Clocking In: Combatting Unstable Schedules for Low-Wage Workers in Oregon

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There is a growing movement to address the need for predictable, stable schedules for low-wage workers. Greater scheduling predictability may reduce parental stress and increase child care stability, job stability, and income. Health-related benefits may include increases in parental health (including mental health), child health (including mental health and reductions in behavioral problems), breastfeeding for infants, parental engagement with children (including regular routines), and access to medical care and other community-based services.

Oregon recently became the first jurisdiction in the country to pass a statewide fair workweek law, which took effect July 2018. The law addresses the problem of on-call scheduling by requiring that large employers give their employees minimum advance notice.

In the project’s first phase, the research team will evaluate the implementation of the Oregon law through original qualitative data collection involving interviews and focus groups with state administrators, employers, and low-wage workers, including those who are parents. Focus groups with parents will emphasize perceptions of how the new law affects their levels of stress, family routines, and parents’ and children’s sleep patterns, all of which are drivers of key health outcomes.

In future phases, the team will draw on data from the National Survey of Children’s Health to analyze impacts of Oregon’s fair scheduling law on family and child health outcomes. Data for 2019, the first full year during which the scheduling law will be in effect, will be available in 2020.

Key staff: Elizabeth Peters, PhD