Young Service Workers Can’t Get Enough Hours


Nearly all 18- to 29-year-old service workers in Los Angeles County are failing to get enough work hours, according to UCLA researchers, who urged officials Tuesday to create policy fixes.

The vast majority, 96 percent, of workers in that age range with service jobs — like food service and retail — experience challenging scheduling practices, including on-call work, fluctuating hours and little or no advance notice of work hours, according to a new report by the UCLA Labor Center and the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP).

The report, “Juggling Time: Young Workers and Scheduling Practices in the Los Angeles County Service Sector,” found that 80 percent of young, part-time workers want to put in more hours.

Employers often hire more part-time workers instead of giving existing workers the additional hours they want, the researchers said.

“Young workers commonly cited that when employees quit, employers do not make current employees whole,” said Reyna Orellana, a researcher at the UCLA Labor Center. “Instead employers commonly hire more workers even though existing employees may need more hours.”

As many as 40 percent of workers report having their hours cut at the last moment, according to the report.

National studies show that erratic schedules create significant challenges for low-wage workers, including work-family conflict, poor health outcomes, emotional stress, difficult child care arrangements, parenting struggles, inconsistent school attendance and income volatility, according to the researchers.

“Young workers in L.A. rely on their income to pay for education, support their families and meet basic needs,” said co-author Jeylee Quiroz, a researcher at the UCLA Labor Center. “We can’t dismiss the impact of volatile schedules on these workers’ lives simply because they are young.”

Workers in California and across the country are organizing to press for public policies that improve employer scheduling practices.

In 2015, the city of San Francisco became the first jurisdiction to pass comprehensive fair scheduling legislation, the Retail Workers’ Bill of Rights, for retail workers employed by large chains. This fall, legislators in Seattle and the Northern California city of Emeryville followed suit, passing their own laws protecting retail workers from unfair scheduling.

In November, San Jose voters approved a ballot initiative aimed at improving access to full-time employment. More than a dozen other jurisdictions are considering similar legislation, according to the researchers, who urged local officials to follow suit.

“L.A. County young workers say their voices often go unheard at their jobs and many report instances of retaliation when they ask their employers for fair treatment on the job,” said report co-author Liz Ben-Ishai, a senior policy analyst at CLASP.

“In order to have a say in how their workplaces operate and to have access to decent schedules, L.A. workers need the protection of public policies like those that are emerging around the country,” she said.

The report, which includes policy recommendations to give workers greater control over their hours, is available in full at


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