For Immediate Release - December 20, 2016

AG Healey Announces Agreement with Six Major Retailers to Stop On-Call Shift Scheduling

Disney, Aeropostale, David’s Tea and Other Retailers Agree to Cease Burdensome Scheduling Practice Following Multistate Investigation

BOSTON – Continuing her efforts to protect vulnerable workers and their families, Attorney General Maura Healey today announced that six major national retailers that have locations in Massachusetts have agreed to stop using on-call shift scheduling following an inquiry by a multistate coalition of attorneys general.

An estimated 50,000 workers nationwide will benefit from the agreements to end the burdensome scheduling practice. Employees assigned to on-call shifts are typically required to contact their employer an hour or two before a scheduled shift to learn whether they must work the shift. Work is not guaranteed, and no wages are paid if a worker is not needed.

“On-call policies hurt low-wage workers who not only must line up daycare, elder care, or other arrangements with no guarantee of compensation, but also must pass up other opportunities to cover a shift or risk losing their job,” said AG Healey. “These policies are bad for workers and their families and we are pleased that these retailers have stopped using them.”

The six companies – Aeropostale, Carter’s, David’s Tea, Disney, PacSun, and Zumiez – were among 15 large retailers who received a joint inquiry letter from nine attorneys general in April of this year seeking information and documents related to their use of on-call shifts. Each of these 15 retailers has at least one store in Massachusetts, and collectively they have more than 150 stores in the state.

These six companies reported that they were using on-call shifts, but after discussions with the AGs’ Offices, all agreed to stop doing so, and none are currently using on-call shifts.

In addition to ending the use of on-call shifts, four of the companies – Carter’s, Disney, David’s Tea, and Zumiez – all committed to providing employees with their work schedules at least one week in advance of the start of the work week. This advance notice allows employees to plan ahead to cover child care and other obligations.

The six companies all found alternative staffing methods for addressing unanticipated employee absences or fluctuations in business volume. Typically, some kind of pool arrangement has been implemented in lieu of on-call shifts.

The collaboration among attorneys general stemmed from their collective concern about the impact of on-call shifts on employees and their families, as well as the national scope of the retail companies involved.

In April, AG Healey’s Office joined the other attorneys general in sending letters to 15 retailers, including American Eagle, Aeropostale, Payless, Disney, Coach, PacSun, Forever 21, Vans, Justice Just for Girls, BCBG Maxazria, Tilly’s, Inc., David’s Tea, Zumiez, Uniqlo, and Carter’s. Nine of these companies responded that they did not use the practice of on-call scheduling or had recently ended it.

The letters were signed by representatives of the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, and Rhode Island. Several offices signed only letters to retailers located within their states. 

Retail salesperson is the most common occupation in the United States. In Massachusetts, there are over 100,000 retail sales jobs, and entry level retail workers earn, on average, $1,460 a month or $17,520 a year. Although men and women are nearly evenly represented in retail jobs, women are concentrated in low-wage retail jobs. 

AG Healey is committed to protecting the economic security of Massachusetts residents, particularly vulnerable workers. AG Healey’s Fair Labor Division is responsible for enforcing the Commonwealth’s wage and hour laws, including minimum wage and overtime laws.

Workers who believe that their rights have been violated in their workplace call the Office’s Fair Labor Hotline at (617) 727-3465. More information about the state’s wage and hour laws is also available in multiple languages at the Attorney General’s new Workplace Rights website