University of Wisconsin–Madison
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Not Enough Hours in the Day: Work-Hour Insecurity and a New Approach to Wage and Hour Regulation

When it was passed, the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act sought to address the ‘evils’ of underpay and overwork by establishing a minimum wage and requiring premium overtime pay. However, today’s low-wage, hourly workers more often face underwork than overwork. In this paper, we examine the scope of the problem of work-hour insecurity, particularly employers’ practice of sending workers home early from scheduled shifts. We assess tools for addressing the resulting income and schedule instability, principally state ‘reporting pay’ laws. We evaluate the laws’ capacity to promote work-hour security, and consider paths for strengthening such protections in law.


Employment, Low-Wage Work