Inflexible Scheduling: How Employees, Employers, and Consumers Are Hurt by Predictive Scheduling Laws

A growing number of states and localities – including Philadelphia, New York City, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago and the state of Oregon – are adopting scheduling mandates that require employers to provide their employees with advance notice of their work schedules (two weeks is common) and be subject to fines if they change employee schedules within certain timeframes. These so-called predictive scheduling mandates are spreading quickly, but policymakers should carefully consider their unintended consequences.

Advocates argue that tighter scheduling mandates are needed to deter last minute scheduling changes that can be costly and disruptive to workers. However, these laws severely limit an employer’s flexibility to accommodate employee requests for time off, inhibit offers of additional hours for employees who want to pick up extra shifts, and can significantly increase the cost of doing business, especially for small firms.

While many businesses across the U.S. use flexible scheduling to attract and retain employees, as well as to accommodate changing market conditions, predictive scheduling mandates impose an overly restrictive, one-size-fits-all model that would take away the flexibility that workers want and restrict their opportunities to work. Such mandates harm employers and employees of every type and size, raising employment costs, reducing economic output, and deterring job creation.

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