The New York State Office of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is investigating 13 retailers for their “on call shift” systems, which the AG’s office says may violate state laws and “take a toll” on employees.
Schneiderman’s office sent letters to Crocs, Target Corp., Gap Inc., Abercrombie & Fitch, J.Crew, L Brands, TJX and six others, informing them of possible labor-law infractions and requesting information regarding their scheduling practices.
“Our office has received reports that a growing number of employers, particularly in the retail industry, require their hourly workers to work what are sometimes known as ‘on call shifts’ — that is, requiring their employees to call in to work just a few hours in advance, or the night before, to determine whether the worker needs to appear for work that day or the next,” Schneiderman stated in the notes.
Schneiderman further stated that, under the infringing practices, if an employee is told that his or her services are not needed, the employee will not receive pay for that day, “despite being required to be available to appear on the job site the next day or even just a few hours later on the same day.”
The letters also outline a New York State statute mandating that employees receive at least four hours of pay if they report for a shift, even if it is ultimately determined that their services are not needed that day.
Retailers have increasingly utilized sophisticated scheduling-management systems, such as Kronos and Workplace Systems, to control labor costs by providing up-to-the-minute information on store traffic. Such information then enables store managers to schedule just enough employees to handle that traffic or even cancel an employee’s shift just before it’s scheduled to begin.
Schneiderman’s office has given the 13 New York-area retailers until May 4 to provide information on how they schedule their employees shifts, whether they use a computerized system such as Kronos or Workplace Systems, and whether they use “on call shifts” at any locations in New York.
“Without the security of a definite work schedule, workers who must be ‘on call’ have difficulty making reliable childcare and elder-care arrangements, encounter obstacles in pursuing their education, and in general experience adverse financial and health effects, as well as overall stress and strain on family life,” said Schneiderman. “The requirement of being on call also interferes with such employees’ ability to obtain supplemental employment in order to ensure financial security for their families.”