Inconsistent work schedules could be hurting kids

Inconsistent work schedules could be hurting kids

A shift from the “9-to-5” job has more Americans working irregular hours than ever before. But this new wave of infrequent hours could be taking a toll on families.

A new study finds that children of parents working non-standard and unpredictable schedules are more likely to have decreased cognitive and behavioral outcomes, according to researchers at Economic Policy Institute (EPI).

“When parents can’t predict when they will or won’t be working, their entire home lives are disrupted – they engage less with their children in critical activities like reading and telling stories,” said EPI researcher Leila Morsy in a press release.

The study evaluated different ethnicities and backgrounds to see who was directly affected. They found that when parents have non-standard hours, they are more tired, anxious, irritable and stressed.

“We need policies that deter employers from scheduling work in ways that impede parents’ abilities to give their children stable home lives. Such policies will help parents to have more time and energy to devote to their children and will help their children to have the foundation they need to do well in school and life,” said another EPI researcher Richard Rothstein.

This comes at a time when “on-call” practices established by big chain retailers were getting heat a few months ago for their unorthodox policies. New York’s attorney general last April sent a letter to 13 retailers – Gap, Abercrombie and Fitch, Target, J. Crew, Sears, to name a few— questioning their scheduling policies.

The demand for on-call shifts has proliferated due to a new just-in-time scheduling software that’s been developed in major companies. The software can track the flow of customers and based on the demand it can schedule employees effectively. Getting called in a few hour before can cause less predictable and less stable work hours.

The cause of this new shift in work schedules has given researchers the desire to understand the ramifications. They found that irregular work schedules have consequences for children of all ages. Toddlers whose mothers work non-standard hours have worse sensory perception, learning, problem solving and verbal communication. Meanwhile, 13 and 14-year-olds are more likely to be depressed and to engage in risky behavior like smoking and drinking while parents are away.

According to the EPI, 17 percent of the U.S workforce have unstable work schedules with 10 percent being irregular or on-call and 7 percent including split or rotating shifts.

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.