Group calls for ending on-call and last-minute work scheduling

A coalition of advocates launched a national campaign Tuesday to press large retailers, restaurant chains and other companies to end on-call and last-minute scheduling, which allows companies to assign shifts to workers with only a few hours' notice.

The New York-based campaign follows recent agreements by several large retailers with New York's attorney general to end the practice in that state.

The Center for Popular Democracy, the Rockefeller Foundation and the online organization Purpose are calling for scheduling at least two weeks in advance, thereby eliminating on-call assignments that leave employees scrambling for child care, unable to hold second jobs and with uncertain paychecks.

They say 3 in 5 American workers — about 75 million people — are paid hourly, with recent job growth mainly in low-wage jobs, often part time and subject to last-minute scheduling practices.

The Workshift campaign, formed by Purpose and the Rockefeller Foundation last year, says employer software aimed at savings and efficiency is behind the growth in last-minute worker scheduling. Consequences, it says, include lower pay, higher job turnover and unhealthy series of changing or extended shifts with little rest.

In December, New York Atty. Gen. Eric Schneiderman said Pier 1 Imports had agreed to end on-call shifts at stores nationally, posting schedules at least 10 to 14 days in advance.

His office had sent letters to 14 retailers questioning the practice. Retailers that have agreed to stop included Abercrombie & Fitch, Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, J. Crew, Urban Outfitters, Bath & Body Works and Victoria's Secret. Other companies contacted say they weren't using on-call scheduling.

In April, attorneys general from California, seven other states and the District of Columbia sent letters to retailers with outlets in their states expressing concerns about on-call scheduling. Companies included American Eagle, Aeropostale, Payless, Disney, Coach, PacSun, Forever 21, Vans, Justice Just for Girls, BCBG Maxazria, Tilly's Inc., David's Tea, Zumiez, Uniqlo and Carter's.

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