Faculty Research Identifies Strategies for Implementing Work Scheduling Laws during Economic Uncertainty
Professor Susan Lambert delivered the third installment of an employer-side evaluation of the implementation of the Seattle’s Secure Scheduling Ordinance (SS0) to the Seattle City Council in December 2022. The report details retail and food service managers’ staffing and scheduling practices and implementation of SSO requirements as the pandemic unfolded. Her research collaborators were Associate Professor and alumna Anna Haley, AM '95, PhD '03, Rutgers University, Crown Family School Doctoral Candidate Hyojin Cho, and Crown Family School Doctoral Student Resha T. Swanson.
Two waves of data collection were incorporated into the evaluation: Peak Pandemic (October 2022 through April 2021) and Summer 2022 (May through Auguest 2022). The report identifies issues related to SSO implementation, which involve provisions on the 14-day advance notice, good faith estimate of work hours, access to hours, mandated pay premium for schedule changes, and “volunteering” for schedule changes. Key factors that challenged managers’ ability to implement the SSO included staffing shortages, volatile customer demand, and uneven manager knowledge of the SSO. Further emerging issues were raised during the Summer 2022 interviews. Managers reported shoplifting, effects of the housing and homelessness crisis, manager stress and changed relationships with employers as concerns moving forward.
The evaluation offers three key recommendations for improving SSO implementation:
- Corporations and franchises should proactively ensure that their managers are thoroughly knowledgeable about the SSO and understand how to implement the specific scheduling practices required for compliance.
- Corporations and franchises with locations covered by the SSO that already use scheduling software should consider having it tailored to facilitate managers’ SSO compliance; those businesses not currently utilizing scheduling software should ideally invest in it, and customize it. It may be in the City’s interest to explore options for incentivizing such investments.
- The City should continue supports for SSO implementation including providing training, consultation on the pragmatics of implementation, websites with extensive FAQs, and other troubleshooting guides.
Despite strong business pressures, economic uncertainty, staffing shortages, and personal challenges, several of the managers interviewed by the researchers indicated that the SSO had become standard operating procedure.