Predictive scheduling
how to implement the practice

  • Predictive scheduling is when employers provide predictable work schedules in advance for employees. 
  • There are several laws across the country that business owners must follow in regards to predictive scheduling, but it can also benefit employees and increase retention even if you don’t have to stay compliant. 
  • Homebase’s scheduling app helps make predictive scheduling easier with automated scheduling 
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What is predictive scheduling?

Predictive scheduling, also known as predictable scheduling, is when a business owner or manager provides posted, predictable work schedules to employees in advance.

The practice benefits both part-time employees who have rotating schedules and full-time employees who work at an hourly rate because they can better estimate how much money they’re going to make in a given workweek and maintain a more predictable lifestyle. 

The trend of predictive scheduling is highlighted by several studies that learned just how much of an impact on-call shifts and just-in-time staff scheduling practices have on employees, including one by The Shift Project at UC Berkeley. 

Researchers surveyed food service and retail workers and asked them questions surrounding their work schedules, economic security, and health and wellbeing. The data revealed that “routine uncertainty about when and how much an individual will work from day to day and week to week could lead to feelings of distress,” according to a press release on the study. 

The research team cited short notice and lack of control as factors that cause distress. 

“Workers who receive less than one week’s advance notice of their work schedules are more distressed than those with two or more weeks’ notice, and workers exposed to canceled shifts, on-call shifts, and “clopening” shifts [when an employee closes on a late shift and then works an opening shift early the next morning] are significantly more likely to experience psychological distress,” the researchers said. 

The study went on to suggest that employers eliminate clopening shifts and requiring 72 hours of advance notice would reduce the psychological distress of employees by nearly 5 percentage points. 

With Homebase, predictive scheduling is easy thanks to a ton of features we offer to make scheduling in advance streamlined and efficient. Plus, you can notify your employees instantly after publishing the schedule, giving them as much advance notice as possible.

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What are predictive scheduling laws by state?

Currently, Oregon is the only state with law requirements around predictive scheduling, but many other cities have their own employee scheduling laws in place. 

Chicago’s Fair Workweek Ordinance requires businesses with at least 100 employees, nonprofit organizations with at least 250 employees, and restaurants with at least 250 employees and 30 locations to post schedules for employees who earn a certain wage at least 10 days in advance. 

Philadelphia law is similar in that it requires employers with at least 250 employees and 30 locations to post schedules at least 14 days in advance. In San Francisco, retail establishments with at least 40 locations worldwide must provide schedules at least 14 days in advance. They must also provide a “good faith estimate” of how many shifts each employee can expect to work in the next month. 

In New York City, retail and food service businesses in the fast-food industry are subject to the predictive scheduling law. Retail employers cannot implement “on-call scheduling” within 72 hours of an employee’s shift. 

Fast food employers can’t schedule an employee to work two shifts within 11 hours of each other. They must also give new employees a scheduling estimate and a 14-day notice of schedules.  

Seattle retail and food service employers with 500 employees worldwide must also provide a good faith estimate of work schedules and cannot schedule shifts for employees within 10 hours of each other unless an employee consents to receive overtime pay for the next shift. 

If you own a business that is subject to the laws in one of these cities, it’s important to make sure you stay compliant. Even if you don’t have to follow predictive scheduling laws, it’s a great way to earn the trust of your employees and increase retention. 

Homebase’s scheduling app Using an automated solution such as Homebase’s Scheduling App takes the time and difficulty out of scheduling employee shifts in advance. Sign up today to get started with your smarter schedules and happier employees.

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How can I stay compliant under predictive scheduling laws?

While regulations around predictive scheduling obviously benefit employees by reducing stress, they can bring about added stress to employers due to lower flexibility and potentially higher labor costs. 

The first step to preparing for predictive scheduling laws is to figure out if they apply to your business. Consult a lawyer for advice on how to comply with any regulations in your municipality and get advice on if you could be impacted.If the laws do in fact apply to your business, it’s important to ensure your policies are up to date and in sync with the mandates.

It doesn’t have to be difficult to establish a routine program that not only gives employees adequate notice, but also is easy and efficient enough for managers and business owners to maintain. Especially when you are able to build shift schedule templates and use them regularly. 

The number one solution for getting into the groove of predictive scheduling is to adopt a schedule planner or weekly schedule template that does the hard work for you. For example, Homebase’s free Scheduling App allows you to create and publish a work schedule in just a few minutes, and if you keep the same schedule week to week, you can easily copy it over or even schedule weeks in advance. 

Plus, your employees will be alerted by the app as soon as you publish the schedule to ensure they get it as quickly as possible.

You should also document everything and keep the documentation for two to four years to protect you in case a lawsuit should arise. Luckily, our app can help out with that since it keeps track of the date you sent out your schedules.

Make sure to also train your managers promptly on both the new laws and your new scheduling software to ensure everyone is following protocol.

Using an automated solution takes the time and stress out of predictive scheduling for both you and your managers. Consider tossing the spreadsheets and moving to an employee schedule maker like Homebase, which also offers employee schedule templates, to increase the happiness of your employees and potentially prevent falling out of compliance. 

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