Seattle officials propose new scheduling laws that may cost small business owners

What do the new laws require your business to do?

The law, as currently proposed, would apply to retailers and fast-food, coffee and drinking establishments with 500 or more employees worldwide, and to full-service restaurants with 500 or more employees and more than 40 establishments worldwide.

Employers including Starbucks, Safeway, QFC, Macy’s, Nordstrom, Costco, REI, Red Robin, IHOP, McDonald’s, Subway, Denny’s and Ivar’s seafood bars (though not its sit-down restaurants) are examples of companies that would be covered, according to city staffers.

It would apply to hourly, nonexempt employees who work at least half of their hours within Seattle city limits.

The proposed law requires that:

• Employers give workers 14 days’ advance notice of schedules.

• Workers get a minimum 10 hours between shifts — unless they consent to having less rest between shifts. In that case, they would be paid time and a half for the hours that make the shifts separated by less than 10 hours.

• Employers pay workers one hour of “predictability pay” for changes to the schedule after it’s been posted.

There are exceptions for employee-initiated shift swaps or shift coverage, or if an employer fills an unexpectedly open shift by using “mass communications” such as text or email to ask workers if they can fill the shift.

• Workers who don’t get all the hours for which they’ve been scheduled get paid half of their hourly wage for each hour cut.

• Workers be paid half their hourly wage for each hour they’re scheduled to work on-call but are not called in.

• Employers offer additional hours to existing employees, posting the notice for at least three days and giving workers two days to accept an offer, before they can hire new workers.

“External hiring can begin earlier if the employer receives confirmation that all qualified internal candidates decline additional hours,” according to the city’s presentation.

Exceptions include seasonal hiring and participation in diversity and young-adult hiring programs.

• Unionized workers may, through collective bargaining, negotiate a different alternative for secure scheduling.

• Employers, upon hiring an employee, give a good- faith estimate of the median number of hours an employee is expected to work each week and whether they’ll be expected to work on-call shifts.

For more information, check out the Seattle Times article where this story was originally published.

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