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Retail Employees in New York City Will Have More Protections

On May 30, 2017, Mayor de Blasio signed a bill into law that is protective of New York City’s workers who work for “retail employers.” The law goes into effect on November 26, 2017.

A retail employer is one that employs 20 or more employees at a business “that is engaged primarily in the sale of consumer goods at one or more stores” within New York City.

The goal of this legislation is to create more predictable work schedules for retail workers. This law will prohibit the practice of “on-call scheduling,” or requiring the employee to be available to work, and to contact the employer or wait to be contacted by the employer to determine whether the employee must report to work.

Likely beneficiaries of this legislation are parents of small children, and those workers who juggle multiple jobs.
As of November 26, 2017, retail employers will no longer be permitted to:

(a) schedule an employee for any on-call shift;
(b) cancel any regular shift for a retail employee within 72 hours of the scheduled start of such shift,
(c) require a retail employee to work with fewer than 72 hours’ notice, unless the employee consents in writing; and
(d) require a retail employee to contact a retail employer to confirm whether or not the employee should report for a
regular shift fewer than 72 hours before the start of such shift.

Notwithstanding these new restrictions, a retail employer will still be able to (i) grant employees days off, if an employee requests them, (ii) allow an employee to exchange shifts with another employee; and (iii) make changes to employees’ work schedules with less than 72 hours’ notice if the employer’s operations cannot begin or continue due to: (a) threats to the retail employees or the retail employer’s property, (b) a failure of public utilities or the shutdown of public transportation, (c) a fire, flood or other natural disaster, or (d) a state of emergency declared by the president of the United States, governor of the state of New York or mayor of the city.

The law will also require retail employers to provide employees with written schedules no later than 72 hours before the first shift on the work schedule and to conspicuously post the schedule at least 72 hours before the beginning of the scheduled hours of work. They will be required to update the schedule and directly notify affected employees after making changes to the work schedule, and also transmit the work schedule by electronic means, if such means are regularly used to communicate scheduling information.

Upon request, a retail employer will also have to provide an employee with (i) his or her work schedule, in writing, for any week the employee worked within the prior three years, and (ii) the most current version of the work schedule for all retail employees at that work location, whether or not changes to the work schedule have been posted.