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?

August 10, 2010

Articles

Companies Help Employees Provide End-of-Life Care

Judy Martin • NPR - Morning Edition • August 9, 2010

“Juggling a caregiving role with a full-time job is daunting. But it can be even more difficult working during the end stages of a loved one’s life. Some companies are exploring end-of-life initiatives to help their employees manage the ultimate transition. [. . .] To help employees, Pitney Bowes launched a pilot program last fall allowing flexible working arrangements. It’s been crucial for employee Marianne Fulgenzi. She was given all the tools she needed to work mostly from home while taking care of her elderly mother.”

America’s parent trap

Robert J. Samuelson • Washington Post • August 9, 2010

“Our society does not—despite rhetoric to the contrary—put much value on raising children. Present budget policies punish parents, who are taxed heavily to support the elderly. Meanwhile, tax breaks for children are modest. If deficit reduction aggravates these biases, more Americans may choose not to have children or to have fewer children. Down that path lies economic decline.”

Some Firms Struggle to Hire Despite High Unemployment

Mark Whitehouse • Wall Street Journal • August 9, 2010

“Matching people with available jobs is always difficult after a recession as the economy remakes itself. But Labor Department data suggest the disconnect is particularly acute this time around. Since the economy bottomed out in mid-2009, the number of job openings has risen more than twice as fast as actual hires, a gap that didn’t appear until much later in the last recovery. The disparity is most notable in manufacturing, which has had among the biggest increases in openings. But it is also appearing in other areas, such as business services, education and health care.”

Lawyers seek more work-life balance; firms accommodate them

Peralte C. Paul • Atlanta Journal-Constitution • August 9, 2010

“As a new wave of younger lawyers has hit the workforce, law firms have adjusted their operations slightly to provide more of the work-life balance they seek.  The newcomers have a new set of expectations and definitions of success. Though they’re just as dedicated and hardworking as their predecessors, not all of new attorneys define success as making partner in the requisite six to eight years.  Some want to take longer, others are not interested at all, law firms say.  The shift, which has occurred in the last five years, is part of a larger whirlwind stirring up the industry.”

But Will It Make You Happy?

Stephanie Rosenbloom • New York Times • August 7, 2010

“Thomas DeLeire, an associate professor of public affairs, population, health and economics at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, recently published research examining nine major categories of consumption. He discovered that the only category to be positively related to happiness was leisure: vacations, entertainment, sports and equipment like golf clubs and fishing poles.”

Blogs

Romer’s Choice

Beth Marlowe • WhoRunsGov - Politerati • August 9, 2010

“The media are fixated on the idea that Romer is leaving because she was losing a battle for the ear of the President. To NEC head LARRY SUMMERS. This boys vs. girls storyline is straight out of some decade I probably was not yet born in, and misses the more interesting point about choices women face in the workplace today.  Romer says she’s leaving her powerful job to let her teenage son spend his high school years at home in the Bay Area. The work/family conundrum is something most working women spend quite a bit of time thinking about, no matter what their age. And I’m wondering: Are powerful women like Romer allowed to put family first, or does it make them seem less powerful?”

America Doesn’t Have a Parent Problem, It Has a Middle Class Problem

Derek Thompson • Atlantic - Business • August 9, 2010

“What’s more, the federal government does promote having children quite a bit, with personal exemptions, a child tax credit (which doubled to $1,000 in 2001), a child and dependent care tax credit, incentives tied into the Earned Income Tax Credit, plus thousands of dollars families can set aside for child care and education. The full tax benefit of children varies greatly with income and number of young ‘uns, but total deductions and refundable credits can easily pass $10,000 a year.  There isn’t really a parent trap. There is a middle class trap, as middle-income wages aren’t catching up to middle-income spending on health care, education, and essentials.”

“I’ve been immersed in work+life flexibility for so many years that it’s easy to forget that most people don’t know about the stacks and stacks of research that proves that flexibility not only increases productivity but benefits businesses and individuals in many other ways.  In an effort to answer the question, I’m sharing a few of my favorite pieces of flexibility research.  I’ve also included a list of resources that have been studying and advocating for greater flexibility for more than a decade.  Many are on social media.”

Feminists at Fault?

Nancy Folbre • New York Times - Economix • August 9, 2010

“I count myself among many scholars who believe that feminist theory offers some crucial insights into the relationship between gender inequality and the social organization of parenting.  Sometimes it’s easier to see the failures of social movements than their successes. The artist Ricardo Levins Morales designed a famous bumper sticker to celebrate trade unions that fought successfully for a 40-hour work week — The Labor Movement: The Folks Who Brought You the Weekend.  Maybe theorists need bumper stickers, too: Feminism: Why You Shouldn’t Have to Choose Between Equality and Motherhood.”

Podcast: Few Complaints on Calif Paid Leave Program

David Gray • New America Foundation - Early Ed Watch • August 9, 2010

“This is the second in a series of podcasts this summer on California’s laws for extended-time off, with a special focus on the state’s paid family leave program that enables new parents to take time off from work to bond with their babies.  In this podcast, New America’s David Gray talks with Kate Karpilow, executive director of the California Center for Research on Women and Families, who says the program has thrived despite the initial concerns that it would hurt the business community.”

The U.S. Needs Paid Parental and Pregnancy Leave

Brian Gresko • Huffington Post • August 9, 2010

“Our society values providing children a high level of care, and also recognizes that healthy, involved parents lead to well-adjusted children. On logic alone, it makes sense that parents should be encouraged to be present for their kids, and no American should view having children a hardship or hindrance to their professional goals. Though given the weak state of our economy, and the contentiousness over national health issues, it seems unlikely that any policy addressing these issues will be adopted in the U.S. soon.”

Global News

Abbott’s poor parenting

Karen Maley • Business Spectator, Australia • August 10, 2010

“But although Abbott may genuinely empathise with the plight of working parents, his parental scheme is deeply flawed. Instead of targeting welfare payments at those in genuine need, Abbott has followed the path of the Howard government, and has lavished non-means-tested benefits on upper- and middle-income earners. Under Abbott’s scheme, a successful lawyer or investment banker earning an annual salary of, say, $250,000 would pocket an excessively generous $81,750 in parental payments for staying at home to look after her child. This is a far more extravagant than Labor’s paid parental leave scheme, which offers parents who stay home the minimum wage of $570 a week paid over 18 weeks, or a maximum of $10,260. What’s more, under Labor’s scheme, the nominated parent’s income must not exceed $150,000.”