Two surveys find most retail and restaurant employees satisfied with their schedules; little support for “secure scheduling” ordinance

The Seattle City Council is considering something dubbed “secure scheduling.” We wrote about it here. The Seattle Times reports that the effort appears to be misplaced. The article looks at the findings of two surveys, one conducted for the city and the other by the Seattle Restaurant Alliance (SRA).

Among the findings, according to the report released Tuesday [the city’s report]:

  • The majority of workers said they were satisfied with their hours and receive at least a week’s advance notice.

The report does find that about one-third of employees are not happy with their schedules, and would like more hours and more notice. The Times story links to this criticism of the methodology used by the researcher who performed the study, University of Washington professor Jacob Vigdor. The critique by former Survey Monkey VP of Methodology and visiting scholar at the UW is compelling. Read the whole thing. Here’s an example,

In the case of sampling workers for a study about scheduling practices, having workers who are highly motivated to respond to the survey pass the opportunity along to colleagues all but guarantees that the survey findings will demonstrate an outsized proportion of unhappy workers, and also overstate the extent of their unhappiness.

The Times reports Vigdor agreed with some of the criticism, saying a better survey would have cost more money and taken more time.

The SRA survey f(methodology here) found, the Times reports,

• 77 percent of the workers were satisfied with their schedules and flexibility.

• 69 percent were satisfied with how much advance notice they received for their work schedules.

• 70 percent like the hours they work now while 23 percent want to work more.

• 75 percent want their employers, not the government, to come up with reforms that affect restaurant workers, and a majority would rather see tweaks of existing policies than major changes.


The Washington Restaurant Association examines the survey results and concludes, 

The city survey reinforces what the Seattle Restaurant Alliance’s survey data shows and what employers have been hearing from employees. The significant majority of Seattle restaurant workers is highly satisfied with the work, schedules and the flexibility our industry offers.

We have select changes to make in some areas to enhance the lives of our employees and we’ll work to resolve those.

…In both studies, employees said they believe they can collaboratively work out their scheduling issues with their managers.

That collaborative approach makes sense. Maud Daudon, president and CEO of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, released a statement urging the council to “proceed carefully” and reiterating that there is “no single policy solution.” And that’s why collaborative processes will prove to be more successful for all concerned than a new regulatory mandate.

We’ll again mention the findings of our foundation report regarding municipal ordinances such as that contemplated by the Seattle council.

In addition to the absolute costs of these measures, and the challenge they create in competing with other employers not subject to the same mandates, local governments’ wage and benefit regulations create compliance problems for employers operating in multiple jurisdictions. They also create difficulties as employers look to align their human resource policies among cities with different mandates

The ordinance increasingly looks like a poor attempt to solve a problem that doesn’t exist.