business, consider posting opportunities for backup shifts that employees can choose in order to pick up extra hours. These can be last minute call-in opportunities for them. By shifting the process from one where they are held captive to one where they volunteer to work, staffing needs can be met, penalties can be avoided, and additional income is available for the flexible employee.


Need more help with getting Fair Scheduling to work? Zuus Workforce is a worldwide resource for labor compliance and labor optimization for the retail, restaurant, hospitality, security, healthcare, and manufacturing industries. Have questions about how they can support you? Contact them today.