Sick of an unreliable work schedule?
August 21, 2018
Having an unreliable work schedule is a type of precarious work. And, it actually can make you sick. Really.
- Is your work schedule all over the place?
- Do you know from one day to the next if you’re even going to work?
- Do you get last-minute notice of changes or your shift being cancelled?
- Are you always on-call just waiting for the phone to ring to tell you to come to work?
When your work schedule is inconsistent, unpredictable, and unreliable, you pay the price.
As reported in the Toronto Star (March 20, 2017), a survey by the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) found:
“some 31% of survey respondents singled out their emotional health as the most significant casualty of precarious work.”
If your work schedule isn’t regular and reliable, how can you plan your life? A bad work schedule is fixable. Sometimes, changing just one variable in your work life can change things for the better.
Precarious work can cause unnecessary stress. Unpredictable work leads to:
- Unstable Income;
- Inability to pay bills or plan child care, and;
- Less access to education, housing, food, and more.
What if you knew ahead of time how many hours you worked each week?
Worker productivity is related to a number of factors of course. But, when a worker feels better about their job, they’re likely to do better in general. Feeling better about your job can mean a number of things: a good salary, a pleasant group of people, and decent honest work that gives you a sense of contribution and achievement. But none of that matters if you’re always in schedule limbo!
When employees are happy, they stick around. If employee morale is high, productivity improves. The company benefits from having more knowledgeable experienced workers who are more productive with their time. In turn, the company spends less time training new people because of an unnecessarily high turnover rate.
What??!!? A company can actually do better by treating its employees better?
Yeah… Unions have known that for a while.
- What do you do about the money you lose every time you get on transit or into your car to go to work, only to be turned around with no shift and no pay? That’s time and money lost.
- What if, in addition to that, you have child care that you no longer need but still have to pay for?
- How do you know how much income you will have when it’s time to pay bills?
Our Organizers hear these complaints from many people hoping to join a Union. Unreliable work schedules are especially common for:
- retail workers;
- those in the service industry, and;
- people employed through temp agencies.
Unions can help employees obtain regular, reliable shifts. This is done in a few different ways:
- Union contracts contain language protecting bargaining unit work. What that means is that replacement (or cheaper, temp agency workers for example) cannot be brought in if it would mean an existing employee loses hours/shifts. So, they can’t hire from outside claiming they need additional staffing only to replace existing staff with those new, temporary hires.
- The agreement contains details on how the employer can schedule a worker. So, if you’re a new hire you might have fewer options and might need to be available more often, but you know this up front. Employees with seniority usually have shift preference under Union contracts. But, in the end, whether new or experienced, workers should have a fairly reliable set of hours to plan around each week. If not, a Union employee can reach out to their Union Rep to find out why they’re not being scheduled.
- Having a Union contract puts an end to favouritism. Your boss can’t cancel YOUR shift simply because they want to give the hours to someone else they prefer. Hours are granted, as noted above, based on seniority and your availability.
- If the employer is scheduling hours to either non-bargaining unit workers when a Union employee could be doing the work, or giving hours to employees out of seniority order (or in other ways that violate the agreement), the Union can file a grievance.
How do you live your life in a world centred around money and bills, if you can’t rely on your job to be there with any regularity?
And, these jobs aren’t just worked by teenagers.
In 2017, Statistic Canada reported that the “number of prime working age Canadians with full-time, year-round jobs is ‘lowest’ since Statistics Canada began keeping records.”
“Less than half of all Canadian workers (49.8%) between the ages of 25 and 54 worked full-time, full-year jobs in 2015.” Read more in this article from Press Progress.
Employees in these jobs range from university graduates to single parents, from teens to seniors, from those just starting out in the working world to those who’ve lost a long-time job and are starting over. Yes, some people work part-time voluntarily. Many people, however, want full-time reliable work, but can’t find it!
We all have bills. Whether you pay for tuition or transit, rent or a mortgage, child care or senior care, groceries or car payments. Or, all of the above. We know that no one gets a break from any of those bills just because you have irregular work schedules. Bill collectors don’t care.
While American-based, the grass roots organization called Fair Workweek has stories just like this from workers just like you. Workers who are at the mercy of corporate culture that puts profit ahead of decent, reliable work.
So, if you think a Union could help bring some stability to your schedule at work, why not contact one of our Organizers to find out more info? All conversations are confidential.
Read about some of the working people who voted YES to joining UFCW Local 175! Workers like those at the Bayfield Manor nursing and retirement home, or the employees at the Dr. Oetker plant in London.
Here are some other news articles and research about precarious work and scheduling, and the impact those things have on the well-being of working people.