Employers frequently pass the costs of variable customer demand onto their hourly workers, especially low-wage workers, by changing or canceling their shifts with little notice. Research has shown that schedule unpredictability is associated with adverse worker and family outcomes. Several cities and states, including San Francisco, Seattle, New York, and Oregon, now require service industry employers over a certain size to post schedules with a specified minimum lead time and to compensate workers for cancelled shifts. But the laws are new, and we know little about their intended or unintended effects. In December 2018, Philadelphia passed legislation to regulate scheduling, with its own Fair Workweek Standard (FWS). The law applies to retail, food services, and hospitality firms employing at least 250 workers and with 30 or more locations. Key provisions include advance notice of schedules, predictability pay if a schedule is altered after it is posted, and employees’ right to decline additional hours without retaliation. The FWS goes into effect in January 2020.
Psychologist Anna Gassman-Pines and economist Elizabeth Ananat propose to evaluate the effects of this labor law on employers and on workers and their families. They hypothesize that non-voluntary schedule changes, including the loss of scheduled hours, the imposition of mandatory overtime, and unexpected added shifts, will have negative effects on health and income. They also hypothesize that FWS will decrease schedule unpredictability and hence reduce uncertainty and stress in the lives of low-wage workers in affected firms.