Today, it is not uncommon for someone who has just had breakfast and is preparing to spend quality time with his family to receive a call from his employer saying he is needed at work within the next hour. It is also not unusual for a mother, who has already paid a babysitter to mind her child, to receive a text message from her boss saying she doesn’t have to report to work until further notice.

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Last-minute scheduling, the practice of scheduling employees with little or no notice, has turned into one of the most common hourly workers scheduling trends today. This kind of scheduling makes business more efficient for employers and life a living hell for hourly workers. This is because employers evade paying workers for sitting around doing little or nothing when business is slow, while hourly employees get to rely on credit cards and shady lenders to make ends meets as their pay checks continue to fluctuate. 

Fortunately, last-minute hourly workers scheduling is now facing legal criticism and may soon become a thing of the past with some major companies having already faced the heat for abusing the practice. In fact, some major employers, such as Gap, Starbucks and Abercrombie & Fitch, have already done away with the practice as reported by Time. These companies are now giving their employees reasonable advanced notices of their schedules. But the threat of lawsuits doesn’t seem to be the only reason many employers are choosing to forego last-minute scheduling of hourly workers. It appears that the benefits of last-minute scheduling for hourly workers are being outweighed by the cost of losing qualified employees and managing highly-stressed ones. This is because a high turnover rate is a common occurrence where employees no longer have job security. As most employers have discovered by now, maintaining stable schedules produces a happier workforce and this, in turn, reduces turnover and ultimately saves more money than last-minute scheduling.

However, reports from various reputable sources indicate that negative effects of last-minute scheduling impact employees and their families more than it impacts employers. For starters, last-minute scheduling makes it almost impossible for low-wage hourly workers to arrange for their transportation to work, arrange child care needs, budget for their finances, pursue other jobs, and advance their education.

Other studies have shown that the children of employees with unpredictable schedules may suffer as a result of not cultivating stable relationships with their parents. For example, a toddler whose mother holds an unpredictable work schedule may lack problem-solving skills in future and his or her language skills may be affected in a negative way.

Teenagers who suffer the same fate of having parents with unpredictable work schedules are more likely to become depressed and to engage in risky behavior including drug and alcohol abuse. On the other hand, these parents risk having unstable relationships with their children because no matter how hard they try to attend to them in a warm manner, the physical and mental fatigue they constantly suffer from as a result of nonstandard schedules gets in the way.

Another major issue that has been identified is that mothers who work irregular schedules are less likely to enroll their kids to professional early childhood care centers as a result of their ever-dwindling wages – a setting that has been associated with better cognitive development when compared to relying on family and friends and other informal arrangements.

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Stress, depression, and other psychosomatic disorders can also be triggered by unpredictable schedules. According to long-term studies, when an employee is constantly worrying about his or her job, it can eventually complicate his or her health. One study surprisingly showed that the effect of worrying about a not-so-steady income is far worse that the effect of losing a job altogether.

A steady income is one of the factors that give many Americans some peace of mind and it is understandable that persistently unstable paychecks can be so stressful. This kind of stress is deadly and can lead to long-term health issues. In fact, stress is among the leading causes of back pain, stroke, peptic ulcers, heart disease and many other ailments that may arise when an individual is under a lot of stress.

High levels of stress as a result of irregular work schedules can affect the productivity of an employee too thus slowing down the growth of the company or business he or she works for. Over 20% of employees that took part in a recent ComPsych Corporation’s survey attributed stress to constant mistakes and missed deadlines at work. According to this particular study, stressed-out employees find it extremely difficult to focus on their tasks at work.

Over 56% of the participants reported having trouble focusing when stressed out. When this manifests in the workplace, employees may appear like they are working but the results may be far from acceptable. More than 14% of the participants admitted that stress increased their lateness while 15% said stress made it difficult for them to get along with their co-workers and bosses.

Stress in the workplace is also contagious because low job satisfaction is something employees will often discuss with one another. If stress is not identified and addressed by employers early enough, it can hurt the social and cultural synergies of the workplace.

Last-minute hourly workers scheduling is particularly common in low-paying jobs and industries. For example, more than 15% of employees in sales jobs have admitted to having ever-changing work schedules.

Irregular scheduling is also common in the retail industry where more than 27% of employees are affected. One particular survey that targeted retail employees in New York reported that 40% of the employees interviewed did not have a fixed number of minimum weekly hours while a quarter said they were permanently on on-call shifts.

It also emerged that it is the poor employees who suffer the most from last-minute scheduling. According to the survey, employees who earn less than $22,500 annually are more likely to have unpredictable work schedules.

In conclusion, last-minute hourly workers scheduling equals to treating employees poorly. It not only creates havoc in the lives of low-income employees but for their children as well.