Shifting Schedules for Shift Employees: Fair Workweek Laws Come to NYC


Fair Workweek Laws Hit Fast-Food and Retail Industries

In addition to obsessing over “Game of Thrones” and “Downton Abbey,” two guilty pleasures Americans will usually admit to are eating fast food and shopping.

So maybe drive-thru windows and shopping malls aren’t our highest achievements as Americans, but we love them nonetheless. And now, several US cities are attempting to lend a hand to the employees who keep our favorite eateries and retail stores running.

In NYC, new “Fair Workweek” laws are intended to improve work schedules for over 4 million fast-food employees and retail workers who make up around 15 percent of the major sectors of the city’s workforce.

The legislative package was created to make the lives of those earning a living in these industries a bit more, well … livable. Essentially, “Fair Workweek” is a nationwide initiative that strives to set laws that make employee schedules more predictable.

In New York City, fast-food and retail businesses are joining major cities like San Francisco, Seattle, and Chicago in adopting Fair Workweek laws. In the Big Apple, the legislation will be a package of laws that will go into effect November 26.

There are a few pieces of the Fair Workweek laws that will have a major impact on how business owners in New York City schedule their employees. In retail, for example, on-call scheduling will be banned, and every retailer will need to give employees their schedules at least 72 hours in advance. Cancelling a regular shift will require 72 hours’ notice as well.


What the Fair Workweek means for business owners and employees

If you’ve ever worked in fast food, you might be familiar with the term “clopening.” A “clopening” is when you close the restaurant and return the next day to open. In New York City, clopenings will no longer be allowed without employee compensation, and employees will be entitled to 11 hours of rest between their fast-food shifts.

There are other laws around scheduling and access to hours. Specifically, employers must offer their fast-food employees additional hours before scheduling employees from other locations or hiring new employees. It’s all about shift transparency, and available shifts will now need to be posted in detail for employees to see.

Unpredictable schedules aren’t for everyone. But fast-food employees are now entitled to more shift stability, which means each employee must be given 14 days’ advance notice of all shifts. Employers in the fast-food and retail industries in New York City will need to take precautions to ensure they have the right tools to help them comply with the new laws.


Need easy-to-manage employee schedules?
TSheets can help your business comply with Fair Workweek laws.


  1. P says:

    More ridiculous and unnecessary interference by the government bureaucrats that continues to drive up costs and hurt employees in the end. All this regulation translates into less money to lay employees.

    If last minute and on call scheduling is a problem for anyone, talk to your employer or get a different job. It’s that simple.

    Is it any wonder why New York and California have become a national joke? We now refer to them as the “fly away from” states.

    • C says:

      @P, I disagree with your assessement that this hurts the employees in the end. Businesses take advantage of young workers with their unpredictable scheduling, lack of hours and make it nearly impossible to have two part time jobs, to make up the extra hours needed, because of this practice. My daughter is currently in her “dream job” that a thousand other girls are just waiting to take from her should she complain about the hours (lack of them) and schedule (changes without advanced notice). It is not a job that she can do anywhere else, so “just get a different job” doesn’t work here. I am glad to see this issue being addressed.

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