Low-wage workers in the retail, food service, and hospitality industries in Philadelphia may soon have more security when it comes to their schedules and paychecks.
On Thursday, Philadelphia City Councilwoman Helen Gym introduced legislation to curb some of this uncertainty. The fair workweek ordinance would require a reasonable notice of schedules, at least 11 hours rest time between shifts, opportunities to work additional hours and provide for enforcement and penalties if an employer does not comply.
Across the country, retail and fast-food employees have said that unpredictable work schedules, the kind churned out by computer programs, wreak havoc on their lives.
Service workers and activists held a May Day protest at Philadelphia City Hall, demanding that City Council pass a bill to force employers to stabilize working conditions.
As if poverty-skirting wages don’t cause enough stress, most service workers in the Philadelphia region labor under unpredictable schedules that trigger a host of ailments and insecurities, according to a study. About 100,000 people, most of them in part-time jobs, toil in the retail and food service sectors in the region.
Unreliable work hours harm families in a range of ways, from providing insufficient income to creating child care crises. That was the consensus from dozens of witnesses at a Philadelphia city council committee hearing, last week. But there was some disagreement about what to do about it.