New York City’s ‘Fair Workweek’ laws set to take effect

by Angelo D. Catalano
Coughlin & Gerhart, LLP

New York City fast-food and retail employers need to be ready for the city’s package of five new “Fair Workweek” laws when they go into effect on November 26. Following is a summary outlining the basics of the new laws.

Fast-food workers

No “clopening.” Fast-food employers are prohibited from requiring employees to work back-to-back shifts when the first shift closes the restaurant and the second shift opens it the next day with less than 11 hours in between unless employees ask to work the shifts or consent in writing. Violations will cost $100 per occurrence.

Additional shifts. If additional regular or on-call work shifts are needed, fast-food employers must offer the shifts to current employees at the specific location where the additional shifts are needed before they can hire new employees or subcontractors (including temporary workers) to fill the shifts. Employers must post the number and nature of all shifts being offered and assign additional shifts to employees who have responded to the offer of work.

Fair workweek. Fast-food employers must provide new employees a written “good-faith estimate” setting forth the number of scheduled work hours as well as expected dates, times, and work locations for the duration of their employment and update any changes as soon as possible. Employers also will have to provide employees at least 14 days’ notice when making changes to their schedules. Employers won’t be able to force employees to work or be available to work hours not included in their initial written work schedules without employees’ written consent. Additionally, if a fast-food employee’s schedule varies from his original written schedule, he will be entitled to a premium ranging from $10 to $75 per schedule change.

Payroll deductions. Fast-food employees must be given the opportunity to make voluntary contributions to not-for-profit organizations through payroll deductions. That will make it easier for employees to support employee advocacy organizations working on their behalf.

Retail workers

On-call scheduling. With minor exceptions (including one for collective bargaining agreements), retail employers are prohibited from:

  1. Scheduling a retail employee for on-call shifts (i.e., waiting to be called for work without a guarantee of work);
  2. Canceling a work shift with less than 72 hours’ notice;
  3. Requiring a retail employee to work with less than 72 hours’ notice unless he consents in writing; and
  4. Requiring a retail employee to contact them to confirm whether he should report for his scheduled shift in the 72 hours before the start of the shift.

For more information on the new New York City laws, please see the July issue of New York Employment Law Letter.

Angelo D. Catalano is a contributor to New York Employment Law Letter and attorney with Coughlin & Gerhart, LLP, in Binghamton, New York. He can be reached at