Time for Schedules That Work

Vicki Shabo

July 25, 2014 | Economic Justice

Can you imagine not knowing from day to day or week to week whether you will be scheduled to work or what your paycheck will look like? What about showing up at work only to be sent home with no guarantee of pay? Millions of people across the country routinely face these challenges and the economic instability that results, and women and low-wage workers are disproportionately affected.

The sad reality is that, in the United States today, many workers are struggling because their employers engage in unpredictable and unfair scheduling practices. These workers receive little to no information in advance about their weekly work schedules and often endure hours and shift lengths that change drastically from week to week. Some workers are required to call to find out if they are scheduled to work each morning, and even then, they may have to travel to their workplace without knowing if they will be needed, be paid, or be sent home once they get there.

Nearly half (47 percent) of part-time hourly workers ages 26 to 32 receive a week or less advance notice of their schedules, according to a University of Chicago analysis of data from the National Longitudinal Study of Youth. As a result, these workers have almost no stability or predictability and find it nearly impossible to arrange child care, work at a second job, take classes, or meet their families’ basic needs. The situation is harmful to workers, businesses and our economy. And it’s entirely unnecessary.

That’s why we were so pleased to see the Schedules That Work Act introduced by Senators Tom Harkin (D – Iowa) and Elizabeth Warren (D – Mass.) and Representatives George Miller (D – Calif.) and Rosa DeLauro (D – Conn.) this week. The bill would help to address these issues by giving workers more control over their schedules, encouraging employers to be clear about scheduling and hours expectations, and ensuring employers provide some wages when schedules are irregular or change on short notice.

All members of Congress should commit to supporting this legislation to address harmful and unpredictable scheduling. The common sense Schedules That Work Act would help to ensure that employees have a say in their work schedules, the predictability and stability they need to meet the dual demands of work and family, and a better chance at achieving economic security for themselves and their families.

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