By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Unreliable work hours harm families in a range of ways, from providing insufficient income to creating child care crises. That was the consensus from dozens of witnesses at a Philadelphia city council committee hearing, last week. But there was some disagreement about what to do about it.

Shaheim Wright got fired from Pet Smart because he asked to work more. He told the committee, after taking a break from school so he could work full-time, he was scheduled for just ten hours a week, barely enough to survive.

“I told my manager if I couldn’t get more hours, I would have to resign,” Wright said. “She told me not to bother to put in my two weeks (notice) and to leave right then.”

Other witnesses told of nightmares scheduling child care and appointments, responding to emergencies and participating in needed activities. Rutgers professor Anna Haley says research backs that up.

“Problems caused by unpredictable schedules are real and considerable,” Haley said. “We have a bevy of data establishing this point. This is not up for debate.”

The hearing was seen as a precursor to so-called “fair work week” legislation that would regulate job scheduling, which alarmed Rob Wonderling of the Chamber of Commerce.

“We will once again send a chilling message to employers around the world that Philadelphia may not be open for business,” Wonderling said.

Wonderling urged a process that includes more business owners and recognizes unique challenges for different kinds of employers.

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