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Disney, PacSun, and Other Major Retailers Give Surprise Christmas Present to Employees

This season, nearly 50,000 employees at six major retailers nationwide are getting a gift that will reduce their work stress and get them some holiday cheer: An end to on-call scheduling.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and eight other attorneys general announced this week that Disney, PacSun, Aeropostale, Carter's, David's Tea, and Zumiez have agreed to stop using on-call scheduling after an investigation was opened into the welfare concerns of this business model.

The six retailers said they have migrated to a "pool arrangement system."

On-call scheduling forces employees to call the store they work at one to two hours ahead of their schedules to find out if they will or won't be needed at work that day. Companies have used this system to keep labor costs low over the years.

Image: Customers wait in line at an Aeropostale store in New York.
Customers wait in line at an Aeropostale store in New York. Reuters

“On-call shifts are not a business necessity and should be a thing of the past," said Schneiderman in a statement. "People should not have to keep the day open, arrange for child care, and give up other opportunities without being compensated for their time."

"I am pleased that these companies have stepped up to the plate and agreed to stop using this unfair method of scheduling,” he said.

"When working parents are forced to hold large parts of their days up until the last minute — with no guarantee of work or pay — it is impossible for them to plan ahead for things like spending time at the dinner table or helping [kids] out with homework," said Elianne Farhat, Deputy Campaign Director in the Fair Workweek Initiative at Popular Democracy. "The research is clear that when employees have reliable schedules with adequate hours, retention and productivity go up."

Related: Shift Change: Just-in-Time Scheduling Creates Chaos for Workers

In April 2015, Schneiderman's office sent letters to 15 major retailers, including Abercrombie & Fitch, Forever 21, American Eagle, Uniqlo, Vans, Coach, and BCBG Max Azria, addressing his concern over the welfare of on-call workers and the legal wage in certain states like New York, where employers must pay employees at least four hours of pay for being on call.

The letters and investigation prompted Abercrombie & Fitch, Gap, J.Crew, Urban Outfitters, Pier 1 Imports, and L Brands (parent company of Bath & Body Works and Victoria’s Secret) to swiftly end their on-call practices.

Social media users celebrated Schneiderman's announcement with appropriate holiday spirit, thanking him for giving "a voice" to those who struggled to be heard, and ending a "horrible practice."

The letters were signed and supported by the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, and Rhode Island.