May 23, 2019

What predictive scheduling legislation means for your restaurant

Ready or not, predictive scheduling regulations are coming to your restaurant. As a growing number of cities and states pass fair workweek laws, restaurants across the nation will soon face new requirements when creating employee schedules. Predictive scheduling laws provide greater stability for service sector employees, and that’s a good thing. But they also create compliance headaches for employers, especially since regulations vary by geography. With a lot on the line for both your restaurants and your employees, you’ll need a digital response to wrangle the complexity of shift management and give your employees greater control over the scheduling process.Predictive scheduling legislation introduces scheduling difficulties for restaurants
Predictive scheduling preserves employees’ quality of life by allowing them to more effectively plan their personal lives. It reduces the uncertainty associated with “on-call” scheduling practices, giving workers greater visibility into the hours they are actually required to work in the coming weeks.In today’s economy, it’s not uncommon for restaurant employees to hold down multiple jobs. Predictive scheduling regulations also enable employees to juggle work schedules for several employers at once — an impossible feat if the employee is required to pick up shifts at the last minute.Several U.S. jurisdictions have already enacted fair workweek legislation, including New York City, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, and the state of Oregon. Other jurisdictions, like Illinois and Chicago, are expected to pass predictive scheduling laws in the near future.


Like other employment regulations, predictive scheduling requirements are not uniform—they vary by state and municipality. However, recently passed laws cover a range of scheduling and pay-related issues, including:

  • Advance scheduling: Employers must provide employee schedules at least two weeks in advance.
  • Schedule changes: Making no changes to the employee schedule with less than seven days notice is prohibited. Changes made with less than seven days notice require employers to provide the employee one to four paid hours as a penalty.
  • On-call scheduling practices: On-call employees must be paid two to four hours if they are not required to work.
  • Clopening: Employees are entitled to a 10-hour rest between shifts to prevent “clopening” — a practice in which an employee closes a location at night and opens it the next morning. Any hours worked during the 10-hour rest window must be paid time-and-a-half.

Schedule instability wreaks havoc on an individual’s personal and financial well-being. Predictive scheduling laws reduce uncertainty and are beneficial to restaurant employers as well as workers — happy employees mean happy customers. The problem is that restaurant managers must consider dozens of variables when they develop a shift schedule. Fluctuations in demand, staff turnover and other challenges make advance scheduling even more difficult. But restaurants must adapt to the reality of predictive scheduling, and regulatory complexity means manual scheduling practices are no longer an option. To keep pace with current and future legislation, restaurant employers need technologies built to handle the rigors of sophisticated scheduling routines and increasingly complex regulatory requirements.

Digital workplace platforms manage the complexity of predictive scheduling regulations
Going forward, the demands of predictive scheduling will require restaurant employers to embrace technology as a fundamental resource for managing when and how often employees work. With penalties for non-compliance potentially jeopardizing bottom-line performance, it’s critical to push for full compliance with predictive scheduling regulations as soon as possible.

In the current technology marketplace, digital workplace platforms offer the best solution for restaurants that need to quickly achieve compliance with location-specific predictive scheduling requirements. Key compliance-related benefits of advanced digital workplace platforms include:

  • Self-service gives employees control over scheduling. Digital workplace technologies enable advance scheduling by giving employees greater control over their own schedules — employees can accept or refuse shifts based on their availability. On the employer side, managers can customize digital workplace solutions to comply with relevant predictable scheduling regulations and prohibit incidents of on-call scheduling.
  • Digital recordkeeping creates a transparent record of events. Predictive scheduling compliance is as much about accurate recordkeeping as it is about policy. By archiving employee actions like accepting, refusing, or swapping shifts, digital workplaces create a digital record of events. The technology documents behaviors and verifies your restaurant’s compliance with predictive scheduling laws.
  • Digital workplaces lead to more effective labor forecasting. An indirect benefit of digital workplace technology is that it makes you more aware of your restaurant’s labor requirements. Advanced technologies preserve agile scheduling routines, and shine a light on trends and insights that improve scheduling efficiency on a go-forward basis.

Although the right technology is essential for compliance, it’s important to recognize that on-call scheduling and other predictive scheduling concerns are policy issues. Your operation must develop policies that instruct managers to avoid withholding shifts until the last minute, provide employees advance notice of their schedules and limit schedule changes.

Ultimately, predictive scheduling laws represents a win-win for your restaurant. By adapting the way you manage shift schedules, you can improve your employees’ well being. And with a digital workplace to manage complexity, you can create opportunities for a more efficient and effective scheduling process.

Mike Zorn / FastCasual

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