Six Major Retailers Agree To End On-Call Scheduling Amid Multi-State Probe

Image courtesy of AmandaSG

Aeropostale, PacSun, and Walt Disney Co. are among six major retailers who have announced they will stop using on-call scheduling in their U.S. stores.

Carter’s, David’s Tea, and Zumiez will join them in ending the practice, affecting an estimated 50,000 U.S. workers. All of those besides PacSun and Aeropostale also agreed to give employees their work schedules at least one week in advance.

The news comes after a probe from eight states and the District of Columbia into 15 companies that used the practice, in which employees are given little notice on whether they are required to show up for work or stay at home without pay.

“On-call shifts are not a business necessity and should be a thing of the past. People should not have to keep the day open, arrange for child care, and give up other opportunities without being compensated for their time,” New York Attorney General Schneiderman said in a statement on the news. “I am pleased that these companies have stepped up to the plate and agreed to stop using this unfair method of scheduling.”

Last April the group of eight states and D.C. sent letters to 15 more retailers asking them about their use of the practice, which brings us to today’s news. The letters asked retailers for more information about scheduling practices that may be relevant under various state laws.

For example, in New York there’s a “call in pay regulation” [PDF] that says that any employee who “by request or permission of the employer” reports for work on any day should be paid for at least four hours of work, “or the number of of hours in the regularly scheduled shift, whichever is less, at the basic minimum hourly wage.”

In letters sent to those retailers, state officials said the “unpredictable” schedules make it tough to find reliable childcare and elder-care arrangements or find time for school, and in general, cause higher incidences of “adverse health effects, overall stress, and strain on family life than workers who enjoy the stability of knowing their schedules reasonably in advance.”

This all started back in 2015, when New York kicked off a probe into the practice by sending letters to 11 retailers, sending letters asking for more information about their possibly illegal scheduling methods. In the months that followed, a number of companies announced they’d be ending the practice: L Brands (which includes Bath & Body Works and Victoria’s Secret), Abercrombie & Fitch, Gap, Urban Outfitters, J. Crew, and Pier 1.