Target, Gap, and 11 other big retailers have been warned by Eric Schneiderman, New York’s Attorney General, that predictive scheduling practices may violate New York labor laws.

Balancing-Act

Predictive scheduling allows retailers to balance labor costs with store traffic. Essentially, retailers can staff more bodies during peak hours and fewer bodies during non-peak hours.

Here’s how it works.  The retailer uses workforce management software system to predict staffing requirements based on various data inputs including: historical sales data, real-time sales data, and foot traffic.  If the forecast is for a busy sales day, on-call employees are expected to come in to work.  If the forecast is for a slow sales day, on-call employees are told to stay home.

Seems pretty useful for the employer, right? What retailer in their right mind doesn’t want to align payroll expense with peak revenue opportunity?

That said, not everyone agrees that predictive scheduling is a good thing. Labor advocates in New York (and elsewhere) criticize the practice because:

  1. it leaves too little time for employees to make arrangements for family needs and
  2. it becomes difficult for employees to find alternative sources of income on days they are not summoned to work.

What do you think about the Attorney General’s opinion? Do you agree that predictive scheduling is an example of retailers cutting costs at their employees’ expense? Or, is this an example of where labor laws are out of touch with a modern world where seemingly everything is available “on demand,” including labor?

Matt Howard photo
Husband and father. Software innovator, entrepreneur and marketer. My wife is my soul mate. My 3 kids are my greatest accomplishment. I love innovation and marketing. Also running, yoga, wine, Baltimore Ravens and Avalon, NJ. Sales and Marketing VP at Natural Insight. Founder & CEO of ZoomSafer. Co-founder of SMBLive. Marketing VP at Groove Networks and USinternetworking.