If you employ hourly workers in San Francisco, Seattle, New York City, Washington D.C. or anywhere across the state of Oregon, you probably already know about the new predictive scheduling regulations that have been rolling out over the past five years. Many other municipalities – including Philadelphia, which passed its own Fair Workweek bill in December – are pursuing similar legislation that will require quick service restaurants, retailers and hospitality businesses to provide advanced scheduling notice and other accommodations to front line workers.
However, the benefits of these Fair Workweek laws don’t come without a cost. For small businesses, compliance can be tedious, complicated and time-consuming (especially if they’ve taken a “just-in-time” or paper-based approach to scheduling in the past). However, if employers don’t comply with their city or state’s regulations, they could face steep fines.
Whether you’re currently struggling with compliance, anticipating new Fair Workweek ordinances in your city, or wanting to proactively evolve your practices, there are three key things you can do to make the most of predictive scheduling:
1. Bring transparency and predictability to workers’ schedules.
Predictive scheduling laws typically require you to inform employees of their schedules a week or two prior to upcoming shifts. This might be a major change if your current process is to stick a hastily prepared paper schedule on your workroom bulletin board just before the coming week. It’s becoming increasingly important to share schedules in advance, at consistent time(s) during the month, and with all employees at once. What’s great about this is teams who have more time to swap shifts when necessary tend to experience fewer missed shifts and last minute call-outs – which can be very disruptive to service levels.
2. Offer flexibility through shift coverage opportunities and change requests.
Some regulations also require you to maintain a volunteer standby list for employees who want to work extra shifts beyond their typical hours, and then give equal notice to this group for all coverage opportunities. Under these rules, managers can no longer send one-off texts to their “go-to” team members every time they need a shift covered. Rather, they should have a clear digital process that everyone can use each time they need time off or want to pick up a shift. Crew’s real-time scheduling capabilities can help bring equity to the inevitable scheduling changes that occur in every service business.
3. Save time by improving documentation and record-keeping.
One of the biggest headaches of Fair Workweek compliance is meeting documentation requirements. Under most laws, you’re expected to keep documentation on schedule notices and all changes – whether initiated by team members or managers – for a three-year period. This is nearly impossible if you’re relying on paper-based schedules and ad hoc phone calls or text messages for back-and-forth communication between managers and shift workers. Here again, a digital tool that maintains records on all scheduling-related communications and decisions will prepare you for future audits or compliance inquiries.
We’ve worked with many companies to help them implement predictive scheduling best practices, including one Burger King franchise group in New York City, whose COO said:
“If we didn’t have the platform in place, we would have definitely struggled with Fair Workweek audits. Thankfully, we’re ahead of the game because Crew gives us everything we need to demonstrate scheduling compliance.”
Of course, the end goal of these initiatives is to establish modern policies that ensure predictable hours for part-time workers and give them control over when and how much they work. This is a great and important step forward for the millions of people juggling multiple part-time jobs while trying to arrange childcare, go to school, or simply plan their household budget. Better schedule predictability also helps businesses reduce turnover through greater employee engagement and loyalty, and improve operations by optimizing staffing levels. Studies have even shown that it increases sales and productivity.
At Crew, we’re hyper-aware of both the opportunities and demands this kind of legislation puts on your business. That’s why we’re continuously bringing new innovations to team communications and scheduling that will ease the burden of compliance and drive even greater engagement and satisfaction amongst frontline workers.