Do Part-Time Employees Want “Fairness” or Flexibility?

Unions and the advocacy groups they fund in the District of Colombia have a new grievance: part-time schedules.

Legislation under consideration by the City Council – based on a similar ordinance passed in San Francisco last year –  would require employers to provide schedules three weeks in advance, and penalize them for changes which happen after that. While advocates argue that these changes are necessary to “promote full-time work”, our new analysis of the proposal suggests that they should proceed with caution.

Dr. Aaron Yelowitz of the University of Kentucky used Census Bureau data to create a profile of the part-time workers that would be affected by D.C.’s proposed law. He found that just one-in-seven are working part-time involuntarily, suggesting that those who are working a part-time schedule choose to do so because it accommodates their lifestyle.

Dr. Lloyd Corder and his survey research team at CorCom Inc spoke to 100 affected businesses in DC. A majority claimed that they would have difficulty complying with the new law’s requirements – especially the provision that requires four hours of pay for any schedule change made with less than 24 hours notice.

If enacted, businesses anticipated taking several steps to adapt to the costs. Nearly three of four respondents said they’d offer less flexibility to make schedule changes. Half of surveyed employers indicated they would offer fewer part-time positions, and change the hiring composition of full-time vs. part-time employees.

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