Schedules that Work Act Would Establish Critical Worker Protections

By Liz Ben-Ishai 

As the Trump Administration tries to legitimize its draconian budget by pointing to the declining jobless rate and offering rosy economic projections, millions of workers in today’s labor force are struggling with a phenomenon that isn’t captured in traditional economic reports: volatile and unpredictable work schedules. Too many workers face inadequate notice of their schedules, last-minute schedule changes, on-call shifts, and wildly fluctuating hours per week. Today, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) introduced the Schedules that Work Act (SWA), a federal proposal that would curb employers’ most egregious scheduling practices.

The SWA would provide workers employed by businesses in the retail, restaurant, and building-cleaning industries with 15 or more employees with at least two weeks of advance notice of their schedules and compensate workers when employers make last-minute schedule changes. These policies would help workers to better plan for child care, enroll in training or higher education classes, hold second jobs, or manage their budgets, among other critical aspects of life outside of work. The bill also compensates workers for on-call shifts, guaranteeing them a minimum of one hour of pay for times when they make themselves available but are not asked to report to work. Workers who are scheduled for split shifts (shifts with nonconsecutive hours) would also be compensated for their time. In addition, workers in all industries, employed at businesses with 15 or more employees, would have the right to request changes to their schedules without fear of retaliation. Employers would be required to accommodate requests by workers with caregiving obligations, serious personal medical needs, enrolled in training or higher education, or with second jobs, unless employers can demonstrate bona fide business reasons for not doing so.

The introduction of SWA comes as several major cities have passed similar legislation covering workers in their jurisdictions, including San Francisco, Seattle, and New York City, among others. Workers around the country are organizing to pass these important protections because, just as fair pay and access to paid leave are crucial basic labor standards, so too is a stable schedule and fair compensation when workers accommodate employers’ requests for their flexibility.  

CLASP has numerous resources available to help explain the bill and scheduling policy more broadly.

CLASP urges Congress to quickly pass the SWA, addressing a major gap in the current set of labor protections available to U.S. workers.