Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Chicago Adopts Fair Workweek Ordinance

Last week, by a unanimous vote, the Chicago City Council and Mayor Lori Lightfoot took a significant step to protect workers by adopting the Chicago Fair Workweek Ordinance. The ordinance states an employer with 100 or more employees and at least 50 “covered employees” must provide “written notice of work hours by posting the Work Schedule no later than ten days before the first day of any new schedule.” The 10-day requirement begins on July 1, 2020, and extends to 14 days on June 30, 2022.

The ordinance defines “covered employees” under the ordinance. Covered employees include: (1) employees classified by Internal Revenue Service guidelines (excluding contractors), or a day or temporary laborer working through a labor service agency that’s been assigned to an employer for 420 hours within an 18-month time period; (2) spends the majority of their work time in for an employer that’s physically located in the City of Chicago; (3) works in a “covered industry” (see below); and (4) earns less than $50,000 per year as a salaried employee or $26.00 per hour as an hourly employee. 

Under the ordinance, “Covered Industries” consist of building services, healthcare, hotels, manufacturing, restaurants, retail, and warehouse services.

Before an employee commences their employment, an employer must supply that employee with a “good faith estimate” of the employee’s work schedule for the first 90 days of employment. The schedule must include:
  • the average number of weekly hours,
  • a determination of whether an employee should expect on-call shifts, and
  • a subset of days, times, and shifts an employee can or cannot expect to work.

Additional protections for employees include the transmission of an electronic version of an updated schedule per an employee’s written request and a public posting of the schedule in the workplace. An employee has a right to decline additional hours if notice is less than ten days. Employers may also have to pay “Predictability Pay,” which is additional compensation paid at the covered employee’s hourly rate, for specific actions. One hour of Predictability Pay can be tacked on if an employer adds hours of work, changes the date/time of a shift with no loss of hours, and cancels or subtracts hours from a regular or on-call shift with more than 24 hours of notice.

Covered employees also have a right to request a flexible work schedule. The flexible work schedule may include additional hours or shifts, changes in days of work, changes to start and stop times, permission to engage in the exchanging of shifts with comparable employees, a reduction or modification of work duties, and a change to part-time or part-year employment.

Noncompliant employers may suffer a $300-500 penalty. The ordinance also gives harmed employees step-by-step instructions to initiate a private cause of action, and employers must provide employees with a detailed list of all rights under the ordinance. Lastly, provisions of the ordnance can be waived for collective bargaining purposes once it goes into full effect.