“Fair Workweek” legislation, passed today by the New York City Council, will improve working conditions for thousands of low-wage workers by giving them more predictable schedules, helping part-time workers gain more hours before others are hired, and banning abusive practices like “clopenings” for fast food workers working consecutive shifts that require them to close the store and then return hours later to open it. The Community Service Society applauds the leadership of Mayor de Blasio and the City Council in championing legislation that will provide workers in the retail and fast food sectors with opportunities for upward mobility and more stable lives.
Currently, many low-wage workers struggle to manage work and home responsibilities in the face of unstable schedules that vary from week to week in terms of hours and days, and often change on less than 24 hours’ notice. CSS’ Senior Economist, Harold Stolper, testified at the City Council Hearing on Fair workweek scheduling, highlighting findings from CSS’ recent report, Unpredictable; How Unpredictable Schedules Keep Low-Income New Yorkers from Getting Ahead. The findings—based on CSS’ own scientific survey, the Unheard Third–illustrated how widespread some of unpredictable scheduling practices are for workers in New York City, especially for low-wage workers in the retail and restaurant sectors. CSS’ research also documented the many hardships caused by these unpredictable schedules: for example, low-income workers with unpredictable schedules are more than three times as likely to lose their job as those with stable schedules because the scheduling was too unpredictable, and more than two-thirds with unpredictable schedules had trouble paying their rent and regular bills.
These bills are a critical first step to providing more economic opportunity to workers without placing unnecessarily burdensome restrictions on businesses—businesses that sometimes operate under conditions that change on short notice, but now must also compensate workers who are burdened by these last-minute changes.
We look forward to continued efforts on the part of the Mayor and City Council to expand these same scheduling protections and enact policies that promote increased hours for all low-wage workers, not just those in the in the fast food and retail sectors.