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Frosh Looking Into “On Call” Shift Usage

April 13th, 2016 by WCBC Radio

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh announced that his office has joined attorneys general from seven other states and the District of Columbia seeking information from national retailers about their use of ‘on-call’ shifts, a practice in which workers must call their employer an hour or two before their assigned shift to find out if they are needed for the day.

The collaboration among attorneys general stemmed from collective concern about the impact of on-call shifts on employees and their families. Attorney General Frosh sent letters to 13 companies with locations in Maryland, seeking information and documents related to the practice.

“With no guarantee of wages for the day, on-call shifts are burdensome and potentially unfair to workers,” said Attorney General Frosh. “Our aim is to obtain more information to determine whether this business practice affects Maryland workers and whether any business necessity justifies imposing these hardships on retail workers and their families.” 

The letter states, “Unpredictable work schedules take a toll on employees. Without the security of a definite work schedule, workers who must be ‘on-call’ have difficulty making reliable childcare and elder-care arrangements, encounter obstacles in pursuing an education, and in general, experience higher incidences of adverse health effects, overall stress, and strain on family life than workers who enjoy the stability of knowing their schedules reasonably in advance.”

It continues, “Our letter today is prompted by the concerns outlined above and by our shared interest in the well-being of workers nationwide,” and notes that certain states have laws regarding reporting or call in pay laws applicable within those jurisdictions.

In other states that have conducted similar inquiries, retailers have agreed to end or alter the disruptive practice. The Attorney General’s office will use the information it collects to evaluate worker rights and safety.

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

Letters were sent to the following 13 companies with locations in Maryland: Justice Just for Girls, American Eagle Outfitters, Inc., Carter’s Inc., Tilly’s Letter, BCBG Max Azria, Coach Inc., Forever 21, Aeropostale, Inc., Pacific Sunwear of California, Inc., The Walt Disney Company, Payless ShoeSource Inc., Vans VF Corp., and Zumiez, Inc. The letters can be found at: https://www.oag.state.md.us/Press/oncallshifts.pdf

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