Philadelphia Eyes New Scheduling Law

Law would require retail and fast-food businesses to be more flexible in assigning work shifts to employees.

June 18, 2018

PHILADELPHIA – The City of Brotherly Love could become the next metro area to pass a scheduling law that would apply to retail and fast-food companies, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Across the nation, employees of retail shops and fast-food restaurants frequently complain of unpredictable work weeks that have been created by computer programs or time-crunched managers. They say the schedules take no consideration of their personal needs or responsibilities, such as classes, child care or other part-time employment. By not knowing the number of hours they’ll work each week, they say they can’t determine how much money they’ll take home in the next paycheck.

Philadelphia lawmakers are set to introduce a bill this week that would require retail and fast-food employers to do three things:

  • The first is to notify workers of their schedules at least two weeks in advance.
  • Next, they would be required to offer extra work hours to existing employees when they become available instead of hiring new team members at a lower pay rate.
  • Third, employers would be obligated to pay employees when their work shifts are canceled.

Although similar laws have passed in other cities, including San Francisco, Seattle and New York, not everyone is convinced that the proposed law is necessary.

The Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce wrote an open letter to city council members recently, saying it opposed “pending legislation that proposes to impose predictable scheduling formulas onto unpredictable business environments.”

At a March city council meeting, Rob Wonderling, Chamber CEO, denounced what he described as “a very interesting pattern emerging in the city of Philadelphia” in which the council was making city government act as a human resources department for local businesses. He urged council members to consider how the new law would affect small business owners.

In a few weeks, the Philadelphia City Council will break for the summer, but sponsors of the bill are introducing it now so it will come in front of the council when it reconvenes.