Is Predictive Scheduling Causing More Harm Than Good?

For the on-demand gig workers of the world, an erratic work schedule is a normal and accepted way of life because a flexible lifestyle comes with the territory. Obviously there are pros and cons that come this type of schedule as well. In light of this, predictive scheduling laws have started to make their way through major cities like Chicago, San Francisco, and Seattle to name a few. On the flip side, certain states have passed laws prohibiting predictive scheduling parameters altogether. While some say this is a step toward “fair scheduling,” businesses adjusting to the new laws will incur costly penalties if they have to make schedule changes on short notice. For those who participate in the gig economy, it will most likely hurt on-demand workers in the long run.

What is predictive scheduling?

Predictive scheduling means an employer is providing work schedules to their team in advance, and the laws that surround this idea vary in each state. These stipulations include but are not limited to:

  • Employees must receive their schedules two weeks in advance
  • An employee must have a minimum 10-hour break between shifts to prevent “clopening” (ex. Closing and opening a restaurant with back-to-back shifts)
  • An employer must provide the worker with a good-faith estimate which includes the expected average # of hours/days worked per week and on-call expectations for the first 90 days of employment

In the service and retail industries, there are definite pros that come with knowing when you need to come to work as opposed to the on-call mentality so many workers are used to. However, most gig workers prefer working outside daytime hours due to their lifestyle needs. And over 35% of all gig workers choose contingent work because they value the flexibility over pay and benefits. Businesses who can’t comply with predictive scheduling will try to cut labor costs by hiring fewer part-time workers which could cause burnout within their current team, or turn to automation to get rid of gig workers altogether. 

How does predictive scheduling affect my staffing agency?

There are a lot of contingencies that come with your client’s staffing needs when utilizing an on-demand workforce. And a lot of those contingencies require flexible scheduling for both the business and the worker. A restaurant may have a slow lunch shift – if you send an employee home your business gets fined. A fulfillment center needs extra workers for the weekend on short notice, those workers must be paid a premium even though they volunteered to work. 

The list goes on and the consequences have already made their mark. A study by the American Consumer Institute explains how businesses have reacted to these laws in San Francisco. 19% of employers were scheduling fewer employees per shift and 35% were offering employees less flexibility to make schedule changes on their own. Not to mention workers were frustrated when they couldn’t ask for additional hours or change shifts because the schedule had been decided two weeks in advance. 

How can I prepare for predictive scheduling?

Complying to predictive scheduling will be difficult, and a technology solution will keep track of schedules, worker retention, and client visibility. A worker engagement platform like Deploy by Shiftgig will mobilize and scale your entire workforce to create their own seamless schedules. Your staffing firm will see less turnover as your clients gain feedback from workers on how to improve their processes. Your recruiters and clients will be able to follow these regulations and workers can still take advantage of their flexible lifestyle. This step towards creating a partnership with your workforce rather than rigid scheduling will encourage loyalty and overall goodwill for the future.

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About The Author

Ally is the Marketing Specialist at Shiftgig and a massive enthusiast of the written word. After completing her degree, Ally focused on working with companies capable of exciting change, like Shiftgig. When she's not helping transform the way people work, Ally loves to travel, even if it's only one stop on the L.