Bill would ensure that workers have a voice in their schedules, enabling them to balance work with the demands of family, school, and second jobs
CHICAGO –This week, Representatives George Miller and Rosa DeLauro and Senators Elizabeth Warren and Tom Harkin introduced a bill that would help hourly-wage workers whose unstable, unpredictable schedules make it nearly impossible to make a budget, plan for childcare, earn an education, or take on another job: the Schedules That Work Act.
Unpredictable and unstable work schedules have increasingly become the norm for hourly-wage workers, but they particularly affect the nearly 20 million workers in low-wage jobs. “I have been scheduled for as few as 6 hours in a week, and as many as 40, with just a few days’ notice,” said a sales associate for a major retailer who was interviewed for a recent report on unstable scheduling released by Women Employed, Center for Law and Social Policy, and Retail Action Project. “How is anyone supposed to plan their budget or schedule?”
This bill is especially needed by female workers in hourly-wage jobs. Last-minute schedules are particularly harsh on mothers, who are often the primary caretakers and need to plan for childcare. “By requiring stable scheduling practices, the Schedules That Work Act would help women balance work and family, work and school, more than one job or all three,” said Melissa Josephs, Director of Equal Opportunity Policy at Women Employed. The bill would ensure that employers enact a number of the policies recommended in the report co-authored by Women Employed: it would secure employees the right to request a predictable stable work schedule; ensure that those who show up for a scheduled shift receive at least four hours’ worth of reporting time pay even if sent home; and require two weeks’ advance notice if an employee’s schedule is to change. It would also prevent employers from retaliating against employees who request a schedule change.
Another group that would benefit greatly from the bill is student workers. “Working is often critical to a college student’s ability to pursue a degree—especially community college students—but volatile scheduling practices can make it impossible for a student to combine school and work successfully,” noted Anne Ladky, Executive Director of Women Employed. “Unpredictable schedules interfere with students’ ability to attend courses and budget for tuition and other expenses.” According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, the majority of college students work; of the 19.7 million enrolled in undergraduate college in 2011, nearly three-quarters worked, and 20 percent worked full-time, year-round.
In addition to calling for the passage of the Schedules That Work Act, Women Employed is working to promote solutions to the problem of unstable and unpredictable schedules. To learn more, visit our website, read our fact sheet or policy brief, and share our Game of Life infographic.
About Women Employed
Women Employed mobilizes people and organizations to expand educational and employment opportunities for America’s working women. Founded in 1973, we have spent four decades opening doors, breaking barriers, and creating fairer workplaces for women. For more information, visit www.womenemployed.org. Visit us on social media at Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.