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Mayor de Blasio, Council Members, Advocates Announce Plan to Ensure New York City's Fast Food Workers Are Protected by Fair Workweek Legislation

September 15, 2016

Tens of thousands of hourly workers in NYC lack predictable, stable and transparent work hours

Absence of fair scheduling makes planning for days and months ahead nearly impossible for working families 

Mayor calls for advance notice and public posting of schedules; additional compensation for working unscheduled hours; addressing problems caused by “clopenings”

NEW YORK — Today, standing outside of a McDonald’s in Brooklyn, Mayor Bill de Blasio, with elected officials, advocates and labor, announced support for the introduction of “Fair Workweek” legislation to ensure that 65,000 hourly employees in the fast food industry receive fair notification on their work hours. Currently, employers aren’t required to provide their hourly employees with advance notice of upcoming shifts. As a result, too many families cannot budget in advance, plan for education or family care, or secure a necessary second job.

Fair Workweek legislation is a natural next step for the fast food workers advocacy movement, which started in New York City and has grown both nationally and internationally. The movement started with the Fight for $15 in New York City, which the de Blasio Administration has been a strong advocate of, and quickly spread to over 150 American cities. The movement has a wide spectrum of support due to the deep impact it has on the lives of everyday workers. It is good for labor and businesses alike and has grown into one of the largest labor movements in decades.

“Too many New Yorkers are being put in untenable situations – taking care of kids and aging parents, and then being forced to deal with an arbitrary schedule at a job where they still don’t always make ends meet,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We’re talking about tens of thousands of fast food workers from all walks of life struggling to juggle everyday tasks. New York City is committed to being a city that does all it can to help people live healthier, more stable lives. Fair Workweek legislation will do just that.”

“Too many New Yorkers have to choose between bringing home a pay check and caring for a child. Unpredictable and unfair work schedules cause many families to miss important life moments like a birth or a graduation or scramble to find a safe place for their child when an unexpected shift throws their lives into chaos,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray, Honorary Chair of the Commission on Gender Equity. “‎This legislation will ensure that working parents get enough notice to adjust their plans and change a doctor's appointment or schedule a sitter. Families cannot be at their best if arbitrary work schedules make planning for the most routine and most critical moments impossible. Fair Work Week Legislation will help hard working New Yorkers be able to better care for their families.”‎

Across the country, nearly one in five Americans has an unstable work schedule and about 40 percent of early career workers, defined as workers aged 26-32, have less than one week advance notice of their schedules. This is particularly an issue with fast food workers, whose national average age is 29 and a quarter of whom are parents raising children. Too many of New York City’s 65,000 fast food workers can’t make the necessary arrangements for child care or the care of elderly parents. Unpredictable schedules make it nearly impossible to budget expenses or plan for the future.

In the coming months, Mayor de Blasio will work with members of the City Council, advocates, labor groups and the business community to draft specific legislation to support hardworking, fast food hourly employees who are currently hit hardest by these practices.
Specifically, Fair Workweek legislation would:

  • Require fast food employers to schedule a majority of expected shifts and publicly post a workplace schedule two weeks in advance;
  • Protect workers by requiring employers to provide additional compensation when workers are required to accommodate last-minute changes to their schedules for reasons within employers’ ability to plan or control;
  • Address problems created by the practice of “clopenings,” or shifts that require employees to consecutively work closing and opening shifts with fewer than ten hours between them.

These measures will give hourly fast food employees more stability and predictability, while preventing employers from deliberately under scheduling workers and forcing them to remain “on call,” a state in which employees do not know if they will be called into work or not. These measures will also allow employers and employees flexibility to adjust schedules when unforeseen issues arise outside of either party’s control.

By knowing their schedules ahead of time, employees will have more certainty over their income and finances, and a greater ability to accommodate extra work if it’s available. Most importantly, this proposal means employees will now have more flexibility: flexibility to take classes, care for their children or work a second job. 

“Those of us who are parents know that panicked moment when we have to find last minute child care. Who can we call – and trust – on short notice? How much will it cost? How can anyone build a stable family life, further their education, work an often necessary second job, or simply plan their day-to-day lives when the days and times they are expected to work are in constant flux? Having reliable work schedules is essential for our workforce to be able to count on their paychecks and to plan healthy lives,” said Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner Lorelei Salas.

