Predictive Scheduling’s Effect on Restaurants 

Predictive scheduling is a set of practices and laws which primarily affect the retail and hospitality industries, and which govern how employers in those industries create schedules for their employees.

It has been known by other names such as fair scheduling or secure scheduling, but the intent of the practice is to eliminate on-call scheduling, and to provide employees with known schedules they can count on.


Other Provisions of Predictive Scheduling

There are a few other provisions in the overall area of predictive scheduling, the first of which is that employees must be given sufficient notice for their shift schedules. When an employer changes a schedule in a way that contradicts predictive scheduling, employees would have to be compensated for that breach. In addition, all employees are entitled to receive a specific number of hours of off-time between shifts, and in cases where this doesn't happen, they would have to be paid at a higher rate.


Origins of Predictive Scheduling

The reason these practices have come into being in the first place, is that several years ago a drive was initiated by some disenchanted employees who demanded more certitude regarding their shift schedules. Their complaints about on-call scheduling were researched by several organizations such as the Social Policy Network, the Family Well-Being organization, and the Employment Instability group, and the result of those studies largely confirmed the employees' complaints.


The studies revealed that on-call scheduling led to more family conflicts and increased stress levels, as well as greater interference with activities unrelated to work. It was also difficult for affected employees to predict their income, and to plan for personal activities. Refusing undesirable shifts was either difficult or impossible, and when coupled with the weight of the other factors mentioned above, it was enough to trigger a mood of disenchantment with many employees in the hospitality industry.


This led directly to the adoption of predictive scheduling laws in some major cities like San Francisco, and other large cities are likewise considering adoption of these laws. Some states such as Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Michigan are also considering the implementation of predictive scheduling laws. As the practice seems to be gaining traction throughout the country, it would be advisable for owners of restaurants and retail outlets to be forewarned about the likely ways their businesses will be affected.


Practices Regarding Hiring

There are some points in the legislation which affect recruitment and hiring of individuals by restaurant owners. In situations where there are consistently a number of open shifts available, those shifts must be offered to current employees before any new person can be hired. In effect, this would take control out of the hands of an owner or manager who would rather bring in someone more skilled or competent to absorb available shifts.



If the situation involves under-performing employees, there are only two possible solutions, neither of them appealing from the standpoint of the restaurant owner. Under-performing employees could be asked to take on extra shifts, or they could be fired, which would leave even more available shifts, and a probable shortage of manpower.


Modifications to Scheduling

One of the most prominent provisions of predictive scheduling is a requirement that states current employees must be provided with advance notice for shift schedules within a pre-determined time. This covers all employees including newhires, so even when dealing with an employee just hired, you would have to provide them with a realistic estimate of their upcoming work schedule. This would have a major impact on restaurants where practical schedules are adopted on-the-fly to cover busy periods and down times where fewer patrons are on hand.


It would have an even bigger impact on businesses where the volume of patronage is completely unpredictable from day-to-day, which means there is no telling how many workers might be necessary at any point in time. If you should fail to provide your workforce with schedules within the pre-specified period of time, you would then be required to pay them at a higher rate for their services.


Handling Opening and Closing Shifts

Almost all forms of predictive scheduling laws prohibit the use of double shifts by employers, and this would include shifts where your business is closed and then re-opened in consecutive shifts. A mandatory downtime or rest period is required for employees, so they have a reasonable chance to recover from the first full shift. The only situation which would be legally acceptable in this area, is having an employee accept consecutive shifts in writing, and in that case, he/she would have to be paid a premium because of the consecutive shifts.


If yours is a business which already has employees closing and then opening the facility, that would have to be broken up, and you might have to train new employees on the opening or closing processes. Some forms of predictive scheduling go so far as to mandate the rate of pay which would be required for employees who waive their predictive scheduling rights, and agree to consecutive shifts of closing and opening.


There's no doubt that predictive scheduling laws will have a major impact on restaurants and retail businesses, regarding the way that employees' work shifts are scheduled. Failure to comply with these laws could leave your business vulnerable to severe financial penalties. If your restaurant or retail business is one which falls under the aegis of predictive scheduling laws, you would thus be obliged to adopt those practices in a timely manner, or be exposed to possible fines.

There are software management tools available which can be used to prepare compliant work schedules for employees, and which fulfill the obligations of predictive scheduling, and these might prove useful in avoiding compliance issues. The resulting prepared schedules may not always be advantageous to businesses, but the mandate to stay compliant is one that simply can't be overlooked.