What Is New York’s Fair Workweek Law?

Your job is only one part of your life and outside of it, you have a lot more going on. When you have a set schedule that never changes, it’s easy to plan your life around your shifts. However, many employees in New York City do not have consistent schedules, which can make arranging your tasks outside of work difficult. Not only this, but fluctuating hours can make it extremely hard to budget when you don’t know what kind of pay to expect. Many NYC employees have protections regarding scheduling practices under New York City’s Fair Workweek Law.

In New York City, fast food and retail workers have rights when it comes to their schedules. The Fair Workweek Law gives employees in these industries the right to predictable schedules and more.

Fair Workweek Law for Fast Food Workers

Fast food establishments under the Fair Workweek Law are those that are part of a chain, are one of 30 or more establishments nationally, and are where customers may order food or drinks to eat there, take to go, or order to pick up. The Fair Workweek Law considers employees who work at fast food restaurants and do at least one of the following job tasks as fast food workers:

  • Cleaning
  • Cooking
  • Customer service
  • Food or drink preparation
  • Off-site delivery
  • Routine maintenance duties
  • Security
  • Stocking supplies or equipment

This may include employees, owners, or another company or individual that provides the restaurant with services.

Predictable Scheduling

Fast food employers must give their employees 14 days’ notice of their weekly schedules. Employers may give employees this information on a paper copy or electronically if that’s how they typically communicate.

Changes to schedules – If an employee’s schedule is changed 14 days before the first workday on the schedule, employers are required to pay a schedule change premium. This can be between $10-$75.

Additional time – Fast food workers have the right to say no to working additional time. If they consent to working additional time, employers must get this consent in writing.

Clopening – Clopenings are when employees work back-to-back closing and opening shifts. Employers cannot require employees to work clopenings with less than 11 hours between shifts unless the employee consents. Employers must get this consent in writing and pay a premium of $100.

Available shifts – Employers must offer newly available shifts to current employees before hiring new employees. Employers must also offer available shifts to current employees before adding them to a new employee’s regular schedule. Employees who are laid off or whose hours are reduced because this business is suffering financially or closed must also get priority for available hours when the business is hiring or scheduling more hours.

Progressive discipline – Fast food employers cannot reduce an employee’s regular schedule hours by more than 15% after 30 days of employment without just cause or if the employee has the lowest seniority and the business is struggling financially. Employers must give retraining and an opportunity to improve, unless the employee does something illegal or dangerous, before firing them.

Fair Workweek Law for Retail Workers

NYC’s Fair Workweek Law applies to retail businesses in NYC with 20 or more employees that primarily engage in selling consumer goods. For a business to primarily engage in selling consumer goods, 50% percent of their business transactions in the past 12 months must be selling consumer goods to retail consumers. The law protects all retail employees regardless of job title. However, employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement that waives these rights and addresses scheduling and employees who work in the corporate office are not covered.

Predictable Scheduling

Applicable retail employers must provide their employees with at least 72 hours’ notice of their schedules for the next seven days. These schedules must be posted in the workplace wherever everyone can see and be given to each individual employee. If the employer typically communicates electronically, this is how they must provide employees with their schedules. Otherwise, employers may provide them with a paper copy.

If the schedule changes, the employer must repost the schedule and send new copies to affected employees.

On-call and call-in shifts – On-call shifts, those where an employee is required to be available to work if their employer calls them in, are not allowed for retail workers under the Fair Workweek Act. Likewise, call-in shifts, where an employee is required to check in with their employer within 72 hours of their shift to see they’re needed, are also not allowed.

Working additional time – Retail employees have the right to say no to working additional time of more than 15 minutes if they aren’t given 72 hours’ notice. If an employee accepts taking on additional time with less than 72 hours’ notice, their employee must get their consent in writing.

Shortening and cancellations – In most cases, employers cannot cancel or shorten a shift by more than 15 minutes with less than 72 hours’ notice. There are some exceptions to this, such as a natural disaster and a state of emergency, where employers can cancel shifts without advanced notice.

Protect Your Employee Rights with Brown Kwon & Lam

Employees in New York City have many protections in the workplace. However, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t many employers who will try to violate their employee’s rights. At Brown Kwon & Lam, we have experience protecting the rights of many NYC employees and fighting to get them the fair treatment they deserve.

Contact us today to learn more about how our employee rights attorneys can help.

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