Your right to a secure schedule

Seattle coffee, food, and retail workers organized, spoke out, and won a landmark secure scheduling law that addresses the crisis of unstable and unpredictable hours. The secure scheduling law, which takes effect July 1, 2017, ensures that people who work at large coffee, fast food, retail, and restaurant companies in the city know when they’re going to work and how many hours they’re going to get by providing several new rights.

  • Two weeks notice of your schedule.

  • Predictability pay if your employer adds, cuts, or changes scheduled shifts.

  • Right to rest, a.k.a. no mandatory clopens.

  • Access to additional hours.

  • Good faith estimate of your hours & input into your schedule. 

Here are some more details about who’s covered and how the law works:

Who’s Covered

Seattle’s secure scheduling law covers coffee, fast food, and retail workers who work within the Seattle city limits and are employed by companies or chains with more than 500 global employees. Full-service restaurant workers are covered if they work for companies or chains with more than 500 global employees and more than 40 global locations.

Franchise systems are treated just like any other type of chain; the number of employees and locations in the entire global franchise system are what gets counted. The 40-location standard only applies to full-service restaurant chains; any retail, fast food, or coffee chain with more than 500 global employees is covered by the Secure Scheduling ordinance, regardless of the number of locations. 

Your right to a secure schedule

Got questions?

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If you work for a covered food, coffee, or retail company, Seattle’s secure scheduling law ensures you receive advance notice of your schedule, predictability pay if the employer changers your schedule, a right to rest, access to additional hours if you want them, a good faith estimate of your hours, and input into your schedule. (If you're a union member, the rules might work a little differently — talk to your union for more details.)

Here the the key details:

Two weeks’ notice of your schedule.

  • Employers are required to post your schedule at least two full weeks in advance so that you know when you’re going to work and how many hours you’re going to get.

Predictability pay if the employer changes your schedule.

  • You receive one hour of additional pay when the employer adds or changes a scheduled shift with less than two weeks notice. This includes shifts which the employer adds to your schedule with less than two weeks notice, shifts which the employer extends by one hour or more, and shifts where the start and end times are changed without changing the length of the shift.

  • You get paid for half your lost time if the employer cuts a shift with less than two weeks notice, or sends you home before the scheduled end of your shift. Note: predictability pay does not apply to changes of less than 15 minutes. If your employer extends your shift by less than an hour, you get that proportional share of the one-hour of predictability pay.

  • In order to maximize your flexibility, predictability pay does not apply if you voluntarily swap shifts with a co-worker, or if you request a change in your own schedule and your employer agrees. And there is no predictability pay if you voluntarily agree to pick up a shift due to a scheduled employee not being able to work, or if you voluntarily agree to extend your shift due to unanticipated customer needs. In order to ensure such changes are truly voluntary, offers of additional hours must be made via mass communication or in-person group communication to more than one person. If an employer directly asks only one person pick up or extend a shift, predictability pay is required.

Right to rest, a.k.a. no mandatory clopens

  • You cannot be required to work back-to-back closing and opening shifts that are less than 10 hours apart. If you do voluntarily agree to work this kind of “clopening” shift, your agreement to do so must be in writing, and you must be paid time-and-a-half for those hours that are within the 10-hour window. Note: the “clopening” rules do not apply to split shifts or double shifts where all parts of the shift are worked on the same day (i.e. if you work a lunch shift and then a dinner shift); they only apply to back-to-back closing and opening shifts that span two different days.

Access to additional hours if you want them

  • You have a right to access additional hours of work before the employer hires additional employees, and employers have to post available shifts so you know if hours are available. Note: there are also provisions to ensure employers that partner with certain nonprofit hiring programs can continue to do so. And of course your ability to access additional hours does not extend beyond 40 hours a week, and only applies if you want to work more hours.

Good faith estimate of hours & input into your schedule

  • Employers are required to provide you a “good faith estimate” of the number of hours you can expect to work. They have to provide this to you at the time you are hired, and periodically throughout your employment. They have to make a “good faith” effort to schedule you for hours that are generally in line with this estimate; if you are scheduled for a substantially different number of hours it can be challenged.

  • You have the right to request input into your schedule without retaliation. If your request relates to scheduling needs involving a second job, school, serious health condition, caregiving responsibility or other “major life event”, the employer has to meet that request unless they have a “bona fide business reason” for denying it. The law defines a bona fide business reason as anything that would cause a legal violation, would cause a significant cost or other burden, or would hurt the employer’s ability to meet the needs of its business.


The principle behind secure scheduling is clear: workers are people. We have lives away from work. And we have a right to know when we're going to work and how many hours we're going to get.

But like any law, some of the details of how secure scheduling works can get a little complicated, so we expect questions! Fill out this form and share your questions about general principles, specific scenarios, or anything else to help us build a crowd-sourced Q&A that helps workers understand their rights.