Chicago recently joined a growing trend when City Council approved one of the broadest predictive scheduling laws in the country. The Chicago Fair Workweek Ordinance, which was passed on July 24, 2019, will go into effect beginning on July 1, 2020, and has the potential to cause headaches for companies that have workers in Chicago.

The Ordinance requires employers in certain industries to provide a good faith estimate to new employees of their projected days and hours of work for the first ninety days of employment. Employers must also provide written notice of work hours by posting the work schedule no later than 10 days before the first day of any new schedule and must send the notice electronically, if requested by an employee. The notice time increases from 10 days to 14 on July 1, 2022.

An employee has the right to decline any previously unscheduled hours that are added without the required notice. Alternatively, the employee can accept the schedule changes, in which case he or she must be paid one hour of Predictability Pay (which equals the employee’s regular hourly rate) for each shift in which there was a change, in addition to regular wages for time actually worked. Likewise, for each shift that is canceled with less than 24 hours’ notice, employees must be paid 50 percent of the regular wages that the employee would have earned.Schedule changes due to certain circumstances are excluded from the restrictions, such as threats, weather, power outages, disciplinary reasons resulting from just cause, shift trades between employees, or shift changes that are mutually agreed upon by the employee and the employer.

Pursuant to the Ordinance, employees have the right to decline shifts that are less than 10 hours after the end of the previous day’s shift. However, if an employee chooses to work such a shift, he or she must be paid 1.25 times the regular rate of pay.

Only businesses in seven specific industries are obligated to adhere to the new regulations: building services, healthcare, hotels, manufacturing, restaurants (only those with at least 30 locations and 250 employees worldwide), retail, and warehouse services. Likewise, to be covered by the Ordinance, an employer must have 100 or more employees globally (or 250 or more for non-profits), 50 of whom are covered by the regulation. To be a covered employee, the individual  must earn no more than $50,000 per year, or $26 per hour, and work primarily within the city limits.

Employers must post a notice in the workplace, advising employees of their rights under the Ordinance, and must also issue a similar notice with each employees’ first paycheck. The City will be providing form notices prior to the Ordinance taking effect.

Employers who violate the Ordinance will be subject to a fine of $300 to $500 for each offense, and will be subject to civil liability from the employees who were wronged. Employees who prevail in court are entitled to recover attorney’s fees and costs. The Ordinance also includes an anti-retaliation provision, which carries a $1,000 fine.

While the qualifying thresholds are relatively high, the Fair Workweek Ordinance will be a major nuisance for larger employers. All business in the covered industries should check to see if the Ordinance applies to them and evaluate their scheduling processes for compliance.

Should you have any questions or if you would like to discuss how this Chicago Fair Workweek Ordinance will impact your company, please contact your regular Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP labor and employment attorney.