Clopening: Navigating the Maze in Retail and Food Service

August 9, 2023

by Malysa O’Connor

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“Clopening” is a term coined by combining “closing” and “opening.” It’s a common scheduling strategy in industries that require nearly round-the-clock coverage, such as retail, food service, convenience stores, and more. This practice involves shift work, where an employee is scheduled to work the last shift of one day and the first shift of the next, leaving employees with a short window for rest and personal time.

While many large retailers and restaurant chains schedule employee shifts in this fashion to save costs on their employee headcount, there are better solutions. In this article, we’ll discuss the drawbacks and how to build a schedule prioritizing employers’ and employees’ needs.

How Does Clopening Affect Employees?

Clopening can lead to decreased productivity and negatively impact physical and mental health. The practice can also affect employees’ work-life balance, reducing engagement and increasing turnover.

The most obvious effect of clopening on employees is sleep deprivation. It’s well-documented that a lack of sleep affects focus, productivity, and mood. According to The Shift Project, roughly “two-thirds of American workers receive their work schedule with less than two weeks advance notice, and about one-third receive their schedule with less than one week’s notice, with “clopening” (50%) shifts being a common occurrence”. Employee well-being suffers as a result.

It’s bad for company culture and business, especially when the employee’s job revolves around customer service. A tired, overworked workforce won’t serve customers as well as one scheduled according to employee preferences.

Is Clopening Legal?

Several states have recently begun to enact legislation to protect workers from “clopening”. These laws, often called “fair work week” or “predictive scheduling” laws, require employers to provide workers with their schedules in advance and ensure employees have a minimum rest period between shifts.

For example, Oregon’s Fair Work Week Act, enacted in 2017, requires employers to provide employees with a written work schedule at least seven days in advance and a rest period of at least 10 hours between shifts unless the employee requests or consents to a shorter period.

Predictive scheduling laws also forbid employers from adjusting an employee’s schedule within a set time (often as early as two weeks) ahead of the assigned shift. If the employer changes the schedule, they must pay additional wages for canceled or reduced shifts or face other financial penalties.

Increasingly, predictive scheduling laws are requiring many businesses to adjust existing processes and adopt new technology that minimizes manual or semi-automated processes to ensure managers can:

  • publish schedules on time
  • effectively factor in employee skills and preferences
  • track penalties such as schedule change premiums

What Should Employers Do?

Scheduling clopening shifts has clear drawbacks一from employee well-being to poor business performance. Employers must take steps towards prioritizing employee needs more in their workplace, such as involving employee feedback in schedule creation. With traditional scheduling systems, this is often too much of a burden. However, with modern workforce management software, it’s easy.

The Role of Workforce Management

Intelligent, automated, employee-centric workforce management solutions, like Legion Workforce Management Software, leverage artificial intelligence to help businesses avoid scheduling issues such as clopening.

Using AI algorithms, the system can consider factors such as employee availability, skills, labor laws, and peak business hours to create optimal schedules while preventing employees from working consecutive shifts. Automated scheduling solutions also ensure enough staff during busy periods, improving customer service.

Ensure Compliance

Workforce management software also plays a vital role in generating schedules without violating compliance with local and national labor laws. For instance, if a regulation specifies a minimum number of hours between shifts, the system automatically considers this when creating schedules and assigning employees to shifts protecting businesses from legal risks and promoting fair labor practices.

Leveraging the power of intelligent automation, Legion Automated Scheduling instantly generates compliant schedules and prompts managers to publish schedules at least two weeks in advance. Managers can auto-publish schedules, and employees can view their schedules and estimated pay on their mobile devices within seconds.

Increase Employee Engagement

Employees have more control over their schedules with an employee-centric workforce management system. They can express their availability, swap shifts, or request time off directly through the system, giving them a sense of autonomy and increasing engagement and productivity.

Modern workforce management solutions allow employees to consent to schedule changes and clopening on the time clock, opt into voluntary standby lists, and automatically access their schedules from their phones. Good faith estimates can be easily sent to new hires, and employees can attest to meals and breaks via their mobile devices.

Automatically Compute Premiums

Managing premiums is complex and time-consuming for managers. Legion automatically computes premiums, and managers receive alerts when schedule changes may result in premiums. Schedule change premiums and exemption rules are easily configurable by location. Premiums for schedule changes and clopening assessments are applied automatically for employees across city/state borders.

Make Real-Time Adjustments

An intelligent retail workforce management system provides real-time monitoring and adjustments. If an employee calls in sick, the system automatically identifies the best-fit replacement, reducing the risk of understaffing and preventing unnecessary clopening.

Legion WFM enables intelligent automation to simplify compliance management across all jurisdictions. Businesses of all sizes rely on Legion to automatically ease burdens associated with the evolving compliance landscape.

Read our eBook “Intelligently Automate Compliance Management” for more details about how Legion WFM enables intelligent automation to help you confidently navigate compliance challenges. Request a demo to see Legion in action.