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Time Out! Gap Puts An End To On-Call Scheduling

On-call scheduling. It's the woe of retail workers everywhere, because calling into work to see if they'll be working today is no way to live.

Retailers have come to rely on "on-call scheduling" as a matter of employment, keeping employees (who are essentially treated like day laborers waiting on a corner for a work van to pull up and load them in) on short notice.

Will I work today? And if so, when? How many hours will I get? Will I make enough to cover the bills this month? Will the company call me any minute and tell me to report to work within the hour? Could I lose my job if I can't make it on time, because I had to find a babysitter or was stuck in traffic?

Now imagine living this scenario every day. This is where we are in our work couture, and while it's fashionable it sure isn't very pretty.

Retailers such as Abercrombie & Fitch, Starbucks and Victoria's Secret have begun to move away from on-call scheduling, but Gap is strutting the workplace runway by announcing that it will end on-call scheduling NATIONWIDE effective September 30.

Starting in October, Gap will give employees a 10-to-14 day window on scheduling. No more wondering, no more waiting, no more thinking I'd better not go visit grandma today in case the phone rings!

Gap's announcement makes me want to do the baggy crotch Khaki Swing like I did in 1999. I still have the chunky-heeled, black shoes as a reminder of the employee-centric dot-com era, where the average 25-year-old was a perk-jaded VP of Something and I used 1,000-page issues of Fast Company as make-shift arm weights in my home office. Those were the days!

Of course, U.S. retailers are under growing pressure from both the public and New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman to stop using on-call scheduling. Employees need a bit of certainty, flexibility, and a personal life free of constant worry about if, and when, they might work. Being on-call, all the time isn't good for us.

Will Gap, the parent company of retailers Banana Republic, Athleta, Intermix and Old Navy, experience a brand resurgence? Will it see a flood of job applications now that it has announced an end to on-call scheduling? Are Gap khakis still so baggy?

I don't know much about current fashion trends, but I hope this management trend takes off.

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