Victoria's Secret Is Ending a Controversial Practice

June 30th 2015

Victoria's Secret will no longer force workers to participate in on-call scheduling, a process that many retail workers say costs them hours in lost work, Buzzfeed News reports.

The company told workers on Sunday that it would do away with on-call scheduling, which forces workers to make themselves available for shifts that can be abruptly canceled sans pay, according to the publication. This comes a few weeks after BuzzFeed News exposed problematic Victoria Secret's on-calling system that places many workers in unstable working situations.

During a scheduled call-in shift, workers are not allowed to make themselves available for other work opportunities or take academic courses, and even if they do land a shift that is ultimately canceled, they do not get paid for the lost time. Some people are not even eligible to receive food stamps or housing assistance as they cannot estimate their exact income.

Last year, Victoria's Secret was sued in a case that aimed to answer whether on-call scheduling counted as “report[ing] for work.” According to BuzzFeed News, Victoria's Secret could not comment on the case because the litigation is still pending. The Judge dismissed the on-call scheduling time claim but the decision may still be appealed to a higher court.

“A lot of people are working several part-time jobs, and if you’re on-call, you can’t work your other job at the same time,” Christine Berry, a former sales associate and a manager at a Banana Republic, told the publication. “You lost that time you could be working elsewhere.”

Kris Buchmann, who worked at Victoria's Secret for a year in the year 2000s, told BuzzFeed News that even just an hour of a canceled on-call scheduling shift “would have made a huge difference” in her life.

Earlier this month, ATTN: reported on a study showing the negative impact of unpredictable schedules, which often requires workers to be on-call for certain hours but does not actually guarantee any work time. The researchers looked at 436 hourly non-supervisor workers in retail and food service jobs in Washington, D.C. The study found the workers clock in around 32 hours each week for about $10 an hour. This totals a salary of $16,000, which is well below D.C. government contractors' current living wage of $13.80.

“The scheduling practices that these companies use wreak havoc on the incomes and lives of thousands of workers in the District of Columbia,” Ed Lazere, executive director of the DC Fiscal Policy Institute, a nonprofit that conducted the research with DC Jobs With Justice, Jobs With Justice Education Fund, and Georgetown University’s Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor, previously told ATTN:. “We found that scheduling practices for service workers in D.C. leaves too many people with unpredictable and uneven work schedules that make it hard to do budgeting, schedule healthcare, education or hold down a second job."

Lazere hammered home the notion that on-call scheduling can be very financially limiting for workers.

"Half of the people we surveyed, half of the people who had been on-call at any point, only half get called in," he said. "In some ways, it’s unpaid work because you sort of have to be sitting around, but in the end you might not get any hours or any pay whatsoever. For anybody who has a regular job or bills, we all value that our paycheck is going to stay the same each week so that we can pay our bills. But if your income is going up or down every week in a way you can’t control, it just creates chaos in the lives of people who are already working for low wages."

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