According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, there are approximately 2 million workers "on-call" - a practice in which workers, particularly in the retail industry, are requested to call into their place of employment to see if they will be needed for the day's shift. In some cases, employees are asked to remain "on-call" for a particular day and may be summoned to their place of employment to respond to spikes in work-flow. The model has created greater worker instability and unpredictability. For instance, workers who are not required to report to work on a given day are not paid. Those who are asked to come in must often do so in the face of family considerations, such as child care.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman conducted an investigation into the retail industries use of on-call scheduling and the likelihood that this pervasive practice violates state laws. Under New York Labor Law, for example, call-in pay provisions require that “[a]n employee who by request or permission of the employer reports for work on any day shall be paid for at least four hours, or the number of hours in the regularly scheduled shift, whichever is less, at the basic minimum hourly wage.” 12 NYCRR 142-2.3.
In response to letters sent by the Attorneys General, major retailers such as Abercrombie and Fitch, J.Crew and Pier 1 and others agreed to end the practice and amend their scheduling protocols.
In 2016, seven other states and the District of the Columbia joined New York in issuing joint letters to other major retail chains over their use of on-call scheduling.
- Press Release, District of Columbia Attorney General's Office, Attorney General Racine Announces Agreements with Major Retailers to Stop On-Call Shift Scheduling (Dec. 21, 2016).
- Press Release, New York Attorney General's Office, A.G. Schneiderman Announces Agreements With Six Major Retailers To Stop On-Call Shift Scheduling (Dec. 20, 2016).
- Press Release, Illinois Attorney General's Office, Madigan, States Probe National Retailers’ Use of On-Call Shifts (Apr. 13, 2016).
- Press Release, New York Attorney General's Office, A.G. Schneiderman And Eight Other State Attorneys General Probe Retailers Over Use Of On-Call Shifts (Apr. 13, 2016).
- See, Major retailer tells NY attorney general it will discontinue call-in work shifts in the state, Fox Business, Aug. 6, 2015.
- See, Steve Greenhouse, A Push to Give Steadier Shifts to Part-Timers, New York Times, July 15, 2014.