City Council passes Gym’s “Fair Workweek” bill

The legislation will require certain employers to give workers advanced notice of their schedule and other benefits.

Councilwoman At-Large Helen Gym greets supporters Thursday, Dec. 6 who were waiting to get into council chambers. City Council passed Gym’s “Fair Workweek” legislation. JACK TOMCZUUK / TIMES PHOTO

City Council on Thursday passed legislation that will give certain service sector employees advanced notice of their work schedules and other benefits.

Supporters of Councilwoman At-Large Helen Gym’s “Fair Workweek” bill packed Council chambers for the vote. It passed 14-3, with only the three Republicans on Council voting against the measure.

Mayor Jim Kenney pledged his support for the legislation and said in a statement that he plans to sign it into law.

“Philadelphia’s fair workweek bill will be the most expansive in the country,” Gym said. “Today, in the poorest big city in the nation, we put people over profits.”
Beginning in 2020, companies with 250 or more employees and at least 30 locations worldwide will be required to provide hourly employees with their weekly schedules 10 days in advance. In 2021, the notice period will increase to 14 days.

Employers will have to compensate workers with “predictability pay” for any changes made to the schedule after it has been posted for 24 hours.

“The unstable schedules, which are a hallmark of the service industry, must come to an end,” Gym said.

In addition, the legislation requires that companies covered under the law provide a “good faith estimate” to new employees about their hours.

The bill also includes a provision allowing workers to turn down any shifts within nine hours of a previous day’s shift and a requirement for companies to offer additional hours to current employees before hiring someone new.

Gym has said the legislation will affect about 130,000 employees in the city.

Supporters of the bill showed up in force at Thursday’s Council meeting, filling the chamber’s balconies.

Supports of the “Fair Workweek” bill packed City Council chambers Thursday, Dec. 6. The legislation is aimed at providing workers with advanced notice of their schedules. JACK TOMCZUK / TIMES PHOTO

Community leaders and workers who testified said the bill will allow service sector employees to spend more time with their families and allow them to better plan their lives.

“It would be nice to go home on time,” said Annie Ellison, a Marriott hotel housekeeper. “As mothers, we need and have to have a regular schedule.”

In October, business groups and leaders showed up at a committee hearing to speak out against the legislation. Opponents of the bill were largely silent at Thursday’s meeting, except for 10th District Councilman Brian O’Neill.

“I agree with everything in there except one thing, but it’s a major thing for me,” O’Neill said. “It does not exempt collective bargaining agreements. It should exempt collective bargaining agreements.”

The regulations set out in Gym’s bill can be waived in a collective bargaining agreement, but only if there is a clear and explicit waiver included in the contract.

Several unions, including the Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO, backed the “Fair Workweek” bill.

Councilmen Al Taubenberger, David Oh and O’Neill voted against the bill.

The Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce previously expressed strong opposition to the bill, at one time calling it an “inflexibility mandate.” However, in a statement released Thursday, the business group said it is willing to work with the city to refine regulations, though it maintained that the legislation has “objectionable components.”

“While some amendments helped ease the regulatory burden on some employers, we are hopeful that the regulatory process will provide further relief to owners of hotels and franchise establishments,” said Chamber President Rob Wonderling in a statement. ••