Volatile Job Schedules and Access to Public Benefits

Source: Liz Ben-Ishai, Center for Law and Social Policy, September 16, 2015

Among workers in hourly jobs, more than 40 percent receive one week or less advance notice of their job schedules and half have no input into their schedules. This kind of volatile job scheduling makes it difficult for workers to attend to other aspects of their lives, such as securing child care, managing a second job, or attending school.

Scheduling instability also leads to income instability. When low wages and low income are compounded by volatile schedules, workers often need income support from public benefits programs, such as cash assistance under Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and nutritional assistance under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), in order to make ends meet. Ironically, the very job scheduling issues that contribute to many workers’ financial insecurity and consequent need for public benefits often create obstacles to accessing these benefits.

A new brief from CLASP explains how volatile job schedules create barriers to accessing public benefits and provides a series of questions for advocates, policymakers, and researchers to consider when examining their state’s practices on recipients of public benefits.