Recent developments in employment practices have increased the prevalence of non-standard work schedules—non-daytime shifts in which most hours do not fall between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., when shifts rotate, or when schedules vary weekly or otherwise. For example, computer software now enables retail, restaurant, service, and other firms to predict hourly customer demand and delivery schedules with precision, encouraging employers to create “just-in-time” schedules in which workers are called in or sent home on short notice. By preventing many parents from adequately caring for their children, such practices adversely affect child and adolescent development. This issue brief examines evidence on the prevalence of unpredictable and non-standard work schedules, and on how such schedules impair children’s development.
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