J.Crew Is Outlawing "On-Call" Shifts, Too

Photo: Bloomberg/Getty Images.
Another win for retail employees' much-deserved work-life balance: J.Crew is the latest brand to ban "on-call" scheduling, effective this month. The controversial practice forces staffers to be readily available for shifts, with no guarantee of being paid for those hours if there isn't a staffing need for that particular timeframe. J.Crew's retail employees nationwide will now receive a week's worth of advance notice about their schedules.

The inconvenient policy got blasted in April when New York's attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, sent letters to 13 major retailers, questioning the legality of scheduling shifts with such short notice. In June, Victoria's Secret ditched the policy due to an employee lawsuit, and one month later, Abercombie & Fitch (in addition to its Hollister and Abercrombie Kids brands), did away with the policy as well. Urban Outfitters squelched the scheduling M.O. earlier this month.

But as for the retailer that's arguably made the biggest impact by nixing on-call scheduling? Gap Inc. announced in late August that the practice would be discontinued at all five of its brands — Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Athleta, and Intermix — by the end of September. That's a lot of staffers potentially impacted by not having to be free to show up at work at a moment's notice. Employees at those brands now receive 10 to 14 days of advance notice about their upcoming schedules (that's even more time to plan than J.Crew's staffers will now have).

The latest retailer to join these brands in being anti-on-call will now leave it at staffers' discretion, essentially making these shifts optional extra work. "J.Crew has strict anti-retaliation policies. Consistent with those policies, J.Crew will not retaliate against associates who do not volunteer to cover these shifts," J.Crew's senior vice president, Maria Di Lorenzo, wrote in a statement to Schneiderman, Crains reports. The brand actually started talking about changing the policy in January, and has already disabled the on-call feature from the scheduling software used for its retail outposts, per Di Lorenzo's statement. No word on whether J.Crew-owned Madewell will also kill the scheduling practice.

Of the 13 retailers that received Schneiderman's letter six months ago, TJ Maxx's parent company, TJX Group, and Ann Inc., parent company to Ann Taylor and Ann Taylor Loft, are among the companies that haven't revised their policies. Do you think they'll follow suit?

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