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J. Crew Is the Latest Retailer to End On-Call Scheduling

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on October 28, 2015 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A year ago, few people outside the retail industry would even know what on-call scheduling is. Now, after a few high-profile lawsuits, big-name employers can't run from the practice fast enough.

The latest retailer to end on-call scheduling is J. Crew, after the Attorney General of New York announced this week that the company has agreed to "end on-call shifts nationwide and to provide one week of advance notice about schedules to employees." If your small business is still using on-call scheduling, is it time to stop?

A Crew of Companies

The main argument against on-call scheduling has been the impact on employees. According to the New York Attorney General, without a predictable work schedule, employees find it difficult, if not impossible, "to arrange for transportation to work, to accommodate child care needs, and to budget their family finances."

And it's not just J. Crew -- The Atlantic is reporting that this is the sixth such agreement reached between the AG's office and a major retailer. Abercrombie & Fitch, Bath & Body Works, Gap, Urban Outfitters, and Victoria's Secret have also suspended the practice, and there may be others under investigation for their on-call scheduling.

On-Call, Off Law?

New York and some other states have wage and hour laws that require employees to be paid for at least four hours if they report for a shift (the exact number of hours can vary by state). Additionally, there may be some scenarios whereby employees must still be paid even if they're not working, and having employees on-call may be one of them.

If you still want to have employees on-call, you should be aware that eight states (and the District of Columbia) have reporting time pay laws that require some level of minimum pay for employees sent home early. And that predictable and stable employee scheduling has been the subject of federal employment legislation.

The trend of on-call scheduling seems to be moving in one direction, so small business owners may want to get ahead of the pack.

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