Gap Ending Controversial On-Call Shifts

Now workers won't have to block out their day without getting paid.

Say goodbye to on-call shifts at the Gap. (testing /

Say goodbye to on-call shifts at the Gap. (testing /

Doctors should be on call. Psychologists with suicidal patients should be on call. But retail workers? Not so much.

Still, Gap Inc. and other retailers have forced employees to be on call for years — even though many times the shifts are cancelled with little notice. But now, the company says it’s eliminating its on-call policy.

In a blog post announcing the change, Andi Owen, global president for Banana Republic, said the company is revamping its scheduling practices. (Weirdly, the blog post disappeared from the Gap site, but here’s a cached version.)

“Each of our brands has committed to improving their scheduling policies to provide their store employees with at least 10 to 14 days notice,” wrote Owen. “The majority of brands will be rolling out these new policies in September, and all Gap Inc. brands are committed to phasing in advanced schedules by early 2016.” Those other brands are Athleta, Banana Republic, Intermix, and Old Navy.

The move comes on the heels of New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman requesting the detailed scheduling practices of 13 retailers like Target, Ann Taylor and Abercrombie & Fitch. (Abercrombie and Victoria’s Secret have also recently stopped on-call shifts.)

“And that’s something that really blocks the day out for a worker,” Schneiderman said, according to NPR. “They can’t schedule another job; they can’t schedule child care. This is something that we have to deal with. It’s a growing problem.” He’s trying to raise awareness of so-called “reporting time” laws, and encourage workers to report breaches.

Meanwhile, Fortune reports that the Bureau of Labor statistics says that “47 percent of part-time hourly workers ages 26 to 32 receive a week or less of advance notice for their schedule.”

I understand the need for flexibility for firefighters or doctors, but for folding clothes, working a cash register and helping people find the perfect pair of jeans? Not quite as important. Good to see that companies are catching up.

Owen and Gap Inc. seem to understand as much. She said policy change will improve work-life balance for workers and “enables all employees to reach their full potential and thrive both personally and professionally. We recognize that flexibility, inclusive of consistent and reliable scheduling, is important to all of our employees.”