The “Fair Workweek” Comes to Philadelphia for Hourly Workers

Philadelphia’s new Fair Workweek bill will protect hourly workers from the negative effects of unpredictable schedules.

Earlier this month the Philadelphia City Council passed the “Fair Workweek” bill, which aims to provide the city’s 130,000 hourly workers with predictable work schedules. The bill, which was introduced over the summer by Councilwoman Helen Gym and seven co-sponsors, found little opposition amongst the Council, but rose fears amongst several business associations about its potential effects on business growth.

Similar bills are being introduced across the country, and have already passed in places like the state of Oregon, New York City, and San Francisco. It is anticipated that Mayor Kenney will sign the bill, and it will go into effect on January 1, 2020.

Fair Workweek Law Basics

The bill includes provisions to provide hourly workers in Philadelphia with advance notice of their schedules, “predictability pay” for late schedule changes, ways to work more hours if desired, and protection from employer retaliation. There are further provisions that will line out how employers must write job descriptions, how they must relay information regarding the law to employees, mandatory rest periods, and exemptions.

The goal of the bill is to remedy the negative effects of unpredictable schedules on workers and their families, which are amplified for low-income workers. An unpredictable schedule creates a multitude of problems. Most apparent is the issue of unpredictable pay. If a worker does not know how many hours they may work in a month, it becomes impossible to budget for expenses like rent and childcare.

Beyond the issue of unpredictable take home pay, it creates problems in obtaining regular childcare and scheduling other commitments, such as school. A predictable schedule not only allows the parent to not miss work due to a lack of childcare, but provides a stable environment for the child. These types of negative effects limit the upward financial mobility of the workers.

In order to protect those who feel the greatest effects of unpredictable schedules, the bill applies only to employers in the retail, food, or hospitality sectors, with more than 30 locations and 250 employees. It does not apply to small and independent businesses in any way. This limitation is set in order to protect the lowest earners at the largest businesses.

Preparing for the Fair Workweek Bill

Employment attorney Stephanie J. Mensing of Mensing Law, LLC will continue to monitor the progress of Philadelphia’s Fair Workweek law as it makes its way towards becoming a law. Please contact Ms. Mensing at (215) 586-3751 for more information on how this law may affect you.