As the labor market tightens and employees become just a bit bolder, employers are facing backlash over the way they schedule workers.
One particular practice—dubbed “clopening”—is under attack. The term refers to the practice of closing out a retail location (a restaurant or store, for example) at night, only to return a few hours later to open for business the next day.
Employees hate it, and they are voicing their displeasure.
Irregular schedules make it hard for many workers to plan their lives. Some retailers wait as long as possible to schedule shifts in an effort to match staffing with last-minute sales projections. For part-timers in particular, irregular schedules make it hard to work second jobs or go to school. For parents, it’s a child-care nightmare.
In fact, worker-friendly schedules have become as much a flashpoint for low-wage workers as the more familiar call to raise the minimum wage.
The Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division is looking at regulating schedule-setting in general for all employees across all industries.
Take, for example, Starbucks, the giant coffee retailer. It uses software to schedule employees so that during the busiest time of day, there are enough baristas on hand to make all those pumpkin spice lattes customers demand.
Starbucks managers must work with a set number of labor hours per week—a cap they often try to meet by requiring some baristas to close up at night and then return to open the store for the morning rush.
Last year, Starbucks promised workers it would work on finding ways to provide more regular schedules several weeks in advance.
Will legislators and regulators step in when voluntary efforts fail? In San Francisco they already have.
The city recently enacted a predicable scheduling law that went into effect in July. It requires employers at large retailers (those with 40 or more worldwide locations and at least 20 employees in San Francisco) to give employees their schedules two weeks in advance and compensate them for last-minute changes.
David Weil, administrator of the Wage and Hour Division has stated that the Labor Department is actively looking at scheduling as a potential area for regulation under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Read what surprising action New York's attorney general took recently to alert several major chains about what may be ahead.