Photo by Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images
Photo by Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images

Finally, retail is beginning to get it. A number of major retailers have decided to do away with those horrible, mandatory “on-call” shifts that have made life miserable for many parents and students and in some cases, have kept them from working all together.

Anyone who has worked retail has probably encountered “on-call” shifts, those shifts you work only if someone calls out sick. You are the back up person and have to call in an hour or two before the shift is scheduled to begin to see if you are needed. If no one has called out sick you get the night off, if there is a need, you must report and often with very little time to secure childcare. You might also be called in if the company has budgeted hours to burn. The dreaded “on-call” shift makes planning your life difficult if you have a family, particularly if you wind up with more than one “on-call” shift per week.

According to the Washington Post, major retail chains, including The Disney Store, Aeropostale, Carter's,

David's Tea, PacSun and Zumiez have eliminated “call-in” shifts. American Eagle, Payless, Coach, Forever 21, Vans, Justice For Girls, BCBG Maxazria, Tilly's Inc., and Uniglo have already done away with the practice. All of the major retailers mentioned were petitioned by the Attorneys General of 15 states who argued that “on-call” shifts are unfair and not a business necessity.

As someone who has held second jobs in retail for decades, including some of the above mentioned chain stores, I applaud the move. When the kids were small I spent many a day fretting about whether I would be needed at work and who would watch the kids should I be called in and my wife was not able to leave work to be with them. Many, mostly women, have told me over the years that “on-call” shifts prevented them from working part time jobs that they desperately needed.

Retail now needs to learn to give it's employees fixed shifts that they can depend upon. Tell me what night's you need me and I will do those nights every week religiously. It allows me to plan without having to check every Friday to see my schedule for the following week. Many locally owned businesses understand that keeping a dependable, competent staff is important to running a successful operation and have made scheduling easier for their employees by providing fixed schedules.

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