Urban Outfitters Ends Controversial Employee Policy Amid Government Pressure

No more on-call scheduling at its New York locations.


Urban Outfitters is the latest retailer to end the controversial policy of on-call scheduling — at least in New York state. Announcing the change on his website, New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said Urban has promised to provide employees with their schedules at least one week prior to the start of the workweek, rather than making some stay “on call.” Other big-name retailers like Abercrombie & Fitch, Starbucks, Gap, Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works have also done away with the practice in certain parts of the country.

On-call scheduling has grown in popularity among retailers who have used new technology to help determine when stores will be flooded with customers and need more staff. But that means workers have to be on-call — making it difficult to schedule activities in their off time and forcing some to find child care or elder care with very little notice.

It seems fitting that a doctor or psychologist would be on call, but someone to work the cash register, fold clothes and tell people they look good in skinny jeans? That just seems unfair.

Will Urban end the policy nationwide — or at least in its hometown of Philadelphia? That’s unclear, and a spokesperson for the company did not immediately return a request for comment.

Here’s Schneiderman’s full statement:

“Following discussions with my office related to our ongoing inquiry into the practice of on-call scheduling, Urban Outfitters has agreed to end on-call shifts for employees at all New York stores, with a phase-in process starting in November. As part of this agreement, Urban Outfitters has also agreed to provide employees with their schedules at least one week prior to the start of the workweek. Workers deserve basic protections, including a reliable work schedule that allows them to budget living expenses, arrange for childcare needs, and plan their days. I commend Urban Outfitters for taking this important step to ensure that their employees have schedules that are more predictable. Since my office launched an inquiry into scheduling practices earlier this year, Urban Outfitters is the fifth major retailer to end the use of on call-shifts, including Abercrombie & Fitch, Bath & Body Works, Gap, and Victoria’s Secret.”

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