Schedules That Work Act Would Help Low-Income Families, Boost Business
Washington, D.C.—Today, Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Patty Murray (D-WA), and Chris Murphy (D-NY) introduced the Schedules that Work Act in Congress, a bill that would address the problems faced by millions of workers who have unpredictable and unstable job schedules. The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), a leading national organization that promotes policies to help low-income families, praised the bill, which would establish critical new labor standards, while supporting employers who want to do the right thing for both their employees and their businesses.
“This legislation addresses one of the most pressing job quality challenges facing workers today,” said Olivia Golden, executive director of CLASP. “When working parents can’t predict their hours or income, the instability they experience unfortunately affects their families’ economic security, their children’s access to quality child care, and their children’s overall development. That’s why this legislation is part of a growing acknowledgment that policies to help low-income families must improve the lives of two generations – both parents and their children. Congress should move quickly to pass the Schedules that Work Act.”
The bill would give workers in all industries the right to request a flexible, predictable, or stable schedule, without fear of retaliation. The bill requires employers to accommodate the scheduling needs of workers with serious illnesses, caregiving responsibilities, more than one job, and students, unless the employers have bona fide reasons for not doing so.
For workers in the retail, restaurant, and building-cleaning sectors, employers would be required to provide two weeks’ advance notice of schedules and compensate employees who are sent home before the end of their shifts, work a split shift, or are assigned on-call shifts. The bill would enable the U.S. Secretary of Labor to take steps to consider adding these protections in additional industries where volatile scheduling practices are also prevalent.
The introduction of this legislation in Congress follows a year of unprecedented attention in the media, state legislatures, and city council chambers to the issue of job scheduling. “More than 10 states have introduced fair scheduling legislation and several municipalities are tackling the issue, too. This rapidly building interest reflects the pressing need for action – too many workers are on the brink of poverty as they struggle to manage the constant volatility in their job schedules. A federal standard would improve working conditions for all,” said Liz Ben-Ishai, senior policy analyst at CLASP.
Scheduling challenges are widespread. According to a study from the University of Chicago, 41 percent of early-career (ages 26-32) hourly workers receive less than one week’s advance notice of their job schedules. Seventy five percent of these workers have hours that fluctuate from week-to-week, for example, receiving 10 hours of work one week and 40 the next. Their hours vary by 50 percent, on average. Another recent study found that 17 percent of full-time and 25 percent of part-time workers experience unstable schedules, including irregular, on-call, split, and rotating shifts.
A growing number of employers are voicing their support for public policy solutions to scheduling challenges, highlighting the benefits to businesses of providing fair, stable schedules to their workers. In San Francisco, where the country’s first comprehensive fair scheduling law for large retailers has just gone into effect, Sam Mongannam, founder of the BiRite Family of Businesses, said that despite not being large enough to be covered by the law, his company is implementing it. Explained Mongannam, “Why take on labor standards that we aren’t required to comply with? Because we know that fair scheduling makes sense for our workers and for our businesses. Unless our staff is happy and engaged, we would not successfully achieve our mission of creating community through food, and wouldn't be able to provide the genuine service that our guests have come to appreciate.” Added Mongannam, addressing other employers, “We strongly support the Schedules that Work Act and encourage you to do so as well, so your staff can benefit from the rights our teams already enjoy.”
CLASP develops and advocates for policies at the federal, state, and local levels that improve the lives of low-income people. We focus on policies that strengthen families and create pathways to education and work. Through careful research and analysis and effective advocacy, we develop and promote new ideas, mobilize others, and directly assist governments and advocates to put in place successful strategies that deliver results that matter to people across America. For more information, visit www.clasp.org and follow @CLASP_DC.