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Nonstandard Work Schedules: Employer‐ and Employee‐Driven Flexibility in Retail Jobs

University of ChicagoUniversity of ChicagoUniversity of Chicago

Nonstandard scheduling is a pervasive feature of the American workplace. Drawing from interviews with 54 low‐income mothers employed in six retail workplaces in the Chicago area, and from interviews with representative human resource managers in each workplace, this study demonstrates how employer practices introduce variability and unpredictability into the schedules of female workers who have young children. It also suggests that employee‐driven control over scheduling, made available through informal workplace practices, can temper the instability of nonstandard schedules more than formal flexibility delivered through employer policies. The lack of worker control over schedules is posited to lead to various work‐family challenges.