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Why Predictive Scheduling Laws Are a Hard Sell for Small Businesses
January 31, 2018
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Why Predictive Scheduling Laws Are a Hard Sell for Small Businesses

Creating a shift schedule is one of the biggest chores on a manager’s list. It’s a task so big, some managers claim it takes them up to 12 hours a week to complete. Not only does it require working around scheduling conflicts or giving each team member equal hours; it’s knowing, from experience, what your peak times are during the week, and anticipating those needs by scheduling the right number of employees.

Unfortunately, scheduling shift workers just got a lot harder for businesses of all sizes. Across the country, various predictive scheduling laws have passed in states like California, New York, Massachusetts, Arizona, and Ohio.

What are predictive scheduling laws?

Predictive scheduling laws are state and city ordinances (nothing federal just yet) that require employers to provide shift workers with advance notice of their schedules. Some cities and states have made it illegal for businesses to keep employees “on-call,” while others have encouraged businesses to create “voluntary standby lists.”

Many ordinances ban “clopens” as well — the practice of scheduling an employee for a closing shift, followed immediately by an opening shift. Employers who break the law by asking workers to come in for previously unscheduled or non-compliant shifts face heavy fines.

The laws are designed to help employees live more balanced lives. Receiving their schedule 72 hours in advance, or in some states, two weeks in advance, can help workers better plan for appointments, time with family and friends, and childcare, among other personal needs.

Although the laws certainly work in favor of the employee, do they present any benefits to employers? Some sources say yes.

Employer benefits to predictive scheduling

Believe it or not, predictive scheduling can help businesses solve current staffing problems and save money. In fact, the two go hand in hand.

Did you know 1 in 10 employers deals with “no-call, no-shows” every day? Forty percent say it happens at least once a month! Even if your averages aren’t that high, only two percent of employers say they’ve never experienced a “no-call, no-show.” Are you one of the lucky two percent?

When employees don’t show up, businesses suffer. Fewer customers get the help they need, sales decrease, and employees already on the clock are often forced to stay longer to cover the time their co-worker should’ve been working. On average, businesses take on $633 in additional operating costs each month, just from workers not showing up. That’s over $7,500 a year!

Predictive scheduling may offer a solution. When employees have more time to plan, there are fewer reasons for missing work. Plus, when employees have a better work-life balance, they’re happier, and that happiness translates to increased company loyalty and productivity.

Naturally, all this also comes down to how employees keep track of their schedules, particularly when they’re receiving them two weeks ahead of time. For this, employers may want to invest in employee scheduling software that allows them to share the schedule with their employees via an app or online platform.

Some apps allow employees and employers to set reminders for upcoming work, reducing the chances of someone forgetting or overlooking a shift. In addition, scheduling software can also make it easier for employers to build schedules, reducing the time managers have to spend on the chore.

New laws, new challenges, new opportunities

It’d be tough to end this post on an entirely positive note. The truth is, for managers in charge of compiling schedules, these laws are likely going to make that job harder before it gets easier.

If creating schedules is your job, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with your local predictive scheduling laws. Once you have a solid understanding of the rules, meet with your employees to discuss any changes. They should understand what your limitations are, and what the new schedule rules will mean for them. Topics like swapping shifts, the “interactive process” of scheduling, and “predictable pay” may apply to your team, and thus should be part of your discussion.

Finally, be sure to consider systems and technologies that can make your job easier. With so many changes going into effect, and likely more on the horizon, it may be time to invest in a better scheduling solution.

Change isn’t always easy. Often it comes with its own laundry list of challenges. But every challenge brings with it new opportunities. In this case, the chance to save money and increase worker happiness! With stakes that high, predictive scheduling is one opportunity you may want to give a second look.

Fora Financial

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Danielle Higley is a copywriter for TSheets time tracking and scheduling. She has a BA in English literature and has spent her career writing and editing marketing materials for small businesses. This year, she started an editorial consulting company.
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