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Workers Want Say in More Flexible, More Certain Work Hours

July 20, 2014
Plain English Version

flexible hoursThe Great Recession began in 2007. It is over, but the damage it did remains. Nowhere is the damage greater than in the number of workers working part-time.

More than 27 million Americans work part-time. Part-time workers average between 17 to 28 hours a week. One-third of them would like to work full-time.

Almost half of part-time workers get a week or less advance notice for their work schedule.

The problem is that what is good for the employers might not be as good for the workers.

Employers like being able to tell workers when to work and when not to work. Sometimes it means telling workers to go home without work or pay for that day. Sometimes it means upsetting workers’ plans for child care, school and other employment.

Some cities, states, women’s and labor groups are pushing for change.

They would like companies to end one or two day workweeks. They would like an end to unpredictable hours.

They endorse a “right to request” rule. This would make employers honor requests from workers with caregiving or school-related conflicts. That is unless the employer had a “bona fide” business reason for turning down the request.

If part-time workers want more hours, advocates would like to make employers stop hiring additional part-time workers.

They want employers to pay extra for on-call work and to give two weeks’ notice of work schedules.

 The business community fears such changes would cut into profits. They oppose laws forcing new ways of doing business.

Macy’s and Walmart have adopted programs letting employees claim additional available shifts by going onto their employers’ websites.

It is possible for the parties to reach agreement on good practices without passing laws. Possible, but unlikely.

Source: The New York Times July 16, 2014

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