Key Council vote today on secure scheduling as two new studies underscore extent & impact of issue

As Councilmembers meet to consider amendments and advance secure scheduling policy…

Two new studies reveal extent and impact of work schedule issues on financial, physical, and mental health of workers and their families.

Last September, workers rallied outside Starbucks Corporate Headquarters over unstable & unpredictable schedules and lack of hours, and then sent a letter to CEO Howard Schultz. The company failed to address scheduling issues, sparking a barista-led campaign for citywide secure scheduling legislation.

Now, after a months-long legislative process, a key Seattle City Council committee is set to vote Tuesday morning on whether or not to advance who would be the nation’s strongest secure scheduling ordinance to a vote of the full council — at the same time as two new reports underscore the extent and impact of unstable & insecure schedules. See below for key takeaways from these two reports.

Who: Baristas, fast food workers, retail workers, and community supporters

What: Attend Seattle City Council Committee hearing on amending and advancing secure scheduling ordinance. At least ten different amendments (linked from City Council page here) are being considered at this critical meeting. Depending on the outcome in committee, a final vote by full council could come as soon as next Monday.

When: 9:30am — TODAY, Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Where: Seattle City Hall, Council Chambers and streaming live at

1. "Scheduling Away Our Health: How Unpredictable Work Hours Affect Health & Well-being"

Human Impact Partners, a health-focused national policy group, crunched the numbers and interviewed workers in Seattle’s service industry to produce this new report concluding that “the health and well-being of workers is undoubtedly compromised by unpredictable work schedules.”

Highlights of the Scheduling Away Our Health report:

  • 20% of people who received a week or less notice of their schedules report poor or fair health — a rate 75% higher than for people with more notice of their schedules.
  • 19% of people who received a week or less notice of their schedules report frequent mental health problems — a rate more than two times higher than for people who receive more notice of their schedules.
  • Wildly varying shift schedules lead to sleep deprivation and fatigue, which have been shown to cause decreased reaction time, psychomotor coordination, memory, and decision making skills.
  • Children’s health is affected as well: Parents with unpredictable schedules are often forced into less- than-ideal childcare options, and are more likely to exit childcare subsidy programs after being enrolled. Childcare instability in turn affects children’s well-being, cognitive and behavioral outcomes and language development, especially for children in low-income families.

The full report from Human Impact Partners and the Center for Popular Democracy is available online.

2. "Schedule instability and unpredictability and worker and family health and wellbeing"

Leading academic researchers Kristen Harknett and Daniel Schneider have just released the first results from their pioneering survey of several thousand hourly retail and food service workers at large chains across the country, which finds that:

  • Short notice is common: 19% of surveyed workers received less than one week notice of their schedules, and 61% receive less than two weeks.
  • Hours are highly volatile: Weekly hours varied by 33% over the past month.
  • More hours and more regular hours are highly valued: 70% of surveyed workers expressed a desire for more hours, and 86% expressed a desire for more regular hours.
  • Impacts of unstable & unpredictable schedules are severe: An unsettling 43% of surveyed workers reported impacts which correspond to formal definitions of “serious psychological distress,” and those workers with less notice of their schedules and more variable schedules had higher likelihoods of psychological distress.

(These key finding are detailed on pages 16 - 21 of the full report.)

3. Additional Background


Contact: Sage Wilson, Working Washington: