Millions of people—mostly women—work in retail, food service, hospitality, and other industries in which jobs often pay low wages and lack benefits. In many of these jobs, employees increasingly face “just-in-time” scheduling practices, including being given very little notice of their work schedules, being sent home early when work is slow without being paid for their scheduled shifts, and being assigned to “on-call” shifts that require them to call their employer or wait to be called by their employer to find out whether they will be required to report to work. Many employees have very little ability to make adjustments to their work schedules without penalty.
Unstable and unpredictable work hours yield unstable and unpredictable incomes and make it extremely challenging for working people to manage responsibilities like caregiving, pursuing higher education, or holding down a second job. It can be particularly hard for parents with difficult work schedules to afford and access high-quality child care—and the stress caused by inadequate income and constantly fluctuating work hours is not only bad for workers, but can also undermine their children’s well-being.
Fortunately, cities and states are taking action to improve workplace scheduling practices so that working people and their families can better plan their lives. Policies that can make a difference include promoting employee input into work schedules, requiring advance notice of work schedules, providing compensation for last-minute schedule changes, discouraging split shifts and “clopening” shifts, and ensuring fair treatment for part-time workers. These policies are good for working women and their families—and the stability and predictability they provide is good for business, too.
A new National Women’s Law Center report, State and Local Laws Advancing Fair Work Schedules, provides an overview of the public policy solutions that have been adopted at the state and local levels to promote fair work schedules in the United States. Take a look to see where your state stands!