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Retailers end on-call scheduling

On-call scheduling has long been a controversial topic in the retail industry. The practice puts employees at a variety of disadvantages.

The practice of on-call scheduling will no longer be used at six large retailers. Following an investigation by nine attorney generals, the stores announced an end to on-call scheduling. 

A Buzzfeed News story reports the change will affect about 50,000 employees across the country. Authorities began looking into on-call scheduling more than a year ago, and employers such as Abercrombie & Fitch, Gap, J.Crew, Urban Outfitters, Pier 1 Imports, and L Brands did away with the practice at the outset of the investigation.

The latest group of employers to end on-call scheduling include Aeropostale and PacSun, plus Disney, Carter’s, David’s Tea, and Zumiez. Below, we've answered a few questions about what this means.

What is on-call scheduling?

On-call scheduling requires employees to call their employer before their shift to find it if they have to work that day.

Why is on-call scheduling harmful?

The practice requires that employees set aside time for work, without guaranteeing that they will work the shift. If they don't work the shift, they do not get paid for this time. This makes it difficult for these employees to balance other life obligations such as appointments and childcare, and makes their income more unpredictable. 

Why do companies use on-call scheduling?

It allows businesses to keep costs low and remain flexible. Some estimates show business saving tens of millions of dollars from the practice.

On-call scheduling benefits businesses at the expense of employees. Seeing so many retailers do away with the practice is a step in the right direction. 

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