Cities in the United States are addressing the needs of low-wage workers through fair workweek ordinances. The ordinances seek to help workers in industries like restaurant and retail receive predictable work schedules and pay.

Restaurant and retail workers are typically low-wage earners who find themselves at a disadvantage managing a budget when work and pay are often inconsistent from week to week. Personal obligations, such as child pick-up or medical appointments, become problematic when work cannot be predicted and may come with less than 24 hours’ notice. Securing a second job, which is often required to make ends meet, becomes a challenge under those conditions.

Cities that have recently adopted fair workweek ordinances include Emeryville, California, and New York City, and Oregon recently became the first state to pass this type of legislation, requiring businesses to provide a week’s notice of job schedules and provide a minimum of 10 hours of rest between shifts.

Employers in San Francisco and Seattle have fair workweek rules to follow as well. San Francisco was the first major city to pass an ordinance related to predictable work schedules, though it was specifically related to the care of a family member. It has since added a fair workweek ordinance for retail workers. Seattle passed a similar ordinance last year with a July 1 effective date.

The Opportunity to Work initiative in San Jose doesn’t address schedules but does require employers to offer qualified part-time employees additional hours of work prior to hiring new workers. Most of the fair workweek ordinances also have this requirement.

Employers should note that these regulations often include predictability pay which is pay based on an employee’s regular rate of pay provided to an employee when shift changes occur outside the ordinances’ rules. Pay attention to the formulas for calculating the regular rate of pay and the specific circumstances under which this pay is required.

For details, including which employers are covered under each ordinance, check out the city and state websites linked below and consult with an employment attorney to ensure you have accurately interpreted and applied these new workplace regulations.

Effective date Jurisdiction More information
Jan 1, 2014 San Francisco Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance
Oct 3, 2015 San Francisco Formula Retail Employee Rights Ordinances
Mar 13, 2017 San Jose Opportunity to Work
Jul 1, 2017 Emeryville Fair Workweek Ordinance
Jul 1, 2017 Seattle Secure Scheduling
Nov 26, 2017 New York City Fast Food Advance Notice of Work & Schedule Change Premium
Fast Food Employers Offer Work Shifts to Current Employees
Fast Food Ban on Consecutive Shifts
Retail On-call Scheduling & Advance Notice of Work Schedules
Jul 1, 2018 Oregon SB 828 Relating to employee work schedules