What to know about Chicago’s new Fair Workweek Ordinance

Hospital workers at a City Hall news conference on Wednesday, July 24, 2019 after passage of a new ordinance requiring advance notice of their schedules. | Fran Spielman/Chicago Sun-Times

Workers in several industries in Chicago will have new rights that protect them from sudden changes to their work schedule.

Workers in several industries in Chicago will have new rights that protect them from sudden changes to their work schedule.

The Fair Workweek Ordinance was unanimously passed by the City Council last summer and takes effect Wednesday.

Other cities, including New York City, Seattle and Philadelphia, have adopted similar plans.

Here is what you should know about Chicago’s new law:

What is the Fair Workweek Ordinance?

The fair workweek ordinance requires employers give advanced notice of work schedules and to pay employees additional wages for sudden schedule changes.

Employees must be given at least a 10-day notice of their new schedule. The time period for the notice will extend to 14 days on July 1, 2022.

If changes to the schedule take place after, then workers will receive “predictability pay” which is equivalent to their base salary. Workers will receive one hour of additional pay for every change made with less than the 10-day notice — regardless of hours lost or not.

Workers will receive 50% of their base pay for every hour lost if changes are made less than 24 hours before a shit starts.

Workers will also be given the “right to decline” any additional hours added to their schedule with less than the mandated 10-day notice.

The law also grants a “right to rest” that allows for employees to decline work hours that are less than 10 hours after the end of their previous shift. If an employee chooses to work those hours, they will receive time and a quarter for their shift.

Employers will need to give new employees a “good faith estimate in writing” on their projected work days and hours for the first 90 days of employment that includes average weekly hours and whether they can expect any on-call shifts.

Who is protected?

The ordinance applies to those who are making less than $26 an hour or $50,000 a year in the following industries: building services, health care, hotels, manufacturing, restaurants, retail and warehouse services.

The ordinance will also help workers in those businesses that employ 100 or more people, not-for-profits with at least 250 employees, restaurants with at least 30 locations and 250 employees, and franchises with more than three locations.

Penalties for businesses not following the ordinance

Businesses will be fined $300 to $500 for each offense.

The new ordinance and fines may put many business owners in a precarious position, advocates say, since many are still reeling from the several-month closures due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The restaurant industry has been devastated by COVID-19, and the unprecedented nature of the pandemic poses greater unpredictability when it comes to staffing,” said Sam Toia, president and CEO of Illinois Restaurant Association. “The IRA continues to encourage local officials to consider all forms of regulatory and financial relief to support this critical sector of our economy.”

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