By Lauren Weber
New York’s attorney general is scrutinizing 13 big retailers over their staffing practices and whether they require workers to show up or stay home with little notice.
The office of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sent letters warning Target Corp. /zigman2/quotes/207799045/composite TGT -0.30% , Gap Inc. /zigman2/quotes/201996496/delayed DE:GAP +0.07% and 11 others that it believes the chains are using on-call scheduling and that such practices may violate a New York law.
On-call scheduling systems have made big retailers more nimble, allowing them to staff stores during busy times and save on payroll during slow days. The software used by many retailers forecasts staffing needs based on real-time sales and traffic information.
Some employers require on-call workers to check in by phone, email or text shortly before their shift, Mr. Schneiderman’s office said.
If the store is expected to be busy, they must come in; if things are slow, they are told not to report for work and aren’t paid. These systems have been criticized by worker advocates, who say on-call scheduling makes workers’ lives and pay unpredictable.
In addition to Target and Gap, the retailers that received the letters are Abercrombie & Fitch Co. /zigman2/quotes/206677024/composite ANF +1.45% ; Ann Inc. ; Burlington Stores Inc. /zigman2/quotes/203203718/composite BURL +0.25% ; Crocs Inc. /zigman2/quotes/201458716/composite CROX +3.46% ; J.C. Penney Co. ; J. Crew Group Inc.; L Brands Inc. /zigman2/quotes/202062875/composite LB +3.43% ; Sears Holdings Corp. ; TJX Cos. /zigman2/quotes/203136811/composite TJX +0.14% ; Urban Outfitters Inc. /zigman2/quotes/208403734/composite URBN +6.24% ; and Williams-Sonoma Inc. /zigman2/quotes/202067350/composite WSM +2.77%
Target said it posts worker schedules 10 days before the start of a work week, which employees can check remotely. A spokeswoman said its scheduling methods don’t include “on-call” shifts where employees would be required to call in to see if they are working a given day.
Suzanne Kapner contributed to this article.