clock calendar schedule

The issue

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

Laws dictating how retailers schedule workers have been passed in New York City, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle and the state of Oregon among other locations. While each law varies, they generally include four common provisions: a requirement for 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 to retailers        

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.

Retailers set scheduling expectations up front in the hiring process and many 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. NRF research shows two-thirds of retail employees have taken advantage of scheduling flexibility to balance priorities in their lives such as going to school, working another job or raising a family. And 40 percent say they’ve been at their job longer than anticipated because scheduling flexibility.

Scheduling restrictions are especially harmful to small retailers with 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. NRF has voiced concerns in locations where scheduling laws have been adopted, telling the Philadelphia City Council that doing so would “undermine the unique solutions retailers develop to address scheduling flexibility.” 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” many workers seek when they choose to work in retail.