6 Retailers are Ending This Controversial Practice (We Hope More Follow!)

on-call scheduling
Bath and Body Works store in St Petersburg, FL. Mica Bolling employee November 2016. credit: Samantha Dunscombe/The Penny Hoarder

I’m a woman of routine, so if my manager plucked me to work two hours before a shift, I’d be rattled.

And if I were still a student or had kids? Game over, my friends.

But thousands of workers across the country are affected by on-call scheduling, the controversial practice of making employees call in an hour or two before scheduled shifts to find out if they’re actually required to work that day.

Ah, we do have good news, though. Six big retailers have agreed to eliminate the practice, Buzzfeed recently reported.

What’s the Big Deal About On-Call Scheduling?

Retailers use the on-call scheduling to reduce labor costs. Last year, a Buzzfeed investigation found Victoria’s Secret saved tens of millions of dollars a year by doing this.

On the other hand, “This wreaks havoc on employees’ lives,” Buzzfeed reported. If you have children to care for, classes to attend — any other obligations — then forget it.

“Staff who miss making a call in the window prior to a shift, or who do call but cannot make it to work on time, typically receive the same punishment as someone who skips a regularly scheduled shift,” the site stated.

The Call to Eliminate On-Call Scheduling Practices

Once Victoria’s secrets were uncovered (get it?), it agreed to eliminate the practice. Others did the same, including Abercrombie & Fitch, Gap, J.Crew, Urban Outfitters, Pier 1 Imports and L Brands (think: Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works).

In April, 15 large retailers received a probing letter from state attorneys general offices.

Recently, six of those 15 companies decided to bail on the practice: Aeropostale, PacSun, Disney, Carter’s, David’s Tea and Zumiez.

This affects more than 50,000 employees.

Four of those companies also agreed to issue employee schedules at least a week in advance.

The other nine retailers? American Eagle Outfitters, Payless ShoeSource, Coach, Forever 21, Vans, Justice, BCBG Max Azria, Tillys and Uniqlo all said they don’t use on-call scheduling or have already eliminated the practice.

I have to wonder: Will more retailers eliminate on-call scheduling? We can only hope these six retailers become trendsetters in the industry.

Your Turn: What do you think about on-call scheduling? Have you had to work on-call shifts?

Carson Kohler (@CarsonKohler) is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder. After recently completing graduate school, she focuses on saving money — and surviving the move back in with her parents.

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