If you’ve ever sat on-call or worked the dreaded slow shift at a restaurant, you know that you can count the hours of little to know pay for an otherwise normal day of work.
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has filed a bill that would require employers to stabilize worker’s schedules and hours by listing shift times weeks in advance to help workers who are on call or whose shifts are cut short. She promoted the push of her bill at the Equal Exchange Cafe on Congress Street on Monday.
“Workers have always had to fight for a better life,” Warren said. “We need to get legislation passed on a federal level that keeps workers' hours stable and fair.”
The Schedule That Works Act of 2015 takes aim at creating consistency out of the chaos of unstable, unpredictable and rigid work scheduling like using on-call workers, split-shift workers and punishment for asking for schedule changes.
The bill says that of the low wage workers polled reported having very little to no say in the hours and days they work, and 20 to 30 percent struggled with being required to work extra hours with little to no notice. Specifically, the bill focuses on fast food workers, retail workers and cleaners.
“This bill is about fairness,” a McDonald’s employee named Darius said. “It gives a standard that employers need to abide by and it gives us workers a lot more confidence. When we can plan our schedule or work weeks, we can budget in order to live with dignity.”
By protecting the employees at companies with 15 or more employees, the bill would help workers have the right to ask to have their schedule shift without fear of repercussion if they need a change due to health issues, child or elderly care, a second job continuing education or job training.
Warren said this would prevent inconveniences and allow people to pay their bills regularly. Employers would be required to put out a schedule two weeks in advance.
“Too many hardworking Americans face difficult situations due to erratic employer scheduling, especially women and low-wage workers,” said AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer Liz Shuler in a statement of support. “By prioritizing fair scheduling as a key component of economic stability, the Schedules that Work bill will protect the rights and wages of working people. The Schedules that Work Act will ensure working people can earn a decent living while still enjoying their family life.”
Almost 80 lawmakers in the House and the Senate in D.C. backed the bill. On a local level, State Representative Sean Garballey is also pushing this same bill in the Commonwealth.
The bill has the support of unions, the NAACP, Jobs for Justice, The YWCA and the National Employment Lawyers Association.
“A single mother should be able to know whether or not she’s really going to have work for the day before she arranges for childcare and drives half way across town,” Warren said. “A student who wants to go to school should be able to ask for a set schedule in order to succeed."