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?

June 4, 2010


The Employment Situation – May 2010

Author Unlisted • Bureau of Labor Statistics • June 4, 2010

“Total nonfarm payroll employment grew by 431, 000 in May, reflecting the hiring of 411,000 temporary employees to work on Census 2010, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.  Private-sector employment changed little (+41,000).  Manufacturing, temporary help services, and mining added jobs, while construction employment declined.  The unemployment rate edged down to 9.7 percent.”

Cough If You Need Sick Leave

James Warren • Bloomberg BusinessWeek • June 3, 2010

“Among full-time workers, 73 percent are covered by paid medical days. (Ninety-one percent have paid vacation, 89 percent paid holidays). The percentage is far lower on every count for part-time workers, though it’s not just the motel cleaning lady or immigrant dishwasher who is scared to call in sick, see a doctor, or pick up a kid from school. Retail sales supervisors and information technology managers deal with the same domestic crises.  They all have a stake in the little-noticed debate over paid sick days now unfolding in Washington, state capitals, and cities, with strong arguments for change confronting the economic and political realities of a recession that makes employers nervous about any extra costs.”

Workplace Flexibility

Katie Corrigan • New York Times - Letter • June 2, 2010

“Working parents fight a daily battle to balance the demands of work with caring for children and, more and more often, aging parents. This struggle has typically been seen as an individual problem families must face alone. But in reality, allowing workers to succeed on the job without sacrificing family life has become a social and economic imperative.”

Chronic Joblessness Bites Deep

Sara Murray • Wall Street Journal • June 2, 2010

“The job market is improving, but one statistic presents a stark reminder of the challenges that remain: Nearly half of the unemployed—45.9%—have been out of work longer than six months, more than at any time since the Labor Department began keeping track in 1948. [. . .] Long-term unemployment has reached nearly every segment of the population, but some have been particularly hard-hit. The typical long-term unemployed worker is a white man with a high-school education or less. Older unemployed workers also tend to be out of work longer. Those between ages 65 and 69 who still wish to work have typically been jobless for 49.8 weeks.”

Entrepreneur or Unemployed?

Robert B. Reich • New York Times • June 1, 2010

“Technically, George is his own boss. But he’s doing exactly what he did before for less money, and he gets no benefits — no health care, no 401(k) match, no sick leave, no paid vacation. Worse still, his income and hours are unpredictable even though his monthly bills still arrive with frightening regularity.  The nation’s official rate of unemployment does not include George, nor anyone in this new wave of involuntary entrepreneurship. Yet to think of them as the innovative owners of startup businesses misses one of the most significant changes to have occurred in the American work force in many decades.”


A Tale of Two Recessions

Nancy Cook • Newsweek - Jobbed • June 4, 2010

“But, one hallmark of this economic downturn has been the disparities in the way the unemployment rate has affected people according to age, race and ethnicity, educational attainment, and geography. [. . .] So, what does this mean for the unemployed, underemployed, and the recent college graduates searching for work? Well, they’ll have to cobble together part-time jobs to pay the rent or accept positions with lower salaries or fewer opportunities for growth.”

Wages Up, and the Education Gap Grows

David Leonhardt • New York Times - Economix • June 4, 2010

“One of the hidden forms of unemployment recently has the been increase in people forced to work part-time because they could not find full-time work. [. . .] The average length of the workweek increased to 34.2 hours in May. It was the third straight month that it grew one-tenth of an hour.”

Work Life Balance: A Jungian Perspective

Dr. Gary Trosclair • Huffington Post • June 4, 2010

“One of the psychological patterns that can make it difficult to unplug is work addiction. With work addiction, it’s not just the electronic devices we are plugged into. It’s another “power source,” an internal one that can either energize us or fry us.  Sometimes we work intensely to prove ourselves to ourselves and to others. Feeling inadequate, guilty or even angry, we push ourselves to accomplish amazing feats. In Jungian terms, we identify with the archetype of the hero.”

Study: Telework worked during snowstorms

Ed O'Keefe • Washington Post - Federal Eye • June 3, 2010

“And a new survey conducted by a federal watchdog finds that at least some federal workers teleworked during ‘Snowmageddon.’  About half of National Labor Relations Board employees at the agency’s Washington headquarters who responded to a survey said they worked at home during the closure, and on average, each put in about three hours of work.  Inspector General David Berry commissioned the survey of his headquarters colleagues and 87 percent of coworkers responded.“

Office Workers, How Long Before You Hit the Breaking Point?

Sue Shellenbarger • Wall Street Journal - The Juggle • June 3, 2010

“Do you have a ‘breaking point’ for your juggle–a point where long work hours send you over the edge into work-family conflict?  Based on new research on 22,436 IBM employees in 75 countries, many people do, and that breaking point varies dramatically based on whether employees are free to work from home part of the time, or not.”

Why It’s So Hard to Make Work and Family Mesh

Kimberly Palmer • U.S. News and World Report - Alpha Consumer • June 2, 2010

“The recession seems to have done to workplace flexibility what it did to casual Fridays: Killed it. Because when workers are grateful to have their jobs, they’re not about to ask for special privileges. A new survey out this week from the Center for Work Life Policy confirms that the recession has made it harder for women to take a break from the workforce, with greater numbers reporting salary decreases and loss of responsibility upon their return.”

Out-of-Office Reply Is a Good Thing

Mike • ScienceBlogs - Mike the Mad Biologist • June 2, 2010

“In other words, being constantly in-touch reinforces bad work habits. It’s not laziness, but professionalism.”

Global News

Colourful informalities aim to shake up the workplace

Adam Maguire • Irish Times • June 4, 2010

“WITH NO desks, fixed computers or phone lines in sight, you would be forgiven for thinking Microsoft’s office in Schiphol, Amsterdam, had fallen prey to an overzealous cost-cutter. However this jarringly informal workplace, which looks more like a giant cafe than an office block, is actually the work-life balance theory taken to its extreme.  According to the company, it works too.”

Lowering hurdles for working moms

Natsuko Fukue • Japan Times • June 2, 2010

“In a survey of about 1,000 women released in March by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry and carried out between 2002 and 2008, 52.9 percent of the pollees quit their jobs after having their first child. Long work hours or lack of support from husbands or parents were among the main reasons they gave for quitting.  But some companies and municipal governments are trying to improve the situation for working parents to encourage experienced and skilled women to continue working.”