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?

February 12, 2010

Articles

How a New Jobless Era Will Transform America

Don Peck • Atlantic • March 1, 2010

“There is unemployment, a brief and relatively routine transitional state that results from the rise and fall of companies in any economy, and there is unemployment—chronic, all-consuming. The former is a necessary lubricant in any engine of economic growth. The latter is a pestilence that slowly eats away at people, families, and, if it spreads widely enough, the fabric of society. Indeed, history suggests that it is perhaps society’s most noxious ill.  The worst effects of pervasive joblessness—on family, politics, society—take time to incubate, and they show themselves only slowly. But ultimately, they leave deep marks that endure long after boom times have returned. Some of these marks are just now becoming visible, and even if the economy magically and fully recovers tomorrow, new ones will continue to appear. The longer our economic slump lasts, the deeper they’ll be.”

Recession has more moms entering workforce

Donna St. George • Washington Post • February 12, 2010

“At the start of the Great Recession, Lisa Blaker was a stay-at-home mom. Less than a year later, she wasn’t. Instead, she became one of hundreds of thousands of women across the country who joined the workforce—or added hours, or became a sole breadwinner—amid the nation’s most severe economic downturn in generations.  The mothers and wives of this recession have bought groceries, paid mortgages, kept away debt collectors—stepping in as financial necessity has increasingly altered the eternal struggle between work and home.”

Single Mother Is Spared Court-Martial

James Dao • New York Times • February 11, 2010

“Specialist Alexis Hutchinson, a 21-year-old Army cook and single parent, was days from deploying to Afghanistan last fall when her mother backed out of an agreement to take care of her 10-month-old son for the duration of her one-year tour. [. . .] She was arrested and later charged with offenses that could have led to a court-martial and jail time.  On Thursday, Specialist Hutchinson received an other-than-honorable discharge, ending an impasse that had surprised many legal experts and spurred lively debate in military circles.”

Olympic moms get all-around gold

Rachel Blount • Star Tribune, MN • February 10, 2010

“Nicholson is one of three Minnesota moms on the team in British Columbia. Curling teammate Allison Pottinger of Eden Prairie will have daughters Lauren, 3, and Kelsey, 17 months, in the stands for many of her games at Vancouver Olympic Centre. Edina’s Jenny Potter, alternate captain of the women’s hockey team, will participate in her fourth Olympics, cheered on by Maddy, 9, and Cullen, 3.  All three women also maintain other careers while carving out time for elite-level training, international competition and family activities. It takes a team—along with precise time management, flexibility and discipline—to make it work.”

For Telecommuters, It's Not About Going To Work

Adam Hochberg • NPR - Morning Edition • February 9, 2010

“More than a third of companies now allow at least some employees to do their jobs from home. As telecommuting becomes more mainstream, a handful of states provide tax credits to encourage it, and the Obama administration is advocating it as a way to reduce traffic and promote work-family balance.”

Federal government closes: Why can't they all work from home?

Peter Grier • Christian Science Monitor • February 8, 2010

“But closing down the federal government costs $100 million a day in lost productivity. Why can’t bureaucrats, you know, telecommute? Like everybody else does in this Era of the iPhone.  The answer to that is, they do. At least, some of them do. About 9 percent of eligible federal employees have approved telework agreements that allow them to work from home, according to an Office of Personnel Management (OPM) report from August 2009.  That’s a little over 102,000 people. And Uncle Sam would like that figure to be higher.”

Blogs

What if: 52 weeks of maternity leave

Tara A. Trower • Austin (TX) American-Statesmen - Mama Drama • February 12, 2010

“So in honor of the start of the Winter Olympics, our travel writer (and grandmother to two) Helen Anders wandered into our work area and reminded three working mothers that in Canada maternity leave is a year long. And yes, that is almost all paid leave (55 percent of your salary in most provinces, up to $447 a week.) The split works like this: 15 weeks for actual maternity leave and the 35 weeks parental leave that can be split with the father. That’s a grand total of 50 weeks, then you can take two more weeks unpaid.”

We have to get parental leave right

Liz Kofman • True/Slant - Work.Life • February 10, 2010

“Some preliminary data I’ve seen–as yet unpublished and hush-hush, so please forgive the lack of details for now–seem to show that the implementation of the FMLA in 1993* coincided with a decline in female labor participation among women with young children. Correlation is not the same as causation, of course, and there could be a myriad of other reasons for the association. But one possibility is that that when given a (tiny, pathetic, unpaid) window of opportunity to spend time with their newborn children, and away from work, women took it–and did so at a far greater rate than men. The result was a dip in the otherwise steady upward climb of female labor force participation. (That dip has surely been completely wiped out with the mancession. The data I saw only went up to 2005.)”

