City Council unanimously approves Chicago Fair Workweek Ordinance

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Certain Chicago employers soon required to provide notice of schedule changes

On July 24, 2019, the City Council unanimously approved the Chicago Fair Workweek Ordinance, requiring certain employers in the City of Chicago to provide employees with at least two weeks' notice of their work schedule, and requiring companies to compensate employees for last-minute changes. The Ordinance goes into effect on July 1, 2020, at which time employers must give ten (10) days' notice of schedules. That notice requirement grows into fourteen (14) days two years later, by 2022. 

By passing this bill, Chicago joins several other major cities, which have also enacted ordinances that are intended to protect employees against unpredictable schedule changes that some claim hamper the employees’ ability to predict their paychecks and to properly plan for child care, or to maintain second jobs or to go to school while working.

The new Chicago Ordinance does not, however, apply to all employers or to all employees. Rather, it only applies generally to employers with 100 or more employees, and not-for-profit employers with 250 or more employees. However, covered employers must have 50 or more employees who fit the salary criteria and are governed by the Ordinance. In addition, the Ordinance only applies to covered industries, which are defined as: (i) Building Services; (ii) Healthcare; (iii) Hotels; (iv) Manufacturing; (v) Restaurants; (vi) Retail; and (vii) Warehouse Services. Further limiting the reach of the Ordinance, it applies only to employees who earn less than $26.00 per hour and not more than $50,000.00 annually. 

The new Chicago Ordinance provides that if the employer changes an employee's schedule less than two weeks in advance, the employer must provide the employee with an hour of the employee's regular wage as "Predictability Pay." In addition, if an employer cancels or reduces an employee's hours within 24 hours of the start of a scheduled shift, the employer must pay the employee half of the wages that he or she would have earned during the scheduled shift. 

There are a number of exceptions to these penalties, including but not limited to, schedule changes made by agreement that are reduced to writing, changes resulting from acts of nature, and schedule changes caused by national disasters. The Chicago Ordinance also provides employees with a right to rest and decline to work scheduled hours that are less than 10 hours after the end of the previous day's shift. 

Employers who violate these new requirements are subject to a fine of $300 – 500 per occurrence. Moreover, employees may file a private cause of action under the Ordinance within two years of a violation, and successful employees may recover damages for the Predictability Pay unlawfully withheld, in addition to litigation costs and attorneys' fees. 

Since the new Chicago Ordinance does not go into effect until next year, Burke Warren already has begun to help affected employers prepare new internal policies and procedures to ensure full compliance. Please contact Rachel Yarch, 312-840-7029, or Chris Kentra, 312-840-7112, with any questions about the new Chicago Ordinance, or for assistance in creating a plan for your company to comply with these new requirements.

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