Work Schedule Unpredictability: Daily Occurrence and Effects on Working Parents' Well-Being.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


To investigate the pervasiveness and frequency of work schedule unpredictability among workers in low-wage hourly jobs and the effects of work schedule unpredictability on worker and family well-being.


Family science has long considered the ways in which parents' experiences in the workplace can affect families. Although unpredictability in work schedules has increased over time, especially for low-wage workers, the effects of schedule unpredictability on worker and family well-being have been understudied.


Ninety-two workers with children aged 2-7, recruited using a new venue-time sampling technique, were asked to complete once-a-day surveys for 30 consecutive days (N = 2,221 person-days for analysis). Descriptive analyses and regression models with family fixed effects were utilized.


Work schedule unpredictability was common in the context of families' lives: over the 30 days, parents experienced an unanticipated work schedule change on 13.3% of days, and 87% of parents experienced at least one unanticipated work schedule change. Within families, unpredictable work schedule changes on a given day were associated with worse outcomes that day for parents, including increased negative mood and decreased perceived sleep quality.


Work schedule unpredictability is ubiquitous in the lives of low-wage hourly workers and is negatively related to working parents' well-being.


These results provide evidence that unscheduled and canceled shifts typical of low-wage service jobs may harm parents' well-being, which could ultimately affect their children's development and well-being.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Ananat, EO; Gassman-Pines, A

Published Date

  • February 2021

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 83 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 10 - 26

PubMed ID

  • 34880505

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC8651235

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1741-3737

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0022-2445

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1111/jomf.12696


  • eng