New York Investigates Short Notice Work Shifts at Retailers

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is investigating on-call staffing at 13 major retailers including Gap, Sears, Target and Abercrombie & Fitch. Last week, the NY AG asked the retailers to provide information on their use of on-call shifts by May 4th.

Apparently, some retailers are using scheduling software to provide just in time schedules, notifying workers less than a week in advance of their hours at the store. Others are requiring individuals to call-in prior to coming to work. The software predicts customer demand based on weather patterns and recent sales and alters schedules. If there isn’t enough demand on a particular day, it may tell managers to send workers home unexpectedly.

The practice appears to be widespread. A survey in 2011 found that 70 percent of workers didn’t know their schedules more than a week in advance. A significant number, around twenty percent, were expected to call in during the 24 hours prior to see if they would indeed be needed at work.

Legislators in both New York and California are considering further measures to rein in the practice of telling an employee that they are not needed to work less than 24 hours in advance. The New York bill would have to pay workers for a minimum of four hours if they were not given more than 24 hours of notice that they did not need to work.

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