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What is ‘clopening’?

Clopening is a smashed-together word: it means working a shift until close and then beating it back to work in the wee hours to open. It applies mainly to restaurants, fast food, and retail workers.

The issue arises mostly in an urban area, when you close at 10 or 11 PM, perform closing duties, and then hop on public transport. By the time you get home, it’s after midnight. If you need to open at 6 or 7, or even 8 AM you will get fewer than eight hours of sleep.

While the pandemic has made staffing a challenge for many employers, the effects of working both the closing and the opening shift on employee mental health and sleep are pernicious.

No one wants a drowsy worker

In many industries, being less than alert can prove dangerous for workers. Imagine falling asleep while operating a meat-slicing blade, hot oil fryer or sizzling grill. Lack of sleep is a proven cause of many work-related injuries. Burn injuries are often the most painful and may cause life-long scarring.

NYC is the vanguard when it comes to creating protective measures

Due to its high volume of workers, New York City has been one of the first cities to create a dialogue about the number of shifts hourly employees work, and how close together these shifts are. There are now accepted and recognized practices that include:

  • An expected 11-hour gap in time between shifts. Right now, fast-food workers need to agree in writing before they are given a “clopening”-type shift.  Employers must pay any fast-food worker a $100 premium if that worker is scheduled to “clopen.”
  • New shifts must be offered first to existing workers at the current location. Employers must do this before advertising these shifts externally or hiring a new employee.
  • Retail businesses must give workers a 72-hour notice of work schedules.

New software systems have made the job of schedulers easier. While most retailers and fast-food chains have adopted these policies, not all have. Workers need to know their rights. If they are being violated, you need to raise the issue in writing with a manager or human resources. If abuses continue, it may be time to speak with an employment law attorney.



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