clock calendar schedule

The issue

“On-call” or “predictive scheduling” activists claim that retail employers use scheduling practices that interfere with employees’ personal lives and ability to plan around their work hours.

The most recent law dictating how retailers schedule their employees took effect in Philadelphia in January despite objections from NRF, joining measures enacted earlier in locations including New York City, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Seattle and the state of Oregon. While each law varies, they generally include four common provisions: advance posting of schedules, employer penalties for unexpected schedule changes, burdensome record-keeping requirements and prohibitions on requiring employees to find replacements for scheduled shifts if they are unable to work. Congress has yet to vote on the issue but the proposed Schedules That Work Act would require that schedules be provided in writing two weeks in advance with penalties for changes made with less than 24 hours’ notice.

NRF believes government intervention in the scheduling of employees through a one-size-fits-all approach intrudes on the employer-employee relationship and creates unnecessary mandates on how a business should operate.

Why it matters         

workers checking the time

Every retailer has unique business processes and every employee has unique needs. Retailers need flexibility to adapt to changing conditions in a store.

In order to retain and recruit talent, retailers take many steps to keep their employees happy — from education and training to bonus incentives and flexible hours. Retailers set scheduling expectations up front in the hiring process and many employers already voluntarily provide schedules well in advance, making government mandates unnecessary.

The flexibility retail offers is one of the factors that attract people to the industry. In fact, NRF research shows that two-thirds of retail employees have taken advantage of the scheduling flexibility of retail jobs to help them balance priorities in their lives such as going to school, working another job or raising a family. And 40 percent of retail workers say they’ve been at their job longer than anticipated because the scheduling flexibility suits their lifestyle and needs.

Scheduling restrictions are especially harmful to small, independently owned businesses that have limited staff, eliminating the give and take of the employer-employee relationship and imposing costly penalties they can’t afford. They also have an impact on customer service — resulting in not enough employees being scheduled, longer wait times and less personal attention.

NRF advocates for workplace flexibility

NRF supports workplace policies that promote flexibility and economic growth while opposing rules that intrude on business operations and lead to unnecessary costs for retailers. NRF has voiced the retail industry’s concerns in a number of locations where scheduling laws have been proposed, telling the Philadelphia City Council in 2018 that a proposal there would “undermine the unique solutions retailers develop to address scheduling flexibility for their employees.” Earlier, NRF told the Washington, D.C., city council that scheduling legislation adopted there “ties the hands of employers and takes away the flexibility and opportunity” that many workers seek when they choose to work in retail.