“Fast food workers won the fight for a $15 minimum wage in New York but their fight continues for a union and a voice on the job,” said 32BJ President Hector Figueroa. “When I talk to fast food workers they say that, along with fair pay, fair scheduling is one of the most pressing issues they face. Being able to plan your time, your education, your childcare and your life is something that all working people should be able to do. We’re glad Mayor de Blasio is tackling this important issue that will help tens of thousands of New Yorkers plan their work time and family time. We look forward to working with him and the members of City Council to pass legislation that will lead to a better quality of life and a more powerful voice for these men and women in their workplaces.”

“Legislation to ensure a fair work week in New York City would mean that more than 65,000 workers will be able to schedule their important obligations – childcare, healthcare, travel, family – without worrying about losing their job over a surprise shift at work,” said Congressman Eliot Engel. “Working New Yorkers should never have to miss something like a doctor’s appointment or parent-teacher night at school in order to accommodate a sudden, inflexible, unreasonable work demand. Firing a worker for seeking healthcare or taking care of their family is unconscionable, so I support Mayor de Blasio and the City Council’s efforts to institute these important worker protections.”

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said, “All workers deserve reliable schedules in order to arrange for transportation to work, to accommodate child care needs, and to budget their family finances. I'm proud that my office has secured agreements with eight major retailers to end the practice of on-call scheduling for an estimated 238,000 retail workers nationwide. I applaud Mayor de Blasio and the City Council for launching this initiative today that will help extend similar and important protections to 65,000 fast food workers in New York City. These hard-working families deserve no less."

“Without a stable work schedule, who can build a stable life? Fast food workers should not be subject the whims of shift cancellations and last minute changes to their hours. I'm thrilled that New York City is taking concrete steps toward ensuring that shift workers get the stable, predictable schedules they need for a decent standard of living, and the dignity that all workers deserve,” said Council Member Brad Lander.

"Too often low-wage workers have no control over their workday and no knowledge until the last minute of the hours they’re assigned," said Council Member Corey Johnson. "The inability to budget, arrange transportation, and coordinate childcare, education and perhaps even a second job deprives employees of both income and the ability to ascend. I am proud to join Mayor De Blasio, my colleagues and advocates in announcing the beginning of a process to end these exploitative practices. As a City, we need to say a fair work week is the right of all," said Council Member Corey Johnson.

Enforcement of the Fair Workweek provisions, which would likely be based on employee complaints, would fall under the jurisdiction of the City’s new Office of Labor Policy and Standards (OLPS), which is housed within the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA). OLPS, which was formally launched earlier this year, is the first-ever municipal office dedicated to addressing the needs of workers. The Office will focus on outreach, education, advocacy around key workplace issues, as well as enforcement of important workplace laws, such as the City’s Paid Sick Leave and Commuter Benefits Laws, in addition to any future municipal workplace-related laws.

With the launch of OLPS, DCA, which was established in 1969, has now evolved to stand at the nexus of consumers, businesses, and working families in New York City. To demonstrate its comprehensive commitment to serving these groups, which together are the backbone of our city’s economy, DCA announced a new, evolved mission today: to protect and enhance the daily economic lives of New Yorkers to create thriving communities.

This new mission reflects the expansion of the agency’s work, which builds on its historic efforts to “ensure a fair and vibrant marketplace for businesses and consumers.” These efforts, which remain priorities for the agency, have been concentrated on the licensing and regulation of businesses, as well as consumer protection and financial empowerment work.

