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What You Should Know About Changing Employee Schedules

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As an employer, you may find situations that come up which would require changing employee schedules. It is important to know what your rights are as an employer to make these changes. Also, you should find methods to communicate when making changes to your employee schedules. 

In most cases, you can change an employee’s schedule unless there is an employment contract or union agreement. Some cities and states have local predictive scheduling laws that require you to give advance notice. You may also have to pay a minimum amount if you should change their hours past the required notice.

What are the FLSA rules on changing employee schedules?

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) states that in most cases it allows changing employee schedules for anyone over 16 years of age. You don’t need to give notice or receive consent. Because there is no federal mandate, some cities or states have made laws to protect workers. 

Predictive scheduling is giving out employee schedules ahead of their required work shift. It penalizes on-call scheduling, and it includes no schedule changes without advanced notice. Predictive scheduling laws target businesses in the retail, hospitality, and service industries. 

If employers do not follow the laws, high penalties may occur such as fines and extra pay. You should keep timekeeping records for every employee. If not, the courts may use the employee’s records to determine the time worked. 

Plan to review your state and local laws for changes annually. Oregon and cities such as San Francisco, Emeryville, Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, Washington D.C., and Seattle currently have predictive scheduling laws. 

How much notice does an employer have to give for changing employee schedules in California?

There are currently only a few cities in California that do have predictive scheduling laws. They are Emeryville and San Francisco.

Although California does not have a predictive scheduling law, it does have a Reporting Time Pay law. Workers get paid for last-minute changes. Those who are scheduled but who are not put to work or furnished with less than half of their usual or scheduled day’s work. This is because of a lack of scheduling or proper notice by the employer.

The other cities in California don’t require workers to receive advance notice of their schedules. However, if they receive last-minute schedule changes or canceled shifts, the employer may have to pay premiums to the employee.

Since the first scheduling law occurred in San Francisco years ago, some other states and major cities have made laws regarding this matter. 

Formula Retail Employers in San Francisco have laws that require stores with at least 40 stores worldwide and 20 or more employees in San Francisco to receive their schedules two weeks in advance. They also require covered employers to provide their workers with a written estimate of the employee’s expected minimum number of scheduled shifts. They must also include the days and hours of these shifts. 

This also includes their janitorial and security contractors. The employer must pay one to four hours of pay at the hourly rate if changes are made in less than seven days. They also have on-call pay. 

Emeryville in California has a Fair Workweek Ordinance. It affects retail and fast-food locations with 56 or more employees globally or 20 or more employees in Emeryville. Schedules have to be posted 14 days in advance. They must pay increased wages for any changes made within 7 days of the scheduled shift. 

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What are some other laws in other states and major cities?

Here are some other states and city laws regarding changing employee schedules. It is important to determine if your city or state has laws regarding changing your employee schedules. 


Currently, Oregon is the only state that has statewide laws on predictive scheduling. If you work for a large employer in Oregon (at least 500 employees), they must give workers a work schedule in writing. Employees should receive a 14-day notice. Furthermore, it must be posted and easily visible and include all work shifts. The employer must pay a penalty if they change the schedule without notice. 

New York City

New York City passed a Fair Workweek Law. It requires retail and fast-food employers to give workers a predictive schedule. It also requires fast-food employers to allow existing workers the opportunity to work open shifts before hiring new workers. They must also give employees their schedules 14 days in advance. 


Chicago’s Fair Workweek Law did change its laws to become stricter in 2022. Employees are to notify eligible workers 14 days in advance. It also applies to many industries. Employees will also have a right to decline previously unscheduled hours. 


Seattle has secure scheduling laws in place for retail and food establishments. The laws affect places with more than 500 employees worldwide and more than 40 full-service restaurants worldwide. They must post work schedules 14 days in advance. Employers must respect workers’ rights to decline hours that are not on originally posted schedules. 

They also have laws for changing schedules. For example, they have to pay one hour for hours added to the shift or if the shift is changed. Furthermore, they should be paid half the hours not worked when a worker is scheduled for an on-call shift and is not called in or if they are sent home early. 

Washington D.C

According to the Hours and Scheduling Stability Act of 2015, an employer must provide at least 21 days advance notice when changing employee work schedules. 


Workers must have a 14-day scheduling notice according to the Fair Workweek Law. They will get paid for late schedule changes, and they have the right to refuse shifts scheduled within nine hours of each other. This applies to businesses with more than 30 locations and 250 workers. 

Why should small business owners know about changing schedule laws?

Some states and cities may change their laws to protect workers in case of changing schedules. It is important to evaluate your processes if you are not in a current area with these laws. 

Are you prepared to give adequate notice to your employees in case of scheduling changes?

Questions Workers May Ask

Can my employer change my schedule last minute? 
Federally yes. The FLSA states that in most cases an employer can change the work schedule of anyone over 16 years of age. However, some states and cities may prevent this. Check your local and state laws to determine what laws apply to your employer. 

Can my employer change my schedule without notice?

This would be the same answer as above. 

Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, and Tennessee are currently the only states that do not allow predictive scheduling laws. However, this can change anytime so it is important to annually check your local and state laws. 

How can software help make this easier?
An app like ezClocker has an online scheduling feature. It allows employees to view their schedules anywhere using their PC or mobile device. It also has features that will notify them if a schedule has changed. This allows your employees to receive their schedules on their phone or computer as soon as you post them. 

This time tracking app also has GPS so you can verify that your employees clocked in and out at the worksite. They can clock in and out anywhere. This helps when your employees are working at different locations. 

One of ezClocker’s clients is Julie Kuhlmann, who owns Polished to Perfection. She found timekeeping was time-consuming for her janitorial business. Some of her employees weren’t showing up when they said they were there. Once they implemented the timekeeping app, they could use the GPS function that pinned the location each time. 

Final Thoughts on Changing Employee Scheduling Laws

Many workers want fair scheduling, and they want to be notified quickly if their schedule changes. Continually changing your employee’s schedules may also increase employee turnover and lower employee engagement

Obviously, situations occur where workers call in at the last minute. Many of the laws require additional hours to be offered to the existing employees before bringing in someone else. This can make it hard or impossible to fill sudden vacancies. Discuss your needs with your team too. If someone can’t come in because of a sick child, could you offer flexible scheduling or work-from-home opportunities? Review your current practices. Can workers swap shifts?

By communicating employee schedules through a time-tracking app, you can follow your local laws and make your employees happy. The more information they know, the easier it is to retain and keep your workers engaged. 


Author: Kimberley Kay Travis

Kim Travis has over 20 years of experience in business, human resource management, and leadership roles. She has specialized knowledge in employment law, employee relations, recruiting, management consulting, small business growth, leadership development, workplace safety and health programs, and writing business content.


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