Evanston’s Human Services Committee Monday is scheduled to again consider an ordinance that would limit employers’ ability to control employee schedules across a wide range of industries.

The proposed ordinance is patterned in part on a “Fair Workweek” ordinance that went into effect in 2020 in the City of Chicago.

The idea had initially been proposed in Evanston by Ald. Devon Reid (8th) at an Economic Development Committee meeting a year ago.

The draft Evanston ordinance, now sponsored by Reid and Mayor Daniel Biss, was originally discussed at a HSC meeting in February where it and several other business regulatory proposals were criticized by business owners as “insane” city rules.

The “Fair Workweek” plan was tabled until the March meeting at which point the sponsors asked to postpone action on the proposal until May “to address outstanding concerns.”

Although a memo accompanying the new ordinance draft does not specify any changes from the prior draft — it appears the main concerns addressed were to exempt the city’s two hospitals and other healthcare organizations from the ordinance and to add coverage of the building services industry.

Healthcare organizations and building services are both covered under Chicago’s ordinance.

Industry coveredChicagoEvanston (original)Evanston (revised)
Building servicesYesNoYes
Food serviceYesYesYes
Landscaping servicesNoYesYes
Nursing homesYesYesYes
Warehouse servicesYesYesYes

The proposed Evanston ordinance is in several respects more restrictive than the Chicago ordinance that inspired it.

Chicago requires employers to give 10 days notice of schedule changes, Evanston would require 14 days notice.

Chicago’s ordinance only covers workers making less than $26 an hour. Evanston’s ordinance would cover all of an employer’s workers.

Except for the food service industry, Chicago’s ordinance only covers businesses with more than 100 total employees. Evanston’s ordinance would cover businesses 15 or more employees in those industries as well as franchise businesses with fewer than 15 employees if the franchisor had more than 30 locations globally.

For food service businesses, Chicago covers only businesses with at least 250 total employees and 30 or more locations. Evanston would lower the employee count for coverage to 200 workers. However it creates an exemption from the ordinance for restaurants with three or fewer locations in the city “that are owned by one employer and operating under a sole franchise.”

Chicago’s ordinance requires a minimum of a 10 hour gap between shifts, Evanston’s would require an 11 hour gap.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Wow, this is going to create havoc. I’m really starting to regret my vote for Biss.

  2. Repeat with me, now, In your best

    “John McEnroe voice”

    …….shout so all can hear:

    Are you serious?!!

    City leaders, drop this insane idea now.

    Is your goal to ensure that Evanston is even more inhospitable to business and the jobs and resultant vibrancy?

    This ordnance will help move you down that road.

    It is not being asked for.
    It will kill quality of service.
    It will kill jobs.

    Its an absurd distraction, and grandstanding virtue signal by a radical far left mayor and council, bound and determined for reasons only attributable to resume building or massive naïveté, to transform Evanston from a solid, predictable liberal city to an unstable Socialist Model City.


  3. How do the gambling, pot lounges, and homeless shelters feel about this? They will clearly be the new economic engines of Evanston so we best get their inputs asap.

  4. So let’s continue to watch the exodus of tax paying (sales, property, payroll) businesses that provide goods, services and employment pack their 15 cent bags and leave Evanston.

    Maybe our over educated, entitled, under employed and out of touch mayor can focus on revitalizing our dying downtown instead of wasting time on business killing idiocy.

    Oh, and how much is enforcing this stupidity going to cost us?

  5. What a mess, after all of the overtime, taking care of covid patients you don’t want to include Health Care workers,that is why Evanston is not for me and my family, Evanston is a big joke.

  6. I voted for Biss and it turned out to be a mistake. All he wants to do is spend money and and be the answer to all of the city’s problems. The big red flag is also Devon.
    I agree, if Evanston continues on this path, businesses will just go elsewhere.

  7. Current Evanston leadership is completely out of touch with what is important to its citizens.
    Most of us want clean and safe streets that are properly paved, we want city services that are reliable, and we want a vital downtown with stores and restaurants.
    We do not want a government that constantly comes up with new “ideas” to nickel and dime its people and businesses and impose endless rules and regulations.

  8. Why is the city of Evanston getting involved in how businesses schedule their employees?

    As a small city with a population of only 75,000, Evanston has more than 30 boards, commissions, and committees, yet little seems to be accomplished. There’s more motion than action.

    Many members of the council act like they oversee the state of Illinois and use their time crusading for social justice instead of doing the blocking and tackling of running a small city.

