Chicago City Council Votes Yes to Fair Workweek Ordinance

July 25th, 2019

By Providing More Stable & Predictable Schedules, New Law Removes One Barrier to Gender Equity in Our City

CHICAGO – Yesterday, after years of determined advocacy from Women Employed and our partners, Chicago’s City Council passed the most progressive Fair Workweek ordinance in the country. The ordinance will help ensure working people in Chicago have fair and predictable work schedules, providing the ability to budget, ensure child care, plan transportation, and pursue education and/or training to lift them, their families, and their communities.

Constantly fluctuating hours and little notice of work schedules pose a significant barrier to financial stability for thousands of working women in Chicago, contributing to persistent gender wage and wealth gaps. Women Employed has been working to advance fair scheduling for more than a decade. Research shows that more than half of full-time, hourly workers suffer from unstable and unpredictable work schedules. And the practice is particularly prevalent in industries like retail, healthcare, and hospitality—where women, and particularly women of color, are overrepresented.

The new Fair Workweek ordinance, which goes into effect on July 1, 2020, will require employers to provide two weeks advance notice of schedules, ten hours of rest between shifts, compensation for last-minute schedule changes, and an offer of additional hours to part-time employees before additional part-time help is hired. It covers a wider range of industries than similar laws in other locations—including healthcare, manufacturing, warehouse services, and more. It applies to employers who have 100 or more employees, restaurants with 30 or more locations and 250 or more employees globally, and non-profit organizations with 250 or more employees. Hourly workers earning $26 an hour or less, and salaried employees earning $50,000 a year are included in the ordinance.

“We are showing the world that you can treat working people with dignity and respect, and setting a bold standard for the rest of the nation to follow,” said Women Employed CEO Cherita Ellens. “This is a huge step forward in advancing gender equity in our city, and I’m honored that Women Employed was part of the amazing coalition that helped make it happen.”

This new law came about thanks to the leadership of Alderman Sue Garza, Mayor Lori Lightfoot, and the determined advocacy of the Fair Workweek Chicago Coalition, of which Women Employed is a proud member. For more information on the Coalition, visit A fair workweek was one of the four key recommendations of Chicago City Clerk Anna Valencia’s Status of Women and Girls Working Group, for which Women Employed served on the steering committee.


Women Employed relentlessly pursues equity for women in the workforce by effecting policy change, expanding access to educational opportunities, and advocating for fair and inclusive workplaces to make the world a better place for us all. Since 1973, Women Employed has opened doors, broken down barriers, and created fundamental, systemic change for working women. For more information, visit, or follow @WomenEmployed on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.


Valerie Harris
(312) 782-3902, x227
[email protected]

Together, we will ensure more women, families, and communities can build their economic power and thrive.

All new or increased gifts will be matched by an anonymous donor!