Although the retail sector continues to add jobs to the U.S. economy, too many retail workers are struggling to survive in low-wage wage jobs with unpredictable scheduling practices that threaten their economic security and stand in the way of competing life demands.
Recently, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sent a letter to 13 retailers, including Target Corp., Gap Inc. and Abercrombie & Fitch Co., regarding their on-call scheduling practices, which require hourly retail workers to show up for work or stay home with little advance notice and no pay if the worker’s services are not needed. New York labor laws state that workers who are called in by their employers for a scheduled shift are entitled to at least four hours of pay at minimum wage even if workers are dismissed early and work less than four hours.
Economists and academics agree that access to education would narrow the current wealth gap, but many retail workers are unable to further their education because of unpredictable scheduling at work. Faced with losing more hours or even their jobs, many retail workers have been forced to drop classes and curtail their education in order to meet their employer’s demands. As income inequality continues to grow, it’s critically important that employers in the retail sector lead the way in making sure that retail workers have access to full-time hours and benefits so that workers in this growing industry have a pathway to the middle class.