Too many workers are subjected to unpredictable scheduling practices that make work-life balance impossible. Employers in industries like retail and food service commonly post schedules with little notice, make last minute shift cancellations, vary schedules wildly from week-to-week, and require employees to be on call. The Schedules That Work Act—reintroduced in Congress today—would improve the well-being of working families by giving employees more of a say in their work schedules.
A new study from The Shift Project found that 80% of retail and food service workers have little to no input into their schedules, and that 69% are required by their employer to keep their schedules “open and available” to work whenever needed. The study found that these scheduling practices negatively impacted the lives of workers and their families, contributing to food insecurity, housing hardship, and difficulty finding childcare.
Erratic work schedules also contribute to gender and racial inequality: women—especially women of color—are more likely to work in low wage jobs subject to volatile scheduling, and more likely to shoulder family and caregiving responsibilities that are undermined by an unpredictable schedule.
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, absent a bona fide business reason for not doing so. 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.
We’re proud to have played a key role in drafting this bill, and we urge Congress to act to protect working families and put a stop to these exploitative scheduling practices.