Flexible Work & Scheduling

Predictable Scheduling

Predictable scheduling involves ensuring that employees have some control over their scheduled working hours, not changing work schedules without employees’ consent, and/or giving employees advanced warning about changes to their work schedules.

Benefits to Employers1

  • Increases productivity
  • Increases retention, reducing turnover costs Reduces employee absenteeism
  • Increases morale, loyalty, commitment

Benefits to Children and Parents/Famillies2,3

  • Allows employees to plan for child care, transportation, and budgets
  • Leads to better child development outcomes because of more stability for childcare arrangements, which improves cognitive
    and behavioral outcomes and language development
  • Lowers stress for parents and improves overall healthy behaviors

Research or Recommendations from National Organizations

The National Women’s Law Center, a nonprofit that advocates for equality and opportunity for women and families, recommends:4

  • Allowing employees to have input into their work schedule.
  • Providing at least two weeks’ notice of work schedule.
  • Discouraging last-minute schedule shifts.
  • Expanding opportunities for part-time workers, including a minimum hour guarantee and opportunity for promotion.

This July, Oregon became the first state to pass a “fair scheduling” law, and several states, including North Carolina, have introduced predictable or fair scheduling legislation. North Carolina’s proposed legislation would require employers to post work schedules 14 days in advance and would mandate a specified amount of “predictability pay” if changes are made to an employee’s schedule within seven days of a shift.

Parents with fluctuating or nontraditional schedules, which encompasses about half of low-wage workers, have difficulty accessing high quality, affordable, licensed child care. Child care providers are typically unable to accommodate last-minute scheduling changes or variable hours and are much less likely to operate during evening and weekend hours.5

Parents who face job scheduling challenges are more likely to use multiple child care arrangements. Experts agree that stability in child care arrangements is important for child development.6

Range of Practices in the United States

Almost three-quarters of hourly workers ages 26–32, who are more likely to have young children at home, report that their work hours fluctuate each month.

Forty-one percent of adults working in hourly jobs say they know their work schedule one week in advance or less.

About half of low-wage workers have little or no control over the timing of their work hours.

Part-time workers experience even more variability in hours and receive even less advance notice of schedule than full-time workers.

Case Study

Starbucks

Location: Statewide • Year Founded: 1971 • Number of US Employees: 160,000

With more than 300 locations across the state, North Carolinians are never too far from their favorite Starbucks latte. And with a predictable scheduling policy launched in 2016, North Carolina’s Starbucks employees have more control over when they work and how far in advance they know their schedule.

Starbucks, with more than 160,000 employees nationwide, instructs managers to take an individualized approach to scheduling, allowing for both schedule consistency and flexibility as needed.

“To get this right, partners [employees] and their managers work together to create schedules that are predictable, consistent, and balance the different needs of every partner,” reads the company policy on the Starbucks website.

Employees are asked to provide their availability and preferred schedules when they are hired, and all employees receive an estimate of the number of hours they will receive. Schedules are posted at least 14 days in advance, and managers are required to give employees at least eight hours between closing and opening shifts. Additionally, Starbucks works with employees who commute longer than an hour to work to transfer them to a closer store when possible.

“To get this right, employees and their managers work together to create schedules that are predictable, consistent, and balance the different needs of every partner.”

Show 6 footnotes
  1. North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation. “The Research Basis for Family-Friendly Workplaces.” June 14, 2018. https://files.familyforwardnc.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/NCECF_FFNC-policyfactsheet-061418.pdf
  2. North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation. “The Research Basis for Family-Friendly Workplaces.” June 14, 2018. https://files.familyforwardnc.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/NCECF_FFNC-policyfactsheet-061418.pdf
  3. Human Impact Partners Center for Popular Democracy. “Scheduling Away Our Health: How Unpredictable Work Hours Affect Health and Well-Being.” July 2016. http://www.humanimpact.org/wp-content/uploads/Scheduling-Away-Our-Health_rev3.pdf
  4. National Women’s Law Center. “Fair Schedules are Critical for Working Parents and their Children’s Well-Being.” September 2017. https://nwlc.org/resources/set-up-for-success-why-fair-schedules-are-critical-for-working-parents-and-their-childrens-well-being/
  5. Ben-Ishai, Liz; Jodie Levin-Epstein, and Hannah Matthews. “Scrambling for Stability: The Challenges of Job Schedule Volatility and Child Care.” CLASP. March 2014. https://www.clasp.org/sites/default/files/public/resources-and-publications/publication-1/2014-03-27-Scrambling-for-Stability-The-Challenges-of-Job-Schedule-Volat-.pdf
  6. Ben-Ishai, Liz; Jodie Levin-Epstein, and Hannah Matthews. “Scrambling for Stability: The Challenges of Job Schedule Volatility and Child Care.” CLASP. March 2014. https://www.clasp.org/sites/default/files/public/resources-and-publications/publication-1/2014-03-27-Scrambling-for-Stability-The-Challenges-of-Job-Schedule-Volat-.pdf