On-call scheduling, in which hourly employees receive little advance notice of the hours they will be working in a given week, has arisen as a major target of labor rights activism in the US this year, while the similar practice of zero-hours contracts has come in for increased scrutiny in the UK. Partly in response to this pressure, Starbucks made changes to its scheduling practices and Walmart is piloting a technological solution to give employees more predictability without sacrificing flexibility. Local regulators are also acting on the issue: In September, Seattle passed a law mandating “secure scheduling” for retail and fast-food employees, similar to one San Francisco adopted in 2014, and New York is considering its own scheduling regulation.
Now, Buzzfeed’s Cora Lewis’s reports, six major retailers have agreed to end on-call scheduling after an inquiry by nine state attorneys general into the use of this practice:
Since authorities in New York began a probe into the practice last year, retailers including Abercrombie & Fitch, Gap, J.Crew, Urban Outfitters, Pier 1 Imports, and L Brands (the parent company of Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works) eliminated it outright.
The latest companies include mall staples Aeropostale and PacSun, plus Disney, Carter’s, David’s Tea, and Zumiez – six of 15 large retailers who received a letter from the state attorneys general in April seeking information and documents related to their use of on-call shifts. All six companies reported that they were using on-call shifts, but have agreed to stop doing so after discussions with the AGs’ offices. None are currently using on-call scheduling.
Four of the companies — Carter’s, Disney, David’s Tea, and Zumiez — have also committed to providing employees with schedules at least one week in advance of each workweek, giving them a chance to plan ahead of time around other obligations, which often include a second part-time job.