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Variable schedules are now the norm for part-time workers in a variety of industries including retail, where schedules typically change every day and every week, with three to seven days' notice of the next week's schedule. In recent years, these scheduling practices have come under increasing scrutiny in state attorney general offices, state and local legislatures, and the media. In retail, unstable schedules for employees have been considered an inevitable outcome of stores' need for profitability. Operations researchers have found that matching labor to incoming traffic is a key driver of retail store profitability (Perdikaki et al., 2012). At the same time, social scientists have studied the deleterious effects of variable schedules on employee wellbeing (Henly & Lambert, 2014). What has been lacking is evidence that schedules in service-sector jobs can be improved in ways that benefit both employers and employees.
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