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?

September 4, 2009

Articles

Paid Sick Days bill in works

Author Unlisted • Seacoast Online • September 4, 2009

“As flu season preparations get under way, the New Hampshire Legislature is considering a Paid Sick Days bill, HB 662-FN.  State officials say preventing the spread of the flu is key to managing an outbreak, but they say state law has no provision for workers to take paid sick days. In 2007, about 50 percent of all firms in New Hampshire did not offer paid sick days to full-time workers and about 80 percent did not offer them to part-time workers, according to state data compiled by Human Impact Partners.”

Workers with aging parents need resources, flexibility

Jennifer Swanberg, Ph.D. • Business Lexington, KY • September 3, 2009

“Some say it is a quiet crisis ready to explode. Others say it’s upon us now and employers are ill-prepared to handle its fall-out. Strangely enough, this crisis regards a natural and predictable process: aging.  By 2030, one in five Americans will be over 65. As Americans’ life expectancy increases, so does the number of people providing informal care to their aging loved ones. Approximately one in four households in the United States is involved in caring for an aging adult. Kentucky statistics reveal that 1 in 6 adults provide care for an older or disabled adult. Two-thirds of these adults work, and trends suggest this percentage will increase in years to come.”

Business groups ill over paid sick days

Daniel Massey • Crain's New York Business • September 3, 2009

“Opposition is slowly building among groups worried that a City Council bill requiring companies to provide employees with as many as nine paid sick days per year would place a burden on small businesses.  Earlier this week, the Manhattan and Staten Island Chambers of Commerce sent an online survey to members to find out where they stand on the proposal, which would compel businesses with 10 or more employees to provide nine paid sick days, and those with fewer than 10 workers to give five. Fines would be levied at a rate of $1,000 per violation. The other boroughs’ chambers are expected to send out similar surveys after Labor Day.”

Work it Wednesday: Work life balance for caregivers

Kim Insley • KARE 11 NBC, MN • September 2, 2009

“While many employers would like to believe their workers are focused 100 percent on the job while at the job, but real life doesn’t always work that way.  Issues crop up, and one issue cropping up a lot these days, is the role many Americans play as caregiver.  DARTS, a Twin Cities based non-profit specializing in elder services, says 80-90 percent of all care for aging Americans is provided informally, through family or friends.  The level of care could range from simply checking in on someone, to driving elders to doctor appointments, making nursing home arrangements or guardianship.  A Met Life Mature Market Institute study indicates lost productivity from these caregiving duties costs employers up to $33.6 billion annually.”

A Reluctance to Retire Means Fewer Openings

Catherine Rampell and Matthew Saltmarsh • New York Times • September 2, 2009

“To the long list of reasons American companies aren’t hiring — business losses, tight credit, consumer retrenchment — add the fact that many of their older workers are unable, or afraid, to retire. In other parts of the developed world, people are retiring as planned, because of relatively flush state and corporate pensions that await them. But here in the United States, financial security in old age rests increasingly on private savings, which have taken a beating in the last year. Prospective retirees are clinging to their jobs despite some cherished life plans.  As a result, companies are not only reluctant to create new jobs, but have fewer job openings to fill from attrition. For the 14 million Americans looking for work — a number expected to rise in Friday’s jobs report for August — this lack of turnover has made a tough job market even tougher.”

Women take over job market

Dennis Cauchon • USA Today • September 2, 2009

“Women are on the verge of outnumbering men in the workforce for the first time, a historic reversal caused by long-term changes in women’s roles and massive job losses for men during this recession.  Women held 49.83% of the nation’s 132 million jobs in June and they’re gaining the vast majority of jobs in the few sectors of the economy that are growing, according to the most recent numbers available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  That’s a record high for a measure that’s been growing steadily for decades and accelerating during the recession. At the current pace, women will become a majority of workers in October or November. The data for July will be released Friday.”

Reports

The recession's hidden costs

Lawrence Mishel, Heidi Shierholz, and Andrew Green • Economic Policy Institute • September 7, 2009

“Many workers who have not lost their jobs during the recession have lost wages. Wage growth slowed dramatically in recent months and many employers are cutting hours, threatening to further limit consumer consumption and delay an economic recovery.”

