Linda Meric: Unpredictable, Inflexible Schedules Burden Women; We Need Schedules That Work

By Linda Meric, 9t05 National Executive Director
Originally posted on 8/15/2014 in the Huffington Post

Joi Jackson, pictured here with her family, works full-time at a call center. As a single mom with four kids, she struggles to get her kids to and from child care. Schedule flexibility to meet family needs at her place of employment is practically nonexistent.

She is faced with an impossible decision: keep her job so she can provide for her family, or quit her job so she can care for her family.

And Joi is not alone. Low-wage jobs predominantly held by women have dominated job growth during the economic recovery. 35 percent of women’s job gains have been in the ten largest low-wage occupations.

Horror stories from people in these industries are emerging from all corners of the country: last-minute schedule changes; unpredictable schedules and unreliable hours; forced part-time work and inflexible schedules. Food service, retail, and caregiving jobs are some of the worst. Low-wage workers, who have the least say in their schedules, are far more likely than the overall workforce to work part-time involuntarily.

The unfair and unpredictable scheduling practices of too many employers are causing millions of workers to struggle to meet their responsibilities at home and on the job, hurting their ability to earn a living. This, in turn, hurts our economy.

This issue is especially important for working women. Women comprise 40 percent of primary breadwinners in families and contribute up to half of family income in another 23 percent of families. Given the importance of women’s earnings to families’ economic security, most parents have no choice but to juggle both work and family responsibilities.

Abusive scheduling practices make it extremely difficult for parents, and particularly for single parents, to meet both their obligations to their employers and their obligations to their families. One in five families is headed by a single woman. “I would like to see fair schedules for parents with small children,” Joi says. “Without this, people have to quit their jobs when they have no one else to pick up their kids.”

When women have schedules that allow them to meet their family responsibilities, they are less likely to feel overloaded at work, less likely to be absent due to caregiving responsibilities, and more likely to stay in their jobs.

The recently introduced Schedules That Work Act (H.R. 5159/S. 2642) would help workers meet the dual demands of their jobs and their families and promote economic security and opportunity.
More than 150 labor, women’s, disability, health, child care organizations and others have sent a letter to congress requesting action on this important legislation.

“The Schedules That Work Act is intended to provide workers with a say in their work schedules and begin to curb the most abusive unpredictable and unstable scheduling practices that threaten working families’ financial security,” the letter states. “Passage of the Schedules That Work Act is crucial to the health and well-being of America’s workforce and a strong economy.”

For Joi, the Schedules That Work Act would create the security and peace of mind that she could care for her children and financially support her family.

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