AuthorFarsad, Negin

When you walk into a store, you may focus on the clothes or the wristwatches or the papier-mache glue or whatever else you're shopping for. When you walk into a restaurant, you might think about bloomih onions or craft beer or how many calories you can allot for dessert.

But shift your focus a little bit and you'll notice the waitstaff, bartenders, cashiers, clerks, and the many other people who make commerce happen. These are people who, in many cases, have no idea what their work schedule will be, week-to-week. They get paid so little they may have a hard time paying rent; they work so hard they may not have any energy left for game night.

We want people to have jobs and be productive, tax-paying members of society. Yet retail jobs, a large area of employment, offer very little stability. Recently the podcast Better Life Lab chronicled the problems workers face with uncertain scheduling. In one case, a worker was hired "full time" and given health insurance contingent on working at least thirty-two hours per week.

But when it came time for the actual scheduling, the employee wasn't always assigned thirty-two hours per week, and had to beg, borrow, and steal hours from other employees to meet the threshold. Imagine a senior executive at a Fortune 500 company having to meet some kind of weekly threshold in order to maintain his or her benefits. It's unimaginable to create such a culture of instability in those fancy jobs; but when it comes to millions of Americans, we expect them to be OK with it.

Often, workers are told on a daily basis whether or not they must come in to work. Again, picture going to your cushy job on Wall Street with your pour-over coffee and three-inch business casual heels only to be told to go home.

In fact, about half of the employees at a national women's clothing chain didn't know what hours they would work week-to-week. These are people with leases and cell phone bills and a pesky need to eat actual food for survival. They are moms and caregivers, people who must coordinate child care and elder care without knowing in advance how long they'll need it. No amount of organization, iCal trickery, or...

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