Gap Inc. became the latest retailer to announce that it is changing its policy of keeping store employees on call, after pressure including warnings from the New York State attorney general.
The retailer said in a blog post Wednesday evening that it will end on-call or “just in time” scheduling by the end of September. By the beginning of next year the retailer's brands will also give store employees at least 10 to 14 days’ notice of schedule changes.
Abercrombie & Fitch earlier this month similarly announced it would phase out its policy of “on-call” or “just in time” scheduling.
The super-efficient method of keeping workers on call to come in (without pay) or sending them home during slow times can make life difficult for workers who are trying to manage their households, attend school, work additional jobs, or earn enough money to get by.
The practice has drawn criticism from many quarters, including worker advocates, policymakers, regulators, and law enforcement agencies. New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has been particularly interested in the practice, and in April warned 13 retailers that they may be in violation of New York laws by using it.
Gap says the company’s brands have been examining their scheduling practices and working with professor Joan Williams of the University of California Hastings’ College of Worklife Law to change them. Andi Owen, global president for Banana Republic, said on the company’s blog Wednesday that the retailer knows “we have more to do, but we are committed to addressing these issues.”
The Fair Workweek Initiative Thursday called on Gap Inc. and other employers of low-wage hourly workers to provide more predictable schedules by giving a minimum of 21 days advance notice to allow working people a schedule they can manage, guaranteeing employees a minimum of 24 hours of work per week, and providing access to full-time hours to frontline employees.
Schneiderman praised the move while also making it clear that his office will continue to monitor the practice.
"Today, following discussions with my office, Gap, Inc. will announce that it will end on-call shifts at all of its stores,” he said in a statement. “Workers deserve stable and reliable work schedules, and I commend Gap for taking an important step to make their employees’ schedules fairer and more predictable. With this news, following similar decisions by Abercrombie and Fitch and Victoria's Secret, I am proud to say that the inquiry by my office into on-call scheduling is delivering results for tens of thousands of workers."