Trending: Be on Lookout for Predictive Scheduling Laws

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Several major cities (and one West Coast state) recently adopted predictive scheduling laws, which require employers to post work schedules more than 1 week in advance. While we haven’t yet seen an influx of laws for the rest of the nation, you should pay attention because the trend is an employee-friendly response to the last-minute scheduling approach dominating industries in which customer demand is uncertain, such as restaurants and retail stores.

Potential Impact on Employees

When employers create last-minute work schedules or make late changes, employees can suffer unintended consequences. Sometimes, they make the time and effort to arrive at work only to learn they’re no longer needed. Or a worker might not be on the original schedule, but the employer later adds her without checking availability. If she doesn’t come in for the newly scheduled shift, the incident can be treated as a “no-call, no-show,” resulting in discipline.

Most predictive scheduling laws tend to focus on service industries that rely on an hourly workforce, including retail, food service, hospitality, and janitorial work. At least until the COVID-19 pandemic hit, they were some of the fastest-growing industries in the United States, employing tens of millions of employees. Some data indicate one-third of all workers and more than one-half of all hourly workers get their schedules with less than a week’s notice.

All in the Timing

Predictive scheduling supporters say the system has many benefits. With advanced notice about schedules, workers can plan for childcare and pursue education and training opportunities that require steady schedules. Reliability also helps stabilize income so workers can budget effectively.

Many service industry workers have more than one job, but unpredictable schedules can lead to uncertainty because they don’t know if they should fill their time with other work from a second (or third) job. Lower-income workers can even lose opportunities for public benefits because they can’t accurately report income due to the wage fluctuations caused by last-minute scheduling changes.

Proponents also argue both employees and businesses could benefit from the laws. The stress and worry of last-minute scheduling can drain productivity and increase turnover. Predictive scheduling could reduce both problems. More reliable schedules would likely contribute to higher job satisfaction, greater organizational loyalty, and lower absenteeism, leading in turn to lower expenses associated with the never-ending cycle of recruiting, hiring, and training new employees.

But, predictive scheduling laws can certainly have downsides. Allowing employers to make late changes to schedules can help businesses avoid paying for more workers than they actually need. For example, if an unexpected weather event leads to lower restaurant traffic on a Friday night, a predicative scheduling law may prevent the employer from canceling shifts or allowing employees to leave early—or at least prevent the employer from being required to pay for the canceled and early-ending shifts.

Predictive scheduling laws also often require businesses to adopt computerized automated scheduling systems that need training and steep fees to purchase and use. And the cons affect workers, too. Some employees say predictive scheduling laws make it difficult for them to make last-minute schedule changes and could prevent opportunities to pick up additional shifts when they could use the extra income….

Source: HR Daily Advisor

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