Abercrombie & Fitch Also Bans "On-Call" Shifts

Photo: Bloomberg/Getty Images.
Abercrombie & Fitch is the latest retailer to end the controversial, highly inconvenient practice of “on-call” shifts at its New York stores. The practice requires employees to be available and call in to work during specified hours, in case they’re needed on the selling floor. If employees are needed, they’ll go into work and get paid their regular wages. Otherwise, it’s basically a waiting game that gets in the way of other jobs and, you know, important life commitments like child care. The end of call-in shifts will go into effect next month at all Abercrombie & Fitch-owned store locations in the state of New York: 14 A&F outposts, 23 Hollister stores, and eight Abercrombie Kids locations.

In June, Victoria’s Secret put the kibosh on its required call-in shifts after employee Mayra Casas sued the lingerie company over the policy. Casas argued that on-call requirements are illegal, and that employees should be paid regardless of whether their call-in shift gets cancelled. The case was dismissed, but the company did indeed do away with “on-call” practices as a result.

Now, A&F employees will receive their schedules a week in advance with all required shifts — and staffers can decide if they want to receive email alerts that will allow them to pick up open shifts for extra cash. Basically, it sounds like an optional call-in program. A&F is one of 13 retailers that received letters in April about the questionable work scheduling practice from the New York Attorney General’s Office.

“What this means is that Abercrombie's hourly and shift workers will not be required to hold their schedules open for shifts for which they may or may not ultimately be asked to work,” Abercrombie & Fitch’s senior vice president, Robert Bostrom, wrote to Terri Gerstein, chief of the attorney general's Labor Bureau, according to the Associated Press.

Other retailers that were targeted include Gap Inc. (including Gap, Banana Republic, and Old Navy); J.Crew Group (that includes Madewell, too); TJ Maxx’s parent company, TJX Group; Urban Outfitters; Target; Crocs; Sears; as well as Ann Inc., Ann Taylor and Ann Taylor Loft’s parent company. There’s no word yet on whether these other retailers that received the letter will change their policies, or if “call-in” expectations at A&F will spread to other states. But it’s certainly a step in the right direction for those in the retail realm.

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