Retailers agree to end on-call scheduling

Six national retailers recently agreed to stop using on-call scheduling, which requires employees to call typically one to two hours before their shift is to begin to learn whether they must report to work.

If employees who call in are not required to work for that day, they receive no compensation.

On-call scheduling creates a number of difficulties that interfere with workers’ away-from-work lives.

“On-call scheduling makes it impossible for retail workers to plan their lives,” said Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, UFCW (RWDSU). “We must all work together to ensure that workers . . . throughout the country have stable and predictable schedules that allow them to arrange for childcare, further their education, and provide for their families.”

The six retailers that agreed an end to on-call scheduling are Aeropostale, Carter’s, David’s Tea, Disney, PacSun, and Zumiez.

The six retailers made their decision after receiving letters from New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and state attorneys general from California, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, Rhode Island, and the attorney general from Washington DC.

The letters sought information about the companies’ scheduling practices to determine whether they were in violation of state call-in pay regulations that require companies to pay workers for four hours of work or the hours for which they were scheduled to work, whichever is less, whenever the worker calls and is told not to report to work.

“On-call shifts are not a business necessity and should be a thing of the past,” said Schneiderman. “People should not have to keep the day open, arrange for child care, and give up other opportunities without being compensated for their time. I am pleased that these companies have stepped up to the plate and agreed to stop using this unfair method of scheduling.”

Schneiderman said that the letter was a collaborative effort among state attorneys general who were concerned about the adverse impact that on-call scheduling is having on the lives of workers and their families.

“Unpredictable work schedules take a toll on employees,” said the letter to the retailers. “Without the security of a definite work schedule, workers who must be ‘on call’ have difficulty making reliable childcare and elder-care arrangements, encounter obstacles in pursuing an education, and in general experience higher incidences of adverse health effects, overall stress, and strain on family life than workers who enjoy the stability of knowing their schedules reasonably in advance.”

In all, 15 companies received the letter. Of those, nine responded saying that they had already ended on-call scheduling or had never used it.

“Today, we are seeing retailers across America take steps to curb unnecessary and unfair on-call scheduling,” said Carrie Gleason, director of the Fair Workweek Initiative at the Center for Popular Democracy. “We are especially glad that employers like Disney and Carter’s, whose brands promote putting families first, will stop using on-call shifts that are notorious for wreaking havoc on families’ balance and puts undue stress on children. It’s impossible to arrange for childcare with just a few hours’ notice, and so it’s good to see thousands more working parents no longer have to scramble to work enough hours to support their families.”

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