Urban Outfitters Asks Employees to Volunteer for Weekend Shift in 'Team Building Activity'

PHOTO: Urban Outfitters retail store sign is seen on Jan. 26, 2015 in Philadelphia.Getty Images
Urban Outfitters retail store sign is seen on Jan. 26, 2015 in Philadelphia.

The upcoming holiday season is the busiest time of the year for U.S. retailers, so Urban Outfitters appears to be getting a head start by asking salaried workers at its corporate office to "volunteer" for weekend shifts at its new fulfillment center.

Urban Outfitters Inc., whose brands include its namesake Urban Outfitters brand, Anthropologie and Free People, is based in Philadelphia. Its new fulfillment center is about 50 miles west in Gap, Pennsylvania.

An email addressed to employees asked for people to "pick, pack and prepare packages for shipment," MarketWatch reported, and volunteers would work six-hour shifts in exchange for lunch and transportation, if required. The company described it as a "team building activity," and advised employees to wear "sneakers and comfortable clothing," MarketWatch said.

In a statement to ABC News, Urban Outfitters said, “After successfully opening our new fulfillment center in June, we asked salaried employees at our home office to volunteer for shifts that would help support the new center through a busy month of October. Unsurprisingly, we received a tremendous response, including many of our senior management."

The company is seeking help for the last three weekends in October, but a company spokesperson told MarketWatch that this is a common request in the industry with a new fulfillment center.

"Many hourly employees also offered to pitch in –- an offer which we appreciated, but declined in order to ensure full compliance with all applicable labor laws and regulations," the company said in its statement to ABC News. "The dedication and commitment of URBN employees are second to none, and their response to this request is a testament to their solidarity and continued success.”

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Urban Outfitters became the fifth retailer to end on-call shifts for its employees in New York stores. With on-call shifts, employees are required to keep themselves available and check in with their supervisors shortly before their shifts might begin. If they are not then asked to work, they do not get paid. The company is agreeing to provide workers with their schedules at least one week prior to the start of the workweek, according to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. The other retailers that have ended on-call scheduling are Abercrombie & Fitch, Bath & Body Works, Gap and Victoria's Secret.