This week, following other retailers, Urban Outfitters announced that it would put an end to “on-call” shifts at all of their North American stores, including Anthropologie, and Free People. Some retailers have even decided to give notice of scheduling a week in advance. The widely used “on-call” practice allowed businesses to save money by waiting to the last minute to staff their stores. Unfortunately for the employees, they were forced to wait around to find out what hours they would work or whether they would be assigned a shift at all.
California legislation AB-357 intended to address this practice state-wide but the bill was ordered inactive in June of this year. The proposed bill would require food and general retail establishments to provide employees with two weeks advance notice of their schedule. With certain exceptions, AB-357 would also require these establishments to pay employees additional pay, for each previously scheduled shift that it reschedules or cancels and each previously unscheduled shift that it requires an employee to work. For each on-call shift for which the employee is required to be available but is not called in to work, the establishment would have to pay a specified amount.
“On-call” scheduling leaves low wage earners in particular at a disadvantage. Living paycheck to paycheck, last minute scheduling prevents workers from guaranteeing a day’s pay and prevents any predictability of income. These workers, who are also more likely to need second or third jobs, are unable to pick up other work due to the erratic scheduling. Without set hours, employees have difficulty maintaining financial stability and arranging for child care that will allow them to work. Women are disproportionately affected by the “on-call” practice as they are generally the caretakers in the household and are more likely to work part-time jobs.
Currently, there are no protections for hourly employees who are subject to last minute schedule changes. Studies show that 40% of workers get less than a week notice of their schedules and that number goes up to 48% in the service industry. The status quo prevents workers from living and enjoying their lives and instead keeps them at the whim of their employer. We need change today. Join the campaign for schedule fairness and help make a difference!