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").

Dec 13, 2016  |  PERMALINK »

Young Workers in Los Angeles Struggle with Volatile Schedules

By Liz Ben-Ishai

“I’m not getting enough hours. My shifts are cancelled at the last second. I have no input into my schedule—and almost no advance notice. When I take a sick day, they cut my hours.” If you’re a young worker in L.A. County’s service sector, these experiences are familiar.

A new report from CLASP and the UCLA Labor Center demonstrates the prevalence of volatile scheduling in L.A.’s retail, restaurant, and grocery sectors. Juggling Time: Young Workers and Scheduling Practices in the Los Angeles County Service Sector presents findings from a survey of young workers ages 18-29.  Nearly everyone surveyed (96 percent) has experienced at least one challenging scheduling practice, such as on-call work, fluctuating hours, and little notice of work schedules. Additionally, 93 percent report lacking a voice on the job when it comes to scheduling; they have no say about when, if, or how much they will work.

Unfortunately, young people’s working conditions are seldom scrutinized. Popular myth suggests young people are just working for extra spending money or biding their time in low-level jobs before starting their “real” careers. However, as UCLA Labor Center concluded in an earlier report, “young workers work to live, not to play.” Nearly half are contributing some of their income to support their families. Two-thirds use their earnings for rent and three-quarters for household expenses. More than one-third are students, and 43 percent spend some of their wages on tuition. But far too often, these realities are ignored.  Intent on nickel-and-diming low-wage workers, some employers and policymakers push the false claim that strong labor laws hurt young workers—a cynical pretense for excluding them from coverage.

In reality, young workers depend on their earnings to make ends meet. That’s why the stakes are so high in their struggles for enough work and for stable work. Sixty percent of young workers in our study are employed part time, and nearly 80 percent of these part-time workers say they want more hours than they are getting. Young workers have obligations to others and themselves; among many roles, they are students, family members, and caregivers. But for the 88 percent who receive less than two weeks’ notice of their schedules, as well as the 82 percent whose hours fluctuate week to week, fulfilling these obligations is a Herculean struggle.

While nearly all workers reported at least one difficult scheduling practice, nearly two in five (38 percent) reported three: on-call work, fluctuating hours, and lack of advanced notice of their schedules—a trifecta of scheduling chaos. Furthermore, we found that African American workers, students, workers aged 18-22, and those with the least tenure on the job were most likely to experience a heavy cumulative burden of unfair scheduling practices.

For young workers in L.A. County—the largest county in the U.S. —“business as usual” offers a dismal outlook. In the report, CLASP and UCLA Labor Center recommend a series of policy solutions, including advanced notice of schedules, access to more hours, and compensation for last-minute changes to the schedule. Fortunately, many of these policy recommendations are already becoming a reality.

In the past two years, cities such as San Francisco, Seattle, Emeryville, and San Jose have passed fair scheduling laws that address some of the most significant challenges identified in the report. State legislatures and city councils across the country are considering fair scheduling proposals, with action likely in several places in 2017. Despite a host of challenges in the current political climate for workers’ rights, state and local governments are poised to pass laws that bring greater stability and economic security to all workers. In order to achieve the goals of fairness and equity in the workplace, these laws must include young workers, who depend on their jobs and desperately need labor protections that can give them a fair shot.

Read the report >>

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