Predictive scheduling is fast becoming a hot topic in the restaurant industry. As a growing number of municipalities table and approve legislative changes around scheduling practices, many restaurateurs are wondering: how will predictive scheduling impact my business?
This guide is designed to help you stay in front of predictive scheduling changes and make sure your restaurant is fully compliant.
What is predictive scheduling?
Predictive scheduling—also known as fair scheduling, secure scheduling, predictable scheduling, or restrictive scheduling—is legislation designed to protect shift workers in the hospitality and retail sectors by mandating scheduling practices. While ordinances may vary between states or municipalities, most will include stipulations about things like:
- How far in advance staff must know their scheduled shifts
- Predictability pay for schedule changes or cancellations
- Minimum hours between shifts (to eliminate the contentious clopen)
- “Good faith” hours estimates for new hires
- Employee rights to refuse or request shifts
- Private rights of action
Which cities have enacted predictive scheduling legislation?
So far, three major U.S. cities have put predictive scheduling laws into effect: San Francisco, Seattle, and New York City. Oregon’s predictive scheduling legislation is slated to come online mid-2018, and more than a dozen others are in the queue. Even the U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division is investigating scheduling entitlements—proof that predictive scheduling is here to stay.
Predictive scheduling legislation: An overview
|City||Policy (Year)||Who it impacts||Conditions|
|San Francisco||Formula Retail Employee Right Ordinance (2014)||Franchises with 40+ locations globally and 20+ employees in San Francisco||
|Seattle||Secure Scheduling Ordinance (2016)||Retail and fast food operations with 500+ employees globally, and full-service operations with 500+ employee and 40+ restaurants globally||
|New York City||“Fair Workweek” Package (2017)||Restaurants with 30+ U.S. locations||
Where did predictive scheduling come from?
The food service industry has recently been hit with a wave of employee-friendly legislation: beyond predictive scheduling, there is also the Fight For Fifteen, a push to increase the national minimum wage to $15.00 per hour. Understandably, changes like these put pressure on restaurateurs to keep up with constant changes while optimizing labor costs and, of course, running a profitable operation.
What’s motivating these legislative changes? Ultimately, they are efforts to promote stability, security, and a healthier work-life balance for workers. According to a study by the Economic Policy Institute, about 17% of the American workforce deal with unstable shift schedules on an ongoing basis, a reality that increases the likelihood of work-family conflict and working longer hours each week to make ends meet. For these employees, it can be next to impossible to plan for childcare, social activities, or simple errands like running to the bank or grocery store.
For some, there is inherent appeal in restaurants’ traditionally flexible schedules; for others, it precludes wage stability and a balanced lifestyle. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that less than 20% of early career adults paid by the hour felt they had control over their schedules. On average, schedules fluctuated by more than a full, 8-hour working day per month; this loss hits hard for someone working for minimum wage.
While it’s clear the ways employees benefit from predictive scheduling legislation, the good news is there are advantages for employers, too. In 2017, the average restaurant published their staff schedule only 2.44 days in advance, leaving little room for changes to be made. Sending out schedules two weeks in advance will likely require managers to change up their approach, but this up-front time investment also provides some predictability in terms of wages and operations. What’s more, involving employees in the scheduling process can improve job satisfaction, which may in turn impact retention rates (a huge win for restaurants given the costs associated with employee turnover).
How to prepare for predictive scheduling
As mentioned, the introduction of predictive scheduling legislation creates opportunities for employees to take a more active role in building and managing their schedules. For example, part of this new process requires that employers give “preferential treatment” to requests concerning transportation, childcare, other work, and training; however, a lack of clarity around how to prioritize these requests can be both problematic and confusing.
Whether your city has already seen legislative reform or you’re keen to take a front foot on the issue and start to modify your scheduling practices (for example, some franchises have started moving away from “on-call” work), staying ahead of the curve will protect you and your restaurant from legal recourse.
Here are two simple ways to prepare for predictive scheduling:
- Keep a paper trail. In most cases, business owners are required to keep at least three years’ worth of shift compliance records. Between time-off requests, shift changes, scheduling revisions, and other scheduling data, the paperwork can really start to pile up. Make proper documentation a priority and habit at your restaurant.
- Bring your employee scheduling online. Remember that mountain of paperwork we talked about? Investing in employee scheduling software digitizes and automates time-intensive scheduling tasks like account activity logs and reporting to help you breathe easier. Not only is online scheduling an effective labor management tool, features like chat and the ability to submit availability and switch shifts at the click of a button benefit your team, too.