This new mission for DCA builds on the de Blasio administration’s strong and consistent track record of putting local government tools to work for our city’s working families. This record includes:

  • Expanding New York City’s Paid Sick Leave Law to cover an additional half-million more New Yorkers – the first bill Bill de Blasio signed into law as Mayor. In the two years since DCA has been enforcing the Paid Sick Leave Law, the agency has secured nearly $4 million in fines and restitution for approximately 15,000 workers who were denied their legal right to sick leave;
  • Requiring employers with 20 or more full-time employees to provide pre-tax commuter benefits;
  • Requiring reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees, as well as expanding protections for these employees to ensure that they are not unfairly terminated or discriminated against in the workplace;
  • Creating more family-friendly workplaces by requiring social services agencies across the city to offer lactation rooms for new mothers;
  • Increasing the minimum wage for all City government employees and those employees who provide contracted work for the City at social service organizations to $15 an hour;
  • Settling contracts with the vast majority of the municipal workforce – compared to zero when Mayor de Blasio took office;
  • Providing six weeks of paid time off for maternity, paternity, adoption and foster care leave, at 100 percent of salary – or up to 12 weeks total when combined with existing leave; and
  • Expanding the NYC Human Rights law to add ‘caregiver status’ as an additional protected category for which employment discrimination is prohibited.
  • Establishing Pre-K for All, which provides free, full-day pre-k education to over 70,000 four-year-olds, has made it possible for thousands of families to work full-time without sacrificing their children’s early education;

The de Blasio Administration has accomplished this while supporting businesses across the five boroughs. Since Mayor de Blasio took office, New York City has added more than 290,000 private sector jobs, an increase of 8.4 percent. New York City's job growth is at an all-time high, with 4.3 million jobs across the five boroughs.

“Hardworking New Yorkers deserve strong workplace protections that allow them to thrive in their jobs while also tending to priorities in their everyday family life,” said the Commissioner and Chair of the NYC Commission on Human Rights Carmelyn P. Malalis. “Today’s announcement is consistent with this administration’s efforts to protect working families, such as the strengthening of anti-discrimination protections under the City Human Rights Law for working caregivers and pregnant employees.”

"As a new parent with a child who attends daycare, I couldn't imagine having to make accommodations for him at the last minute due to a late call into work," said Council Member Donovan Richards, co-Chair of the Progressive Caucus. "Having a reliable babysitter or relative on hand is not a luxury many parents have, which is why requiring fast food managers to plan ahead and make schedules two weeks ahead of time is a common sense measure of consideration for their employees. I'd like to commend Mayor de Blasio and my colleagues in the Council for making this a priority and working together to make life a little more manageable for fast food workers across the City."

Council Member Costa Constantinides said, “All New Yorkers deserve a stable work schedule so that they can plan their families’ schedule and budget. Fair Work Week legislation will protect our working men and women who most frequently have to deal with last-minute shift changes. I join my colleagues in calling for this type of legislation and thank Mayor de Blasio for his leadership on this important issue.”

“For all workers, especially those raising children, being able to count on consistent work hours and schedules should not be a luxury. These mothers, fathers and grandparents work hard, often at multiple jobs, to get by in a City that is getting more expensive by the day. I am proud to join Mayor de Blasio to push forward legislation that addresses the negative impact of short-term scheduling on fast food employees, who like all workers, need to be treated with the dignity and respect that their hard work deserves,” said Council Member Margaret S. Chin.

"Having predictable and stable work hours ensures that working parents can better balance the many demands of their lives and their jobs. It's unfair to workers to give them their work schedule minutes before they are supposed to clock-in, and a Fair Workweek legislation can help remedy the unpredictability that exists in many industries," said Council Member Ritchie Torres.

"Unstable work hours can cause real hardships for workers, who may need to find (and pay for) childcare unexpectedly or miss class or hours at another job. Today's policy announcement will give fast food workers a dependable schedule as much as possible, so they can thrive in and out of the workplace," said Council Member Helen Rosenthal.

“It is critically important that the City passes ‘Fair Workweek’ legislation to ensure that tens of thousands of hard working men and women who work for fast food establishments receive fair notification of their work hours. Without this legislation in place, fast food workers are unable to adequately make financial decisions in advance on behalf of themselves and their families. Passage of “Fair Workweek’ legislation will give these workers more control over their financial matters and the flexibility to plan other aspects of their lives such as scheduling doctor’s appointments and taking classes,” said Council Member Mathieu Eugene.

"Living pay check to pay check is tough, not knowing when you'll be working for that pay check is tougher. Two weeks notice on hourly schedules will give working families the advanced notice they need to plan ahead. Thank you to Mayor de Blasio for his fight for our city's working families," said Council Member Ben Kallos, Vice Chair of the Progressive Caucus.

