What is it? The Fair Workweek ordinance requires large, covered retail, hotel, and food service businesses in Philadelphia to follow specific requirements when scheduling and modifying employees’ work hours.
If it seems like this ordinance covers the majority of large, chain businesses, it’s because it does. Similar ordinances have been enacted in other large cities and it’s estimated that, in New York City, for example, 330,000 employees are covered by it. Accordingly, employers should be prepared to comply come January 1, 2020, its effective date.
Who is covered?
Employers – Covered employers include retail, hospitality and food services employers that employ 250 or more employees and have 30 or more locations worldwide, regardless of where those employees perform work. The ordinance specifically states for purposes of counting employees who work for an employer that is a chain business, the total number of employees in that group of establishments shall be counted. That means an employer with 30 plus locations is not just counting its Philadelphia employees for purposes of applicability, it should count all of its employees.
In addition, the terms “hospitality,” “food services,” and “retail” are defined pursuant to the North American Industry Classification System. In other words, they are defined very broadly. For example, retail includes businesses that otherwise fit the size criteria such as pharmacies, grocery, furniture, electronics, garden, sporting goods and clothing stores, gas stations and department stores.
Employees – The ordinance, however, only applies to the treatment of employees who work within Philadelphia.
What does it require? Some of the new requirements within the ordinance are:
- providing newly hired employees with an advance, written estimate of their work schedule;
- considering employee work schedule requests;
- compensating employees for last-minute, employer-initiated schedule changes;
- promptly notifying employees of any proposed changes to the posted work schedule;
- first offering work to existing employees; and
- posting requirements.
Further, the ordinance requires employers to provide employees with predictability pay for changing employee schedules without the requisite notice. There are currently ten (10) exceptions to when an employer must provide predictability pay.
Finally, the ordinance contains both anti-discrimination as well as anti-retaliation provisions.
What are the penalties for noncompliance? Aside from the predictability pay that is required by the ordinance, the ordinance creates a private right of action that allows employees to bring a civil action against their employer. The ordinance does not require an employee to exhaust administrative remedies. Damages for violations include unpaid compensation, liquidated damages, and attorneys’ fees and costs.
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