Seattle passes historic secure scheduling law

SEATTLE — The Seattle City Council Monday had a final vote on regulating how workers are scheduled. The bill was unanimously passed and will take effect in July 2017.

The new law will mean:

  • Workers will get two weeks advance notice of work schedules
  • Any changes by the employer will result in the worker getting extra pay
  • There has to be a minimum of 10 hours between shifts
  • Employers have to offer any available hours to existing employees before hiring more people

Cheers erupted at Seattle City Hall after the City Council passed a secure scheduling law by unanimous vote.

It makes Seattle only the second major city in the country to protect some worker schedules from being changed with short notice.

Fast-food and retail employees told the Council they suffered from constant schedule changes made on short notice.

“With this law passing, I will be able to know what days I'm really working to plan for child care, health care appointments and finally will be able to attend school functions for my three kids,” said grocery worker Jeanette Randle.

The new Secure Scheduling Law covers only food service and retail business that have 500 or more employees in Seattle or nationwide. Full-service restaurants with fewer than 40 locations are exempt.

It requires that employees get their schedules 14 days in advance, and get extra “predictability pay” when their hours are suddenly cut or extended. Voluntary changes are exempt.

“It would also help my friends who get their hours cut from time to time by being able to be reimbursed on 50 percent of that. I believe that will help them know what pay they are getting every week instead of having to guess,” said Jeffery James.

But some businesses have complained that the changes may force them to cut jobs or hours.

So we asked if there could be unintended consequences.

“I think we heard the same concerns when the City of Seattle passed the minimum wage ordinance,” said Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez.

“The sky has not fallen, In fact business is as good as it has ever been.”

The new law takes effect in July 2017, and Gonzalez says the city will study its effects for two years to decide whether any changes should be made.

Comments on this article