February 10 saw the reintroduction of the Schedules That Work Act and Part Time Workers Bill of Rights Act in Congress, two pieces of legislation that would improve the wellbeing of working families nationwide by allowing workers greater stability and predictability over their schedules and expanding access to crucial workplace benefits to millions of part time workers.
As we have seen up close, far too many workers, particularly women of color in low-wage jobs, are subjected to unpredictable scheduling practices in industries like retail and food service, where employees frequently receive inconsistent schedules with little notice and must navigate last-minute shift changes and remain on call even when they aren’t scheduled. This unpredictability has serious effects on workers’ ability to live their lives, making it extremely difficult to make child care arrangements for their children or care for others who depend on them, tend to their own medical needs or get an education.
The Schedules That Work Act would guarantee workers the right to request a schedule change without fear of retaliation, and require that employers grant requests made for reasons related to caregiving responsibilities, one’s own medical needs, a second job, or education/training. The bill would also give workers the right to know their schedule, and require additional pay if schedules are changed with inadequate notice. Workers would also be guaranteed adequate time between shifts to rest. These protections would be a much-needed lifeline for countless workers, including essential workers who have risked their safety and health throughout the pandemic and are often employed in industries where volatile scheduling practices are common.
On top of these struggles, part-time workers in these industries often lack access to the vital protections afforded to their full-time counterparts. Many caregivers, for whom access to benefits like paid sick leave is especially important, work part-time hours in order to support their families while balancing care obligations. Many other low-wage workers work several part-time jobs to make ends meet but are not “full-time” workers at any of them. For these workers, a single shift per week can determine whether or not they meet the threshold to access paid sick leave, fair hourly wages and retirement plans. The Part Time Workers Bill of Rights Act would ensure that part-time workers receive the pay and benefits they deserve, expanding critical benefits to those who often need them most.
We are proud to support both of these urgently needed pieces of legislation. We thank Senator Warren, Representative DeLauro, and Representative Schakowsky for their leadership on these bills and urge Congress to act without delay.