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Starbucks' New Schedule Policy May Not Be Enough For Struggling Parents

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Starbucks said Thursday it is changing its scheduling policies in hopes of easing the burden on workers struggling to balance their home lives with the chain's erratic hours and shifts.

The company vowed to update its scheduling software to make employee hours more consistent, discourage managers from scheduling workers for back-to-back opening and closing shifts, post schedules a week in advance and let workers commuting more than one hour transfer to locations closer to their homes.

The changes will impact 130,000 workers at corporate-owned Starbucks chains. Employees at international and licensed locations will not be affected, Starbucks spokesman Zack Hutson told The Huffington Post.

The move came one day after the New York Times published a feature story by reporter Jodi Kantor chronicling the daily hassle endured by Jannette Navarro, a single mother who commutes three hours to work her $9-an-hour barista job. Her schedule changed weekly, and she usually found out what days she was working just three days in advance, making it difficult to secure a babysitter or commit to college classes.

But the new policies may prove difficult to enforce, as it is up to store managers to implement the changes.

Workers -- some of whom told the Times they feared their managers would cut back on their shifts if they complained about the irregular scheduling -- would still be allowed to work back-to-back shifts, though “they will not be required to," Hutson said.

“We are focused on giving our managers the tools and training to be successful,” Hutson told HuffPost, “and we will hold them accountable.”

Hutson didn't specify whether a manager could be penalized for failing to follow the new scheduling guidelines.

But Stuart Appelbaum, the president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, said Starbucks’ changes won’t help employees who need more hours, and urged the company to unionize its workers.

“Starbucks is only dealing with a part of the problem -- workers need adequate hours in addition to predictable hours,” Appelbaum said in a statement to HuffPost. “They need to not just know their schedules, but to have the opportunity to earn enough to survive.”

In an email sent to employees -- whom Starbucks calls “partners” -- on Thursday morning, Cliff Burrows, Starbucks’ president for the U.S. and Americas, said workers with concerns about their schedules should contact their store managers, or go higher up to their district managers.

“Our success is a direct result of the relationships our partners -- like Janette -- have with our customers,” Burrows wrote in an email to employees. “We have a responsibility to support them in balancing their home and work lives.”

He misspelled Jannette Navarro’s name three times in the email.

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