Alert: Seattle City Council to Vote 09/19/16 on Employee Scheduling Ordinance

by Davis Wright Tremaine LLP

Davis Wright Tremaine LLP

The Seattle City Council is expected to vote Monday, Sept. 19, 2016 on a highly controversial ordinance that would impose numerous and complex employee scheduling restrictions on certain Seattle businesses. Called the “Secure Scheduling Ordinance,” it applies to large retail and food service employers in Seattle and requires covered employers to provide employees with estimates of hours, advance notice of schedules, predictability pay if hours change after schedules are posted, and the opportunity to work additional hours before the employer hires new employees.

Despite concerns and opposition from a number of high-profile retail and restaurant associations, franchise owners, and employers, the ordinance was passed at a five-member Council committee meeting and now goes to a final vote before the full nine-member Council.

Public participation:

The Seattle City Council will vote on the Ordinance on Monday, Sept. 19 at 2:00 p.m. The Council will allow very brief public comment before considering the Ordinance; any individuals, including employers, who wish to make a public comment or hear the discussion regarding the Ordinance should attend the Council meeting. The full text of the proposed Ordinance and a summary of its major provisions is available on the Council’s secure scheduling page.

Employers covered by the Proposed Ordinance:

The proposed Ordinance affects three categories of employers:

  • Retail establishments with 500 employees worldwide;
  • Quick and limited food service establishments with 500 employees worldwide (such as coffee shops and fast food restaurants); and
  • Full-service restaurants with 500 employees worldwide and more than 40 locations worldwide.

The worldwide employee count includes all employees in a franchise network or integrated enterprise.

The Ordinance would apply to all hourly, non-exempt employees who work 50% or more of their time within the city of Seattle. However, union employees may ratify an alternative structure for scheduling through a collective bargaining agreement.

What the Ordinance would do:

As written, the Ordinance creates certain employer obligations regarding employee scheduling, including:

  • Giving employees a written work schedule 14 days in advance;
  • Giving employees advance notice of changes to the employees’ announced schedules;
  • Paying “predictability pay” to employees for changes to employees’ announced schedules;
  • Providing “on-call pay” for periods when an employee is on-call;
  • Offering existing employees additional hours before hiring new employees;
  • Obtaining employee consent before scheduling an employee to work two shifts that are separated by less than 10 hours;
  • Displaying a workplace poster regarding the new Ordinance.

The Ordinance is expected to take effect on July 1, 2017.

Opposition to the Ordinance:

The Ordinance as currently drafted has been opposed by numerous employers and employer associations. Among the concerns raised are that the Ordinance is highly technical and complicated. Employers are also concerned about the predictability pay requirement, particularly where the need for the schedule change is brought about by the actions of another employee, not the employer’s desire.


DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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