Abington economist: Employee-centered scheduling benefits all

January 15, 2016

ABINGTON, Pa. — Lonnie Golden, professor of economics at Penn State Abington, testified Jan. 13 at a hearing on proposed legislation aimed at eliminating erratic work schedules for hourly employees in the District of Columbia.

Golden, a nationally acknowledged and widely published expert, presented his analysis before the Council of the District of Columbia's Committee on Business, Consumer, and Regulatory Affairs. The two bills would:

  • require a minimum 30-hour work week for maintenance employees in large commercial office spaces;
  • and require larger retail and food services companies to provide advance notice of schedules and offer extra hours to current workers before hiring new ones. It also calls for those with similar jobs to receive equal wages, benefits, and promotion opportunities regardless of hours worked.

Golden explained that underemployment, or "workers hungry for more income willing to put in longer work hours," is at historically high levels among part-time employees in retail and food service and those with incomes under $22,500.

Research substantiates the negative consequences of underemployment and working irregular shifts, including limiting job performance and greater work-family conflict. Employee-centered scheduling has more positive associations with work-life balance.

"If the costs of compliance can be limited, procedures streamlined, ... then employees and employers could benefit immediately with the result an end to the current cost-shifting, a more equitable sharing of rewards, and improved efficiencies."

-- Lonnie Golden, professor of economics, Penn State Abington

Golden cited data that found underemployment particularly high among students who often work to pay for school but who can't afford chronic conflict between jobs and classes.

"Yet, we let them fend for themselves," he said, "all too often resulting in compromised academic performance and dropping out."

Golden addressed the concerns of employers, saying the legislation shouldn't result in lost sales, production, or jobs since it only effects large-scale chains.

"If the costs of compliance can be limited, procedures streamlined, ... then employees and employers could benefit immediately," he said. "With the result an end to the current cost-shifting, a more equitable sharing of rewards, and improved efficiencies in theses highly competitive industries."

New Lonnie Golden
IMAGE: Regina Broscius

Golden's expertise as a labor economist often leads the media to seek him out for analysis and commentary. His current research and teaching interests focus on work hours and schedules, workplace flexibility, overwork, student and contingent employment, time use, and worker well-being.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated January 18, 2016