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Chicago Joins Other Cities in Passing a Fair Workweek Law

Published by and on September 18, 2019

Chicago is the next city to pass an ordinance which places requirements on certain employers regarding scheduling practices.

On July 24, 2019, the Chicago City Council voted to pass a fair workweek law. This law will apply to employers with 100 or more employees (including any employees outside of Chicago), and at least 50 “covered” employees and who are primarily engaged in a covered industry (building services, healthcare, hotels, manufacturing, restaurants, retail, or warehouse services industry). “Covered” employees are defined as employees who spend the majority of their time working within Chicago; work in a covered industry; and earn $50,000 or less per year (if salaried) or $26.00 per hour or less (if hourly).

The ordinance requires employers to provide covered employees upon hire with a good-faith estimate in writing of each employee’s projected days and hours of work for the first 90 days of employment. Employers must also post the work schedule at least 10 days before the new schedule. (This requirement increases to 14 days starting July 1, 2022.) Changes to the schedule after these deadlines are subject to further requirements.

An employee may decline any previously unscheduled hours added to his or her schedule less than 10 days (or less than 14 days starting July 1, 2022) before the first day of any new schedule. If more hours are added after these deadlines, employees shall receive—in addition to their regular rate of pay—one hour of “predictability pay” for each shift in which the employer adds hours of work, changes the date or time of a work shift, or cancels a shift with more than 24 hours’ notice.

If a shift or hours are canceled with less than 24 hours’ notice, the employer must pay the employee at least 50% of the employee’s regular rate of pay for any scheduled hours that are canceled. There are a few exceptions to these requirements, including acts of nature, mutually agreed upon schedule changes between employees or an employee and the employer, changes requested by an employee, decreased hours as discipline, or the cancellation of an event due to circumstances outside the employer’s control.

Employers must also offer additional work hours that need to be filled to existing employees before offering to temporary or seasonal workers. Furthermore, employees may refuse hours that begin less than 10 hours after the end of their previous shift and if employees accept these hours, they are entitled to 1.25 times their regular rate of pay for that shift.

The ordinance requires employers to provide notice to employees of their rights under the law and prohibits retaliation against employees who exercise their rights. Employers may receive fines of $300-500 per offense, and employees may file a private cause of action under the chapter. The ordinance goes into effect on July 1, 2020.

Welter Insight

The trend toward passing fair workweek laws shows no signs of stopping as more and more jurisdictions are considering and passing fair workweek laws. Employers in jurisdictions that have already passed fair workweek laws must follow the applicable requirements, but employers not specifically affected by fair workweek laws should closely monitor the trend and may want to start thinking about how their company could comply should such a law pass in their jurisdiction.

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