This post was written by Candace Chewning, Outreach and Communications Director for the Office of Benefits and Wage Compliance.

April 1, 2020, is when the Philadelphia Fair Workweek law goes into effect. Fair Workweek laws (FWW), which are being passed across the country, require predictable scheduling practices for certain service and hospitality employees. Every law passed is different, and the categories of workers they cover can vary in each location. For example, in New York City the law covers all fast food workers. In Philadelphia, the law covers fast food workers and certain service, retail, and hospitality workers. Depending on the size of the employer, the Philadelphia Fair Workweek law requires employers to provide workers with a predictable schedule. 

Employers in Philadelphia may ask themselves, “Why are employees across several different industries and jobs covered under this law?” The simple answer to the question is this: workers from all of these industries showed up at City Hall and demonstrated how a predictable schedule would improve their lives. In a city where many people are working two or more jobs just to get by, this support for workers is critical. 

“Fair Workweek gives the worker the right to freedom, to know that their schedule is going to work for them and their lives outside of the workplace. Without it,morale stays low.” 

-Devante Smallwood, Service Worker and One PA Member

Adjusting to requirements leads to increased profits over time.  

From a management perspective, it may seem difficult to address pop-up scheduling and customer needs under this law. While industries will have to adjust their current practices and make changes, the good news is that predictable schedules have resulted in good outcomes for both employers and workers.  

Unpredictable scheduling leads to an increase in financial instability and stress for employees. This ultimately affects customer service, call out rates, and work performance. According to research released by Harvard Business Review, FWW predictable scheduling increased profits by 7 percent and labor productivity increased by 5 percent. It’s clear that there are many benefits of FWW laws for both employers and employees. 

What are regulations, and why do we need them? 

Since the Fair Workweek law requires significant changes to how scheduling works for most employers, and it can come at a cost if the law is not followed, detailed regulations needed to be written.

Once a law is passed, it is the authority on what rules must be followed. However, the law may need more clarity. That’s where regulations come in. Generally, regulations provide more specific details by outlining either additional rules or a process on how the law should be followed. During the writing of FWW regulations, stakeholders in the room identified specific language that needed to be clarified by the regulations. 

Fair Workweek working group: Stakeholders at the table

Writing expansive regulations for FWW required a representative group of worker advocates, labor, and industry in order to properly address possible scenarios when deciding on rules. A total of 15 stakeholders came together every month from April through August 2019 and coordinated offline in between meetings.

“Over the past three months, I had the opportunity to participate in discussions with the Mayor’s Office of Labor in advance of predictive scheduling becoming law. Predictive scheduling will be challenging for small businesses to comply, as such, being able to offer a point of view was important. We addressed concerns, while staying within the terms of the legislation. I believe my time and efforts were respected and, therefore, am thankful for being included in the discussion.” 

– Jack Earle, Managing Partner, Earle Enterprises LP, McDonald’s Franchise Owner

Specific regulations were developed based on the coordinated effort of all parties involved at stakeholder meetings. Examples include: 

  • Setting the Tipped Predictability Pay rate at $11.31 for all tipped workers, instead of having to calculate each employee’s regular rate of pay. 
  • Allowing for flexibility on parts of the ordinance during the first month of operations after opening a new location.
  • Written examples of good faith estimates. 

Although it is impossible to anticipate every scenario that may happen for each industry that falls within FWW’s authority, the overall process of sitting down with stakeholders was efficient.  

“Philadelphia’s Fair Workweek Ordinance will bring stability to over 100,000 service industry workers. These regulations represent the culmination of a productive dialogue that brought together a diverse group of worker advocates and industry employers. The Mayor’s Office of Labor successfully incorporated input from both employers and worker organizations who understand the details of scheduling practices as they exist currently and as they will under the law. UNITE HERE Local 274 is proud to have been a part of this effort.”

-Rosslyn Wuchinich, UNITE HERE, Local 274

Details on the FWW predictable scheduling law, a complaint form, and the notice that employers are required to post is available on the Mayor’s Office of Labor website.

What can I do?

FWW regulations are currently open for comments from October 4, 2019 to November 4, 2019. If you are interested in participating or wish to view a draft of FWW regulations, go to the City of Philadelphia’s Records Department website

If you are a service, hospitality, or retail worker, learn more about your rights by visiting the Mayor’s Office of Labor resources website. Resources connected to this law are now available. 

Workers and employers can contact the Mayor’s Office of Labor at 215-686-0802 or with any questions. 

Fair Workweek working group participants

  • Community Legal Services
  • Darden Restaurant Group
  • Dunkin Donuts
  • Greater Philadelphia Hotel Association
  • Mayor’s Office of Labor
  • McDonald’s
  • Office of Councilmember At-Large Helen Gym
  • One PA
  • Pathways PA
  • Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC)
  • Target
  • UFCW
  • Wawa
  • Wendy’s