Major retailer Gap is no longer going to ask its employees to work “on-call” shifts, reports CNN Money. Workers will no longer receive such little notice about the hours they’ll be working, and the company hopes to phase these shifts out entirely by the end of September 2015.
The on-call shifts are unpaid, but employees need to be available to work at very short notice, which can make it very difficult for employees to plan around things like appointments, school schedules, or any other activities that might take them too far from the store. Having an on-call system helps managers prep for what kind of work day they think their store will have so they can plan staff accordingly, but the system can be a real pain to store employees.
Gap’s nationwide decision comes in response to letters sent from prominent New York legal official Eric Schneiderman, who wrote to Gap and other retailers known to use the on-call practice, Target and Sears, arguing that the practice could violate New York state law. The letters cited many problems with the on-call system: workers sometimes have to call in before shifts or even the night before to find out if they should even show up to their jobs the next day, or if an employee shows up to a scheduled shift they aren’t actually need for, they’ll be sent home without pay—despite having shown up in the first place.
“For many workers, that is too little time to make arrangements for family needs, let alone to find an alternative source of income to compensate for lost pay,” the letters say. Schneiderman’s office also asked a series of questions about these businesses’ staffing practices to better determine whether the companies are in compliance with labor and state laws. Other companies like Abercrombie & Fitch are following in Gap’s footsteps and also plan to remove the on-call shifts from their scheduling.