Results from two surveys on Seattle retail and food-service firms’ scheduling practices — one by the city and one by a business group — suggest most employees are OK with their arrangements, but a significant minority want more work hours or more advance notice of schedules.
Results from dueling surveys on Seattle retail and food-service companies’ scheduling practices — one from the city and one from a business group — suggest that while most employees are OK with their work arrangements, a significant minority want more work hours or more advance notice of schedules.
The city of Seattle is considering a “secure scheduling” law for the retail and food-service industries, whose workers have sometimes suffered from erratic and variable work hours, little advance notice of their schedules and not enough hours to make a decent living.
A study commissioned by the City Council and the mayor to find out about retailers’ scheduling practices and their effects on workers drew complete survey responses from more than 700 retail and food-industry workers and 350 managers. Interviews and focus groups were also conducted.
Among the findings, according to the report released Tuesday:
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• The majority of workers said they were satisfied with their hours and receive at least a week’s advance notice.
• But nearly half the workers said they’d “sacrifice a 20 percent pay premium” in order to get one week’s advance notice.
• 30 percent of workers said their work schedules created serious problems with their family, budget or other priorities.
• 30 percent of employees said they wanted to work more hours at their main job.
• African-American and Latino workers were “disproportionately likely to receive their schedules on short notice, to be required to work on-call, to be sent home during slow shifts, or to work ‘clopenings’ [closing shifts and then early-opening shifts the next day], according to the report. Those racial disparities were greater in Seattle than nationally, the report says.
• Locally owned and operated businesses, rather than chains, are more likely to use problematic scheduling practices, including short notice, on-call shifts and “clopenings.”
The survey, developed by Vigdor Measurement and Evaluation, encountered some criticism for its methodology.
Jacob Vigdor, a University of Washington professor who led the study, said Tuesday that some of the criticism was valid and that a better survey method would have cost much more and taken more time.
“The question is whether the city is better off with this information or no information at all,” Vigdor said in an email.
The Seattle Restaurant Alliance, meanwhile, released on Monday its own survey of restaurant workers.
The survey, conducted by Seattle outreach group EnviroIssues, was completed by 457 workers.
Among the findings:
• 77 percent of the workers were satisfied with their schedules and flexibility.
• 69 percent were satisfied with how much advance notice they received for their work schedules.
• 70 percent like the hours they work now while 23 percent want to work more.
• 75 percent want their employers, not the government, to come up with reforms that affect restaurant workers, and a majority would rather see tweaks of existing policies than major changes.
Working Washington, a union-backed organization that has been pushing for the scheduling law, said the restaurant alliance’s survey results actually showed that “large numbers of workers report scheduling issues” with 23 percent of workers saying they want more hours, and 31 percent presumably not very satisfied with how much advance notice they get of their schedules.