NewsRoundup

The Roundup will be brought to you in July and August by the new Work and Family Researchers Network (WFRN), an international membership organization for interdisciplinary work and family academics. The WFRN welcomes the participation of policy makers and practitioners as it seeks to promote knowledge and understanding of work and family issues among the community of global stakeholders. The Roundup is a compilation of the latest news articles, reports and other materials related to workplace flexibility delivered to your inbox on Monday and Thursday. In the fall, the WFRN will launch its new website which will include a News Feed among other features. We hope that you will get involved as a member and by posting the latest news. Questions?

October 30, 2009

Articles

Home economics reduced

Suzanne Fields • Washington Times • October 29, 2009

“Maria Shriver listens to the voices of different women, but her bias favoring working women slights the richness of the voices of women who work primarily at the tasks of mothering. The Shriver Report blames discrimination in education for pushing women into the ‘helping professions,’ traditional female-dominated fields such as health care instead of higher-paying, male-dominated fields of engineering and technology. The implication is that this is caused by male chauvinists, but could it be that women enter those occupations simply because that’s where they want to be?”

Being the boss can take its toll on health: study

Amy Norton, Reporter; Belinda Goldsmith, Editor • Reuters • October 28, 2009

“Being the boss might mean more money and challenging work but it can also take a toll on physical and mental well-being, according to a Canadian study.  For years studies have shown people in lower-status jobs generally have higher rates of heart disease and other illnesses and die earlier than those in higher-status positions while job authority has shown no association with workers’ health.  But University of Toronto researchers, using data from 1,800 U.S. workers, found the health of people in higher positions is affected by work as they are more likely to report conflicts with co-workers and say work intruded on their home life.”

Working Women: Strength in Numbers

Katha Pollitt • Nation • October 28, 2009

“Hard on the heels of this revelation comes another: the big headline from A Woman’s Nation Changes Everything, a major report by Maria Shriver and the Center for American Progress, is that for the first time in our history, women are now 50 percent of the paid workforce. And they aren’t working just to buy Christmas presents: four in ten mothers are primary breadwinners (that includes single mothers); among women generally, 80 percent contribute a major chunk of the family income. Shriver’s claim that ‘the Battle Between the Sexes is over’ is overly optimistic: her own polls show women sense much more discrimination, at work and in the home, than men believe exists. But they also show that majorities accept working mothers, and even women earning more than their husbands.”

Karin to establish work-life policies program at College of Law

Janie Magruder • Arizona State University News • October 27, 2009

“Drawing on her experience with Georgetown University Law Center’s national initiative on workplace flexibility, Marcy Karin has joined the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law as an associate clinical professor and director of the Civil Justice Clinic’s new Work-Life Policy Unit.  Karin said her goals are to continue to build on the reputation of the award-winning clinic, which represents clients in civil disputes and administrative proceedings, and to expand its services into developing public policy on work-life balance issues.”

Flextime Among the New Criteria for Clients' Evaluation of Law Firms

Sheri Qualters • Law.com - National Law Journal • October 27, 2009

“Retail giant Wal-Mart Stores Inc. plans to add evaluation of a law firm’s flextime policies to its list of criteria for evaluating outside firms, according to a panelist at the Association of Corporate Counsel’s annual meeting in Boston.  Joseph West, associate general counsel at Wal-Mart, said the company plans to add flextime policies to its current list of law firm measures: cost-effectiveness, performance and diversity. [. . .] West said Wal-Mart plans to require firms to have flextime policies, which are generally defined as alternative working arrangements or hours, and require that ‘the policies themselves be flexible.’ Law firms and legal departments have typically implemented flextime policies to attract and retain working mothers.”

Blogs

Religious Observances Show the Need for Workplace Flexibility

David Gray • New America Foundation - New America Voices • October 28, 2009

“This month is National Work Family Month.  It is coming on the heels of a month that included significant holidays for religious groups in America that highlights the importance of workplace flexibility.  September saw Ramadan, a most significant month for Muslims, and Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, significant for Jewish Americans. [. . .] We each have unique situations that require attention.  Whether it is caring for a small child, a need for time to have a baby, a desire for more retraining, the obligation to care for an aging parent, or a hope to be more physically and spiritually balanced, there is a broad and growing need for flexibility in the way Americans work.”

