Retailers to drop on-call scheduling amid state probes

Workers can be harmed by 'unpredictable' schedules that can increase stress, say documents

(Reuters) — Six U.S. retailers will no longer require hourly employees to check whether they are still needed for work and risk having their scheduled shifts canceled with little notice, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman will announce on Tuesday.

Schneiderman and his counterparts in seven states, including California and Illinois, have sent letters to a number of companies in the last year requesting information about their scheduling practices.

But in the letters, state officials said workers can be harmed by "unpredictable" schedules that can increase stress, strain family life and make it harder to arrange child care or pursue an education.

The companies to end on-call scheduling are Aeropostale Inc , Carter's Inc, David's Tea Inc, Walt Disney Co, Pacific Sunwear of California Inc and Zumiez Inc.

"People should not have to keep the day open, arrange for child care, and give up other opportunities without being compensated for their time," Schneiderman said in a statement ahead of the announcement, noting an estimated 50,000 U.S. workers will benefit from the agreements.

The companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The letters to the companies also said on-call scheduling may violate state labor laws requiring workers to be paid for at least part of a day even if they are told to stay home, and is not a "business necessity" given that some retailers had already abandoned the practice.

Since last year, Abercrombie & Fitch Co, Gap Inc, Pier 1 Imports Inc, and L Brands Inc, the parent of Bath & Body Works and Victoria's Secret Stores LLC, among other companies, have said they would stop using on-call scheduling.

A federal appeals court in San Francisco in October heard a case in which Victoria's Secret is accused of violating California law by not paying workers whose shifts were canceled with little notice. The case, in which the workers appealed the dismissal of their lawsuit, has yet to be decided.

Schneiderman's office said most companies that have stopped using on-call scheduling replaced it with a "pooling arrangement" to ensure adequate staffing. 

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