Fair Work Schedules

Why Stable Scheduling?

The rapidly changing nature of employment has given rise to a variety of nonstandard and precarious work arrangements for many low-paid hourly workers. These arrangements include “just in time” scheduling practices. Such arrangements are typically:

  • On-call; ensuring the employee is available for the hours needed by the employer
  • Non-guaranteed; leaving employees uncertain whether they will actually work the hours they’re on-call for
  • Inconsistent; with shifts varying from week-to-week
  • Late notice; often posted just days before they take effect

These employer scheduling practices cause instability for the workers that can limit their earnings, impede performance, and create stress and work-life interference that undermines worker health and well-being.

Widespread acknowledgement of the impact of these practices on working class households has triggered policy debates on the need for more stable schedules across a variety of industries. However, evidence on the benefits and challenges of changing these scheduling practices is still severely lacking.

About the Study

Working with a national apparel retailer, the Center for WorkLife Law conducted a cluster-randomized, store-based experiment on Stable Scheduling.  The experiment is multi-dimensional, and aims to shed light on the relationship between schedule stability and business outcomes, as well as worker health and well-being.

The Stable Scheduling Study began in San Francisco as a pre-pilot with three stores. The participating retailer then expanded the intervention to 30 stores, across San Francisco and Chicago for a 10 month intervention.  The intervention focused on stabilizing scheduling practices such as eliminating on-call shifts and posting employee schedules multiple weeks in advance. The full pilot concluded August 30, 2016. The research team, comprised of researchers from The Center for WorkLife Law, the University of Chicago, and the University of North Carolina, released their first report in March 2018 entitled Stable Scheduling Increases Productivity and Sales: The Stable Scheduling Study. The second report, released in February 2019, focuses on the health and well-being of retail workers.

Read the Business Outcomes Report Read the Health Outcomes Report

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