A&F to phase out on-call scheduling
Following New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s April decision to investigate "on-call" retail employee schedules, Abercrombie & Fitch has joined the ranks of those phasing out the policy.
On-call workers are expected to be available for work, often waiting until the last minute to find out whether or not they are needed to come in. Mr. Schneiderman asked 13 retailers to explain their shift-setting system, saying being on-call made domestic arrangements difficult, often resulting in "stress and strain on family life."
Other stores cited by Mr. Scheiderman included Target, Sears, J.Crew and Gap which, in total, operate more than 16,000 stores in North America, according to BuzzFeed. Some denied using the system.
Reuters reported in April, however, that several state legislatures and the U.S. Labor Department are considering action. A National Employment Law Project attorney cited a study as far back as 2011 showing a fifth of participants were required to always or frequently be available for on-call shifts that might not materialize, frequently leaving them unneeded and unpaid.
Telephone calls, text messages or emails to check if they’re needed saves New York employers having to pay the legal minimum of four hours’ work when staff turn up only to be turned away. These are potential violations, which Mr. Schneiderman’s office is investigating.
Abercrombie told CBS MoneyWatch that New York is just the beginning, with the system being eliminated across the country over time. "We believe that this change is beneficial to our store associates, and reflects our commitment to creating a positive work environment," a spokesperson said. From September, shifts for New York stores will be scheduled one week in advance although employees will be offered the option of e-mail alerts when unexpected scheduling opportunities arise.
In June, Victoria’s Secret announced staff would be given advance notice as well as warnings that some shifts could last longer. Employees could indicate a willingness to work extra hours.
Store traffic forecasts sometimes require last minute adjustments in staffing levels making on-call systems a useful solution. Meeting customer needs and changing business demands must remain a priority according to National Retail Federation vice president, Neil Trautwein.
- Abercrombie & Fitch to end on call schedules – CBS MoneyWatch
- Abercrombie & Fitch agrees to end on-call scheduling – The Consumerist
- Victoria’s Secret is abandoning its controversial scheduling policy – Business Insider
- Victoria’s Secret getting rid of on-call scheduling – Buzzfeed
- New York questions big retailers over ‘on-call’ staffing – Reuters
- New York investigates retailers for unpredictable work schedules – NPR
Will eliminating on-call schedules improve relations for both retailers and their employees? How should stores handle last-minute staffing situations?