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This Fall, More Predictable Schedules and Paychecks for New York City's Fast Food Industry Workers

Employees who work at fast-food joints suffer many difficulties- including not being allowed to work the shifts requested, being requested to come in at the last minute (when they are not scheduled) or risk losing their jobs, or being stuck with what is called the ‘clopening’ shift, which is the fast-food industry’s term for closing the store, and then returning promptly to open it again.

The term “fast food establishment” is defined as “any establishment: (i) that has as its primary purpose serving food or drink items; (ii) where patrons order or select items and pay before eating and such items may be consumed on the premises, taken out or delivered to the customer’s location; (iii) that offers limited service; (iv) that is part of a chain; and (v) that is one of 30 or more establishments nationally.”

For purposes of the laws governing work schedules and shifts at fast food establishments, the definition of “fast food employee” excludes salaried employees. For purposes of the law permitting pay deductions for not-for-profit organizations, the definition of “fast food employee” does not exclude salaried employees.

On November 26, 2017, the bills Mayor de Blasio RECENTLY signed into law amending the New York City Human Rights Law, to provide more predictable schedules and paychecks New York City’s 65,000 fast-food employees, will go into effect.
Starting November 26, 2017:

• Fast-food employers must offer employees their work schedules at least 14 days in advance. Changes inside of two weeks are still possible, but each change will incur a penalty of $10 to $75, depending on the situation, paid to the worker.

• Fast-food employees must receive at least 11 hours off in between shifts. Of course, employers can ask an employee to clock back in sooner, but they’ll have to give that person an extra $100.

***The above penalties will not be imposed on the fast-food employers if the employees requests the changes to shifts, in writing or trade shifts with another employee; if the employer is required to pay overtime for the shift; or if an event occurs which prohibits the employer’s ability to operate.***

• Employers of fast-food chains must offer shifts to existing employees before hiring new workers.

• Fast-food employees may deduct part of their salary and donate it to a nonprofit, and the employers have to disburse these donations on behalf of the employees.

New York City’s Office of Labor Policy and Standards (OLPS), part of the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA), will be responsible for enforcement. Employees may also file a private civil action within two years of an alleged violation, for damages and attorneys’ fees.