State Attorneys General Send Requests for Information on Retailers’ Use of On-Call Shifts

In a continued effort to end the practice of using “on-call shifts,” several state attorneys general, including Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, sent letters last week to 15 national retailers requesting information about their use of “on-call shifts” to staff their businesses.

As we reported last June, AG Schneiderman sent letters seeking similar information about the use of “on-call shifts” to 14 major retailers last year. In response, the targeted retailers who had been utilizing the practice agreed to stop, and agreed to provide employees with their work schedules at least one week prior to the start of the workweek. While these retailers may have agreed to stop using “on-call shifts,” at least in part, because AG Schneiderman’s letters sought to ensure retailers’ compliance with New York’s “call in pay” regulation, which requires employers to pay employees for a minimum number of hours when employees report for work by request or permission of the employer, N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 12, § 142-2.3, some of the retailers agreed to stop using the practice nationwide.

In their April 12, 2016 letters (see a sample here), the attorneys general state that the results of AG Schneiderman’s 2015 inquiry “strongly indicate ‘on call shifts’ are not a business necessity, given that operations can be, and successfully have been, structured to address unexpected absences and unanticipated fluctuations in business volume in other ways.” AG Healey made her position on the practice clear in a press release, stating, “On-call workers must pass up other opportunities to cover a shift or risk losing their job. These policies are bad for workers and their families and we encourage these retailers to no longer use them.”

Along with AG Schneiderman and AG Healey, the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, and Rhode Island joined in this effort, with several offices signing letters only to retailers located within their states.

Responses to the requests are due on April 25, 2016. We should learn soon whether the recipients of these letters will adopt changes similar to those made by the retailers who were the subjects of last year’s inquiry.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *