Evanston’s Human Services Committee Monday is scheduled to 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.

But the Evanston measure, proposed by Mayor Daniel Biss and Ald. Devon Reid (8th), would hit a somewhat different range of industries and apply to smaller businesses than those targeted by the Chicago ordinance.

Industry coveredChicagoEvanston
Building servicesYesNo
Food serviceYesYes
Landscaping servicesNoYes
Nursing homesYesYes
Warehouse servicesYesYes

Chicago’s ordinance applies to employers in covered industries who have at least 100 workers, or at least 250 workers for not-for-profit businesses.

The Chicago ordinance also has special rules for restaurants, exempting restaurant businesses with less than 250 total employees and fewer than 30 locations globally and completely exempting restaurants with three or fewer locations in the city.

Evanston’s ordinance would apply to any business in a covered industry with 15 more more employees as well as to franchisees who had fewer employees but were associated with a franchisor with more than 10 locations globally.

The ordinance would require employers to give workers 14 days advance notice of work schedules and provide employees additional compensation for any shift changes.

It would also require employers to offer additional work hours to existing part-time employees before hiring new workers.

The Evanston ordinance would impose more severe “right to rest” restrictions than the Chicago ordinance.

Chicago sets 10 hours as the minimum turnaround time between shifts and requires time-and-a-quarter pay for shorter turnarounds. The Evanston ordinance would set 11 hours as the minimum turnaround and requires time-and-a-half pay for shorter turnarounds.

The Human Services Committee is scheduled to vote Monday on whether to recommend the measure to the full City Council for adoption.

The “fair workweek” ordinance concept was discussed at an Economic Development Committee meeting last May and minutes from that meeting indicate that several alders present, including Melissa Wynne (3rd), Jonathan Nieuwsma (4th), Bobby Burns (5th) and Reid supported it.

At that time the EDC voted to have an ordinance drafted and brought back to the EDC for further discussion. Minutes of later EDC meetings do not show that such an ordinance draft has yet been presented to that committee.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. I’m curious. How does the Fair Workweek Ordinance square with the goal of economic development and the wish to encourage businesses to come to Evanston?

  2. What problem are we trying to solve? Can someone explain why this is necessary?

    We continue to see our small businesses, struggle, and deal with nonsense over regulation. Why do we need our government step even further out of their swim lane, rather than letting these companies compete for employees directly in an open market?

    1. I think we’ve at least one alder who has an axe to grind vs any/all business owners/authority figures. It’s one thing to advocate for those who need a voice. It’s another to advocate for anarchy in the service of symbolic revenge for one’s childhood.

  3. Our leaders can’t seem to understand that Evanston is not very big and these types of measure require a large geographic footprint to work. Residents of Evanston only need to drive 10-15 minutes or less to get to a neighboring community where burdensome requirements like this don’t apply. Therefore, an employer will risk losing much less business by closing its Evanston location and opening one around the periphery of the City where the rules don’t apply. Whether you like work rules like this or not, they simply cannot achieve the intended effect when they only apply to an area of less than 8 square miles. Chicago is 235 square miles and likely will lose some employers at the edges of the city. A provision like this must be enacted at the county, state or national level to achieve the intended effect. All this will do is put one more burden on Evanston employers that will make some of them turn into Wilmette, Skokie or Lincolnwood employers. This Mayor and Council seem incomprehensibly focused on burdening our local businesses that we need to prosper and grow. I beg of them to stop and consider the practical effects of their altruistic desires. I think they are coming from a genuine desire to help our workers and the environment, but the practical fact is that Evanston simply does not have sufficient size to fix the world and these leaders need to focus their attention on the things they can control, like our local police services, parks, community programs, etc. To effect this bigger change in the world they need to partner with state and county leaders. We all want to believe Evanston is important, but belief is not fact.

  4. I work for a business that is impacted by this in Chicago. It’s actually easy to follow and does Nothing to please employees. Just look at all the unionizing efforts in Chicago in businesses that have this predictive fair work week in place and a higher min wage than Evanston. What Evanston should do is raise the min wage to that of Chicago.