“The "Fair Workweek" legislation will benefit 65,000 employees and their families. This is significant for the children of these hard working fast food employees who will benefit from having parents who now have knowledge of their schedules and have the ability to plan ahead for their child care, meet with teachers, attend school events, and more - something that many parents in the fast food industry simply could not repeatedly do without repercussions before this legislation. This is also particularly significant for those in the fast food industry who are juggling more than one job and/or school work, all at the same time. Here in New York, we work very hard, it’s part of our identity as New Yorkers. I am proud to stand with this Administration in helping lift New Yorkers in the fast food industry and their families,” said Council Member Carlos Menchaca.

“Without advanced knowledge of their work schedule, families cannot budget in advance, plan for childcare, or secure other employment,” said City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer. “Employees in New York City should receive fair notice of their work hours – it’s simply the right thing to do. I support the Fair Work Week plan because it will bring New York’s workers greater stability, financial security and control over their lives,” said Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer.

"As Chair of the Committee on Women’s Issues, and co-Chair of the Women’s Caucus I am proud to join Mayor de Blasio in a national movement recognizing and changing policies that effect hard working people that have irregular and unpredictable work schedules. Nearly 34 percent of the U.S. population is employed with “irregular work shifts”; this labor practice results in daily hardships for workers, particularly those navigating through responsibilities such as caregiving, school and managing a household. Economic security and stability has become an increasing concern for many families in the City of New York, particularly amongst single parent households led by women. Most families continue to struggle to meet the rising cost of living and deserve to earn a fair wage that leads to self-sustainability. The proposed policy and legislative changes introduced by the Mayor and the City Council, reaffirms our city’s commitment to hard working families and economic development within our communities.” said Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo

“Our workers deserve better than to live life constantly on call. How can you coordinate childcare, medical appointments, or education when at any minute you could be required to show up for work? It’s time to stand firmly behind workers doing their best to provide for their families,” said Council Member Stephen Levin.

"This is a very smart and humane piece of legislation that protects the everyday worker and, more importantly, respects the civil rights of New York's everyday worker," said Council Member Andy King.  "I commend Mayor de Blasio for this legislation and his steadfast commitment to end wage inequality in our city."

“Thousands of New Yorkers are subjected to detrimental and unpredictable work schedules as a result of the pervasive use of ‘flexible scheduling,’ making it impossible to plan for critical everyday tasks such as childcare. Not only does this practice subject workers to constant changes in their work hours and days, but it places an undue burden on their families. This new legislation will go a long way towards protecting our workers and ensuring they receive the fair treatment they deserve,” said Public Advocate Tish James.

“Work isn’t servitude and workers aren’t disposable. Hourly employees in this city deserve better than to have to cope with working hours that are constantly in flux,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “I sponsored New York City’s Paid Sick Leave Law because all workers deserve dignity and fairness in the workplace. Those values also apply here: this industry’s employees should have predictable working hours.”

State Senator Jose Peralta said, “Fair treatment of our workforce is essential in order for workers to improve their quality of life. I support increased scheduling protections for our workers as they have a right to manage and plan for different aspects of their lives, and this is why I introduced a bill in the State Senate that would mandate employers to provide employees with work schedules and notice of the minimum number of hours they will be working. I applaud Mayor Bill de Blasio’s efforts that will definitely help hard-working families, especially when it comes to meeting their healthcare and childcare needs.”

State Senator Brad Hoylman said, “Time is money. If you have to move your schedule around to accommodate your boss, you should get paid for it. In addition, on-call scheduling forces workers to scramble to get child care and elder care, transportation, re-schedule other jobs and cancel classes. I carry legislation at the state level that would restrict on-call scheduling. I'm extremely grateful to Mayor de Blasio for his efforts to curtail this harmful practice for NYC workers."

State Senator Liz Krueger said, “Reasonable scheduling rules are critical to ensuring that workers can plan family responsibilities around work. Many employers have already recognized the need to reform scheduling practices. I look forward to working with Mayor de Blasio on developing standards at both the city and state level that protect all workers who are currently dealing with last minute shift changes, inadequate time off between shifts and other scheduling abuses.”

