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By Liz Watson
Cross-posted from NWLC's blog

This week, Representatives Miller and DeLauro and Senators Harkin and Warren introduced the Schedules That Work Act. This groundbreaking legislation would give all Americans a say in when they work and curb the most abusive scheduling practices in certain low-wage jobs. At a congressional briefing, workers from the restaurant, retail and fast food industries explained to a standing room only crowd what it’s like to have no clue what your schedule will be from one day to the next, and why we need the Schedules That Work Act.

Here'€™s what they said:

  • Workers who put any limitations on their availability -€“ as nearly all workers with caregiving responsibilities must do -€“ often find that their hours are suddenly slashed, sometimes by a third or in half. That'€™s exactly what happened to Melody Pabon, who works at Zara in New York City and is a member of the Retail Action Project.
  • Workers who get schedules with one day or sometimes same day notice are left scrambling to cobble together child care, arrange transportation to and from work, or to keep a medical appointment. Mary Coleman who works at Popeye's and is a member of Wisconsin Jobs Now shared her frustration with not being able to get a schedule that allows her to take care of her grandkids, which she needs to do because of her daughter’s serious heart condition.
  • Some part-time workers who need more hours are struggling to get a predictable schedule so they can work a second job. Just ask Sandy Kossangba, a restaurant worker, and member of the Restaurant Opportunities Center United.
    And when workers can'€™t get enough hours at their jobs they can'€™t pay for child care or meet their other basic expenses. Just ask Tiffany Beroid, a former Walmart worker and member of OUR Walmart.

For workers in the restaurant and food service, retail and building cleaning industries -- a group made up of over 23.5 million workers making between $9.15 and $10.44 per hour --  where these particularly abusive scheduling practices have been especially well documented, the bill would:

  • Require two weeks advance notice of work schedules and an extra hour of pay if their schedules are changed with less than 24 hours'€™ notice, and require employers to tell employees when they'€™re hired how many hours they can expect.
  • Give extra pay to employees who are sent home early, required to call in on the same day to find out whether they must report to work, have a shift changed with less than 24 hours'€™ notice, or required to work a split shift (a shift of nonconsecutive hours).

This bill gives workers across the income spectrum more of a say in our work schedules by:

  • Creating a simple system for employees to make scheduling requests & for employers to respond to those requests. The goal is to ensure these conversations are part of the normal course of business, and to ensure that workers have the strongest possible protections from retaliation for making these requests.


Unless there is a GOOD REASON to deny the request, this bill would also require that employers grant scheduling requests when workers need them to meet their most critical obligations -€“ caregiving, going to school, managing a serious health condition, or (for a part-time worker) holding down a second job.

When it comes to scheduling practices, too many employers are in a race to the bottom. We need the Schedules That Work Act to raise the floor.

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