Policy Brief Release: Tackling Unstable and Unpredictable Work Schedules

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Contact: Darrah Sipe – (347) 446-1270 or darrah@retailactionproject.org

Policy Brief Released Today: Tackling Unstable and Unpredictable Work Schedules

“Just-in-Time” Scheduling Policies Leave Workers Guessing About Pay, Lead to High Turnover

New York, NY – A new report by the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), Retail Action Project (RAP), and Women Employed released today reveals that the unstable and unpredictable work schedules faced by many hourly wage workers have serious implications for families, women, caregivers, communities, as well as businesses and consumer spending. The report highlights model employer practices, as well two policy approaches that would lift up the economy and create more economy-boosting jobs that provide enough for workers to make ends meet.

Tackling Unstable and Unpredictable Work Schedules examines the recent trend toward “just-in-time” scheduling practices, where employers create jobs that schedule workers based on hour by hour consumer demand. It provides solutions implemented by companies voluntarily and through bargaining agreements such as guaranteed minimum weekly hours and advance notice policies, and provides an overview of states’ laws requiring employers to pay a set amount even if they send a worker home early or decide the worker is not needed for a shift (i.e. reporting pay). Both types of policies provide crucial stability and predictable income levels for workers, and also lower turnover for businesses. However, widespread implementation, strengthening and stronger of enforcement of such laws is needed to ensure these policies are successful.

For workers, especially those who are caregivers, jobs with erratic schedules create constant uncertainty. Akasia O’Keefe, a single mother who works as a stock associate Uniqlo in New York City says that “I never know how many hours I’ll get and how much my check will be. My schedule always changing so finding childcare for my daughter is always so stressful.” Sonsira Espinal, a sales and merchandising associate at Madewell says “I’m scheduled for more ‘on-call’ shifts than actual shifts each week, so I only know two hours before if I have to work that day. It’s impossible, both financially and logistically.” Sasha Hammad, RAP’s Executive Director says that “With so many national companies choosing just-in-time scheduling over family-sustaining hours, we need to address this issue in a comprehensive way. “Workers and their families simply can’t afford business as usual.”

The report offers analyses of legislative and workplace solutions such as reforming reporting pay laws, collective bargaining, guaranteed minimum hour and advance notice policies, as well as increased enforcement of current state laws.

Read the Report: Tackling Unstable and Unpredictable Work Schedules
Interviews: To interview retail workers with unpredictable schedules or Sasha Hammad, RAP’s Executive Director, contact Darrah Sipe at (347) 446-1270 or darrah@retailactionproject.org


The Retail Action Project (RAP) is an organization of retail workers dedicated to improving opportunities and workplace standards in the retail industry.

The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) develops and advocates for policies at the federal, state, and local levels that improve the lives of low-income people, with a focus on strengthening families and creating pathways to education and work.

Women Employed improves women’s economic status and removes barriers to economic equity, focusing on improving the status of women who earn less than the median income.

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