Seattle restaurants and retail employers may soon face significant restrictions on employee scheduling.  The Seattle City Council is currently considering a proposed ordinance with the potential to impact hundreds of employers across the City.  Following are the basics of the proposed legislation.

What employers would be covered by the proposed ordinance?

  • Retail employers and large limited or quick food service employers with 500 or more employees worldwide; and
  • Full-service restaurants with 500 or more employees and 40 or more locations worldwide.

What employees would be covered by the proposed ordinance?

  • Hourly, non-exempt employees who work at least 50% of the time within the City of Seattle.

What would employers be required to do under the proposed ordinance?

  • Pay an extra hour of pay at regular rate (in addition to wages earned) for:
    • any addition of hours or shifts not on the Posted Schedule; or
    • any change from the Posted Schedule to start or end time of a shift that does not result in a loss of hours.
  • Provide timely notice to employees of any changes to the Posted Schedule.
  • Provide employees with at least 14 days’ advance notice of their work schedules (“Posted Schedule”).
  • Allow employees the opportunity to provide input into their work schedules and engage in an interactive process to discuss any such request, including engaging in an interactive process to discuss any significant changes to employees’ schedules.
  • Provide a good faith estimate — at the time of hire, annually thereafter, and anytime there is a significant scheduling change — of employees’ work schedules.
  • Pay time and a half for the length or remainder of the employee’s shift for:
    • any subtraction of hours from a shift after the employee has reported for work;
    • any change from the Posted Schedule to the start or end time of a shift that results in a loss of hours;
    • any cancellation of a shift that was on the Posted Schedule;
    • any on-call shift for which the employee does not report to work; or
    • any hours worked on shifts that are fewer than 10 hours apart (which can only be worked if the employee consents to do so).
  •  Offer hours of additional work to existing employees before hiring new employees.

 In addition to the above requirements, what would employers be prohibited from doing under the proposed ordinance?

 Employers could not:

  • Deny an employee’s scheduling request related to the employee’s serious health condition, caregiving, education, or other job responsibilities absent a bona fide business reason for doing so.
  • Require employees to find replacements to cover their scheduled shifts when they are unable to work.
  • Schedule employees for shifts separated by fewer than 10 hours (other than split shifts) without the employee’s consent.

 What is the status of the proposed ordinance?

 The Seattle City Council is in the process of holding public hearings on the proposed legislation. It may be voted upon as early as next month.