    How can we do better? It’s important for Evanston to prioritize the following seven areas: (1) provide essential services, (2) public safety, (3) zoning and land use planning, (4) maintaining parks and recreational facilities, (5) fiscal management, (6) economic development, and (7) communicate with citizens.

    When it comes to these areas, Evanston’s performance is lacking. While essential services are provided well, public safety is suffering due to a lack of support for police officers, who have been vilified and defunded by the city.

    Zoning is being used as a hammer for social projects, such as putting a homeless shelter in a residential neighborhood. It seems as if the best interests of the city are being ignored purposefully.

    Parks and recreational facilities are poorly managed, as evidenced by the exorbitant cost of the new Robert Crown Center. The cost started at $30 million, rose to $48.5 million, and ultimately cost $53 million. I won’t even mention the cost of the new animal shelter (which is much needed but at what cost).

    Fiscal management is also poor. Police and fire pensions are underfunded, city debt is at an all-time high, administrative staff is too large when compared to other cities our size, and financial statements are unusable.

    Economic development is being stifled by excessive parking fees, regulations (must take cash, can’t use plastic, soon natural gas will be outlawed too), and more expensive fees and permits. Now the city is telling businesses how to schedule their employees.

    Finally, communication with citizens is lacking, with the mayor and city manager never engage in a back-and-forth with citizens. They never post on social media. Several aldermen hold monthly ward meetings, but many do not.

    It’s clear that the mayor, his city manager, his two handpicked aldermen, one or possibly two other far-left aldermen, and a city staff that doesn’t even live in Evanston (80% of staff live elsewhere) are not acting in the best interests of Evanston.

    It’s long past time for a change.

    1. Do you think part of the problem is that the city council are basically volunteers? It seems to me that we’re asking a lot out of them in exchange for a small stipend. I wonder if paid full time city council would solve some of the… lack of practicality. If I was a quasi-volunteer, I’d want to focus on my own agenda too, not doing the thankless grunt work of essential services, public safety, etc.

      If I had to sit through all those meetings, I’d probably be thinking “Boy, I don’t get paid enough to do this.” Perhaps, in the end, we get what we pay for.

      1. I agree. I recall hearing John Macarron, a former Tribune urban affairs columnist and Evanstonian saying something similar some years ago. This article about Evanston that he wrote for the Trib in 2004 indicates that many of the the issues and the circus-like process we have is now much like it was back then. A quote from it regarding city council:

        ” Chicago makes great use of planned-development negotiations, trading added density for public amenities. But the trade-offs are negotiated in private, among the local alderman and design professionals for the city and the developer, not by part-time politicians preening for cable TV”


  9. This is madness. What businesses are going to want to locate in Evanston? We need more companies in Evanston not less. Why are Biss and Reid doing this?

  10. If you want to see who is pushing policy watch Biss’s so called policy coordinator. She has clearly never worked a retail, or hourly job in her life. To hear her say that keeping records for shift changes (a screen shot of a text message from an employee requesting to change their shift) would suffice and it’s no big deal and would be very easy to keep a record of for 3 years! Yea so when an employee texts, save the screen shot, print it out and then file into the employees records. Oh yeah while doing your real job. How about this- Biss, and your policy coordinator and let’s add in Reid why don’t you actually work a real job, and then how about you manage in this environment. Why don’t you three become free record keepers for all the businesses. Then you would understand. Alison, clearly you are a moron who sits in your office and try to think of ways to destroy the city. Well done Biss, Reid and Alison you’ve made Evanston anti business, anti middle class and a total joke. No one should waste time on Evanston, surrounding g communities actually want citizens and businesses to work together. Oh parking is free and oh Ald Reid/ the Gap study did you notice they left Evanston? And oh the gap is struggling. But keep talking because it makes great public tv watching and many of us citizens have made it a drinking game every time you say the word “Look” we take a drink.

    1. I would be surprised if there was any modeling done to gauge the impact of this on actual day-to-day operations.

      For example, will this apply to summer camp or hourly afterschool care staff, where folks regularly call in sick, and there isn’t enough backup staff to build a 14-day buffer for shift changes?

      It’s madness developed by technocrats and academics who have likely never punched a timecard.

  11. I’m sure that Mayor Biss and Alderman Ried have never had to make payroll, use their personal Visa and Mastercard to pay business expenses, manage employees or take care of customers. If Alison Leipsiger is advising these two you can be sure she hasn’t either.

    What we are seeing here is a mayor dedicated to padding his political resume in order to take a stab at a different office in a few years. It matters little that Evanston is left as a failed municipal hulk.

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