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01/15/2020 | Restoring a Fair Workweek

Restoring a Fair Workweek: State Policies to Combat Abusive Scheduling Practices

Today a majority of working Americans – over 80 million people – clock into a job with an hourly wage.

    As millions of families benefit from higher minimum wages, these victories are undermined by unstable work hours. Many hourly workers are expected to be available 24/7 to work part-time jobs with no guaranteed hours, and experience huge fluctuations in weekly income.

    In the low-wage service sector, retailers use just-in-time scheduling to reduce labor costs, placing tremendous pressure on frontline managers to calibrate staffing with customer demand. Managers are held accountable for maintaining a particular ratio between the number of hours employees work and either store sales or traffic, and are given a base number of hours to distribute among employees. It is common for retailers to review staffing ratios daily or even hourly, and adjust workers’ schedules to ensure that the ratio is rebalanced the next day.

    Just-in-time scheduling forces workers to bear the cost of fluctuations in customer demand. Most workers receive their work schedules with little notice. Last-minute changes to schedules leave parents scrambling for childcare or missing income needed to cover basic expenses. Unstable schedules also undermine all aspects of working families’ lives – volatile incomes make it impossible to budget; family relationships are strained; and last-minute schedule changes interfere with everything from college classes to doctors’ appointments. Download the brief to learn more.