Employees and Responsive Workplaces
More and more, workers' responsibilities on the job keep them from caring for their families. Some employers have adapted by focusing on the needs of their greatest assets - their employees. These workplaces adopt policies including part-time equity, flexible scheduling, advance notification of schedules, guaranteed minimum hours, teleworking options, and more. Appropriate responsive workplace policies differ, depending on industries and workers' characteristics. For example, while flexible scheduling may be important for some workers, for others, having a consistent and predictable number of hours per week and a schedule that they know at least some weeks ahead of time is crucial. CLASP's work on responsive workplaces focuses on policy solutions that prevent workers from having to abandon family or community and enable them to meet work obligations without sacrificing their health and economic security. Providing employees with the time to care for short or long term illness or the arrival of a new child is one aspect of a responsive work place. Laws ensuring these protections for workers are beginning to emerge across the country (see "Employees and Time Off Work").
Jun 19, 2015 | PERMALINK »
D.C. Workers Have Too Few Hours, Too Little Notice
In a town where highflying lobbyists, Capitol Hill power brokers, and political campaign aficionados are known to work long, arduous hours, a “West Wing” fantasy can distract people from poverty and inequality. According to a new study, workers in Washington, D.C. often receive their schedules with just a few days’ notice. They also struggle to get enough hours to make ends meet and are expected to make themselves available at all hours of the day despite rarely receiving work.
The study, released last week by DC Jobs With Justice, DC Fiscal Policy Institute, and Georgetown University’s Kalmanovitz Initiative, highlights a set of scheduling challenges with which workers are contending nationwide. The groups’ survey found that 80 percent of respondents wanted more hours; in the absences of sufficient hours and pay, nearly a quarter of workers in the study were working multiple jobs.
A national study of early-career workers ages 26 to 32, released last year, found that nearly 40 percent were receiving one week or less notice of their job schedules. The D.C. study takes this question to a finer gradation. It finds that nearly half of surveyed workers in D.C. receive less than one week’s notice and one-third receive less than three days’ notice. Among retail and restaurant workers, nearly one-third receive less than 24 hours’ notice of schedule changes. Workers with families to care for, classes to attend, second jobs, or other obligations cannot sustain these fly-by-night scheduling practices.
The movement for fair, sustainable job schedules is gaining momentum across the country. Over the past year, public concern around unfair job scheduling practices has led about 10 states to introduce legislation to expand workers’ rights. The federal Schedules that Work Act, first introduced last year, is likely to be re-introduced in the coming months. And last year, a coalition of worker’s rights groups in San Francisco, led by Jobs With Justice, helped pass the nation’s first “Retail Workers’ Bill of Rights,” which includes advance notice of schedules, compensation for last-minute schedule changes, and access to hours for part-time employees.
The new D.C. survey shows that action is needed in the District, too. Some employers, such as child care center owner Marcia St. Hilaire-Finn, are doing the right thing. “Having happy employees is critical for the success of our business,” St. Hilaire-Finn said. “Fair and flexible scheduling is one way we accomplish this.” She provides at least two weeks’ notice to her employees and accommodates staff requests for flexibility.
Unfortunately, too many employers are ignoring the business case for fair scheduling. That’s why public policies to create minimum standards for workers’ schedules are needed. Employers like St. Hilarie-Finn and others agree that policy solutions are needed to extend the benefits they already extend to all workers.
In the coming months, we expect the momentum to continue on this critical job quality issue—here in the District and all across the country.
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- Liz Ben-Ishai | Feb 24, 2015 Inequities in Paid Sick Days Access, “No-Fault” Attendance Policies Show Need for Public Policy
- Liz Ben-Ishai | Aug 15, 2014 Starbucks’ Scheduling Changes are a Start, But We Need Public Policies
- Lauren French | Aug 05, 2014 Local, National Initiatives Aim to Improve Working Conditions for Low-Wage Workers
- Scott Behson | Jun 09, 2014 Paternity Leave for All Dads
- Sep 02, 2015 Getting Down to Business: News on Employers, Paid Leave and Job Scheduling September 2015
- Liz Ben-Ishai | Jul 15, 2015 Job Schedules that Work for Businesses
- Liz Ben-Ishai | Jul 15, 2015 Federal Legislation to Address Volatile Job Schedules
- Liz Ben Ishai and Alex Wang | May 12, 2015 Paid Leave Necessary for an Ounce of Prevention: Paid Leave and Access to Preventive Health Care
- Nov 19, 2014 Job Schedules: Child Care and Subsidies