While the Fight for $15 movement hasn’t been successful in raising starting wages to $15 in every industry and across the country, one thing that it has done is bring attention to worker-unfriendly scheduling practices like on-call shifts and publishing work schedules shortly before they go into effect.
Reuters reports that one major success so far is New York City, where laws that give low-wage fast food and retail workers more protection go into effect later this year. It will prevent employers from having workers come in only to learn that they’ve been taken off the schedule, or from being scheduled “on call” and told that they have to be prepared to come to work, but without actually getting paid for the time that they’re on call.
Employees who don’t know when they’ll have to work until the last minute have trouble arranging child care and medical appointments, as well as scheduling shifts at their other jobs. During the time that employees spend on call not getting paid, they could be actually getting paid somewhere else.
The restaurant industry opposes the New York law and similar ones that are before state governments across the country. If companies can’t adjust their workforce needs according to expected customer traffic, weather, and other factors that can’t be predicted weeks in advance, they warn that labor costs will destroy their thin margins and some businesses.
“There’s no way you can stay in business,” the head of fast food at one company that owns McDonald’s and TGI Friday’s franchises in the New York metropolitan area told Reuters.