Retailers agree to early holiday gift for 50,000 on-call shift workers
An estimated 50,000 workers nationwide for Disney, Aeropostale and four other U.S. retailers are expected to get an early holiday present from their employers — new agreements to end on-call work shift scheduling.
A coalition of state attorneys general said Tuesday that Carter’s, David’s Tea, PacSun and Zumiez also have said they will stop the practice, which typically requires employees to phone in shortly before a scheduled work shift to find out whether they will be assigned to work that day.
Additionally, Carter’s, Disney, David’s Tea and Zumiez committed to giving employees their work scheduled at least one week in advance of the workweek, the state officials said.
“On-call shifts are not a business necessity and should be a thing of the past,” said New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who characterized the procedure as unfair. “People should not have to keep the day open, arrange for child care, and give up other opportunities without being compensated for their time.”
The agreements followed an April letter sent to retailers by the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York and Rhode Island, all Democrats.
Workers assigned to shifts by call-in scheduling “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,” the letter said.
At least 10% of the U.S. workforce has on-call or irregular work schedules and an additional 7% work split or rotating shifts, according to a 2015 report by the Economic Policy Institute, a non-profit, non-partisan think tank focused on including the needs of low- middle-income workers. The lowest-income U.S. workers have the most irregular job schedules, the study found.
State and local officials in roughly a dozen jurisdictions across the nation have focused on the issue by introducing regulations that would restrict on-call shift scheduling, according to the National Retail Federation, the world’s largest retail trade organization.
“NRF believes government intervention in the scheduling of employees through a one-size-fits-all approach intrudes on the employer-employee relationship and creates unnecessary mandates on how a business should operate,” the organization states on its website.
Many employers already give employees their work schedules well in advance voluntarily,” the NRF added.
However, the New York Attorney General’s office has regularly collected underpayments from employers by enforcing a New York “call on pay’ regulation. The rule says employees who report for work by request or permission of their bosses must be paid for at least four hours at the minimum hourly wage.
In 2015, retailers Abercrombie & Fitch, The Gap, J. Crew, Urban Outfitters, Pier 1 Imports and L Brands, the parent firm of Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works agreed with Schneiderman to end assignments of on-call shifts.