Blogs

Length of Work Week Goes Flat. Employers Less Likely To Hire

Laura Conaway • NPR - Planet Money • September 4, 2009

“Employers are less likely to hire new people until the ones they’ve got are fully occupied. Despite the increase in the jobless rate, the labor market appears to be leveling out. The average job hunt took slightly less time in August, dropping to 24.9 weeks from 25.1. Last quarter, productivity took the biggest jump since 2003—meaning that workers had plenty to do. Employers cut 216,000 jobs, the fewest in a year.  Together, the flattening of the average workweek, the rise in productivity and the drop in layoffs suggest that the pace of decline is slowing. Employers are starting to get their situations back in balance, but they’re not likely to start hiring anytime soon.”

Bad Economy Hasn't Changed Gen Y Desire For Work/Life Balance

Lindsey Gerdes • BusinessWeek - First Jobs • September 3, 2009

“Apparently students still value work-life balance above all else when listing top characteristics of an ideal entry-level employer, placing it well above other factors such as salary and meaningful work.  This according to Tracy Lynn Drye, the Senior VP of Employer Branding & University Relations at Universum USA, the research firm BusinessWeek partners with for the student data portion of our Best Places to Launch a Career ranking.  Drye says that work/life balance usually drops on students’ lists of priorities during recessions, but not this time around. ‘I think this goes back to the fact that this generation is not afraid to ask for what previous generations didn’t,’ says Drye. ‘They want more work/life balance and more flexibility and the ability to work on their own time and their own hours.’”

Defending Paid Parental Leave

Brian Reid • Washington Post - On Parenting • September 2, 2009

“One of the side effects of the bad economy is that good ideas that sound expensive begin getting ignored. Take paid parental leave. Making sure that parents can afford to take time off to have a baby is a good idea on a number of fronts. It protects families from the choice of financial calamity or time with a newborn. It helps employers retain and recruit staff. It appears to improve child health. And—everywhere else in the world—it is pretty much standard.  The idea has begun to get some traction with policymakers, but—sadly—the bum economy has taken the issue off of the front burner. At least until last month.  That was when Newsweek published a takedown of the whole paid-leave concept—a counter to an earlier argument for paid leave. The article makes a number of borderline-wild claims to undercut the idea that parental leave is a good idea.”

Illinois Leave Law for Victims of Domestic Violence

Paul M. Secunda • Workplace Prof Blog • September 2, 2009

“Friend of the blog Jeff Nowak brings to our attention a new Illinois law which significantly broadens leave entitlements for (and rights of) employees who are victims of domestic or sexual violence.  It’s effective immediately, and applies to all private employers with 15 or more employees and all public employers.”

The Bob McDonnell Controversy

Reihan Salam • National Review Online - The Agenda • September 1, 2009

“A number of writers and thinkers have raised questions about the changing composition of the American family and its impact on children. Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Warren Tyagi wrote a brilliant and indispensable book, The Two-Income Trap, on the social impacts of two-earner households; while the authors would take strong exception to McDonnell’s views, they’ve described how middle-class life has become more volatile and insecure in a climate of rising inequality, fraying social protections, and rising labor force participation among parents of young children. Conservatives like Mary Eberstadt have cited the same social conditions as evidence that we need less rather than more labor force participation among parents, particularly mothers — this is the central reason why Eberstadt opposed the 1996 welfare reform. I disagree with Eberstadt’s conclusions, but I agree that the work-life balance issues are vitally important, and not just for women. Sociologists like Neil Gilbert and Catherine Hakim have noted how work-life preferences vary across and within social classes, and both have argued that the policy mix in market democracies tend to privilege some preferences above others. This strikes me as a subject worthy of serious discussion.”

Global News

Quebec pushes early maternity leave

Aaron Derfel • Gazette, Canada • September 3, 2009

“Montreal – Quebec public health authorities are now recommending that pregnant women who work in daycares, schools and hospitals take advantage of the government’s early maternity leave program to reduce the risk of catching the H1N1 flu virus. [. . .] In August, two Quebec City school boards made it a policy to let pregnant women go on preventive leave because they could be exposed to children infected with the swine flu. Initially, government officials left the decision up to each school board.  But medical authorities are now of the opinion that pregnant women shouldn’t run the risk, especially since two women who were in their third trimesters have died from H1N1 infections, Poirier said.”

Riding Out the Wave

Bill Finney and Michal Smejkal • Prague Post, Czech Republic • September 2, 2009

“In the Czech Republic, and throughout Europe, companies, employees and even governments have absorbed much of the shock of the recession through schemes like short-time working or irregular hours, unpaid leave, training leave or by using production workers in other positions. Just last week, The Prague Post reported on another government proposal to create a four-day work week, with government subsides to help make up some of the lost salaries from that fifth day. These job-saving schemes depend in part on a short-term recession. Employers may find redundancies if the world economy continues to lag.”