"As the sponsor of flexible and advanced scheduling legislation in the State Assembly, I am proud to hear more steps are being taken to provide employees with a path towards work-life balance. It is critical we continue moving in a direction that recognizes the value of work-life balance and the personal and economic benefits provided to both employers and employees when appropriate policies are adopted. I commend the Mayor for furthering this cause, and look forward to working with my colleagues to determine the best practices for implementing flexible and advanced scheduling polices across various industries," said Assembly Member Nily Rozic.

Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz said, “On-call workers are some of the most vulnerable employees in the workforce as they often face low wages and work multiple jobs out of necessity to provide for themselves and their families, all in addition to having family responsibilities such as child or elder care. By requiring employers to provide on-call workers with a notice of schedule including expected dates, times, and hours to be worked, we are taking a big step forward in making sure that those workers who need it most are being protected. I applaud Mayor de Blasio for his leadership on this issue and look forward to seeing the positive of effects of these new policies on our City’s workforce.”

"It's common sense that a more stable schedule will lead to stability in a worker's home as well as in the workplace," said Assembly Member Richard Gottfried. "These reforms are critical to strengthen the job security and financial security of workers."

“Fair Work Scheduling will address the needs of our workforce, in particular, working mothers, families with children, and those that are caring for sick or elderly family members. When employees are given the opportunity to offer their input on schedules and in turn receive clear expectations from employers we can decrease absenteeism and turnover rates. This will create a happier and healthier work environment,” said Assembly Member Robert J. Rodriguez.

"After winning $15, fast food workers are now calling for hours they can count on. Unpredictable hours disrupt our family lives and our ability to participate in our communities. Fast food workers have shown that a better way is possible - and that it takes both wages and hours to get to a paycheck that sustains families. We are proud that Mayor de Blasio is joining working people in leading the way. By standing up and challenging the status quo, we can put in place commonsense standards that are a win-win for families and for the economy,” said Center for Popular Democracy’s Fair Workweek Initiative Director Carrie Gleason.

"A Better Balance applauds Mayor de Blasio for recognizing the importance of fair scheduling for workers and the devastating impact that uncertain scheduling can have on a family. We are proud of New York City's leadership in seeking solutions to what has become a serious problem for so many low wage workers and their families," said A Better Balance co-President and co-Founder Sherry Leiwant.

“The fast food industry is the poster child for unfair scheduling, with a huge portion of workers not receiving advance notice of when they have to work. We applaud Mayor de Blasio for challenging this highly profitable multi-billion dollar industry to do better – and for leading New York to join the growing number of cities adopting fair scheduling policies,” said National Employment Law Project General Counsel Paul Sonn.

"While Wall Street profits continue to skyrocket, working families in New York are only now beginning to see the economic recovery hit home a full eight years after the Great Recession," said NY State Director of the Working Families Party Bill Lipton. "This policy would be a big step forward for New Yorkers who are part of the fastest growing segment of the workforce: part-time and low-wage jobs. We need to end practices like on-call scheduling that fuel economic insecurity if we're going to give all workers peace of mind and a bigger piece of the economic recovery."

"Fast food companies have long been premised on keeping workers' lives as unpredictable as possible. It is now time that workers be given predictable scheduled with full-time work and a living wage. The mayor and the council are making a big step to make that a reality," said New York Communities for Change Executive Director Jonathan Westin.

“Providing staff with ample notice of their work schedules is a concept we all appreciate, and engaging the workforce and business communities before beginning the legislative process is a terrific approach that will ensure any bill reflects a wide array of ideas. I look forward to working with Mayor Bill de Blasio and his administration on crafting this policy and making it fair for both employees and employers” said Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Carlo A. Scissura.

"Shake Shack cares deeply about the quality of life for all of our team members. That's why we've invested in tools and technology to help managers proactively plan and schedule their busy business days most effectively. With a user-friendly and flexible system our team members are able to easily view their schedules on their devices, and they can also trade or pick up shifts as needed. This scheduling approach benefits everybody and helps us run Shake Shack in a great way for our guests. Because of this, we feel better equipped to react to the changing requirements than others who might use a more manual scheduling process,” said Shake Shack SVP of People Resources Peggy Rubenzer.

