In plain English: How will Philadelphia’s Fair Workweek law impact your local business?


Image Credit: @HelenGymAtLarge (Twitter)

In a 14-3 vote last week, Philadelphia City Council approved sweeping changes to the ways local employers can schedule work, hire new employees, and pay their workers.

It’s kind of a big deal.

And with Mayor Kenney chomping at the bit to sign the legislation, here’s what employers need to know about Philadelphia’s New Fair Workweek rules.

How many workers are affected?

About 130,000, according to David Maas, reporting here at Al Dia

But which employers are covered?

Probably not your workplace.

After much back and forth with local businesses, the final rule covers only those “retail establishments,” “hospitality establishments,” and “food services establishments” that employ 250 or more employees overall and have 30 or more locations worldwide, including chains and franchise locations.

Those defined terms are pretty much what you think they are. Head over to pages two and three of the new rules to read up.

When will the new law take effect?

January 1, 2020.

(For more on the history of the Philadelphia’s New Fair Workweek legislation, check out this, this, and this.

What will the new law require?

The new law will require a lot. But there are four big buckets:

  1. Advance Notice of Work Schedules
  2. Compensation for Changed Work Schedules
  3. Right to Rest Between Work Shifts
  4. Offer of Work to Existing Employees

Talk to me about “Advance Notice of Work Schedules.”

The passed legislation provides that, when a company hires a new employee, it must provide that worker with a written, good faith estimate of the employee’s work schedule. That schedule can change, but the initial estimate must include:

  • work hours that the employee can expect to work over a typical 90-day period;
  • whether the employee can expect to work any on-call shifts; and
  • “a subset of days and a subset of times or shifts that the employee can typically expect to work, or days of the week and times or shifts on which the employee will not be scheduled to work.”

The employee can request a different work schedule, but the employer is free to grant or deny the request for any reason that is not unlawful.

Before employment begins, the employer must provide each employee with a 10-day written work schedule. (10 days becomes 14 days in 2021), and post a copy at work. The employer must communicate any changes to work schedule “as promptly as possible and prior to the change taking effect,” and the employee is free to decline any hours or additional shifts not included in the original posted work schedule.

How much will this cost us? (Compensation for Changed Work Schedules)

To be determined.

You’re probably going to have to pay something called “Predictability Pay.” If the employer initiates the schedule change, it will have to pay:

  • one hour of Predictability Pay at the employee’s regular rate of pay, when the employer adds time to a work shift or changes the date or time or location of a work shift, with no loss of hours.
  • Predictability Pay calculated as overtime pay (i.e., no less than one-half times the employee’s regular rate of pay per hour), for any scheduled hours the employee does not work because hours are subtracted from a regular or on-call shift or the employer cancels a regular or on-call shift.

However, if the employee initiates the schedule change, or there’s a mutual agreement between employer and employee, or hellfire and brimstone (or some other emergency), or for a few different reasons outlined in the legislation, then there is no Predictability Pay.

Right to Rest Between Work Shifts

An employee may decline, without penalty, any work hours that are scheduled or otherwise occur less than 9 hours after his or her prior shift ends. However, if the employee works that second shift, the company must pay that employee $40.

Offer of Work to Existing Employees

Before making any new hires, employees need to offer extra shifts to current employees.

But, if your current employees don’t want to work the extra shifts or those the extra shifts would result in overtime pay, then you can hire new workers instead.

Can we discriminate or retaliate?


All of this seems rather vague and hazy.

We should get eventually get some regulations to fill in the gaps. Otherwise, there’s only so much I can do to summarize the legislation for you on this free blog. I suggest that you pay an employment lawyer for real legal advice.

But aren’t you an employment lawyer that business owners can engage to provide real legal advice on these and other employment-law issues?

***touches nose***

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