Over 65,000 Americans are employed as hourly fast-food workers in the City of New York. The industry can be challenging for employees, who are generally paid at or just above the minimum wage. These employees rely heavily on being paid for the work they do and being permitted to work the shifts they are scheduled to work. Recently, in recognition of the challenges these workers face, lawmakers in the City of New York have signed into law multiple bills to protect these workers from abuse by their employer.
New Protections for Fast Food Workers in New York
Fast-food employers in the City of New York are now required to schedule employees at least two weeks in advance, or pay them for any changes made to their schedule. Mayor Bill de Blasio recognized that scheduling is a serious issue for hourly fast-food workers. From the employer’s perspective, if business is slow, overhead expenses can easily be cut by simply sending employees home or canceling their shift altogether. However, for an employee, this can cause extreme hardship because they count on the earnings from the canceled or shortened shift to cover their living expenses.
The law also requires fast-food employers to offer part-time staff additional work before hiring new employees, pay workers extra when they work closing and opening shifts back-to-back, and provide them with a good faith estimate of the hours they can expect to work. Additionally, fast-food employers must now provide employees with an 11-hour break in between their shifts.
A separate bill passed by New York City lawmakers also prevents employers that employ 20 or more retail workers from scheduling workers for “on call” shifts.
NY Minimum Wage Increase
The minimum wage in New York City for employers of more than 11 employees is currently $13.00 per hour. That amount is set to increase to $15.00 per hour on December 31, 2018. The fast-food industry has been fertile ground for wage and hour lawsuits in recent years, particularly, where employees are forced to work off-the-clock, misclassified as exempt from overtime, or in situations where an employer otherwise does not pay overtime premiums in accordance with the law.