iwin Releases Report on Low-Wage Workers

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 23, 2011) —Workplace Flexibility 2010 and the University of Kentucky College of Social Work's Institute for Workplace Innovation (iwin) have released their "Flexible Workplace Solutions for Low-Wage Hourly Workers: A Framework for a National Conversation," an innovative report with new key findings on the scheduling challenges facing low-wage hourly workers.

This report provides a fresh perspective on this issue by examining the similarities and differences between scheduling challenges for low-wage hourly workers on standard 9 to 5 schedules and those workers on nonstandard schedules (including nights, weekends, rotating and variable schedules) and the implications for employer practice and public policy.

The study answers questions about the types of scheduling challenges that low-wage hourly workers face, provides a framework for thinking through next steps and links the issue to the broader national dialogue on workplace flexibility.

“Our study results indicate that many hourly low-wage workers in United States face a range of scheduling challenges. This report is one of the first to examine the scope of these issues and to offer workplace and public policy solutions to address these workplace issues," said iwin executive director and founder Jennifer Swanberg. "As the percentage of low-wage hourly jobs in the U.S. labor market continues to expand, we believe that understanding the effects of these challenges on businesses, workers and families and finding solutions to these challenges will become even more critical. We hope that this report serves as a springboard for further research and action on these issues."

The report’s key findings include:

·       Half of low-wage hourly workers work standard schedules, while the other half work nonstandard schedules.

·       One in two part-time workers in a job requiring standard hours and almost one in four part-time workers in a job requiring nonstandard hours would prefer to be working full-time.

·       There are three key scheduling challenges — rigidity, unpredictability, and instability — affecting low-wage hourly workers in jobs requiring both standard and nonstandard and part-time and full-time hours.

·       Flexible workplace solutions — opportunities for meaningful input into work schedules, more predictable work schedules, and more stable work schedules — can be implemented to address each of these three challenges.

To address the challenges affecting low-wage hourly workers in standard and nonstandard schedules, WF2010 and iwin provide the following Flexible Workplace Solutions Framework:

·       Provide opportunities for meaningful input into work schedules.

·       Provide advance notice of scheduling.

·       Provide schedule stability.

"Scheduling challenges can wreak havoc in the lives of low-wage hourly workers, and introduce uncertainty and instability for employers as well," said Liz Watson, legislative

counsel for Workplace Flexibility 2010. "The good news is these problems are not an inevitable feature of low-wage jobs — the flexible workplace solutions framework categorizes and describes a number of off-the-shelf strategies that employers can choose from to improve scheduling in their workplaces."

The report provides a useful framework to employers, employees and unions who are thinking about how to provide greater flexibility to low-wage hourly workers, and advocates and policymakers who want to better understand the contours of this issue and policy solutions, and for all who are working to make flexibility a regular feature of low-wage hourly jobs.

To follow workplace flexibility issues, visit, #workflex, #focusonflex.

For more information on Workplace Flexibility 2010, or to request an interview with Watson or Swanberg, please contact

About Workplace Flexibility 2010

Workplace Flexibility 2010, based at Georgetown Law, is a policy initiative supporting the development of a comprehensive national policy on workplace flexibility. Through its efforts, WF2010 has helped set the stage for a robust national dialogue on how to restructure the workplace to meet the needs of today's workforce.

WF2010 has issued several topical reports including: Public Policy Platform on Flexible Work Arrangements, and Family Security Insurance: A New Foundation for Economic Security.

WF2010 is part of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation's National Initiative on Workplace Flexibility. The National Initiative is a collaborative effort leveraging innovative business practice, academic research, and public policy in order to make workplace flexibility a standard of the American workplace.

About iwin

iwin is an applied research center under UK's College of Social Work that develops and disseminate knowledge about the 21st century workplace to create environments that boost the bottom line, employee health, and work-life fit. The center's research is informed by theory and guided by the need for innovative, practical solutions. iwin connects employers to these solutions by building, understanding and translating the research, creating applied tools and resources, influencing policy makers, and helping employers develop the workforce, as well as helping to connect organizations to each other by fostering a regional employer learning community, where employers can learn from both local and national experts, and from each other.