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Blog | Scheduling

Are You Prepared for Predictive Scheduling Mandates?

New scheduling regulations may be coming to your area. Are you ready?

Wages, overtime and paid sick leave laws have impacted the service and hospital industry. But a new beast is rearing its head. The Fight for Fifteen and union rights movements are inspiring new city and regional legislation designed to improve labor scheduling in restaurants. In Part I of our Predictive Scheduling blog series, we’ll break down what’s driving the mandates, discuss its short- and long-term impact, and share ways get in front of this issue.

What’s Driving the Predictive Scheduling Mandates?

During the 2016 U.S. election cycle, you probably heard a lot of political speak about bringing back high-paying, goods-producing jobs. The 2008 recession, trade pacts and slow economic recovery ended or reduced the number of manufacturing jobs with steady shifts and work hours. Consequently, a large segment of employment has changed to part-time service work. According to some reports, 94 percent of the jobs created over the past eight years have been part-time. Due to economics, around 27.4 million American workers are part-timers (working less than 35 hours/weekly). Seven and a half million of those crave a full-time gig. Many workers are filling the wage gap by working several part-time jobs.

As Fight for Fifteen proponents keep the pressure on, they are also demanding stable worker schedules. Factors fueling the firestorm: not giving employees enough work hours, asking them to be on call but not summoning them for work and scheduling them at the last minute to fulfill the restaurant’s staffing needs.

Predictive Scheduling: How Does it Impact Me?

Scheduling regulations will cause chains and franchise networks like yours to post notices regularly and retain records for as long as four years. For example, Seattle’s law demands that employers maintain documented records for three years of operators’ responses to employee schedule requests, good-faith guesses of employees’ expected work hours and other aspects of the ordinance. Operators and franchise owners will need to keep a verifiable, electronic, printable trail of all schedules and shift transactions (that’s a mouthful).

Failing to keep records could float the presumption that the restaurant operator violated the law. When it comes to predictive scheduling laws, improper documentation is a profit-killer. The cost of digital documentation is small compared to the penalties around the predictive scheduling legislation and punitive damages arising from employee lawsuits. Consider this: small businesses spend on average $125,000 per case to defend a lawsuit.

Predictive Scheduling: How to Get In-Front of the Issue?

Of course, you want to comply with the laws. But how can your management team stay on top of schedules, plus retain all records and notices required by law? How can managers of single-unit, fine dining or limited service businesses sketch out paper schedules with so many regulatory parameters in play. Forget spreadsheets, company-built systems and onerous manual efforts. You need easy-breezy.

HotSchedules provides an online/mobile application for employees to manage their own schedules. Accessing the app via a smart phone or PC, your crews can make changes, trade shifts and accept time slots. They can submit time-off requests and their weekly, monthly or annual availabilities. So, if employees can’t work because they have class or another part-time job, that’s built into the system. Schedules and changes appear instantly on employees’ mobile devices. Managers still keep approval rights of swaps, requests and availability notifications.

Within the HotSchedules system, every shift swap, denial and schedule gets communicated to employees, becoming a documented, trackable moment with inherent consent about each shift transaction for three years.

Several customers who’ve put in place the HotSchedules Activity-Based Labor Forecasting module validated they’ve created more intelligent, accurate schedules. Through trend analysis and historical data, the system spits out an expected number of customers at a particular time and the right number of servers needed. Executives tested the system by appearing at their restaurant and doing a head count. The system had predicted there would be 67 customers during that time. There were 69. The on-the-money prediction gave them confidence in their schedule and that they weren’t experiencing a lot of swapping, changes or last-minute calls to work.

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