Federal, State, and Local Governments Try to Make Sure Part-Time Workers Have Steadier Schedules

In the service industry it is common for part-time employees to have “on-call” shifts as part of their weekly schedule. On-call shifts are usually where an employee is told they should be free on a particular day and time in case they are needed. The on-call employee may or may not actually get to work during the shift. It depends on the store’s needs. If the employee is not called in to work then they don’t get paid. Another common scenario is the on-call employee is called into work, but their shift is only a couple of hours. This means the employee has to rearrange their entire day for a couple hours of pay typically at a low hourly wage. On-call shifts are especially difficult for parents. The employee has to make childcare arrangements for a work shift that may not happen or may only be for a couple of hours. On-call shifts also make it impossible for a part-time employee to have other part-time jobs to supplement their income.

The problem of unsteady shifts for part-time workers extends to schedule making practices in general. It is common for schedules to be made only days in advance of an employee’s shift. This makes it very difficult for part-time employees to plan for other jobs, school, or family responsibilities.

States and local governments are recognizing the problem of on-call shifts. Laws are being introduced to help stem some of the worst uses of on-call shifts and as needed scheduling. The proposed laws focus on two different ways to make on-call shifts better for employees. One proposed law would require companies to pay employees extra for on-call work. The second proposal would require employers give two weeks’ notice of a work schedule to give employees the ability to better plan their life schedules.

Representative George Miller of California, the senior Democrat on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, plans to introduce legislation this summer that would require companies to pay their employees for an extra hour if they were summoned to work with less than 24 hours’ notice. He is also proposing a guarantee of four hours’ pay on days when employees are sent home after just a few hours — something that happens in many restaurants and retailers when customer traffic is slow. Senator Bob Casey, Democrat of Pennsylvania, has introduced a similar bill in the senate.

At the federal level these bills are unlikely to go anywhere. The GOP is against anything that would make life easier for workers. The problems of unsteady shifts and working on short notice is for business and the GOP an example of “flexibility.”

Anytime a business organization or the Republicans talk about flexibility you know it is meant to be flexibility for the employer. Nothing the GOP ever supports is good for workers. Republicans are concerned only with the rights of capital and management. Business wants employees who are available anytime the employer needs them for any amount of time the employer requires. The needs of the workers does not factor into their decision making. Only through collective bargaining either via a union or using the democratic power of government can flexibility be made to work for employees and employers.

If you are having a problem with your employer in Georgia contact Atlanta employment lawyer Ben Kandy.

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