Fairness vs. Flexibility
An Evaluation of the District of Columbia’s Proposed Scheduling Regulations
The debate over whether to raise the minimum wage has expanded in recent years to encompass demands for additional workplace benefits. These include health care, paid sick leave, and most recently the availability of a “fair” schedule. The City of San Francisco was the first to enact legislation on this latter point, enacting the Formula Retail Employee Rights Ordinance on July 3, 2015. San Francisco’s law requires most “chain” stores, as well as their contractors, to provide schedules to employees two weeks in advance, establishes a series of financial penalties for schedule changes that occur less than a week before the scheduled work day, and requires additional work to be offered to part-time staffers before additional employees are hired. Washington, DC, is now considering similar legislation that applies to retailers and chain restaurants in the District. Labor advocates argue that the law is necessary to “[promote] full-time work” at these businesses; in a report supporting their campaign, they argue that these employees “struggle with low wages, too few hours, and fluctuating hours.” Thus far, the research they’ve provided to document this problem comes mostly from data that labor organizers collected themselves. To better understand the impact of the proposed ordinance, this study provides two key pieces of data: A profile of the affected part-time workforce in Washington, DC, and direct feedback from 100 businesses that would be affected by the law. Dr. Aaron Yelowitz of the University of Kentucky used data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey and the Current Population Survey to examine part-time workers in the specific industries that would be impacted by DC’s law. He finds the following:
- Just one-in-seven (14 percent) of the affected employees are estimated to be working parttime involuntarily
- 27 percent are currently enrolled in school, compared to nine percent of the entire workforce 38 percent have a high school diploma or less, and
- 80 percent have less than a four-year college degree.