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Fact Sheet: The Health Benefits of Fair Scheduling Policies

Workers across the income spectrum are struggling to care for their families while holding jobs that demand  around-the-clock availability. Legislation is urgently needed at the federal, state, and municipal levels to give  workers greater control over their schedules and protect them from abusive scheduling practices. The benefits of  fair scheduling laws are significant, allowing workers to arrange for childcare, budget effectively, and advance  their education. These laws also improve health outcomes for workers and their families.  

Harvard Kennedy School’s Shift Project studied the effect of Seattle’s fair scheduling law and found that it  increased worker happiness and sleep quality, reduced material hardship, and allowed workers to  schedule and pay for medical care.i 

The National Women’s Law Center found that unfair work schedules make it difficult for women to access  healthcare for themselves and their loved ones, noting that medical appointments often need to be made well  in advance, an impossibility when workers do not know their schedules until days before their shifts.ii 

Stories from workers dealing with unfair schedules corroborate that data:  

“I received my work schedule on Saturday afternoon, just one day in advance, for the workweek  beginning on Sunday. When I told the company that I would not be available because I had to  take my kids to medical appointments, the store ignored my requests and called me in during my  appointment times.” 

“Almost every week, I am called to work at the last minute because the store is short-staffed.  Sometimes I want to say no, but I can’t afford to – even when I feel sick or I need to help my  disabled mom.” 

“I want to work more hours, but it is hard for me to pick up last-minute shifts. I have a disability,  and two of my children are also disabled, so we have a lot of medical appointments. My kids  wouldn’t be safe if I left them alone, so if I want to pick up a last-minute shift I have to ask a  relative to watch my kids. Asking my family to provide childcare has made our relationships  more complicated, and the emotional stress of coordinating care for my kids has exacerbated my  chronic illness.”iii 

Everyone deserves access to schedules that work for them, which benefit workers, their health, and their  families.  


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