Majority of U.S. hourly workers face unpredictable scheduling in absence of fair workweek law protections

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The majority of US jurisdictions have not passed fair workweek laws that seek to protect workers from unpredictable scheduling practices, according to a new report published today by the Temple University Center for Public Health Law Research.

This leaves most hourly workers in the United States vulnerable to irregular and inconsistent work hours and little to no control over their schedules.

"The legal landscape is one that leaves most US hourly workers behind—not benefiting from even the most limited protections provided by Fair Workweek Laws," said Sophia Mitchell, JD, a law and policy analyst at the Center.

The report, developed with support from the TIME'S UP Foundation, explores laws at the federal level and in seven state and local jurisdictions that regulate workplace scheduling to better understand how these laws affect women in the workplace prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the seven jurisdictions that have enacted fair laws, the laws typically follow similar structures and contain many of the same provisions. These include advanced scheduling notice, good faith estimates of hours likely to be worked from week to week, a stable scheduling requirement, predictability pay that requires employers to provide additional pay when changes are made to the schedule after the advance notice period, the right to rest between shifts, greater access to hours, the right to request flexible scheduling, and anti-retaliation protections.

But the details and exceptions to those protections vary widely, and the applicability of these laws is limited by the types of industries included, the size of the employers covered, and the types of employees covered, according to the researchers.

While few jurisdictions have passed laws actively addressing worker scheduling through comprehensive packages of fair workweek laws, other states have passed "standalone" laws regulating workplace scheduling, including day of rest laws that require employers to provide one day of rest in a work week; reporting pay laws that require employers to pay employees for showing up to a shift, even if that employee is sent home without working; and split shift laws that require employers to provide additional pay to workers who are required to work that include a gap of unpaid time on the same day.

Other jurisdictions have not only failed to enact protective provisions but have chosen to restrict localities from passing predictable scheduling laws through state preemption. At least nine states have passed preemptive laws that prohibit local jurisdictions from passing fair workweek laws or standalone protections that regulate workplace scheduling.

Limited, early evidence identified by the researchers on the impacts of these laws show that fair workweek laws are effective at curbing unpredictable and unstable scheduling practices and improve ' lives. However, the significant number of exceptions and loopholes, as well as a lack of resources for employers and public education, prevent fair workweek laws from having an even more positive impact.

"This research provides an innovative and necessary analysis to address how the pandemic has negatively impacted women's paid work, especially women in low-wage industries," said Stephanie Odiase, Senior Manager of Research & Partnerships at the TIME'S UP Foundation. "Research like this is integral to creating policy solutions that support an equitable economy and inclusive society, and TIME'S UP is excited to be in partnership with PHLR on this work."

The researchers also developed a Policy Brief that summarizes key findings of the full report, offers actionable policy recommendations, and establishes a research agenda for understanding the impact of laws regulating workplace on women in the workplace.

More information: Center for Public Health Law Research (October 2021). "Exploring The Legal Response To Unpredictable Scheduling Burdens For Women In The Workplace." … dens-women-workplace

Citation: Majority of U.S. hourly workers face unpredictable scheduling in absence of fair workweek law protections (2021, October 28) retrieved 5 February 2023 from
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