United States: Seattle Becomes Second City To Pass "Secure Scheduling" Ordinance

Seattle, known for its employee-friendly ordinances, has passed a law regulating how large retailers, full-service restaurants, fast food restaurants, and coffee shops schedule and pay their hourly, non-exempt workers. Seattle is the second city, after San Francisco, to provide workers with scheduling protections. The new ordinance will add a new chapter 14.22 to the Seattle Municipal Code and will take effect July 1, 2017. Emeryville, California recently became the third city to enact similar measures, and several other cities are considering following suit, including Washington D.C.; New York, New York; and Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Below we summarize some of the key components of the new law.

Covered Employers and Employees

The new law will cover all retail and food services establishments (e.g., fast food restaurants) with at least 500 employees worldwide, as well as full-service restaurants with at least 500 employees worldwide and at least 40 full-service locations worldwide. When calculating the number of employees a particular food services establishment or full-service restaurant employs, employees of any other food services establishment or full service restaurant that are part of the same chain, integrated enterprise, or franchise will also be included in the employee count.

Covered employees are limited to those hourly, non-exempt employees who work at a fixed, point of sale location of a covered employer and who work at least half of their hours within Seattle's city limits.

Employer Requirements

The primary requirements of the law on covered employers include:

  • Providing good-faith estimates of the employee's work schedule at the time of hire, and then updating such estimates annually and/or upon significant change in business model;
  • Posting work schedules (including on-call shifts) at least 14 days in advance in a conspicuous and accessible location;
  • Communicating any changes to the posted work schedule to the employee, who may decline any new work hours not included in the original schedule;
  • Engaging in a timely, interactive process to consider employee scheduling requests (with limited ability to deny requests where limitation is due to a "major life event");
  • Providing at least ten hours of rest between shifts, or pay time-and-a-half for the shortfall of ten hours if an employee consents to or requests less rest;
  • Offering available hours to existing employees before employing or contracting with new workers;
  • Compensating employees with the equivalent of one hour of pay for (1) any additional hours of work beyond those scheduled, or (2) changes to the date, start, or end time of a work shift with no loss of hours, unless the employee voluntarily agreed to work the hours in response to a mass written communication from the employer that addresses hours where the employee scheduled to work those hours becomes unavailable, mutually agreed to swap work shifts with another employee, or the employee voluntarily agreed to extend his/her current shift in response to a present and unanticipated customer need;
  • Compensating employees with pay equivalent to half the employee's hourly wage for each hour cut from the posted schedule, with the exception of employee-initiated shift swaps or force majeure-type conditions such as loss of power or natural disaster;
  • Paying half the hourly rate for all on-call hours scheduled if the employer does not require the employee to report for duty; and
  • Maintaining scheduling records for three years.

Notwithstanding the above requirements, labor groups may negotiate alternative terms through collective bargaining.

The city council indicated it will study the effects of the new law for two years to evaluate whether any changes should be made.

Notice to Employees

The Office of Civil Rights will create and distribute a poster notifying employees of their rights under the new law. Once available, employers must post this poster in English and any other primary language(s) of the employee(s) in a conspicuous and accessible place. The Office of Civil Rights will create versions of the poster in English, Spanish, and "any other languages that are necessary for employers to comply with" the law. For employees who work remotely or do not have a regular worksite, employers may provide a copy of the poster on an individual basis.

Penalties and Enforcement

Employers in violation of the new law may be subject to civil penalties of $500 per aggrieved worker for the first violation (or $1,000 in the case of a violation of the anti-retaliation provision of the law), with increasing penalties for subsequent violations. Aggrieved parties may also bring a private action to claim unpaid compensation, liquidated damages, and attorneys' fees and costs. In the case of retaliation claims, the law creates a rebuttable presumption of retaliation if the employer or other person takes an adverse action against a person within 90 calendar days of his or her protected activity (e.g., inquiring about and informing others of rights under the new law, filing a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights for an alleged violation, etc.).

Although there is still some time before the law goes into effect, the impact of the new law will be significant for covered employers. Indeed, the law is very detailed and presents many complexities for employers. For that reason, covered retail and food-service employers should begin evaluating their scheduling practices now, determining how best to modify their operations to ensure compliance in as economical a fashion as possible. In addition, companies should be alert to efforts to pass similar laws in other cities.

Seattle Becomes Second City to Pass "Secure Scheduling" Ordinance

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.