Elizabeth Warren Demands Fair Scheduling Practices For Workers

Elizabeth Warren, who is the greatest ever, is pushing a bill meant to improve the lives of workers by discouraging companies from waiting until the last minute to post their work schedules for the week.

The Schedules That Work Act also addresses other unfair scheduling practices like “split shifts,” putting workers “on-call” and firing or cutting the hours of employees who request schedule changes.

Warren said of the bill, “This is about a single mom knowing whether she is going to have work before she arranges for child care and drives across town or a student who wants to go to school and asks for a schedule that will accommodate that without the student being fired just for asking.”

Hopefully this will apply to small businesses as well as large corporations. Because let me tell you, from experience, small businesses are the ones that will screw you the hardest as far as labor rights are concerned.

Naturally, companies aren’t too happy about this because it will increase their paperwork somehow. Jon Hurst, President of the Massachusetts Retailers Association says that the bill is a “solution without a problem,” claiming that issues like the ones Warren describes are totally rare and barely ever actually happen in real life. 

As someone who has worked many jobs like this, allow me to disagree as strongly as possible with Hurst. Not only are these issues not rare, they are often policy.

I assume most of us have worked jobs with a changing weekly schedule. I have been on both sides of this when I worked in retail, as an employee and as a manager making the schedule. Let me tell you, it is just as easy to make a schedule for a month as it is to do it once a week, every week, the day before that week starts. In fact, I found it easier. Especially since, as a manager, I kept the schedule pretty much the same every week unless someone had a conflict and couldn’t work a particular day. My salesgirls were particularly happy about this as it allowed them to make plans in advance, and, for part-timers, know how much money they could expect to earn. 

But most places I’ve worked have done the schedule either the day of or the day before the week starts. And I worked in retail for over 10 years, from the age of 15. [FWIW, my brother works at a movie theater and he gets his schedule for the week a day or two before that week starts as well. – Amelia]

When you work these jobs, you are required to give your manager at least two to four weeks notice in order to request a day off. Yet, most of us have been in situations where we don’t get the schedule until the day after the week starts. That has never, ever made sense to me. If workers are required to give a manager several weeks notice in order to schedule a dentist appointment, then the manager should be required to give them their schedule at least a week in advance. Fair is fair.

Other than mere procrastination, a very large part of the reason why some managers and owners make the schedules so erratic and post it so late is that doing so makes it almost impossible to find a better job. In fact, in an instance where I suggested posting schedules earlier, I was flat out told this was why. You can’t set up interviews because you don’t know when you’re going to be free. Logistically, it’s something that makes sense for the employer in the short term. In the long term–not so much. You end up with stressed out employees who end up feeling really pissed off about not being able to schedule anything other than work in their lives.

The thing I love about Elizabeth Warren is that an issue like this is something that’s important to her. It’s not something most politicians would even think twice about or consider. Because as seemingly small as it is, it would make a huge difference in the lives of workers around the country. It’s going to be hard for people like Jon Hurst to convince a majority of Americans that these erratic schedules are all in their heads, because most of us have been there and we already know they’re not.

[Boston Herald]