As more workers find their lives upended and their paychecks reduced by ever-changing, on-call schedules, government officials are trying to put limits on the harshest of those scheduling practices.
The actions reflect a growing national movement — fueled by women’s and labor groups — to curb practices that affect millions of families, like assigning just one or two days of work a week or requiring employees to work unpredictable hours that wreak havoc with everyday routines like college and child care.
The recent, rapid spread of on-call employment to retail and other sectors has prompted proposals that would require companies to pay employees extra for on-call work and to give two weeks’ notice of a work schedule.
Vermont and San Francisco have adopted laws giving workers the right to request flexible or predictable schedules to make it easier to take care of children or aging parents. Scott M. Stringer, the New York City comptroller, is pressing the City Council to take up such legislation. And last month, President Obama ordered federal agencies to give the “right to request” to two million federal workers.
The new laws and proposals generally require an employer to discuss a new employee’s situation and to consider scheduling requests, but they do not require companies to accommodate individual schedules. Many businesses have opposed these measures, arguing that they represent improper government intrusion into private...