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The Hours Problem of Part-Time Workers

March 1, 2015
Plain English Version

hourly1The life of the part-time worker has always been hard. It is not true that almost all part-time workers are students living at home. Many of these workers are adults who are supporting families. About 1.4 million people are “involuntary” part-time workers.

Most of these workers are in the service, health and hospitality industries.

The biggest problem for workers is scheduling. Workers find themselves often getting fewer than eight hours between shifts. Many close businesses at 11:00 pm and open them again at 7:00 am the next morning. This type of scheduling is called “clopenings.”

Companies want to get the most profit out of their employees. However, clopening workers become exhausted. There is a lot of turnover, as a result. Companies then have to hire to replace these workers.

Competition is pushing companies to keep costs down. Companies are trying out new software to make clopenings easier. Hopefully, this will reduce the need to replace burned-out workers.

Walmart is raising its wages. Other companies will follow suit. In addition, Walmart workers, like many others, are trying to arrange for more hours and better schedules. More adults are working in these industries because they cannot find traditional middle-class jobs. They are applying pressure on the employers to reduce clopenings and provide better working conditions.

In Europe, the law mandates that workers have at least 11 hours off between shifts. Some states and cities are trying to pass laws using those rules.

The future of the labor market will require dealing with the different interests of both workers and companies. Success will allow both to prosper.

Source: The New York Times February 21, 2015

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