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?

September 29, 2009


An Internship From Your Couch

Jonnelle Marte • Wall Street Journal • September 29, 2009

“Virtual internships, while relatively rare, are becoming more common, career experts say, fueled by improving technology and the growth of social media. They are most popular among small to midsize companies and online businesses. More than one-fourth of 150 internships posted on, a site that connects small businesses with part-time workers, are labeled virtual, where the work typically involves researching, sales, marketing and social-media”

Job losses, early retirements hurt Social Security

Stephen Ohlemacher • Associated Press • September 28, 2009

“Big job losses and a spike in early retirement claims from laid-off seniors will force Social Security to pay out more in benefits than it collects in taxes the next two years, the first time that’s happened since the 1980s.  The deficits — $10 billion in 2010 and $9 billion in 2011 — won’t affect payments to retirees because Social Security has accumulated surpluses from previous years totaling $2.5 trillion. But they will add to the overall federal deficit. [. . .] Job losses are forcing more retirements even though an increasing number of older people want to keep working. Many can’t afford to retire, especially after the financial collapse demolished their nest eggs.”

NBC Plans a Week of Coverage on Evolving Role of Women

Bill Carter • New York Times • September 28, 2009

“NBC News will devote a significant amount of time and attention next month to the changing roles of contemporary women, much of it based on a study initiated by Maria Shriver, the one-time NBC correspondent who is married to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California. NBC is describing the project as an effort to ‘educate the public on the current state of women in America.’ The news division is planning to include coverage related to the study over a full week of its evening newscast and three mornings on the ‘Today’ show.”

Swine flu -- and no paid sick leave

Neil deMause • • September 28, 2009

“As the H1N1 swine flu virus starts its second major sweep through the U.S., business owners are bracing for the impact of a worse-than-usual flu season on their workforces. That’s reviving debate on a contentious issue: What kind of sick leave should companies offer employees—and should it be mandated by law? [. . .] Currently, 48% of the U.S. private-sector workforce can’t take paid leave without advance notice, according to the National Partnership. In response, unions and worker advocates have intensified their campaign for local laws requiring businesses to offer paid sick leave. San Francisco voters passed a law requiring paid sick leave for all workers, full- or part-time, by referendum in 2006, and Washington, D.C., followed with its own law last year, though it exempted new hires and restaurant staff who earn part of their pay in tips.”

Citizen-soldiers need employers' backing

Dennis McCarthy • Arizona Republic • September 28, 2009

“With nearly half of our military force composed of National Guard and Reserve members, the citizen-soldier plays an ever more critical role.  More than 140,000 National Guard and Reserve members are currently activated, and nearly five times that number have served both at home and abroad since Sept. 11, 2001. Significantly contributing to these numbers are the nearly 14,900 brave men and women in Arizona who make endless sacrifices answering their call to duty. [. . .] n supporting their National Guard and Reserve employees by creating a “We Care” program for employees with deployed family members; allowing flexible work schedules while keeping full-time benefits; sending 100-minute phone cards to employees with deployed family members; and supporting the National Guard and Reserve family-support activities in every one of the 21 states served by the company, TriWest Healthcare Alliance is a model Arizona and American employer.”

Nowhere to Go but Home Alone

Brigid Shulte • Washington Post • September 27, 2009

“With the start of sixth grade this year, my son, Liam, officially became a latchkey child.  School lets out at 3:15. My husband and I both work and often don’t get home until well after 6. [. . .] I asked other working parents of middle-schoolers in my neighborhood what they do. I got back a range of messages, some sounding as guilty and harried as I felt, about hoping to cobble together a mix of after-school clubs, sports or band practice, afternoons at the library or with a friend with an at-home parent, music lessons, tutors or babysitters.”

The Balancing Act of 2009 might unbalance budgets

Jim Evans • Zanesville Times Recorder, OH • September 27, 2009

“Health care reform has the center stage, but the impact of the balancing act of 2009 shouldn’t be overlooked. Introduced in June by Rep. Lynn Woolsey, of California, the bill proposes to consolidate various workplace flexibility bills into one major piece of legislation that collectively will pose major implications for employers, both large and small. The bill has 35 cosponsors, including the support of several congressional representatives who’ve previously introduced their own version of workplace flexibility legislation. A couple of the more controversial provisions of the bill include expansion of the Family and Medical Leave Act, as well as a mandate for employer paid sick leave. Although the bill is just starting to move through the legislative process, supporters are optimistic. Employers who have to foot the bill for many of these employment initiatives aren’t quite as excited.”

