Seattle, WA: Scheduling Ordinance Imposes Strict Employer Responsibilities


All Employers with Seattle Employees in the Retail or Food Industry


July 1, 2017


Contact HR On-Call

(888) 378-2456

On September 19, 2016, the City of Seattle passed the Secure Scheduling Ordinance (the “Ordinance”), which requires retail and food establishments with 500 or more employees worldwide to provide workers a “liveable wage” and “liveable schedule.”  The regulations imposed by the Ordinance will significantly impact affected employers’ scheduling procedures.  The Ordinance goes into effect July 1, 2017.

Non-exempt (both salaried and hourly) employees who work for covered employers at least 50% of the time within Seattle’s city limits will be entitled to “secure scheduling rights”; properly classified exempt employees are excluded.  In general, the secure scheduling rights include:

  • Good faith estimate of hours scheduled – employers must give new employees a written estimate of their work schedule at time of hire, indicating expected medial work hours each week and if on-call shifts are required.
  • Two weeks’ advance notice of work schedule – if employers make scheduling changes with less than 14 days’ calendar notice, the employer owes penalty pay in the form of: (1) one additional hour of wages if time is added to the shift; or (2) half-time pay at the hourly rate for each hour reduced from the scheduled shift. Employees have the right to refuse to work any non-scheduled hours.
    • Exceptions to this rule include: if employees voluntarily swap shifts; if the employee volunteers for shifts in response to a “mass communication” or “in group person communication”; if hours are cut as a result of disciplinary action and the incident is documented; if the employee voluntarily requested the changes in writing; or if the location is closed due to an emergency situation.
  • Right to request desired shifts – employers must engage in an interactive process to schedule an employee’s preferred schedule and work location, with sensitivity towards requests based on “major life events,” such as caregiving needs, a second job, or career-related educational or training programs. Employers can only deny an employee’s request based on a “bona fide business reason,” such as a significant, identifiable additional cost or detrimental effect to the business operations.  If a desired shift is denied, the employer must provide written explanation to the employee.
  • Right to “on-call” pay – employees must receive half-time pay for any shift they are on-call and do not get called into work.
  • Access to hours – employers must give notice and offer available hours to qualified current employees before hiring additional staff, as a measure to prevent underscheduling.
  • Prohibition of back-to-back closing and opening shifts – employers cannot require employees to work another shift within 10 hours of the end of the previous day’s shift, even in emergency situations. If the employee consents to this scheduling, employers must pay time-and-a-half for the shift worked less than 10 hours apart.

Action Items

  1. Review the Ordinance on City of Seattle’s website here.
  2. Contact ManagEase at (888) 230-3231 for assistance in revising scheduling policies and procedures.

Disclaimer: This document is designed to provide general information and guidance concerning employment-related issues. It is presented with the understanding that ManagEase is not engaged in rendering any legal opinions. If a legal opinion is needed, please contact the services of your own legal adviser.

© 2016 ManagEase, Incorporated.

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