So-called “on-call scheduling” gives retailers more flexibility with hours while saving them payroll expenses, but the practice can have the opposite effect on workers who must report to a shift with little notice and uncertainties about pay, according to New York authorities investigating some of the biggest retailers.
The New York state attorney general’s office has begun investigating retailers’ use of on-call scheduling. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sent letters Friday warning 13 major retail companies including Target, Sears and Gap that some stores may be violating state law by using on-call scheduling systems, the Wall Street Journal has reported.
Schneiderman is requesting that the companies provide the AG’s office with information about their so-“on-call shifts,” in which employees are given little notice on whether they are required to show up for work, or stay at home without getting paid. The letter asks for information about how the retailers schedule employees, the software they use, and any penalties workers face if they don’t follow on-call procedures.
According to the letter, this practice leaves “too little time to make arrangements for family needs, let alone to find an alternative source of income to compensate for the lost pay.”
Companies receiving the inquiries for more information related to “on-call scheduling” include Target, Gap, Abercrombie & Fitch, Ann Taylor parent company Ann Inc. Burlington Stores Inc., Crocs Inc., J.C. Penney Co., J. Crew Group Inc., Sears Holdings Corp., TJX Cos., Urban Outfitters Inc., Williams-Sonoma Inc., and L Brands Inc. – the owner of retailers such as Bath & Body Works and Victoria’s Secret.
Under New York law, employers must provide staffers who report to work for a scheduled shift at least four hours of pay at minimum wage, even if they are sent home.
The Wall Street Journal reports that other states have similar laws. However, the rule is rarely enforced because most workers aren’t aware of its existence.