Wartime Soldier, Conflicted Mom

Lizette Alvarez • New York Times • September 26, 2009

“The military has in large part adapted to women living, working and fighting successfully alongside men in Iraq and Afghanistan, and bringing home their own medals for bravery. Women can now find birth control on bases in war zones and get ultrasounds and gynecological exams. Married couples share trailers.  Motherhood, though, poses a more formidable challenge for the armed forces.  Hanging on to today’s war-savvy, battle-tested cadre of mothers — and would-be mothers — is both crucial and difficult for the Army, say officers, enlistees and experts. So is attracting recruits. Since the war in Afghanistan began in 2001, the number of female Army recruits has declined by 5 percent, a sharper drop than for men. ‘The Army’s challenge, but also the military’s challenge, is to help service members feel they don’t have to choose between family life and their military career,’ said Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth, director of the Military Family Research Institute at Purdue University, an organization supported in part by the Department of Defense.”


The mid-twenties 'Referendum'

Astri Von Arbin Ahlander • Work.Life • September 29, 2009

“At 24, I play the comparison game plenty. Sure, I’m not comparing myself to married people with children, but after my boyfriend showed me an article about the newly appointed 26 year old female Managing Editor of the New Yorker, I was gloomy for a week, muttering about it all being ‘too late.’ And I know I’m not alone. When my friends get together, the conversation often turns to what other acquaintances of ours are up to, the undertone being: are they enviable or pitiable? And while interviewing Gen Y:ers about work-life issues, I heard a great deal of anxiety voiced by twenty-somethings who measured themselves against the lives of others.”

Health Care Reform Is a Woman's Issue

Nancy Folbre • New York Times - Economix • September 28, 2009

“Women are important health care providers as well as consumers. Over 59 percent of informal, unpaid caregivers are women, and women devote significantly more time to the care of sick, disabled and elderly family members than men do. Indeed, such commitments help explain why women are more likely than men to work part time and to exit the paid labor force for longer periods of time.”

Let it Rain: Isotoner Decision on Breastfeeding At Work Brings a Downpour of Criticism

Adria B. Martinelli • Sloan Work and Family Blog • September 28, 2009

“Nursing moms may need up to 20 minutes every two to three hours to nurse, with less frequent breaks as the baby gets older. Typically, these requirements are not going to fit squarely into the employer’s existing break policy. There is unanimity among the medical profession regarding the health benefits of breast milk. Laws are in place in nearly every state protecting a woman’s right to breastfeed in public.  There is a gaping hole regarding a woman’s right to breastfeed (or pump) at work.  The PDA should be amended to (1) clarify that lactation is a ‘pregnancy-related condition’ protected by the statute; and (2) require employers to ‘accommodate’ pumping breaks of reasonable length and frequency.”

The In-Flight Menace: Wireless Chatter - "Wi-Fi and Work-Life Balance"

Dalton Conley • New York Times - Room For Debate • September 28, 2009

“The latest instantiation of the 24/7 economy is the increasing numbers airlines that now offer Wi-Fi access for which many of us willingly pay — even as we protest that we value a signal-free flight. [. . .] But as we see ever more people plugging in on planes, it’s easy to miss the forces that push them to violate their own stated preferences for flights full of trashy novels, $5 cocktails and time to stare at the clouds. First among those social forces is the incredible recent rise in working women over the past quarter century. Back in the 1950s, only 17 percent of mothers worked outside the home. In 1975, at the height of second-wave feminism, only one-third of mothers did. But by 2000, this norm had completely flipped so that more than two-thirds of women with children at home worked in the formal labor market.”

Global News

Working mums have the unhealthiest children, research finds

Sam Lister • Times, UK • September 29, 2009

“Children brought up by mothers who work are less healthy and more likely to have poor dietary habits and a more sedentary lifestyle, research suggests.  Mothers in full-time work, including those who work flexible hours, were found to have children who eat too few portions of fruit and vegetables, watch more television and consume more fizzy drinks than the children of mothers who stay at home.  The research, published today in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, involved more than 12,000 British schoolchildren born between 2000 and 2002 who are part of the Millennium Cohort Study. Trends being explored include the rise in childhood obesity and policies that have encouraged women to return to work.”

Aequus Partners' Diversity and Flexibility e-newsletter, September 2009

Juliet Bourke and Dr Graeme Russell • Aequus Partners • September 1, 2009

“In this newsletter we examine workplace flexibility - what’s new?  There is now an impressive body of academic and trade research about work/family integration and one would think that the case for workplace flexibility could not be stronger.  Nevertheless some employers and managers are not yet “with the programme” and to provide a stimulus, and framework for discussions, the Australian Government has introduced a ‘right to request flexibility’ (‘r2r’) National Employment Standard.  The r2r commences on 1 January 2010 – but are Australian employers ready?  We profile research on the current state of play and the steps organisations are planning over the next 3 months to get up to speed.”