Skip to Content

‘On-Call Scheduling’ Can Help Employers, But Beware ‘Predictability’ Laws


If you are an employer in the hospitality industry, you’re well aware of how tough it is to schedule the right number of workers on a given day, particularly in light of ongoing labor shortages and record turnover rates.

To deal with this, many employers have enacted “on-call” scheduling policies to address unpredictable levels of customer traffic and last-minute staffing shortages caused when workers either call in sick or don’t show up.

With on-call scheduling, the employer designates certain workers to be available to report to work on either short notice or no advance notice at all if needed. Such employees call at a certain time to see if they should report. They’re also sent home first if things aren’t as busy as expected.

As convenient as on-call scheduling may sound, however, many people say these policies cause disproportionate hardship for low-wage earners who often work more than one job and already have trouble planning for transportation and childcare needs.

With this in mind, a number of cities, including New York, Seattle and San Francisco, have passed “predictive scheduling” laws that require employers to post schedules a certain amount of time in advance and pay employees additional compensation or “predictability pay” for last-minute schedule changes. Meanwhile, California has a law in place where any employee sent home after working less than half the scheduled workday must be paid two-to-four more hours’ worth of wages depending on the situation. While the laws work differently in different locations, they generally apply to large businesses, like retail stores, bars and restaurant chains.

If your company operates in a place with predictive scheduling laws, talk to an employment attorney to make sure you’re in compliance. An attorney may also be able to help identify other policies that will provide you with flexibility without any of the issues that go along with on-call scheduling.