In the race for holiday season profits, stores are moving up their hours for the biggest shopping day of the year to cut into the Thanksgiving holiday. One of the more aggressive companies is Kmart, which will keep its stores open at 6 a.m on Thanksgiving, although Macy’s, Kohl’s, and others have also bumped up their hours.
Kmart and its defenders point to the fact that no one is being forced to work on Thanksgiving and stores will be staffed mostly with seasonal hires. However, the reality is that few workers have much of an option when it comes to holiday scheduling, both because the U.S. lacks benefits like guaranteed paid vacation and the reliance on a temp or part-time workforce is growing.
Overall, part-time work has grown during the economic recovery, meaning that more than one in five workers often earn lower wages, are less likely to obtain health benefits, and are left with even fewer legal protections from their employers than full-time employees. For 7.9 million people, it is not even a choice between working part time or full, since either their employers couldn’t give them more hours or they couldn’t find full-time work. In retail, stores hire seasonal workers to confront the holiday crush, although stores like Walmart have faced backlash for relying too much on a temp workforce.
Part-time employment often leaves scheduling and time off up to the whims of the employer, which can be erratic and changed at the last moment. The problems in retail extend to full-time employment, too. As Pat Garofalo points out, almost one in four workers lack vacation time and holidays. Part-time workers are only 35 percent likely to have paid vacation, compared to 91 percent of full-time workers.
This dynamic appears to be playing out on Thanksgiving for Kmart employees. Despite Kmart’s promises to give workers a couple hours off Thanksgiving day, there are reports around the country that managers have denied their requests for time off, according to the Huffington Post.