Employers Should Start Preparing Now for Predictive Scheduling

Employers Should Start Preparing Now for Predictive Scheduling

As a payroll provider with specialized solutions for the restaurant and construction industries, BenefitMall is familiar with the concept of predictive scheduling. We also know there are numerous industries for which predictive scheduling can be impractical. But whether practical or not, employers should start preparing now for a future when predictive scheduling will be the norm. That day is coming.

Oregon became the first state to pass predictive scheduling legislation last summer. Beginning this July, qualifying employers must furnish their hourly workers with a written copy of their schedules at least one week in advance. The law further requires employers with at least 500 workers to give future employees a good faith estimate of their expected scheduling at the time of hire. And by July 2020, the seven-day advance notice for scheduling increases to 14 days.

Predictive Scheduling: What It Is

Predictive scheduling is a concept built on the belief that all workers deserve to know their work schedules well enough in advance to facilitate making plans to do other things. This is easily illustrated by using the restaurant industry as an example.

Restaurants are notorious for requiring their servers, dishwashers, and bartenders to be extremely flexible. It is not uncommon for servers to not know their schedules for the coming week until the last work day of the current week. It is also not unusual for servers to be sent home during slow times or called in when things get busy. Unfortunately, this makes it impossible to schedule time spent outside of work.

The idea behind predictive scheduling is to make life easier for employees. It dictates that employers solidify worker schedules well in advance. In some states, legislators are looking at the possibility of rewarding workers with extra pay when schedules change within a given time period. Business owners consider such rewards as penalties against them.

Most States Working on It

While Oregon became the first state to enact a predictive scheduling law, they are certainly not alone. Nearly every other state in the union is working on it. In New York, legislation currently working its way through the Assembly and Senate could be, if signed into law as-is, the most restrictive predictive scheduling law in the nation.

All signs indicate that it is only a matter of time before predictive scheduling is implemented in all 50 states and Washington D.C. Business experts all but agree it is a foregone conclusion. The only question remaining is how similar the laws will be between the states.

Should it turn out that predictive scheduling becomes universal, it would not be beyond the scope of possibility to see the federal government enact its own predictive scheduling rules within the framework of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), at least in relation to how such scheduling might affect minimum-wage and record keeping rules. For now, any potential federal involvement is mere speculation.

What It Means for Payroll

In states where predictive scheduling does not go beyond the original scope of requiring employers to set schedules in advance, there will be little to no effect on payroll. But in states that decide to award compensatory time to employees whose advance schedules are not adhered to, additional payroll processing and record keeping may be required.

At this time, all we can advise is that employers start preparing for predictive scheduling as best they can. We will do what we can to keep clients informed of how future rules will affect payroll. If your company needs help with payroll for any reason, we are here to assist you.