In is discussed. On-call scheduling is a strategy used

an article written by Krystina Gustafson, on-call scheduling is discussed. On-call
scheduling is a strategy used by certain companies within the retail industry.

It’s when companies wait until the last possible minute to tell their employees
whether they are needed or not, depending on the volume of the store that day. Companies
like Gap, Abercrombie & Fitch and Urban Outfitters were referred to
throughout the article, stating that they have either completely discontinued
the scheduling practice or that it is in the works across their stores. However,
companies like L Brands, J Crew, and Pier 1 Imports, had no comment when asked
about their plan involving on-call scheduling. This practice causes issues for
employees, as they have other responsibilities, as well as limits a worker’s
ability to plan ahead.

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            This strategy brings about a huge
ethical problem. Is it ethical to put that kind of responsibility on their
employees? In certain cases, employees rely on these on-call shifts or they have
other responsibilities that need to be put first. On-call scheduling has the
power to limit an employee’s ability to plan ahead or even to make a steady
wage. It is not fair for an employee to not come in for their shift, especially
if they were counting on that as part of their income. It is also not fair to
call in an employee, who may have previous commitments, like child care or
another job. Many retail employees are in their 20s and 30s, they rely on their
places of employment for flexibility. Which brings up the point, that schedules
should be created and distributed with enough time to make changes in any

            However, if legislation gets
involved with the scheduling practices of these retail companies, it could have
both positive and negative consequences, depending on each employee’s
individual point of view. Two organizations have been working across the
country to eliminate on-call scheduling: Jobs with Justice and the Attorney
General’s Office. The second organization, Jobs With Justice, is an organization
based in San Francisco. The organization worked to pass the Retail Workers Bill
of Rights. This ordinance requires employers to give workers their schedules two
weeks in advance, and additionally how they inform their employees of any
changes. The Attorney General’s Office has created a New York regulation, where
employees who show up at their employer’s request, will still be paid a “predictability
pay”, which can be contingent upon the circumstances.

            Across the industry, it has been
difficult to do away with on-call scheduling. Consumers are starting to find
importance in worker’s rights, which leads to companies wanting to make real
efforts to move away from the practice. But it has proven to be difficult;
deficiency with technology and staffing, and accuracy measuring flows of
traffic have been made a challenge for these retail companies. On-call
scheduling is not something that can just easily disappear overnight.  

            As a hired consultant of J Crew, it
is evident that this company faces a dilemma. The issues that surround on-call
scheduling are complex, they have to be given a serious amount of thought
before deciding on one option. If they get rid of on-call scheduling, it could
cause issues within their company, internally. But, if J Crew keeps their
on-call scheduling policy, legal issues may occur. There are many options for J
Crew to consider, keeping in mind that each one has its advantages and disadvantages,
involving different stakeholders.

            A stakeholder is a person or group
that can affect or be affected by an organization’s actions, objectives, and
policies.  There are many stakeholders in
this case: employees, worker advocacy groups, government agencies, and
consumers. The two most important stakeholders are the employees and the
consumers. These two groups hold more power over the latter. Employees are key
to run the company, without them the company technically wouldn’t exist. With having
both economic and legal power, they are important stakeholders for a company. It
has been suggested that happier workers make happier business. If their
concerns aren’t taken into consideration, they may decide to not work within
that company anymore. The other most important stakeholders are the consumers or
customers. They hold economic, legal, and informational power within the
market. Consumers are becoming more aware of worker’s rights and these rights
are becoming important to them. Just like the employees, if the concerns of the
consumers are ignored, they may not shop with that company in the future.

            As mentioned previously, there are
various paths that J Crew can take with their on-call scheduling policy. If J
Crew were to completely eliminate on-call scheduling, all stakeholders would
have their concerns resolved, however, J Crew could face their own
difficulties. These difficulties will stem from learning how to schedule,
without on-call shifts, to their benefit, possibly with new technology.

Utilitarianism is the ethical reasoning that supports this course of action. By
definition, utilitarianism is the alternative that will produce the greatest
overall good.

market ethics supports the second course of action, which is to keep on-call
scheduling. Based on the principals of Milton Friedman, free market ethics asks
if the decision is profitable and legal. By keeping the scheduling practice, J
Crew would profit. On-call scheduling is a means to cut costs, but it would
only be short-term expenses. According to the article, on-call scheduling is
legal; however, regulations concerning “predictability pay” are in place.

Keeping the on-call practices would
be compliant with the ethical reasoning of free market-ethics. If J Crew were
to ask their employees, individually, how they would like to be scheduled, that
would follow ethics of care. This ethical reasoning follows that people are
interwoven in deep relationships, therefore, decisions need to be made within
those relationships. To align with another ethical reasoning, Deontology, J
Crew could choose to keep the on-call scheduling strategy but use a different
technology to allow employees to volunteer for shifts once they are open. They
could also disperse schedules earlier than two weeks in advance, which would
allow employees more time to plan. Deontology is defined by having respect for
life, fairness, telling the truth, and keeping promises. By allowing employees
to volunteer or giving them their schedules far in advance, companies are
keeping things fair, with respect for other’s lives.

            J Crew could choose from numerous
courses of action, but the best option would be to completely do away with
on-call scheduling. By ending the use of on-call scheduling, employees and
customers will benefit, creating the most overall good possible. Although J
Crew may face challenges, it’s in their best interest to find another way to
plan schedules better. New technology will allow J Crew’s management teams to
schedule their employee’s shifts more accurately. Once the challenges presented
are resolved, J Crew will ultimately benefit from this decision too.