New York City Gives Employees Right to Change Work Schedules

Author: Michael Cardman, XpertHR Legal Editor

January 22, 2018

A new law will soon allow employees in New York City to temporarily change their work schedules to attend to certain personal events.

This marks the latest in a series of what many are calling "predictable scheduling" or "predictive scheduling" laws that have been enacted recently. Oregon passed a first-of-its-kind statewide law last summer, and a few cities have enacted local scheduling ordinances as well.

Unlike other provisions of the "Fair Workweek" package of scheduling laws that were passed last year, New York City's new scheduling law applies to all employers, not just fast food and retail employers.

Effective July 18, Big Apple employers will be required to grant employees' requests for a temporary change to their work schedule at least two times per calendar year for up to one business day per request. An employer may permit an employee to use two business days for one request, in which case it need not grant a second request.

A temporary change means a limited alteration in time or location, including, but not limited to:

  • Using paid time off;
  • Working remotely;
  • Swapping or shifting work hours; and
  • Using short-term unpaid leave.

Employee Request Requirements

To request a schedule change, employees must:

  • Notify their employer or direct supervisor as soon as they become aware of their need for a temporary change to their work schedule resulting from a personal event, which means:
    • The need for a caregiver to provide care to a minor child or care recipient;
    • The need to attend a legal proceeding or hearing for subsistence benefits to which the employee, a family member or the employee's care recipient is a party; or
    • Any qualifying reason for leave under the city's Earned Sick Time Act;
  • Propose a temporary change to their work schedule (unless they seek leave without pay); and
  • Submit a request in writing - as soon as is practicable, and no later than the second business day after they return to work - indicating the date for which the change was requested and that it was due to their personal event.

The initial request need not be in writing. An employer may require that requests be submitted in electronic form if its employees commonly use electronic means to request and manage leave and schedule changes.

Employer Response Requirements

An employer that receives a request for a schedule change must respond "immediately," but need not put this initial response in writing. As soon as is practicable, and no later than 14 days after an employee submits the request in writing, the employer must provide a written response, which may be in electronic form if such form is easily accessible to the employee and must include:

  • Whether the employer will agree to the temporary schedule change in the manner requested by the employee, or will provide the temporary change to the work schedule as leave without pay (which does not constitute a denial);
  • If the employer denies the request for a temporary change to the work schedule, an explanation for the denial; and
  • How many requests and how many business days the employee has left in the calendar year after taking into account the employer's decision contained in the written response.

This obligation to respond in writing is waived if the employee failed to submit his or her written request.


An employer may deny requests for temporary schedule changes if the employee:

  • Has already exhausted his or her two allotted requests in the calendar year;
  • Has been employed by the employer for fewer than 120 days;
  • Works fewer than 80 hours in the city in a calendar year;
  • Is covered by a valid collective bargaining agreement that waives the aforementioned rights and addresses temporary changes to work schedules; or
  • Performs certain exempt work for certain employers in the entertainment industry.

Employers that fail to grant requests for temporary schedule changes may be assessed with civil penalties of $500 per violation.