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On-demand economy: irregular work schedules and the family

Life in the twenty-first century, like each new era, does not look like that of its predecessors. One could argue that patience is a characteristic rarely used to describe our current society. Instant gratification is no longer a wish, want or desire; it is a reality. In fact, many people today expect goods and services to be delivered without delay.

Businesses are required to meet the demands of impatient consumers. While technology can go a long way to accomplish this goal, human workers have to fill the gaps. A recent post in our blog discussed the impact that our “on-demand” economy could have on workers’ compensation in Ohio and elsewhere, but is that the only consequence worth noting?

The Economic Policy Institute recently published an issue brief that focused on the effect irregular work schedules have on the families of those employees. The consequences that researchers found of last-minute calls to work, late-night shifts or schedules released only a week prior, were both personal and financial.

Let’s take a look at the impact the schedules have on children. From a personal perspective, children lost out on valuable engagement with their parents. This might include daily routines like bath time, bed-time stories or dinner together at the table.

Authors went further to note that bonding time was lost, but that loss could also impact developmental and behavioral issues. Children may act out in school or struggle with communication or memory.

From a financial perspective, some parents have lost eligibility for child care subsidies. They could also end up paying premiums when they need after-hour care.

Let’s not forget the parents either. Authors noted that parents become “more tired, anxious, irritable, and stressed.” These can have consequences both in the home and at the workplace.

The authors ended with a suggestion for policy makers and employers: make policies that allow for stability in the home or provide compensation for irregular requests – like overtime pay based on hours in a single day instead of a week.

Source: Progressive Illinois, “Irregular Work Schedules Taking A Toll On Families, Experts Say,” Ellyn Fortino, Sept. 15, 2015

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