Many businesses aren't compensating hourly employees after shift cuts, study finds

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Despite laws designed to pay employees for shortened shifts, many businesses aren’t following through

A new study conducted by researchers from the University of California Davis explored how many businesses are falling short on compensating their hourly employees.

According to their findings, several states have a law in place that is designed to compensate employees when they show up for work and their shifts are cut short; however, the study revealed that many employees aren’t receiving these funds and are unaware these laws are in place. 

“Shift cuts undermine the well-being of workers and their families,” said researcher Savannah Hunter. “The law may not be enforced consistently. We really need better support of labor in this country, generally.” 

Employees are missing pay

To better understand how well these laws are being implemented, the researchers surveyed over 1,000 hourly workers from across the country. Participants were asked if they knew about the laws regarding shift cut compensation, in addition to their general work experience, how often their shifts were cut short, and general awareness of local wages. 

Currently, the states with this mandate in effect are: New Jersey, Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Oregon, California, Rhode Island, and Washington D.C.

Ultimately, just 4% of the participants were aware that there were laws in place in their states that required them to be paid when their shifts were shortened. However, nearly 40% of the participants reported experiencing shortened shifts. Of those who knew of the law, just 25% said they were compensated for shortened shifts most of the time. Additionally, just 17% of employers reported being aware of such laws. 

“Places like San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Oregon recently implemented similar policies to improve the predictability and regularity of workers’ schedules,” said researcher Ryan Finnigan. “But we found that the enforcement process for these kinds of policies really needs to improve for them to be effective.” 

The researchers explained that when employees aren’t given these funds after shortened work shifts, it’s their responsibility to report it. While each state handles the specifics of the law differently, most are required to pay employees their full hourly wage for each hour of work they missed. 

Hourly workers are losing money when their shifts are cut short, while also missing out on the opportunity to be fairly compensated because they are unaware these laws exist and their employers aren’t carrying them out. Moving forward, the researchers hope that these findings bring awareness to this nationwide concern. 

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