on call work

Posted: March 23, 2014
By: Clay Cerny

Common Dreams has posted an article by the great labor writer Michelle Chen, who examines the growing practice of “on call” work schedules.  In this labor model, the employee works only when the employer offers hours.  There is no set schedule.  As Chen notes, there are several disadvantages to this model:  no set schedule, getting sent home early, being called in the same day to work, and having no control over free time since you can only work when it is available.  This model is becoming more common in retail stores and restaurants, industries where the minimum wage or tip wages are often the norm.

Chen ends her article:  “While it purports to optimize workplace efficiency, the Just-in-Time system exploits work-time as a commodity. A just schedule takes into account the true value of a worker’s time, on and off the clock, and it’s the only way to truly ensure a fair day’s pay.”  True words.  But in a world where so many working people have bought into the argument that business is always right, I’m afraid that on call schedules are going to be just one line on a long and growing list of workplace concerns that workers are going to have to fight to change.