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?

November 20, 2009

Articles

Not Taking 'Not Hiring' for an Answer

Michael Winerip • New York Times • November 19, 2009

“A look at recent employment data indicates that boomers have persevered in these hard times, and are less likely to grow discouraged and quit the job hunt than younger workers are. [. . .] Boomer-age workers are the only age group whose employment prospects have improved since last summer. For people over 45, joblessness was 6.8 percent in October, down from 7.3 percent in July (the highest for this age group since data was first collected 60 years ago). In contrast, for 25- to 34-year-olds, joblessness was 10.8 percent in October, up from 10 percent in July; for those 35 to 44, it was 8.5 percent in October, up from 7.9 in July.”

City, small businesses debate paid sick leave

David Xia • Columbia Spectator, NY • November 19, 2009

“A proposed bill requiring paid sick leave for city workers drew lively debate at City Hall on Tuesday, but many Upper West Side businesses and employees have remained silent so far.  New York City Council introduced this legislation in August by Councilwoman Gale Brewer of the Upper West Side along with 37 other members, as swine flu anxiety was rising and many New Yorkers hoped to check its spread by encouraging workers to remain at home when they or their children are sick. The proposed bill would grant workers at large businesses the ability to take nine paid sick days a year, and employees of small businesses—with fewer than ten staff members—five paid sick days. Workers would acquire one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked after 90 days of employment.”

U.S. Far Behind on Workers' Rights

Jenna Goudreau • Forbes • November 19, 2009

“A new study released Tuesday, Raising the Global Floor, examines workers’ rights across 190 nations worldwide and finds that the U.S. lags behind nearly all other countries. The U.S. does not guarantee paid sick leave or annual leave, paid parental leave, paid time off to care for sick children or even one day of rest per week. And female workers may be suffering the most.  Authors Jody Heymann, founding director of the Institute for Health and Social Policy at McGill University, and Alison Earle, a research scientist at the Harvard School of Public Health, joined a team of international researchers to examine 190 national policies and look in-depth at the working conditions faced by 55,000 households, creating the most extensive research yet on workers’ rights.”

The Benefits of Sabbaticals for Lawyers

Janice Mock • Law.com - The Recorder • November 18, 2009

“It’s hard to believe that even a successful lawyer can get bogged down in the stress and anxiety of a flourishing career and want to run away. I know, I know—you’re thinking, “Is she joking? That’s almost every day.” OK, then; do something about it.  There is a long and time-honored tradition among other cultures, and other professions, of giving the mind and spirit a break from the day-to-day grind. It’s called a sabbatical. You’ve heard of it, right? Right—just not anywhere near your office door.”

The Right Role For Sarah Palin

Reihan Salam • National Review • November 18, 2009

“One of the central reasons Palin has proven so polarizing a figure is that she is a pro-life working mother. Though there are tens of millions of pro-life working mothers in the United States, relatively few have occupied prominent roles in our politics. Debates over work-life balance and other issues that have been traditionally — and wrongly — understood as ‘women’s issues’ have thus been dominated by women who identify with the Left.”

Solution to Unemployment: Pay People to Work Shorter Hours

Dean Baker • Nation • November 17, 2009

“The unemployment rate is 10.2 percent and virtually certain to rise even higher in the months ahead. Even with the prospect of extended benefits, unemployment is still a crisis for the families affected, as they struggle to pay their mortgage or rent and cover other essential expenses. Millions will end up falling behind, losing their home—in some cases leading to homelessness and/or family break-ups. Fortunately, there is an easy and quick way to begin to get these unemployed workers back to work. It involves paying workers to work shorter hours. The mechanism can take the form of a tax credit to employers. The government can give them a tax credit of up to $3,000 to shorten their workers’ hours while leaving their pay unchanged. The reduction in hours can take the form of paid sick days, paid family leave, shorter workweeks or longer vacations. The employer can choose the method that is best for her workers and the workplace. f take-home pay is left unchanged as a result of the credit, then demand should be left unchanged. If workers are putting in fewer hours and demand is unchanged, then employers will need to hire more workers.”

