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?

November 17, 2009


Now's the time: Women advised to speak up in the workplace

Cynthia Needham • Providence Journal, RI • November 17, 2009

“If you’re a woman in the workplace, it’s time to ask for what you want.  More American women are part of today’s work force than ever. They are executives and family breadwinners and in this Great Recession –– where a disproportionate number of job losses have belonged to men –– women have assumed an even greater responsibility.  Yet that familiar question of balance still looms. How do you climb the corporate ladder while still making it to your son’s play? How do you request a promotion while also lobbying for family-friendly work hours?”

Businesses Mount Efforts to Retain Valued Employees

Sarah E. Needleman • Wall Street Journal • November 16, 2009

“Workplace experts say many workers have grown frustrated during the recession and might consider leaving as the labor market improves. [. . .] History suggests some of these workers will look elsewhere as the economy improves. So far this year, fewer workers have quit jobs than at any time since the U.S. Labor Department began tracking the data in 2000. But the number of workers quitting jobs jumped 34% between July 2003 and December 2006, during the expansion that followed the prior recession. [. . .] Dr. Jolton recommends employers strive to reward top performers financially and publicize plans to reverse any recent cuts in pay and benefits.  If employers can’t afford to boost pay, he suggests firms devise alternatives, such as offering workers more scheduling flexibility or more say over assignments.”

Soldier mom refuses deployment to care for baby

Russ Bynum • Associated Press • November 16, 2009

“An Army cook and single mom may face criminal charges after she skipped her deployment flight to Afghanistan because, she said, no one was available to care for her infant son while she was overseas.  Spc. Alexis Hutchinson, 21, claims she had no choice but to refuse deployment orders because the only family she had to care for her 10-month-old son — her mother — was overwhelmed by the task, already caring for three other relatives with health problems.  Her civilian attorney, Rai Sue Sussman, said Monday that one of Hutchinson’s superiors told her she would have to deploy anyway and place the child in foster care.”

H1N1 flu could give a boost to paid sick leave

Julie Foster • Pioneer Press, MN • November 16, 2009

“Meanwhile, advocates for legislation that would mandate paid sick time for all but the smallest employers hope to capitalize on the sudden high profile of the issue. Opponents say now is not the time to slap additional burdens on businesses already struggling with a tough economy. [. . .] n Minnesota, as the paid sick day bill was drafted in the last legislative session, employers with more than 15 employees would have to provide a maximum of 3.5 paid sick days a year. Employers with 50 or more workers will have to provide a maximum of 6.5 paid sick days a year. Last session the bill failed to get a vote after making it to the House floor; it languished in the Senate.”

Recession intensifies GenX discontent at work

Martha Irvine • Associated Press • November 15, 2009

“They’re antsy and edgy, tired of waiting for promotion opportunities at work as their elders put off retirement. A good number of them are just waiting for the economy to pick up so they can hop to the next job, find something more fulfilling and get what they think they deserve. Oh, and they want work-life balance, too.”

Job Losses Mount, Enduring and Deep

Floyd Norris • New York Times • November 13, 2009

“THE rise in unemployment that has occurred in the current recession has been hardest on young workers, while having a smaller effect on older workers than previous downturns. Women have been more likely than men to hold on to their jobs. The overall unemployment rate, which reached 10.2 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis last month, remains below the post-World War II peak of 10.8 percent, reached in late 1982. But the proportion of workers who have been out of work for a long time is higher now than it has ever been since the Great Depression.”

Free to Lose

Paul Krugman • New York Times • November 12, 2009

“Workers who have been out of a job for too long often find it hard to get back into the labor market even when conditions improve. And there are hidden costs, too — not least for children, who suffer physically and emotionally when their parents spend months or years unemployed.  So it’s time to try something different.  Just to be clear, I believe that a large enough conventional stimulus would do the trick. But since that doesn’t seem to be in the cards, we need to talk about cheaper alternatives that address the job problem directly. Should we introduce an employment tax credit, like the one proposed by the Economic Policy Institute? Should we introduce the German-style job-sharing subsidy proposed by the Center for Economic Policy Research? Both are worthy of consideration.”


First Lady Michelle Obama on Work-Life Balance

Lauren Young • BusinessWeek - Working Parents • November 16, 2009

“At South High School, during a Q&A session on Nov. 16, First Lady Michelle Obama made these insightful remarks on juggling her public job as first lady with her private job as mother to Sasha and Malia.”

Women Earn Less Than Men, Especially at the Top

Catherine Rampell • New York Times - Economix • November 16, 2009

“In other words, for most careers the company studied, PayScale found that the pay gay gap is largely the result of outside factors. Within a specific job, before controlling for outside factors the typical female worker earns pay that is only 90 percent of the typical male worker’s pay; after controlling for these variables, she earns 94 percent of the typical male worker’s pay. For jobs paying below $100,000, the gap narrows further.  The implication is that in most jobs where a wage gap exists, it is probably not due to overt discrimination, with bosses deciding, Mad-Men-style, that women should receive unequal pay for equal work. Rather, in most jobs, the different career choices that men and women make — or perhaps the different career opportunities men and women have available to them — account for big differences in pay, says Al Lee, PayScale’s director of quantitative analysis.”

Does Your Juggle Energize or Drain You?

Sue Shellenbarger • Wall Street Journal - The Juggle • November 16, 2009

“Does your juggle energize you? Or does it drain you and leave you feeling as if you are making compromises you don’t want to make? [. . .] I recently discovered there is actually a theoretical debate among sociological researchers on exactly that split. Which of these patterns – being stimulated by juggling numerous work and home roles, or being wiped out by it – holds true for the largest number of people?”

Could Job Sharing Help Fight Unemployment

Derek Thompson • Atlantic - Business • November 13, 2009

“Job sharing goads employers to hire by offering them a pile of cash if they shorten the work week. Hiring tax credits reward employers by giving them a pile of cash if they expand their payroll.  But each of these strategies have downsides. A shorter subsidized work-week guarantees more money in employers’ hands, but it doesn’t guarantee more jobs (employers could pocket the subsidy). Also, the tax credit is easily gamed. Employers can bring contract workers onto payrolls, which gets them a tax credit but doesn’t increase employment. Or they can flub the rules more deviously by laying off employees as the law is passed with the understanding that they’ll be re-hired, with a handsome tax credit, weeks later.”

Global News

Labour to give new fathers four weeks of paternity leave

Jonathon Oliver • Sunday Times, UK • November 15, 2009

“Fathers will be given the right to four weeks’ paternity leave as part of a series of parent-friendly policies to be included in Labour’s election manifesto.  Under the current rules, fathers are allowed to take a fortnight of unpaid time off when their babies are born.  In a bid to outflank the Tories, who have promised to extend flexible working for parents, Gordon Brown wants to double this entitlement. However, with businesses still suffering from the recession, there will still be no requirement for employers to offer paid paternity leave. The Labour manifesto will also pledge to create a post of ‘parents’ minister’ to champion policies designed to improve the work-life balance.”