Philadelphia Enacts a Fair Workweek Law

On December 6, 2018, the Philadelphia Council voted 14-3 to pass a Fair Workweek bill, which Mayor Kenney is expected to sign. Once signed, the ordinance would take effect on January 1, 2020, and is expected to impact roughly 130,000 workers. The Fair Workweek ordinance will apply to employers with more than 250 employees and over 30 locations (including Philadelphia) worldwide. It will require employers in the retail, fast-food, and hospitality industries to provide advance written notice of work schedules and predictability pay to their service workers. Other cities that enacted similar Fair Workweek laws include New York, San Francisco, San Jose, Emeryville and Seattle.

Under the Philadelphia Fair Workweek ordinance, employers are required to provide employees with:

  • A good-faith estimate of the days and number of hours an employee will likely be scheduled to work on a weekly basis, and whether the employee will be needed for on-call shifts;
  • At least ten days’ written notice of their work schedules until January 1, 2021, when the notice requirement will increase to two weeks;
  • Additional compensation for any last-minute schedule changes; and
  • Increased opportunities to work full-time by offering available shifts to part-time workers before hiring new employees.

The Philadelphia Fair Workweek ordinance also provides employees with the following rights:

  • To make work schedule requests both at the time of hiring and during employment;
  • To have at least a nine-hour break between shifts;
  • To decline to work any hours or additional shifts not included in the posted schedule; and
  • To bring a lawsuit against employers for interfering, denying or restricting any of the rights provided in the Philadelphia Fair Workweek ordinance.

The Fair Workweek law creates a private cause of action against any employer that attempts to interfere with, restrain, or deny the exercise of any of the rights protected under the ordinance. Employers found in violation of the ordinance may be liable for unpaid wages and benefits, presumed damages, up to $2,000 in liquidated damages, reasonable attorney’s fees and costs and equitable relief. To prepare for the Philadelphia Fair Workweek law, covered employers should ensure that all managers and other employees who may deal with scheduling are aware of the new requirements. In addition, covered employers may want to consult a labor and employment attorney to review their existing scheduling policies to ensure compliance with the new law.