“Establishing regular, dependable work schedules for workers in New York City's fast food industry is an important step, along with the $15 minimum wage, toward lifting these workers, their families and communities out of poverty,” said Greater New York Labor-Religion Coalition Executive Director Rabbi Michael Feinberg. “From the faith perspective, it represents a citywide effort to "pursue justice", and should be celebrated by all our religious communities. We look, and work, toward the day when all New Yorkers earn a Living Wage. This enactment brings us one step closer.”

“Fair Scheduling gives peace of mind for thousands workers and their families, it brings fairness to the workplace, and important step towards economic justice! I fully support this legislation, and hope this would ease the hardships of fast food workers across the city. I commend Mayor de Blasio for his continual fight to end income inequality,” said Albanian Islamic Cultural Center Imam Dr. Tahir Kukiqi.

"We have not reached where we should be for Low Wage Workers but with this piece of Legislation, it's taking a step upwards," said Antioch Baptist Church Senior Pastor Reverend Dr. Robert M. Waterman.

“As employee advocates, the members of NELA/NY are well aware of the difficulties faced by hourly workers whose unpredictable schedules make it difficult for them to supplement their incomes with other employment, wreak havoc on their ability to meet their family responsibilities, and sometimes cause them to incur unexpected expenses for necessities such as transportation and child care. We applaud Mayor deBlasio for taking up this challenge through the proposed legislation,” said National Employment Lawyers Association/New York President Joshua Friedman.

"A fair scheduling policy is the right next step for women, particularly women of color, who make up the vast majority of low-wage jobs with unpredictable schedules. On top of being the breadwinners in nearly two-thirds of families, women also have to balance a disproportionate share of childcare, which is nearly impossible to plan with unpredictable hours," said UltraViolet Co-Founder Nita Chaudhary. "We’re glad to see that Mayor Bill De Blasio is taking action to crack down on scheduling abuse, which is one of many way employers discriminate against women. It's time to treat moms who work in the food and service industries, all while supporting their families, with fairness and gratitude."

"Every worker deserves a family friendly workplace,” said Make It Work co-Director Vivien Labaton. “It doesn’t matter who you work for, what you do, or how much you’re paid – none of us should have to choose between earning a paycheck and caring for our loved ones. Mayor de Blasio’s proposal to ensure fair scheduling is not only an important move toward a more stable workforce and a stronger economy, but also in strengthening families and communities in New York City."

"Fair scheduling for hourly workers is an under-appreciated component of both economic and reproductive justice," said National Institute for Reproductive Health President Andrea Miller. "Women must be able to not only decide whether and when to have children, but also to have the accompanying structural supports, including paid family leave and fair scheduling, that enable them to care for any children they choose to have without jeopardizing their financial stability."

"Work schedules that change, sometimes day to day, create havoc in securing safe child care arrangements, seeking second jobs, and attending school. New York City’s efforts to curb abusive scheduling practices will ease that constant worry for workers in low-wage jobs, the vast majority of whom are women," said PowHer New York President Beverly Neufeld.

“Our research confirms just how widespread unpredictable scheduling has become, with 40 percent of low-wage workers in New York City, including half of low-income Latinos, reporting that they are given their work schedules less than a week in advance,” said Community Service Society President and CEO David R. Jones. “How can someone manage their finances, juggle two jobs, or meet family responsibilities if they don’t know what hours and how many they will get from week to week? We look forward to working with Mayor de Blasio and the Council on legislation to curb abusive practices like frequent last minute schedule changes and “clopenings” starting with the fast food industry.”

"Unpredictable work scheduling is a major obstacle for working families striving to build better lives,” said FPWA CEO and Executive Director Jennifer Jones Austin. “Uncertainty and instability caused by sudden schedule changes make it a challenge for working New Yorkers, especially working parents, to take advantage of educational opportunities, arrange care for their children and elderly loved ones, commit to the second or third job they may need to make ends meet, and set aside time to spend with their families. I applaud Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Salas for proposing legislation that would give workers the stability they need to plan their personal and professional lives and look forward to working with them on the legislation."

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