Study Finds Tough Conditions in Retail Work
1 year ago
A research report indicates that New York retailers often exploit their staff.
As detailed recently here in Dream Job, retail positions are set to open up in this economy on the back of increased business optimism and tantalizingly low rents for retail space. This is good news for the economy and for people looking for work. There is, however, a down side.
According to a study conducted in New York City, retail employees are underpaid and in very many cases expected to work near-spontaneous hours at the whim of their employer. The research found that those polled eked out a living at an average salary of $9.50 per hour. This is barely $2 above both Federal and New York minimum wage. What's more, around 40% of respondents said their work hours varied, in some cases exceedingly. Worse, one in five claimed they were expected to essentially be "on call" and ready to work virtually at a moment's notice if asked to serve a shift.
Most of those polled were not even privileged enough to be full time laborers. The report states that a mere two out of five were lucky enough to work a proper forty or so hours per week. Those part-timers generally fell into that "on call" category, since only one out of ten of them had a fixed schedule from week to week.
Granted, the report was co-sponsored by several unions and a retail workers' association, so it could be seen as slanted. Having said that, the conclusions it draws are fairly disturbing - the American retail employee (at least in New York) is under-paid, over-exploited and expected to be on call without being compensated for the service.
It doesn't have to be this way. Again, retail jobs look like they will be on the rise in the near future, according to recent research. So potential employees should keep in mind that what often develops in such a situation is that employers start needing workers more than the workers need them. Therefore, anyone considering a job in retail should first familiarize themselves with federal and state labor laws to ensure they're not about to subject themselves to illegal conditions... and, more importantly, whether there is another job elsewhere that will offer them better terms.