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Overview of Compliance With Seattle's Secure Scheduling Ordinance

Published on July 13, 2017

The City of Seattle’s Secure Scheduling Ordinance went into effect on July 1, 2017. The law applies to retail and food service establishments with 500+ employees worldwide. For franchises and joint employers, all employees worldwide are counted, regardless of the number of employees in Seattle. Full-service restaurants must also have 40 locations to be covered.

The law regulates scheduling for all hourly employees except for hourly administrative positions that support the corporate side of a business, such as human resources or payroll. Employers must comply with six main requirements:

  1. Provide a good faith estimate of the median number of hours an employee is expected to work.
  2. Consider an employee’s request for a work schedule change and grant the request if it is necessitated by a “major life event,” such as a housing or childcare change, unless there is a bona fide business reason for denying the request.
  3. Not schedule a closing and opening shift (i.e., a “clopening”) with less than 10 hours between shifts unless the employee consents, and even where the employee does consent, pay time-and-a-half for all hours worked during the opening shift that are less than 10 hours after the closing shift ended.
  4. Post work schedules 14 days in advance.
  5. Provide premium pay for changes to the posted work schedule.
    • An employer cannot require an employee to accept additional hours beyond those posted. If an employee voluntarily accepts an employer’s request to work additional hours, the employer must pay one extra hour of pay for each change, whether that change lengthens an existing shift or adds a new shift.
    • For each hour subtracted from a scheduled shift, and for each hour not worked during an on-call shift, the employee must be paid for half of the hour not worked.
    • Certain exceptions to premium pay apply, including when the employee initiates the change to the posted schedule.
  6. Offer additional hours of work to existing employees before hiring externally.

The details for each of these requirements and potential exceptions are available on the Office of Labor Standards website.

The City of Seattle is giving employers a grace period until December 31, 2017 to implement the law. During this time, the City will not impose penalties or civil fines except for egregious violations such as retaliation. The grace period makes this a good time for employers to learn the details of this complex new law and establish systems for compliance. The law still authorizes employees to bring a private lawsuit for violation, however, so we encourage all employers to come into compliance as soon as possible.

If you have questions, please contact any member of the Employment Rights, Benefits & Labor Group at Ryan, Swanson & Cleveland, PLLC.


Shannon Lawless is an attorney in Ryan Swanson’s Employment, Rights & Benefits Group and can be reached at [email protected].

This message has been created by the Employment Rights, Benefits & Labor Group at Ryan, Swanson & Cleveland, PLLC to advise of recent developments in the law. Because each situation is different, this information is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended to provide legal advice on any specific facts and circumstances. Ryan, Swanson & Cleveland, PLLC is a full-service law firm located in Seattle, Washington.

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