by Max Brantley
On Tuesday afternoon, San Francisco's Board of Supervisors took another step in that direction, unanimously passing a "retail workers' bill of rights," the first such bill to be passed in a large US city. That "bill" is in fact two pieces of legislation containing five provisions aimed at making life easier for hourly workers at the city's chain restaurants and stores.
Among other things, the bill will require employers to post schedules two or more weeks in advance, give additional hours to part-time employees instead of hiring new workers, and pay employees for any hours they are put "on call," only to have their shifts canceled.
The latest measures are meant to provide protection against unpredictable scheduling, which has become huge problem for low-income workers. Many employers have started using sophisticated "just-in-time" scheduling software, which decides how many workers have to work at a given time based on data points like traffic, sales levels, and even weather, as MSNBC has reported. This type of software has often led to erratic, short shifts for many workers.