Researching Public Law and Public Policy in the Public Interest

Unstable Schedules in Low Wage Work: A Hidden Employment Crisis

2014-2015 Equity + Opportunity Studies Fellow, Center on Law in Metropolitan Equity

ABSTRACT: The low wage labor market today is characterized by the increased utilization of part-time and temporary workers, with volatile work schedules. These practices shift business risk to workers, and place their lives in a constant state of instability. Unpredictable work schedules prevent workers from pursuing supplemental employment, training, or attending to caregiver responsibilities. This diminishes the future economic potential of workers, effectively creating a worker caste system, and establishing a structural barrier to income mobility.

Policy intervention is needed to curb the unpredictable work scheduling practices that have become a ubiquitous part of low wage work. These practices have negative impacts that fall disproportionately on vulnerable groups of workers- they prevent economic mobility, subvert the social safety net into a subsidy for business, and impose negative effects on the economy. 

Download this paper in its entirety below: