Attention NYC Retail Employers! On-Call Scheduling to End

Effective November 26, 2017, retail employees in New York City will be entitled to advance notice of their scheduled shifts, and the practice of “on-call shifts”–where an employee is required to be available to work but not necessarily called to work–will be prohibited.  These provisions are part of new “Fair Workweek” legislation aimed at providing “predictable schedules and predictable paychecks” for retail and fast food workers in New York City.

Specifically, except for emergency situations, retail employers in New York City will be prohibited from: (1) scheduling a retail employee for any on-call shift, (2) canceling a regular shift within 72 hours before its start, (3) requiring an employee to work with fewer than 72 hours’ notice without written consent, or (4) requiring a retail employee to contact his or her employer to confirm whether the employee should report for a regular shift fewer than 72 hours before the shift’s start.

In addition, retail employers will need to provide a written work schedule no later than 72 hours before the first shift on the work schedule and must retain those schedules so that they can be provided to an employee upon request for up three years.  The law makes clear that it will not be a violation for a retail employer to: (1) grant an employee time off due to an employee’s request, (2) allow employees to trade shifts, or (3) make changes to schedules with less than 72 hours’ in response to threats to an employee or the employer’s property, public utility or public transportation failures, natural disasters, or a declared state of emergency.

The term “retail employer” is defined as any employer in the “retail business,” which, in turn, is defined as “any entity with 20 or more employees that is engaged primarily in the sale of consumer goods at one or more stores within the city.”  The legislation further explains that for a chain business, the total number of employees in the group of establishments would count towards the 20 employee threshold.

Enforcement of these laws will fall under the jurisdiction of the City’s Office of Labor Policy and Standards (OLPS), which is housed within the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA).  The legislation also provides for a private right of action and anti-retaliation protections for employees who exercise or attempt to exercise these newly created rights.

These laws are the latest in a recently growing body of legislation focused on increasing worker protection in New York City. And there is no sign that the New York City Council or Mayor intend to slow down.