Twenty First Century Serfdom
Many part-time workers in the service industry (retail, fast food etc.) not only get paid a pittance but also have little control over their schedule. It is unpredictable and changes from day to day because you have to be on call even at times when you are not working. This makes it difficult to have a life outside your job, or even to take up a second job, or go to school. Kay of Balloon Juice covered this topic the other day.
Besides keeping employees on a short leash what purpose does Just-In-Time (JIT) scheduling serve? Some reasons from the comments on Balloon Juice
It prevents them from having to figure out ahead of time how many employees they’ll need. It also means that they don’t have to put together a full week’s schedule, thus avoiding that no-fun task. And it saves on labor costs since you never have to worry about being overstaffed.
I guess it’s easier to get people to fill in for employees that are out or have quit
Best as I can figure, it’s the product of of our chronic, long-term underemployment paired with a corporate willingness to endure a pretty high employee turnover metric (thou shalt not exceed n-percent, lest thou miss thy bonus).
Last but not the least, Kay:
I think it might actually feed on itself, create the kind of chaos that then requires more JIT scheduling.
So there are some valid reasons for JIT scheduling of hourly employees but there seems to be no earthly reason why up to 50% of all hourly employees have to endure so much uncertainty. Another Balloon Juice commenter further elaborates this point,
I assume the stated justification is the need for flexibility to deal with unpredictable need for employees and unpredictable employees. IOW, the employers want some flexibility, but they put the cost on the back of their employees.
So is this yet another example of socializing the risk and the cost and privatizing the profit or upside?
One quick way to curb the gratuitous use of JIT scheduling practices would be to require employers to pay workers while they are on call at least half their hourly rate. I wonder what the cons who call themselves reformers have to say about this, in their economic policy manifesto?