Choosing Work over "The Bachelor"

Miriam Cherry • Faculty Lounge • February 9, 2010

“The bachelor (a pilot, Jake) has gotten his choice narrowed down to four women, and he visited each contestant in her hometown.  One contestant, Ali, was told during her hometown visit that she faced a difficult choice.  Either she could leave the show and return to work (as an advertising executive), or she could stay on the show and lose her job.  Given that there were three other contestants left and that the outcome was uncertain, and given that Ali ‘loved her job,’ she ultimately made the choice to leave the show and keep working.  Although many reality shows are ‘scripted’ this genuinely seemed like an agonizing decision for the contestant.”

Why Is U.S. Work+Life Public Policy So Weak: Entrenched Floors and Ceilings

Cali Yost • Work+Life Fit Blog • February 9, 2010

“This historical lack of employer support and engagement forms a very low ceiling that limits the access to and effectiveness of rules and regulations already in place, such as FMLA, much less new ones. We continue to bang up against the entrenched floor and ceiling.  They are the reason the U.S. is the only industrialized country without some form of paid leave or paid sick days.  We need a new path that is open to lowering the floor and raising the ceiling if we hope to make much needed progress.  The Three Faces report offers a glimpse into what that new path might look like, and it presents a powerful business case for more supports that I hadn’t heard before. ”

Do Exempt Employees Have to Be Paid for Snow Days?

Scott Holt • Delaware Employment Law Blog • February 9, 2010

“The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) prohibits employers from reducing the pay of any exempt employee based on the quantity or quality of his work or when he is ready, willing, and able to work but no work is available. Applying that basic principle, the U.S. DOL has taken the position that employers that decide to close because of weather conditions must pay exempt employees their regular salaries for any shutdown that lasts less than one full week.  On the other hand, nothing prohibits an employer from requiring employees, including exempt ones, to use accrued vacation time or other time off to cover the missed work.”

Peaceful Revolution: Time to Stop Free-Riding on Families

Phoebe Taubman • Huffington Post • February 9, 2010

“For generations, our country has been free-riding on families. Our economy is built on the invisible and free labor of millions—many of them women—who provide essential care to their families, whether it is the education and socialization of the next generation of workers or the comfort and care of the elderly. We have taken for granted that women will shoulder the lion’s share of unpaid care work, even as they dedicate increasingly more hours to paid work. Although 70% of children are growing up in families headed by either a single working parent or two working parents, our workplace policies and laws still operate on the assumption that families have someone available at home to handle caregiving and other domestic responsibilities.”

In a First, Women Surpass Men on U.S. Payrolls

Casey B. Mulligan • New York Times - Economix • February 5, 2010

“For the first time, women have outnumbered men on the nation’s payrolls.  The Labor Department revised on Friday its previous estimates of nonfarm payroll employees, the monthly aggregate employment series that gets the most media attention.  The most recent jobs estimates by gender are for January. Before adjusting for seasonal changes, 64.2 million payroll employees last month were women, and only 63.4 million were men.”

Global News

Why France is the Best place to live in world

Daniela Deane • CNN • February 11, 2010

“Bindi Dupouy, an Australian living in Paris, and her French husband, just had their first child, a son born in the country.  Dupouy, a 28-year-old lawyer, got almost five months paid maternity leave from her company for the birth. She can take another seven months off beyond that—a year total—unpaid, if she wants, with her job guaranteed under French law. [. . .] Welcome to France, voted the best place in the world to live for the fifth year in a row by International Living magazine, which has been analyzing data and publishing its annual Quality of Life Index for 30 years.”

Coalition pledge on parental leave

Jodie Minus • Australian • February 9, 2010

“The Coalition will promise six months’ paid parental leave for primary carers if it wins the next election, trumping the Rudd government’s taxpayer-funded 18-week parental leave plan.  An Abbott government would also introduce set wages and conditions for nannies.  The election campaign promises, reported by Fairfax newspapers today, have been approved by Tony Abbott, who has asked the Coalition’s early childhood education and childcare spokeswoman, Sharman Stone, to develop the policies.  The scheme would be more generous and potentially more expensive than Labor’s national parental leave plan, which offers $544 a week for primary carers.”