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

Evidence

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The advent of just-in-time scheduling technology and practices in the mid-1990s has led to increased schedule instability, resulting in a growing movement to address the need for predictable, stable schedules for workers paid low wages. Unstable schedules have been associated with earnings instability, increased stress and fatigue, sleep irregularity, and worse mental health outcomes for workers.  In this report, P4A researchers Amelia Coffey, Eleanor Lauderback and H. Elizabeth Peters, along with their partners at the University of Oregon’s Department of Sociology Lola Loustaunau, Larissa Petrucci, Ellen Scott and Lina Stepick, examine Oregon’s implementation of S.B. 828, the first statewide predictive scheduling law in the nation, in its first year.