Predictive Scheduling Near Top of 2017 Workplace Trends

CalendarOne of the more notable workplace trends of 2017 involves the rise of predictive scheduling. These measures require companies to give notice to employees before any scheduling changes are made.

Oregon recently enacted the first statewide predictive scheduling law, which regulates how food service, hospitality and retail industry employers with at least 500 employees can schedule their employees’ hours. A number of big cities have enacted laws along similar lines, including:

The latest XpertHR podcast takes an in-depth look at predictive scheduling and what it means for employers with Littler shareholder Bruce Sarchet, who is a member of the firm’s Workplace Policy Institute where he tracks legislative and regulatory developments.

The driving force behind the push for predictive scheduling measures has been the lack of predictability for workers in certain industries, which makes it difficult for them to achieve a work-life balance and know when they can take off to care for an ailing family member or attend a child’s school event.

Predictive scheduling typically requires that at least two weeks advance notice be given to employees about their upcoming work schedules. If an employee gets less than 14 days advance notice with the Oregon law, Sarchet notes, he or she can refuse the shift without any penalty.

The Littler attorney suggests, however, that predictive scheduling laws could be a burden for employers. And he draws an analogy to the Family and Medical Leave Act to illustrate.

“It’s really hard for anyone to say employees shouldn’t have time off from work to bond with a new baby. That’s a good thing, everybody agrees,” says Sarchet. “But the FMLA is relatively complicated to administer. And we have some companies in the United States, part of their business plan is to stay under 50 employees because they don’t want to have to deal with the burdens [of the FMLA].”

Sarchet adds that the same thing can be said of these predictive scheduling laws. “It’s hard to argue that hey employees should have advance notice of what their work schedule is going to be. That’s a good thing!” But, Sarchet cautions, “The devil is going to be in the details. How do we actually accomplish this?”

As a result, Sarchet predicts that if the predictive scheduling trend continues, it could lead to unintended consequences with employers taking action in response. “I think we’re going to see more and more of a move towards automation and using less employees as the requirements and these regulations increase,” he says. So in that regard predictive scheduling may be on a collision course with another workplace trend, the rise of robotics.

Sarchet agrees the Oregon predictive scheduling law surely will not be the last statewide measure. He says that he believes his home state of California is likely to follow suit.

For more insights from Sarchet on predictive scheduling measures and their potential impact, listen to our XpertHR podcast, “Is Predictive Scheduling the Next Big Thing?


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