Blogs

Labor Vs. Chamber: Swine Flu Sick Days

Chris Good • Atlantic - Politics • November 20, 2009

“It’s the next round in the ongoing battle between organized labor and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce: paid sick leave in light of the swine flu epidemic.  Labor has long supported mandatory paid sick leave; the Chamber has long opposed it. Now, in light of the H1N1 flu epidemic, labor and labor-friendly Democrats are trying to pass legislation through Congress that would mandate paid sick leave for American workers—they could earn up to 7 days under a bill proposed by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CA), the Senate analogue of which was introduced by Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT). DeLauro’s bill would only apply to businesses that employ 15 or more workers.”

The Case for a Job-Creation Tax Credit

John H. Bishop • New York Times - Economix • November 19, 2009

“Last week, President Obama announced that he was convening a jobs summit meeting, where policy makers would discuss how to reduce the country’s high unemployment rate. One idea that has received attention lately — and which I heartily support — is a job-creation tax credit, which would make it cheaper for employers to hire new workers. [. . .] Here’s how the credit could work, at least according to the proposal I wrote with Timothy Bartik at the Upjohn Institute:  Employers would have to expand their payrolls on net to qualify for the credit, in order to prevent companies from simply firing and rehiring people. They would then receive a 15 percent rebate on any increase in their 2010 wage bill over their 2009 level. Firms would also receive a 10 percent rebate for the increase of their 2011 wage bill over the 2009 wage bill.”

Celebrating Thanksgivings Past

Lori Sokol • Huffington Post • November 17, 2009

“Now I know there are many mothers, and fathers, who will forever dispute the benefits of being a working mom. Opinions abound about whether a woman can properly care for her children while keeping her career in tact. Just this past summer, Jack Welch, CEO of GE, referred to women’s attempts to juggle work and family as one where “there is no such thing as work life balance ... there are work life choices, and they have consequences.” Well, Jack, I agree, and if women choose not to work throughout motherhood, these consequences can prove dire.”

“Today, the National Partnership for Women and Families announced findings from a study by researchers at Harvard and McGill University entitled, Raising the Global Floor: Dismantling the Myth the We Can’t Afford Good Working Conditions for Everyone [. . .] According to the study’s co-author, Jody Heymann, ‘The world’s most successful and competitive nations are providing the supports (to varying degrees– guaranteed paid sick leave, paid leave for new mothers, paid leave for new fathers, paid time off to care for children’s health, guaranteed day of rest each week, wage premium for mandatory overtime) the United States lacks, without harming their competitiveness.  Globally, we found that none of these working conditions are linked with lower levels of economic competitiveness or employment…In fact, we found a number of these guarantees are associated with increased competitiveness.’”

Global News

Men yearn for a work-life balance too

Rodney Chester • News.com.au - The Courier-Mail, Australia • November 20, 2009

“There are plenty of dads out there swapping gossip with the mums at playgroups every day but when three high-profile fathers play the father card in one week it focuses the attention on the dads who just want to be dads. From a social point of view, it’s applauded. From a business point of view, it’s seen as another challenge.  David Gregory, director of workplace policy with the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said there was ‘definitely a growing trend among males in the workforce to be wanting to better match their work and family responsibilities’.  That trend is set to increase with new workplace laws coming in force in January that require employers to give reasonable consideration to requests from employees for flexible work hours.”

Positive thinking on maternity leave

Mary Fitzgerald • Guardian • November 19, 2009

“Harriet Harman’s plans to extend maternity leave have sparked the predictable hysteria. There’s a website called HarrietHarmansucks.com, and her cabinet colleague Lord Mandelson (with whom she reportedly has a chilly relationship) has toned down her initial proposals. Now the new issue of Prospect magazine carries a more nuanced response from LSE academic Catherine Hakim. Added maternity leave would not only be bad for employers and British business, Hakim says, but would actually harm women in work too. ‘Family-friendly policies have actually been the cause of the glass ceiling for women, not the solution,’ she writes.”