The Chicago City Council passed the Chicago Fair Workweek Ordinance on July 23, regarding advance scheduling notice for certain employees in certain industries, including healthcare, hotels, restaurants, and retail, among others. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has already indicated that she will sign the new ordinance in short order, describing it as the most expansive worker scheduling policy in the country, including the first in the country to cover healthcare employers.
The ordinance, which goes into effect in July 2020, imposes significant administrative requirements relative to the employer/employee relationship. Chicago employers should consider familiarizing themselves with them now in order to avoid penalties in 2020.
Details and Penalties of the New Ordinance
The ordinance will require covered employers operating in the City of Chicago to provide employees with 10 days advance notice of scheduled work, generally beginning on July 1, 2020. After June 30, 2022, the period of required advance notice of the work schedule will increase to 14 days. The work schedule must be posted in a conspicuous location at the workplace, or must be emailed upon the request of the employee.
In addition, the ordinance provides a carve-out for smaller employers, only applies to employees who earn less than $50,000 annually or $26.00 per hour or less, and does not apply to independent contractors or day and seasonal laborers.
Employers generally covered by the law are those who have 100 or more employees (in total, not just in Chicago), or 250 or more employees in the case of nonprofit entities. Restaurants covered by the ordinance are those with more than 30 locations and at least 250 total employees (and franchisees with four or more locations). Of the total employee count, for the employer to be governed by the law, at least 50 of their employees must be “covered” employees.
If employers make changes inconsistent with the requirements of the ordinance, the employees must receive compensation. The amount of compensation will depend on the nature of the scheduling change.
Right to Decline Work Scheduled
Employees under the ordinance have the right to decline any work scheduled that does not comply with the required advance notice period. Further, if an employer alters an employee’s schedule after the deadline, depending on the particular circumstances, the employer may be required to pay the employee an additional hour for each altered shift. The ordinance also prohibits retaliation against the employee for exercising rights conferred by the scheduling ordinance.
A number of exceptions do apply. For example, schedule changes caused by power outages, blizzards, a mutually agreed-upon shift trade, or a schedule change that is mutually agreed upon by the employer and employee and confirmed in writing.
The Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection has been tasked with enforcing this new ordinance. Employers who violate this law will be subject to a fine of between $300 and $500 for each offense. The law also establishes a process by which an employee may initiate a civil action under the law, beginning with a written complaint to the department.
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