Not so fast: U.S. restaurant workers seek ban on surprise scheduling

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The text message came as Flavia Cabral walked to a McDonald’s restaurant in Manhattan for her 6 p.m. shift on a May evening. It was from her manager. Business was slow and she was not needed.

Cabral said she was not too surprised. Her work hours fluctuate almost weekly, though losing an entire shift at the last minute happens only once every few months. This time the canceled shift took a $63 bite out of her average $350 gross weekly earnings from two part-time jobs.

“Every week you’re guessing how much money you’re going to get and how many days you’re going to work,” said Cabral, 53, who has been employed at McDonald’s for four years.But a measure of relief is coming for Cabral and 65,000 other New York City fast-food workers whose schedules and incomes often change with little or no notice.

New York recently became the largest U.S. city to require fast-food restaurants to schedule workers at least two weeks in advance, or pay them extra for changes.

The law, which the restaurant industry vigorously opposed, also requires employers to allow 11-hour breaks between shifts, offer part-time staff additional work before hiring new employees, and pay retail workers to be “on call.” It takes effect late this year.

McDonald’s Corp did not respond to a request for comment.

Nationwide, the issue of scheduling is becoming a new battleground in the fight to boost living standards for low-paid workers, waged largely by the “Fight for $15” movement. The five-year-old, union-backed initiative has already helped convince many jurisdictions, including New York state, to raise minimum wages.

In Oregon, a bill that would set regular scheduling for workers at large food service, hospitality and retail companies is awaiting the governor’s signature. Similar bills are pending in five other states.

Not only do fluctuating schedules wreak havoc with tight household budgets, they make it difficult to make appointments, arrange child care and plan family time,…

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