Too many workers in the retail sector are struggling to survive in low-wage, part-time jobs with unpredictable schedules that narrow their ability to move up the economic ladder. “On-call” and last minute scheduling has become common practice at many retail stores—making daily tasks such as arranging for child care, pursuing an education, or even working a second job difficult to complete.
Economists and academics agree that access to education would narrow the current wealth gap, but millions of retail workers are unable to further their education because of scheduling conflicts 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.
Fortunately, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) are reintroducing legislation that would provide retail workers with modest safeguards and begin to curb the most abusive scheduling practices. The Schedules That Work Act includes a presumption that retail workers who need a schedule change due to child care, school, a second job, or medical needs will receive that change unless there is a bona fide business reason not to. The legislation also provides retail workers advance notice of their schedules and guarantees minimum pay when they are sent home from work before completing their entire shift.
This legislation is a good first step toward addressing workplace scheduling practices that have put millions of workers at a disadvantage, and the Retail Justice Alliance urges Congress to pass the Schedules That Work Act as soon as possible.