I work full-time as a visual merchandiser at an outdoor retailer. My job is to make sure the store looks good — putting the merchandise we’re selling in place, making changes to the floor set to keep everything interesting, dressing and undressing mannequins, tracking sales. I get very steady hours — about 40 a week. That stability is key. It means I can plan out my life — I can look at a calendar and say “yes, I can schedule something outside of work this day.” Work is a big part of my time, but a small part of my life. Secure scheduling makes it easier to do everything outside of work, like spend time with my family, which is massive, or go on day trips or long hikes. I know exactly when I’m working, and I know those hours won’t change on me.
Last year, tens of thousands of food and retail workers in Seattle won secure scheduling, giving them two weeks' notice of their schedules, the right to rest between shifts, the right to give input into their schedules, and more.
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I’m lucky in that my current employer has always been pretty consistent when it comes to scheduling. But before I worked here, I was a salesperson at American Eagle and used to deal with constantly being on call, but never scheduled for real shifts. Managers would play favorites, so a small group of people would get all the hours. I just never knew if I was going to have money for anything. You could never really guess how many hours you’d get, so you could go from thinking, “ok, I’ll probably make a solid $200 or so,” to ending up with $40 in your paycheck.
And it was a huge bind on my time — being on call meant that I could never be too far from where I worked, because if I got called in, I would have to show up. My time wasn’t really mine. That’s stressful. You don’t feel valued as a worker, and it creates resentment towards management.
Now, I feel valued at my job, and I can plan ahead long-term. I can plan on having money and time to do things I need or want to do — whether that’s meeting someone at the climbing gym or just mundane grown-up things like going to the doctor’s office or scheduling an eye appointment.
I think secure scheduling is good for business, too. The team’s a little bit happier. Managers don’t have to worry about the schedule all the time, because it’s set up a couple weeks in advance, so if someone can’t show up or needs to take time off, they can plan around that.
Workers are more productive when we’re working the right hours and know when we’re scheduled to work. It boosts morale. It’s just a lot less stress, especially for people who are living paycheck to paycheck and have a lot of bills — it’s important to know exactly how much money you’re going to make at the end of the day and know you can make ends meet. And it’s vital to have work-life balance, which you can only have if you know when you’re working ahead of time. It’s that simple.