The work to create a reasonable living wage for food service workers and other low-wage laborers has fostered an incredible groundswell of support over the past few years. Through this, a number of cities in California have passed ordinances requiring a $15 minimum wage for workers.

But even with higher wages, having unpredictable schedules can be just as problematic for workers as wage violations. Imagine an employee who is expecting to work a five hour shift being told via text message an hour before they are scheduled to work that they won’t be needed. This essentially means that the worker would lose income that they were depending on to pay bills, buy food or meet other obligations. 

The same inconvenience could occur if a worker is scheduled to work an evening shift, then suddenly required to work a morning shift the next day.

This problem has prompted a number of jurisdictions to pass predictable scheduling ordinances, which require employers to schedule workers up to two weeks in advance, allow at least 11 hours of rest or time off between shifts, and offer part time staff additional work before hiring new employees.

A number of employers, especially those who run fast food restaurants, are vehemently opposed to such bills. They claim that flexible scheduling, also known as “work optimization systems” help determine just how many workers are needed at a given time, and are essential for keeping businesses profitable. They further believe that if predictable scheduling rules are applied, their businesses could fail.

Nevertheless, employers are required to follow existing state and local wage and hour rules. If you believe your employer is violating these rules, an experienced employment law attorney can help.