  5. Another anti business idea from Evanston’s least responsible alderman and a mayor on the political downside looking desperately for a way up

  6. Unless the council member has a history of holding a job for at least five years, they have no business delegating anything related to the lives of working people OR those who employ them.

  7. One bad idea after another. Way too much time wasted on non issues. Take care of infrastructure, business development, and educational disparities. Do the job you were elected to do. Not what YOU feel needs to be done.

  8. Another case of NO original thought (let’s copy the mess that Chicago has become) and NO true and effective thought leadership.

    Anything with Reid’s name on it displays his malice towards those that he believes have committed wrongs against him and others he pretends to care about. Just watch him in action, seething with anger and vindictiveness.

    Matt’s thoughts and mini analysis is the type of approach we need more of from our Mayor and City Council.

  9. We already have multiple businesses with Go Fund Me up and running in Evanston, however they have none in Wilmette or Winnetka. How will this help keep businesses or create new ones.

  10. I was driving down Main Street today. It’s pothole city. How about fixing that instead of introducing more business-killing and unnecessary legislation? Why can’t our Alders just focus on the nuts and bolts basic functions of a city government? It may be not exciting, it may not help you to pad your resume for your future political ambitions, but it’s what we actually need from our elected representatives.

  11. I’d like the mayor to show real life examples of why this is needed. Has there been worker complaints of abuse? Can he point to a single specific business that has proven the need for this type of legislation? Or does mayor Biss think all Evanston businesses, especially the small locally owned ones, are completely exploitive and have zero concern for their employees?
    Reid I understand. He seems to have an anti business agenda and has shown irresponsibility and incompetence in his personal life, so it’s to be expected.

    But mayor Biss needs to show actual cause for pushing this agenda and I don’t think he can. Point out 2 or 3 real life Evanston business that would justify this legislation. Or is he just doing something that he feels will be politically advantageous to him and his hopefull future political ambitions. The working for the exploited worker line, even though this will probably hurt more employees rather than help with anything. And why does he not apply this to the City itself, why is the city exempted? This community really needs some leadership on real and difficult issues and we simply don’t have it.

    1. The city squanders time and energy on silly peripheral junk like this, while critical issues such as placing a crummy low – barrier homeless shelter in a dense residential area adjoining downtown are “glossed over”, and with nary any solid research or discussion…

  12. Mayor Biss what are you doing? This only hurts and deters business from operating in Evanston. I think Biss would be more suited for a non-profit organization not as Mayor and Reid, well he should start contributing to the economy instead of taking from it before he gets an opinion. This Mayor and council is ruining everything that was great about Evanston…heavenston no more.

  13. Great comments all
    In particular I agree with Carol –

    Mayor Biss and this council have done more to destroy the fabric of life in Evanston than any administration in my 50 plus years here.

    Entirely too much time has been spent on issues important to very few, and on virtue signaling.

    Instead focus on a doable set of actionable city initiatives to grow the city economy, creating jobs and cutting taxes – actions that help citizens.

    It’s time for all of Evanston to realize the damage that is being done, and work for change – change that cannot wait for next elections.

    This change is our elected officials listening and learning.

  14. We need to vote these clowns out of office. Our city is over governed and over regulated. Please have faith in our community and business owners – we don’t need this type of assistance.

  15. This is what we get for voting in an academic for mayor. Academics live in ivory towers and find theoretical solutions to theoretical problems. They are not grounded in reality and have no business — obvious yet Evanston??? — running a city, which requires one to actually come up with common sense, practical, real life solutions to real life problems. This — combined with our lame city council — results in us living inside what feels like a weekly SNL skit. What a dumpster fire.

  16. All great comments. I wonder if the majority of Evanston residents agree with the comments or if Evanston Now is an echo chamber. I certainly hope it’s the former. And to vote the clowns out, it will take good, practical people to run and expose themselves to the vitriol of the professional virtue signalers. It will take some people with very thick skin…not too successful though because that means you’re evil in Evanston. This mayor and council truly are in outer space and highly destructive for the long-term good of this city.

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