The growing use of on-call staffing is being scrutinized for undermining employees’ economic security and work-life fit.

Attorny_General_Eric_T_SchneidermanThe latest probe comes from New York’s Attorney General Eric Schneiderman whose office sent letters to 13 large retailers saying that the practice may not be complying with state laws.

This from the letter, via a Wall Street Journal article published today:

Unpredictable work schedules take a toll on all employees, especially those in low-wage sectors. Without the security of a definite work schedule, workers who must be “on call” have difficulty making reliable childcare and elder-care arrangements, encounter obstacles in pursuing their education, and in general experience adverse financial and health effects, as well as overall stress and strain on family life. The requirement of being on call also interferes with such employees’ ability to obtain supplemental employment in order to ensure financial security for their families.

According the the Journal article, letters were sent to Target Corp., Gap Inc., Abercrombie & Fitch Co.; Ann Inc.; Burlington Stores Inc.; Crocs Inc.; J.C. Penney Co.; J. Crew Group Inc.; L Brands Inc.; Sears Holdings Corp.; TJX Cos.; Urban Outfitters Inc.; and Williams-Sonoma Inc.

It’s too early to know how the Attorney General’s effort will impact this practice, but the rise of the on-demand workforce, made possible in part because of software systems that automate the process, is probably not the best way to create an effective and flexible workplace. (more…)