Bath & Body Works announced on Tuesday that it will end on-call shifts by the end of next month, according to the Wall Street Journal.
That means at all stores across the country, employees will no longer be required to be available for work on a particular day only to find out with short notice whether or not they’ll be asked to come in. The company is owned by L Brands Inc., which also owns Victoria’s Secret, and Victoria’s Secret has already announced it will also end on-call scheduling.
Bath & Body Works’ announcement comes after New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sent letters to major retailers inquiring about their scheduling practices and whether they violate state law. Schneiderman took credit for Bath & Body Works’s scheduling change, saying in a statement, “I am proud that the inquiry my office launched into on-call scheduling is yielding positive results.” The Gap and Abercrombie & Fitch, which also both received the letter, announced earlier that they will change their scheduling practices.
Starbucks also announced changes to how workers are scheduled last year after it came under fire for “clopening,” or shifts where employees close stores late at night and then have to come back in a few hours later to open them for the next day, promising to end that practice and to post schedules at least a week in advance.
So far Ann Inc. (owner of Ann Taylor), Burlington Stores, Crocs, J.C. Penney, J. Crew, Sears, Target, TJX (owner of TJ Maxx and Marshall’s), Urban Outfitters, and Williams-Sonoma — the other retailers who are being investigated by Schneiderman’s office — have not made announcements about whether they’ll change scheduling.
Despite the high-profile announcements from some retailers, overall people who work in the sector have to deal with chaotic and unpredictable schedules. More than a quarter of the retail workforce has an irregular schedule, including on-call shifts, two different shifts in one day, or rotating shifts. In New York City, 40 percent of retail employees said they have no set minimum hours week to week and a quarter dealt with being on call.
But it’s a problem that impacts people who work in other industries as well. At least 17 percent of American workers have irregular schedules, although that figure likely undercounts the full number. Nearly half of part-time workers and about 40 percent of full-time workers get a week’s notice or less of what their schedule will be. That makes it incredibly difficult to arrange child care, transportation, and any other activities such as school or second jobs, as well as to know how much money someone will make in a given week or month.
The problem has caught legislators’ attention. San Francisco passed a law last year requiring large retail chains to give workers at least two weeks’ notice of schedules and pay employees if they are required to be on call but not brought in to work. Democrats in Congress have introduced the Schedules that Work Act twice now, a bill that would ensure similar protections for the entire workforce. But it hasn’t made it out of committee.