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What You Should Know About Changing Employee Schedules

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

It is also important to find methods to communicate and make changes to your employee schedules. 

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 without prior consent. 

Because there is no federal mandate, some cities or states have made laws to better protect employees. 

Predictive scheduling is giving out employee schedules ahead of their required work shift and penalizes on-call scheduling. It also includes no schedule changes without advanced notice. 

If employers do not follow the laws, high penalties may occur such as fines and additional pay. Employers should keep timekeeping records on every employee. If not, the courts may use employee’s records to make determinations regarding time worked. 

You should plan to review your state and local laws.

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

Although California does not have a predictive scheduling law, it does have a Reporting Time Pay law. It compensates employees who are scheduled to work 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 inadequate scheduling or lack of proper notice by the employer. 

Since the first scheduling law occurred in San Francisco years ago, some other states and major cities have made laws regarding this matter. However, some states have prohibited their major cities from enacting changing schedules laws. 

There are several cities (e.g., San Francisco and Emeryville) in California that have decided upon changing scheduling laws. They require employees to receive advance notice of their schedules. However, if they receive last-minute schedule changes or cancelled shifts, the company may have to pay premiums to the employee. 

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. This also includes their janitorial and security contractors. The employer must pay one to four hours of pay at the employee’s hourly rate if changes are made 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. The employer must post schedules 14 days in advance and must pay increased wages for any changes made within 7 days of the scheduled shift. 

There are other cities in California currently reviewing whether to implement a changing employees schedule law. 

Need an Affordable Online Scheduling App for Your Employees?

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. 


If you work for a large employer in Oregon, they must give employees a work schedule in writing. Employees should receive a 7 day notice. It also 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 the existing workers the opportunity to work open shifts before hiring new workers. 


Chicago’s Fair Workweek Law requires employers to notify low-income workers 10 days in advance of changes to their schedules. It also applies to many industries. In 2022, it will require 14-day advance notice. 


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 which 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. Also, 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. 

Why should small business owners know about changing schedule laws?

Some states and cities are now talking about changing their laws to protect employees in case of changing schedules. It is important to evaluate your processes if you are not in a current area with these laws. What could you improve to help give adequate notice to your employees when you need to make changes?

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

Here are some 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. State and city laws may be different, so it is important to know your state and local 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 employees 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. 

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 schedule may also increase employee turnover and lower employee engagement

Obviously, situations occur where employees 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 employees 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. Do you have a system in place where your employees could 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 better employees they will be. 


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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