You may have heard the terms "predictive scheduling" and "scheduling fairness" floating around recently and may be wondering what that's all about. The reason these terms are coming up more and more often is because of a series of compliance laws that states and localities across the US are adopting – with Chicago being the latest city to jump on the bandwagon. The laws are all a little different, but all serve the same purpose – to protect hourly workers by providing them stability in their schedules.

Why do hourly workers need these laws? Well, according to this NWLC study hourly workers (especially in industries like retail, food-service, and hospitality) experience the most volatility in their schedules. They’re given as few as a couple days’ notice of changes to their schedules, are placed “on-call” where they will only have a few hours’ notice at best to show up for work, or are sent home early if business is slow without being paid for scheduled shifts. This is not simply an inconvenience or an accepted risk of working in a specific industry, it has a big impact on people’s livelihood.

Think about it – unreliable schedules lead to unreliable income which makes it difficult to budget, pay bills, pay for childcare, etc. Pay is not the only thing at stake here – benefits are too. For example, if employees don’t work enough hours, they won’t be eligible for employer healthcare, paid time off, unemployment insurance, etc. This is why these laws are so important and why so many states and localities are adopting them.

Now that you have a better sense of the purpose of the scheduling fairness laws and the problem they are trying to solve, I’m sure you can imagine that this will eventually affect your organization as an employer, so it will be important to get ahead of all of this. Because the laws vary from state to state and locality to locality, technology will be your friend when it comes to managing which standards apply to you. If you already have a human capital management solution that you’re utilizing, start asking questions about how that system can be configured to handle the following:

Woman balancing on railing scheduling fairness concept

Flexible rules

As was mentioned earlier, every state and locality’s laws are a little different. Whether the laws in your area apply to certain subgroups of employees or the schedule change compensation is different based on the number of days before the change is taking place, your HCM system should be flexible enough to accommodate the mandates.

For example, in Chicago if schedules change less than 10 days from the scheduled shift an employee can decline any unscheduled hours. If they do work that unscheduled shift, they will need to be paid 1.25 times their regular pay. In New York, however, employers are required to post shifts 72 hours in advance but after that changes to the posted schedules are prohibited. This is why flexible rules are so important, especially if you have locations in multiple states.

Approval workflows

A big part of most of these scheduling fairness laws is requiring the employee’s approval in order to make changes to their schedule within the determined penalty period. Therefore, a clear and easy-to-use approval workflow is a must. A good HCM system will be able to fully automate the approval process from the time the workflow is initiated by the change of a schedule within the penalty period to the final product of the change being made and reflected in the schedule if approved. There should also be customized email notifications sent out to keep everyone informed every step of the way.

Transparency and automation

Should penalty pay need to be distributed to employees, then there should be automation in the posting of that pay against the employee’s timesheet and transparency so they can see it posted accordingly. A strong, unified HCM platform will also be able to have that penalty pay automatically flow into payroll to alleviate administrative burden and ensure accuracy. Responsive design is a huge advantage here too, allowing any pay changes and schedule change notifications to be delivered to and visible on your employees’ mobile devices, making it easy for them to access the information wherever and whenever they need it.

Reporting and analytics

It’s essential for you to have insights into when and how often scheduling fairness violations are happening within your organization. Traditional tabular reporting is good for having a record of these occurrences, but people analytics techniques like data visualization and predictive analytics are even better so you can see and get ahead of trends before they become larger issues. The right HCM system will have the flexibility to display the metrics that matter for the scheduling fairness rules you need to comply with and will help you streamline your path to answers through clear, intuitive scheduling views that show the gaps in your scheduled and forecast your workload needs to help you avoid penalties.

If your state or locality is considering adopting these scheduling fairness laws and your human capital management system isn't able to handle them, then you should start shopping around for a system that can. If your state or locality hasn’t yet considered adopting these laws yet, they might soon, and even if they don’t you can voluntarily implement policies that give employees more control and stability over their schedules – on your terms. This will definitely show employees that you care about and respect their wellbeing, their stability, and their time. In turn, you will have employees that want to stick around, work harder, and be more engaged.


HCM Buyer's Guide Banner

Published: Tuesday, August 20, 2019