Let’s talk about fair scheduling

While many are aware of the challenges working parents face earning minimum wage without paid leave, fair scheduling is often left out of the discussion. Many low wage workers, especially those working part time, experience unpredictable schedules. Fluctuating hours make it difficult to manage a budget and fulfill family responsibilities. Parents cannot make reliable child care or transportation plans. In some cases, workers may lose potential hours on a slow day, or miss the opportunity for overtime wages. Workers may have to scramble to arrange child care when they’re called in at last minute to fill a shift.

A recent New York Times-CBS News poll found Americans to be overwhelmingly in favor of fair schedules. Seventy-two percent of those survey favored “requiring chain stores and fast-food outlets to give workers at least two weeks’ notice of any changes in their work schedules or provide them with extra pay.”

Many companies are responding to the outcries from their workers. By the end of 2016, Walmart plans to change its scheduling system. Currently it uses “open shifts” but they hope to add the option of “fixed” and “flex” shifts.
Fixed shifts would guarantee workers the same weekly hours for up to a year, while flex shifts would let employees create their schedules from the hours available, every two and a half weeks. The clothing retailer Gap also announced that they would be ending their “on call” scheduling policy, which required employees to call before the shift to see whether they had to come in.

Lawmakers are also working on bills to improve fair scheduling practices. On the federal level, the Schedules that Work Act focuses on giving employees the right to request and receive scheduling accommodations. In addition, 12 states have introduced scheduling related legislation in the past year.

Even with these new policies, many employees still experience compound challenges of volatile scheduling. The issues relating to fair scheduling overlap with low wages and unaffordable child care. Many low wage workers are struggling to lift their families out of poverty and provide opportunity for their children. At Every Child Matters we are working to bring attention to scheduling fairness and other policies that make a difference for working families. Find out where the presidential candidates stand on these issues and join the conversation on our #DigitalDialogue.