predictive scheduling guide

What Is Predictive Scheduling?

Work scheduling regulations are being implemented across cities and states in America in a bid to protect and enhance employee rights. When it comes to predictive scheduling laws, it’s not just employees who benefit. These practices help employers get ahead of common scheduling issues and fall-outs, too.

Whether it’s mandatory or optional for your business, this complete guide to predictive scheduling covers everything you need to know.

What is predictive scheduling?

Predictive scheduling is when you give employees advance notice of their work schedules. It includes providing employees with a good faith estimate of monthly work patterns, notice of scheduled shifts, adequate rest periods between shifts, and compensation for/the right to refuse any schedule change.

You might have heard predictive scheduling regulations referred to as fair workweek laws, scheduling ordinances, or employee rights ordinances.

Predictive scheduling is important because it overcomes the endless problems associated with on-call and just-in-time scheduling practices, including understaffed shifts, unhappy employees, and high staff turnover. It also significantly benefits employers and employees in many ways.

  1. Work-life balance

    Predictive scheduling gives employees the advance notice, stability, and information to plan their lives around their work schedule. This includes arranging childcare, leisure activities, and studies without worrying about being called into work or having shifts canceled at the last minute. Plus, adequate rest periods between shifts ensure employees have enough downtime to recuperate and re-energize.

  2. Financial planning

    Predictive scheduling helps employees to accurately predict their monthly income and decide whether secondary employment is needed to support themselves and their families. This is particularly important for those on minimum wage.

    If an employee needs to take on a second job, predictive scheduling allows them to coordinate shifts accordingly, meaning you don’t have to lose a good employee just because you can’t offer the volume of work they need.

  3. Employee productivity

    Countless studies show that predictive scheduling increases employee productivity. A pilot program in San Francisco and Chicago found that a two-week advance work schedule increased median sales by 7% and productivity by 5%, leading Gap to extend the policy country-wide.

    The healthier work-life balance and financial stability that a predictive scheduling law allows increases employee happiness, which feeds into their performance and engagement at work.

  4. Business performance

    Predictive workforce planning also boosts business performance, and not just through increased productivity. The forward planning of shifts enables you to efficiently and effectively prepare for busy periods and spend less time handling last-minute scheduling changes.

    Predictive scheduling is also viewed as an employee perk, helping you to recruit and retain the best talent for your positions.

Who’s affected by these regulations?

Predictive scheduling regulations affect businesses that allocate working hours using shifts, especially if those shifts change regularly.

This predominantly affects service sector workers, such as those working in retail shops, restaurants, fast-food establishments, hotels, and leisure facilities. However, any business with part-time, shift, seasonal, on-call, minimum wage, or hourly workers should implement and can benefit from advance scheduling.

Please note: The California Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) went into effect January 1, 2020, and requires employers to classify some independent contractors as employees in the state of California (although there are exceptions). This might affect your scheduling requirements, so make sure to read more about AB5 and follow state laws regarding employee classification.

Predictive scheduling laws by state

Your legal requirement to implement predictive scheduling depends on your business location, industry, and size of your team.

At the time of writing, predictive scheduling is a legal requirement in eight cities and states. While the details and requirements of each law differs, most of them mandate:

  • A good faith estimate of expected schedules upon hire.

  • A defined period of rest between shifts.

  • Advance notice of work schedules.

  • Extra pay for a schedule change or shifts during a rest period.

How to make sure you comply: Tips and best practices

The business benefits of providing employees with advance notice of shifts rely on predictive scheduling compliance. Otherwise, things can get costly. In particular, you should:

1. Understand your requirements

Seek expert advice on whether predictive scheduling law applies to your business or could benefit it nonetheless.

2. Develop policies and procedures

Update policies and develop procedures to ensure ongoing compliance, including the techniques of posting schedules, notifying schedule changes, offering additional hours, and estimating work schedules.

3. Schedule recurring shifts automatically

Use scheduling software to set up recurring shifts automatically based on business requirements and local scheduling laws. This is especially useful if you operate across different jurisdictions or have fluctuating staff requirements over the year.

You can do this in Hubstaff with one-time or recurring shift scheduling.

Hubstaff shift dashboard

Hubstaff’s employee time tracking and scheduling software can help businesses comply with predictive scheduling laws by managing:

  • Online scheduling and attendance reporting

  • Team management with per-person customizable settings

  • Availability and time off requests in one place

  • Easy mobile, desktop, and web apps for clocking in and out

4. Avoid clopening shifts

Scheduling back-to-back shifts might incur rest period penalties and premiums. Avoid scheduling employees on clopening shifts (closing and then opening the next day) whenever possible to give them an adequate break between shifts.

5. Communicate with your employees

Speak to your current employees to confirm their available hours and to seek feedback on their current work schedule. The more you engage and involve employees, the more they’ll want to help you to overcome staffing problems in the future.

6. Invest in the right tools

Invest in a scheduling tool or app that makes it easy to share schedules with employees, offer additional shifts, make amendments, and store evidence of compliance.

Final thoughts

Predictive scheduling might sound like a pain if you’ve always operated just-in-time or on-call scheduling.

However, once you have the right procedures, tools, and attitude in place, advance notice of shifts can make your employees happier, your business more efficient, and your to-do list less stressful.

Frequently asked questions

Simplify scheduling with Hubstaff

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