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?

May 14, 2010

Articles

In Job Market Shift, Some Workers Are Left Behind

Catherine Rampell • New York Times • May 13, 2010

“This ‘creative destruction’ in the job market can benefit the economy.
Pruning relatively less-efficient employees like clerks and travel agents, whose work can be done more cheaply by computers or workers abroad, makes American businesses more efficient. Year over year, productivity growth was at its highest level in over 50 years last quarter, pushing corporate profits to record highs and helping the economy grow.  But a huge group of people are being left out of the party.  Millions of workers who have already been unemployed for months, if not years, will most likely remain that way even as the overall job market continues to improve, economists say. The occupations they worked in, and the skills they currently possess, are never coming back in style. And the demand for new types of skills moves a lot more quickly than workers — especially older and less mobile workers — are able to retrain and gain those skills.”

A Perfect Work-Life Balance May Be a Fantasy for Lawyers

James Dolan • Law.com - Texas Lawyer • May 12, 2010

“Of the many concerns facing the new associate, or even the experienced partner, one of the most complex and mystifying is that of work-life balance. It is an issue about which many firms appear to be concerned. They present workshops and make printed material available; mentors nod their heads in that direction; and human resources departments employ professional development specialists to work on the issue. Ultimately, however, it appears that the legal world leaves each attorney to his own devices to crack the code of work-life balance.”

Freelancers create jobs for themselves

Anita Creamer • Sacramento Bee • May 11, 2010

“Nationally and locally, the numbers are soaring: The long-term unemployed are going into business for themselves as independent contractors, cobbling together brand-new, Brand You careers. [. . .] Some experts think the growth of the flexible employment trend shows that the American workplace is undergoing a fundamental change. Others insist it’s a temporary offshoot of the recession, a predictable side effect of tough times.”

City’s Sick-Pay Plan: A Battle of Perspective

Michael Howard Saul and Sumathi Reddy • Wall Street Journal • May 11, 2010

“The City Council is to hold a hearing Tuesday on legislation to require all city businesses to provide sick pay, a proposal that advocates laud as crucial to public health and opponents see as devastating to businesses.  The bill would require businesses to provide employees up to 72 hours, or nine days, a year for sick leave. For business with fewer than 20 workers on the payroll, the maximum number of paid sick leave hours would be 40, or five days.”

Blogs

Flexibility at What Cost?

Author Unlisted • Mama Bee • May 13, 2010

“We need to advocate for flexible scheduling as part of day to day business in the corporate world for all employees.  And the reasoning can’t just be because workers are going to flee in droves, because that’s not very likely.  What leverage does Gen Y really have?  Eventually they have to find jobs in the same corporate cultures as their predecessors.  It also can’t be because workers are going to become contractors, because the only people who really lose in that scenario are the workers.”

The Presidential Report on Work-Life Balance and the Economics of Workplace Flexibility

Andrew Kang • Sloan Work and Family Blog • May 12, 2010

“What is new in this report is the analysis of concrete economic impacts these facts have on working families and the country itself.  For a capitalist country, this is the meat on the proverbial bone.  Businesses are much more likely to implement flexible arrangements where it can be established that doing so improves the bottom line through increased productivity, increased attendance, and increased engagement.” 

Mapping Parental Leave Around the World. Where is the U.S.?

Paul Nyhan • Birth to Thrive Online • May 12, 2010

“The weeks and months after a baby is born create the first conscious building blocks for quality early learning. What happens if mom and dad can’t take time once their baby is born? A new map shows that parental leave policies vary around the globe in surprising ways.  A Stockholm-based dad has crafted a visual display of each nation’s parental leave, and the graphic makes an impact that words cannot. It turns out Russia offers more paid maternity leave than Canada - 575 days compared to 250 days.”

“Managers, sticking your fingers in your ears, closing your eyes and saying ‘La, la, la, la’ when a valuable, competent current or prospective employee presents a plan for flexibility doesn’t make it go away.  Listen.  Think it through.  Voice valid business concerns.  Give it a shot with a trial period.  Work together to make it a mutually-beneficial success.  Be glad the person is around and contributing.  Because, the very real alternative even in today’s economy, is they might not be.“

Global News

Edward Schumacher-Matos: Europe needs more babies

Edward Schumacher-Matos • Dallas Morning News • May 13, 2010

“As a report released last weekend by 12 ‘wise men’ commissioned by the European Council warned: ‘The choice for the EU is clear: reform or decline.’ [. . .] The wise men proposed increasing the retirement age. They also recommended more government child support and flexible work arrangements to encourage women to work and have more babies. More intra-Europe labor mobility – encouraged by greater portability of professional licenses, retirement benefits and voting rights – would help, too.”

Work-Life Balance: Only For Developed Countries?

Long Litt Woon • CSR Digest • May 13, 2010

“The National Union of Bank Employee (NUBE) has launched a campaign to increase Malaysia’s current policy of 60 days maternity leave to for 90 days maternity leave in the public and private sectors. Human resource (HR) managers have rejected the initiative citing higher costs, negative effects for productivity and inconvenience; in their view, 60 days is sufficient for recovery and for looking for alternative plans for childcare. When interviewed, some HR managers have added that extended maternity leave might be fine for developed countries, but not for Malaysia.”

Nearly two-thirds of women have good work/life balance

Author Unlisted • Management Today - Strategy & Operations • May 13, 2010

“The majority of women are happy with their current set-up - but employers could be more helpful.  Judging by David Cameron’s new Cabinet, Britain still has some way to go when it comes to promoting women to senior positions – just 22% of them are women, leaving us lagging behind the likes of Spain (53%) and Germany (37%). But in at least one respect, the lot of UK working women seems quite positive: according to a new study by Kenexa, the majority think they have a good work-life balance.”

Working overtime increases heart risk, a study finds

Author Unlisted • BBC, UK • May 11, 2010

“The findings come from a study of 6,000 British civil servants, published online in the European Heart Journal.  After accounting for known heart risk factors such as smoking, doctors found those who worked three to four hours of overtime a day ran a 60% higher risk.  Experts said the findings highlighted the importance of work-life balance.”

Working 9 to 4.30

Jerome Cukier • OECD Factblog • May 10, 2010

“People in OECD countries are working slightly shorter hours than they used to. In 1998, they worked 1,821 a year; a decade later, that had fallen to 1,764. Over a 40-hour week, that amounts to a cut of just under 90 minutes. The reasons for the fall vary, but they can reflect factors like policies that promote flexible working for parents.”