On-Call Scheduling Draws Renewed Criticism

Date: September 08, 2015

More Companies Abandoning Practice Under Regulatory Criticism

Employers who sometimes give their workers short notice of shift changes are the latest target of labor groups. For example, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman successfully blocked clothing retailer Gap from using “on-call scheduling” where the retailer gives its employees limited notice before requiring them to show up to work. The Albany (NY) Times Union quoted him as saying, “Workers deserve stable and reliable work schedules, and I commend Gap for taking an important step to make their employees’ schedules fairer and more predictable.” Gap stated that it would provide workers with “at least 10 to 14 days notice” for when they are expected to show up to work. Schneiderman and others have criticized the practice of on-call scheduling, which requires employees to “report in some manner, whether by phone, text message or email, before the designated shift in order to learn whether their services are ultimately needed on-site that day.” Advocacy groups and unions have voiced strong opposition, with Sherry Leiwant of the group A Better Balance characterizing on-call scheduling as “an increasing problem for workers, and it is wreaking havoc with people’s lives.” The New York Times editorialized that scheduling has “generated unfair practices.”

What This Means For Business

Efforts to limit on-call scheduling could restrict small businesses’ flexibility and hurt their ability to react to shifts in the market. Additionally, it could raise compliance costs. Leaders across the country may come under increasing pressure from activists and special interest groups to reinterpret older laws to serve their current interests. New York Retail Council chief executive and president Ted Potrikus observed that “is not right to say that every retailer should follow this set of standards. This industry has all kinds of ebbs and flows.” He added that limiting on-call scheduling could raise costs for businesses.

Additional Reading

NFIB has covered the negative impact of New York’s effort to boost the state minimum wage.

Note: this article is intended to keep small business owners up on the latest news. It does not necessarily represent the policy stances of NFIB.

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