The 40-Smoething Dependent Child - "Adulthood Redefined"

Kathleen Gerson • New York Times - Room for Debate • October 28, 2009

“The days are gone when middle- and working-class parents could simply pass on their advantages, and, after either paying for college or providing a route to a good union job, rely on an expanding economy to provide upward mobility. In 21st century America, stable, well-paying jobs and self-supporting families have faded just as the gray flannel suit, unionized factory work, and the Cleaver household did in earlier eras. In this context, children need more years to develop the emotional maturity, cognitive skills and social intelligence to navigate the challenges of uneasy transitions, fluid careers and changing families. Because they must postpone adult independence while developing these personal resources, their parents face tough new choices about how much and how long to support them.”

Win for Valuing Families Agenda

Ellen Bravo • MomsRising Blog • October 28, 2009

“President Obama today signed the Defense Reauthorization Act with a provision for expanded family leave for military families. This is an important victory for all families in the U.S. because it acknowledges the value of caregivers in the health of our nation.  The new provision, introduced in the Senate by Sen. Chris Dodd and in the House by Cong. Lynn Woolsey, will amend the Family and Medical Leave Act’s (FMLA) military family provisions first enacted in Fiscal Year 2008, allowing primary caregivers of military members to take up to 26 weeks of unpaid leave to care for the wounded service member. Today’s law will extend the time in which the family member can take such leave, and expand the scope of those who would be covered by exigency leave provisions.”

Casey Mulligan Swings and Misses

John Schmitt • NoApparentMotive • October 28, 2009

“I don’t think Mulligan has been following the U.S. debate on paid sick days very closely. The U.S. debate is very serious about incentives. The current system—which does not require employers to provide paid sick days and leaves upwards of 50 million workers without paid sick days—gives strong incentives to workers to go to work sick, lowering productivity and potentially spreading illness.”

Home Sick: Another Case Where Incentives Matter

Casey B. Mulligan • New York Times - Economix • October 28, 2009

“Although the recent health care debate has featured a number of comparisons of Europe and the United States, little has been said about sick leave. Economic research has shown that workers in the Netherlands, Sweden and Norway often stay home sick.  Incentives, and not the flu, seem to be the explanation.  Paul Krugman (among others) has explained how Europeans are healthier than Americans by just about every measure. Thus it may come as a surprise that our poor health does not keep us Americans away from work more often than European workers.”

Vacations -- Who Needs Them?

Judi Casey • Huffington Post • October 27, 2009

“Summer vacation season is over and we have definitely moved into fall. As we celebrate National Work and Family Month this October, I wanted to look back to see if workers took vacations this summer, identify the benefits of vacations and discuss the status of vacations in the U.S. Vacations are a critical work-family issue as they provide an opportunity to relax, reconnect with the important people in our lives, and have time to pursue our personal passions.”

Don't Overwork Your Brain

Patrick J. Skerrett • HarvardBusiness.org - Health and Well-Being • October 27, 2009

“The long hours you work each week may be good for your company’s bottom line, but not so good for your brain. Overwork may hasten the aging-related decline in memory and thinking skills, according to a long-term study of British civil servants.”

Global News

The advantages of having a flexible workplace

Alison Maitland • Times • October 28, 2009

“A medium-sized engineering company in the Midlands making components for the car industry is not an obvious place to find flexible work arrangements. Too traditional, you might say, too rooted in Britain’s regimented industrial past.  But Stuart Fell, owner of West Bromwich Tool and Engineering Company, says that two-way flexibility between him and his workers is at the core of his business model. Moreover, it a key ingredient in the success of his business.  The company, which makes pressed metal parts for large manufacturers such as BMW and Nissan, employs about 100 people on nearly 50 different working arrangements.”

French women don't get fat, but they do get work-life balance

Katherine Gougeon • Globe and Mail • October 26, 2009

“Five years ago, Mireille Guiliano rejected the notion of American-style deprivation diets in her international bestseller French Women Don’t Get Fat. Instead, her pleasure-oriented approach to staying thin combined classic principles of Gallic gastronomy, time-honoured secrets of French women and common sense. In her new book, Women, Work & the Art of Savoir Faire, Ms. Guiliano tackles women and their careers in similar style – applying her joie de vivre to the topics of advancement, leadership, risk-taking and, above all, achieving pleasure and balance.”