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").
Mar 10, 2014 | PERMALINK »
Unstable Work Schedules Hurt Economy, Communities, and Families
Imagine if your work schedule changed from week to week or even from day to day. Imagine being scheduled to work 40 hours one week and 15 hours the next, with no warning of these fluctuations. Imagine paying for child care, only to have your manager send you home without pay, claiming there aren’t enough customers for you to work your shift. For many lower-wage workers, it doesn’t take much imagination at all to conjure up these scenarios.
A new report by the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), Retail Action Project (RAP), and Women Employed reveals that unstable and unpredictable work schedules have severe implications for hourly-wage workers, as well as businesses and consumer spending. The report highlights two policy approaches that would lift up the economy and give workers a boost so that they can cover the basics.
Tackling Unstable and Unpredictable Work Schedules examines the recent trend toward “just-in-time” scheduling practices, where employers schedule workers based on fluctuating consumer demand, which they monitor from day to day or even hour to hour.
These struggles aren’t unusual; a study of 17 major U.S. corporations in various industries found that only three gave more than a week’s notice of schedules. Another study focusing on one major U.S. retailer found that 59 percent of full-time hourly workers experienced fluctuations in either the days or hours of their shifts from week to week.
Two approaches that some employers are taking create jobs with better conditions while meeting business needs. For example, Costco jobs guarantee a minimum number of hours each week. Cooperative Home Care Associates, a home care staffing agency, has a program that guarantees participating employees a set number of paid hours per week, even if they are not ultimately needed to work all of those hours. In addition to these voluntary minimum hours policies, some collective bargaining agreements and many states’ laws require employers to pay a set amount even if they send a worker home early or decide the worker is not needed for a shift (known as “reporting pay”).
Erratic schedules can cause workers to lose wages and jobs, which leaves them unable to pay for basic goods. Businesses should be concerned. In fact, Wal-Mart was recently the focus of press coverage as it weighed whether to support an increase in the federal minimum wage—a choice driven by the company’s reliance on low-wage workers not only as employees but also as customers. Just as Wal-Mart is waking up to how wages matter to the company and the larger economy, it is time for businesses to realize that unstable scheduling practices are a part of the picture, too.
With nearly 8 million hourly-wage workers in the U.S., many of whom struggle to pay the bills and cover the rent, it’s clear that change is needed. We need public policies that make it possible for working families to get by—and this includes policies that help to create good jobs. Stable and predictable schedules are a key piece of the job quality puzzle.
- Lauren French | Jan 22, 2014 Survey Shows that Restaurants Can Reduce Costs Through Better Employment Practices
- Lauren French | Jan 16, 2014 Shriver Report Shines Light on Women in Poverty
- Jan 10, 2014 Getting Down to Business Newsletter - January Issue
- Lauren French | Dec 17, 2013 You Are Where You Eat: ROC National Diners' Guide 2014
- Liz Ben-Ishai | Dec 12, 2013 Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Law Would Help Employers Do Good and Do Well #FAMILYAct
- Liz Ben-Ishai | Mar 26, 2014 The Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act: An FAQ for Businesses
- Liz Ben-Ishai | Mar 07, 2014 Tackling Unstable and Unpredictable Work Schedules
- Liz ben-Ishai | Jan 10, 2014 Getting Down to Business Newsletter - January 2014
- Liz Ben-Ishai | Oct 04, 2013 Getting Down to Business Newsletter - October 2013
- CLASP and Breastfeeding Taskforce of Los Angeles | Aug 13, 2013 Paid Family Leave: A Crucial Support for Breastfeeding