On December 7, 2018, the Philadelphia City Council passed the Fair Workweek Employment Standards Ordinance. Some city employees will soon see a bump in their paychecks, while others are expected to start receiving more predictable hourly schedules.
Effective January 1, 2020, the objective of the Ordinance, is to provide more predictable hours, advanced scheduling protections for the roughly 130,000 workers in the food, service, and hospitality industries. However, the Ordinance only applies to establishments that employ 250 or more employees overall and have 30 or more locations worldwide, including chains and franchise locations.
The Ordinance also has some teeth as it provides for a private right of action against employers for violating and permits recovery of back pay, presumed damages, liquidated damages up to $2,000, attorneys’ fees and equitable relief.
New York, San Francisco and other large municipalities through the country have been implementing similar “fair workweek” laws since 2014. Philadelphia is the second largest city to adopt the practice.
Employers who violate these requirements subject their business to potential liability. The Free Workweek Ordinance makes it unlawful to interfere with, restrain, or deny the exercise of protected rights under the ordinance. Retaliation is also prohibited, with a rebuttable presumption of retaliation for any adverse action within 90-days of an employee exercising protected rights, unless the adverse action was due to well-documented disciplinary reasons that constitute just cause. The Office of the Mayor of Philadelphia is charged with enforcing the new Ordinance, raising questions as to enforcement policy and litigation.
What should an employer do? Start preparing now. The Ordinance does not go into effect until 2020, but as the saying goes, don’t put off to tomorrow what you can do today. It also doesn’t help that the Ordinance, as a whole, is rather vague and ambiguous in terms of the restrictions it imposes and the ways in which those restrictions will be enforced.
Need help understanding/navigating Philadelphia’s new legislation or want to learn more about what Philadelphia’s Fair Workweek Ordinance means for your local business? Let Ward Law’s employment experts help. Feel free to call or email John McAvoy at (215) 647-6604 or firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance with your company’s policies and procedures.