San Francisco Leads on Fair Scheduling, But Better Enforcement Needed

Many workers aren’t familiar with the law; many employers aren’t complying

WASHINGTON D.C.—San Francisco’s Formula Retail Employee Rights Ordinances (FRERO), the first law of its kind, requires retail employers to provide workers at least 7 days’ notice of their schedules. It also requires them to compensate workers when shifts are changed or cancelled with insufficient notice (known as “predictability pay”) or when they are “on call” but ultimately not needed. Additionally, FRERO requires employers to offer available hours to current workers before hiring new staff. Low public awareness, lack of business compliance, and limited outreach and enforcement resources are reducing the law’s impact.

CLASP and YWU surveyed 241 workers covered under FRERO to assess the law’s effects so far.  Workers said predictable schedules brought stability to their lives. However, more than a year into implementation, just 18 percent of workers were familiar with the law. Moreover, many workers said their employers weren’t complying with every rule. Among workers who experienced shifts changes—including cancelled or added shifts—with less than a week’s notice, just 30 percent received predictability pay. Furthermore, despite the fact that many workers expressed a desire for more hours of work, a majority said they weren’t offered additional hours before employers hired new staff.

“FRERO has the potential to be a game-changer.  Predictable schedules help workers plan their lives, including arranging child care, pursuing education, and managing finances,” said Liz Ben-Ishai, senior policy analyst at CLASP and co-author of Schedules on the Cutting Edge.  “However, public awareness is very low and enforcement is limited. As a result, many workers have been unable to assert their rights and some employers are violating the law without facing any repercussions.”

Advocates and community-based organizations in San Francisco have been working diligently to spread the word about FRERO, despite limited resources. Emilytricia Lopez Marchena, an organizer at YWU and co-author of the report, explained: “We have been working in partnership with San Francisco’s Office of Labor Standards Enforcement (OLSE) to raise awareness among retail workers, but much more outreach is needed to ensure workers can stand up for themselves when their rights are violated.”

YWU is part of a collective of community-based organizations that partner with San Francisco’s enforcement agency to raise awareness about FRERO and other worker protections. These efforts have empowered workers to challenge unfair labor practices, including by filing claims with OLSE. Yet as the report notes, more resources are needed to bolster the program as the collective undertakes outreach on a growing number of laws, including FRERO. The report also calls for increased, dedicated staffing for FRERO enforcement at OLSE.

“San Francisco has been a leader in the workers’ rights arena—passing the country’s first paid sick days law more than a decade ago, and now establishing groundbreaking protections to stabilize workers’ schedules,” said Ben-Ishai. “The city should take the lead on enforcing this new law, too. It’s essential that OLSE take steps to ensure employers are in compliance.” The report recommends that OLSE take a strategic approach to enforcement. It should focus its efforts on high-violation areas and be proactive about identifying violations, as opposed to waiting for complaints.

A growing number of cities and states are considering—and passing—fair scheduling laws, which could help protect millions of workers from volatile scheduling practices that wreak havoc on working families and create economic instability. The study released today points to the need to ensure adequate resources and staffing for enforcement of these laws to maximize their impact.

Click here to read the report.