Ed Heskett
Accounting and payroll, Blog

It’s likely that for years you’ve used on-call scheduling because it allows you to bring on new employees during peak business hours. However, that practice is now coming under fire for allowing employers the ability to create unstable schedules for their employees.

Now, cities across the country are requiring restaurants and retailers to use predictive versus on-call scheduling. Sound like a headache? It doesn’t have to be. We’ll help you through it.

Here’s what you should know about predictive scheduling in order to prepare for the change.

What is predictive scheduling?

Have you ever had to pack shirts for a vacation? You don’t really know how many you’ll need, and once you’re on the road, you may find out that you packed too many or too few. Predictive scheduling can feel that way at times.

This practice requires you to set employee schedules a few days or weeks in advance, depending on local requirements. Once those shifts are locked in, you can’t make changes without being penalized or paying overtime.

Predictive scheduling is designed to benefit your employees. It provides them with more stability, allows them to plan ahead, fulfill family obligations, and ensures they earn a fair wage. Which is great! But that doesn’t mean it will be easy for QSR franchise owners to adjust and implement.

When will predictive scheduling go into effect?

The first three major cities to implement predictive scheduling are San Francisco, Seattle, and New York City. Their city councils led the predictive scheduling revolution and their decisions can give you a good idea of what to expect in your market.

How soon can you expect predictive scheduling measures to go into effect in your area? Currently, 12 states have pending legislation for the new scheduling process.

No one can be sure when this legislation might be passed, but we can be sure that there’s a fundamental shift happening right now. Lawmakers recognize the hardships that on-call scheduling can create for employees and that fewer people are willing to put up with it. To keep your QSR staffed and compliant, you may need to make changes soon.

How could predictive scheduling affect you?

So, how might predictive scheduling affect your business? The Employment Policies Institute conducted a study in 2016 and found that 17% of employers were offering fewer jobs after San Francisco adopted the new law. That makes sense. Since employers have to give each employee more hours, they need fewer employees overall. The same will likely be true in other markets, which could be a good thing for employers. It means you might spend less time hiring and more time running your QSR.

But predictive scheduling may not be as desirable for employees as you thought. Much of the legislation being passed requires 24-hour notice for schedule changes. If this holds true, employees could feel that their hands are tied when it comes to last minute notices and schedule needs. This could ultimately lead to employees working short-handed and create a dissatisfying work environment.

The unpredictable nature of the industry may also cause issues with the new scheduling process. For example, if an employee calls in sick at the last minute, under the new legislation, that employer couldn’t find someone to replace her without being fined.  And scheduling may become more difficult when having to consider multiple factors for each employee such as preferred schedule, the spacing between their shifts, total hours worked, etc. Realistically, most QSR franchise owners will have to rely more heavily on technology to comply with this legislation.


How can you prepare yourself?

It’s safe to assume that predictive scheduling will eventually affect you one way or another. That’s why it’s smart to prepare yourself now so you’re not stuck playing catch-up. Here are a few ways to do it:

  1. Get familiar with your scheduling software. A good workforce management tool will let you set up predictive scheduling triggers and will tell you when a schedule doesn’t comply with them. Learning how to use these tools now will save you time and money in the future.
  2. Minimize or eliminate back-to-back shifts. These shifts, also known as “clopenings” because the employee both closes and then opens the store, are being punished under some predictive scheduling laws. Eliminating or minimizing your reliance on these shifts now will make it easier when predictive scheduling goes into full effect.
  3. Adjust your hiring process to mirror predictive scheduling requirements. Some markets require employers to offer more hours to current employees before hiring anyone else. Adapting to this practice now and using a technology-based platform to accurately predict labor needs will keep you ahead of the curve.

Whether you view these changes as good or bad, it’s important to know how they can affect your scheduling and how to avoid the downsides. Doing this helps keep your QSR healthy, compliant, and appealing to employees.

coach_webinar