Philadelphia passes law ensuring predictable schedules for fast-food, hospitality workers

Illustration for article titled Philadelphia passes law ensuring predictable schedules for fast-food, hospitality workers
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Sometimes lost in discussions of minimum wage and tipping is the burden that “on-call” or unpredictable work schedules pose for employees in the hospitality industry. For employees with children or those who might be juggling multiple jobs, not knowing whether their employer will call them into work in a couple of days can make finding proper childcare or a ride to work nearly impossible. The city of Philadelphia hopes to alleviate some of that difficulty with newly passed legislation that requires more predictable work schedules for fast-food, hospitality, and retail workers.


The Associated Press reports the measure, approved Thursday, will affect about 130,000 employees in the city. It follows similar policies that have been approved in New York City, San Francisco, Seattle, San Jose, and Washington D.C.

The Philadelphia version mandates employers give their workers “good-faith estimates” of their work schedules upon hiring; and starting in 2020, employers will have to share detailed schedules with workers at least 10 days in advance. (That window lengthens to 14 days in 2021.) According to CityLab, if shifts aren’t included in the posted schedule, employees can decline to work them. If a boss changes the posted schedule within that 10-14 day time frame, they’ll also owe workers a “predictability pay fee” on top of the wages for those hours in question.

The legislation’s lead, Councilwoman Helen Gym, lauded its passage as a path out of poverty for working people. But managers from the Greater Philadelphia Hotel Association criticized the bill at a fractious city council meeting in October; according to The Philadelphia Inquirer, they said the requirement will drive up hotel rates and make the city’s hotels less competitive. Other critics from the hospitality industry said restaurant and hotel staffing needs are inherently unpredictable, and that this requirement will be too rigid and could lead them to not offer workers extra hours when business is busy.

Some workers, though, say the bill is nothing short of life-changing.

“A fair workweek will change my life,” Lekesha Wheelings, a Marriott hotel worker, told the AP. She says she currently gets her schedule with about 48 hours’ notice, and that this year she made less money than the year prior. “I love my job and I know that I have to do this to take care of my family, but I’ve made a lot of sacrifices.”

Kate Bernot is a freelance writer and a certified beer judge. She was previously managing editor at The Takeout.


President Zod


As you may know (or, if not, now you do!), Philly guy, and business owner here.

This has been getting a lot of conversation in these parts. So, here’s some 2 cents from the Ground Zero Philly DMZ.

1) The $15 minimum wage is fair. I don’t actually pay any of my employees less than $15/hour, so it’s kind of a non-issue for me. I have 30 employees, salaried and hourly, depending on position. I am in the manufacturing sector, however.

2) City Council is the absolute worst, and the whole lot of them, with a handful of exceptions, is the closest thing to legalized organized crime there is. They are by and large completely removed from reality, unless reality is patronage/lining their pockets in their own fiefdoms.

3) The good-faith estimate and the predictability pay fee is....hoobooy. That is going to cause planning and staffing nightmares, and you as a customer are indeed totally going to pay higher prices. And, because of the cost of staffing, you’re going to see worse service at hotels, restaurants go belly-up, you name it. This is a classic example of City Council overreach. While the initial bill is targeted at retail, food, and hospitality companies of 250+ employees and 30 locations, this bill is clearly the first in a move towards a broader implementation to hit other industries. The Unions are also rubbing their hands in gleeful anticipation and what they can finagle out of this. *BTW, I am a Union shop, we have no issues, good relationship, never had a single grievance, so please curtail any anti-Union accusations you may level my way. Except yeah, ok Teamsters. Those guys are crooks and thugs.  

So, if you asked me, I would respond: I understand the minimum wage thing, I’m in. I have trepidation that other employment sectors now have to raise their wages in response or lose people (which admittedly, is part of the unspoken design of this whole plan). But I’m in for the $15/hour.

I do not like the 2 week schedule thing- at all. You can’t even keep a train schedule 2 weeks in advance. Shit happens. As I am manufacturing, scheduling is critical, but almost extremely difficult to predict. Just-in-time is actually a thing. Inventory, warehousing, raw materials, people are out sick, it’s hot, it’s cold, oh customer has an issue and can’t receive or pay for it etc etc.. Bottom line: production is dynamic and constantly affected by tons of shit that is out of your control, ESPECIALLY when it’s human capital-related (**NOT necessarily even your OWN human capital!). And now I have to pay everyone extra? I already do that past 40 hours- it’s called “overtime.” and it’s time-and-a-half for my hourly crew.

There you go, now you’re $.02 wealthier!