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 13, 2010


Unlimited Vacation Time Not A Dream For Some

Jennifer Ludden • NPR - All Things Considered • August 12, 2010

“Why the uptick in unlimited paid leave now? Studies have long shown that — believe it or not — such flexibility actually makes workers more productive and engaged. But Lenny Sanicola, with the human resources group World at Work, which surveys company benefits, suspects something more. Sanicola notes that with all the perks being cut during the recession, vacation time has held its own.”

Maternity leave quandary

Megan Woolhouse and Katie Johnston Chase • Boston Globe • August 12, 2010

“This week’s Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling clarifying maternity leave — being out longer than eight weeks means your job is not guaranteed under state law when you return — has called attention to the issue, and to employers’ struggle to balance worker needs with profitability in a stagnant economy.  Many companies are rethinking once-generous maternity policies. A 2010 Society for Human Resource Management survey found 17 percent of employers offered paid maternity leave for employees, but 7 percent planned to reduce or eliminate the benefit.”

Himes Intent on Fixing Telecommuter Taxes

Cathryn J. Prince • New Canaan Patch, CT • August 12, 2010

“The Telecommuter Tax Fairness Act (H.R. 2600), a bi-partisan bill, has 18 co-sponsors, including Scott Murphy (D-NY). It’s designed to help workers who primarily work from home offices for New York-based employers. Right now New York can levy taxes on 100 percent of their wages – even if the worker isn’t physically present in the Big Apple. Connecticut can tax the wages earned on ‘Connecticut’ days. [. . .] By curbing some of those taxes, the bill could improve Connecticut’s economy, cut congestion along the I-95 corridor and provide job hunters with a wider search field, said Himes. The bill could ease payroll tax and withholding burdens for New York employers, as well.”

Americans Afraid to Take Full Vacations

Scott Mayerowitz • ABC News • August 10, 2010

“These days Americans are taking shorter trips—mostly extended weekends—and leaving a large chunk of their paid vacation days unused.  Americans already have fewer paid vacation days than their European counterparts, but now comes news that only 57 percent of people here are taking all of their vacation time.”


The Increasing Role and Influence of Military Spouses

Tim Hsia • New York Times - At War • August 13, 2010

“As the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have continued, the military has become more attuned to the concern of the families of service members.  The first lady, Michelle Obama, has sought to provide more support for military families, and the vice president’s wife, Jill Biden, has played a cameo role in the television show ‘Army Wives.’ [. . .] In today’s military, military spouses play an active role not just in their spouses’ decisions but also in decisions that affect their spouses’ military unit. They are involved not only with the local military community, but also within the military command structure.”

4 reasons why federal managers resist telework

Author Unlisted • Washington Technology • August 11, 2010

“As they see it, telework often is not in the best interest of the agency — or, for that matter, of the employees. Although a nice lifestyle perk, telework can diminish the ability of employees to meet the demands of their jobs, managers say.  However, it’s worth noting that in many cases federal managers are not opposed to telework as a rule. But they have serious reservations that they want to see addressed before they are willing to let employees commute via the Internet.  Here is a summary of the four most compelling arguments that managers have to offer.”

The Times Opts Out of the “Opt Out” Narrative

Joan Williams • Huffington Post • August 11, 2010

“A 2004 study by Stephen Rose and Heidi Hartman found that American women who took one year off lost 20% of their lifetime earnings, while women who took off two to three years lost 30%. These plummets in women’s earnings seem out of proportion to any objective deterioration in human capital.  They are driven instead by what social scientists call the flexibility stigma. That’s the stigma triggered when a worker signals a need for workplace flexibility, including not only career breaks but also part-time work.”

Hey, America, Take the Day Off

Gail Collins and Timothy Egan • New York Times - The Conversation • August 10, 2010

“Gail Collins: [. . .] If Congress required businesses to give all their workers generous vacation benefits, more people would have to be hired to take up the slack. Corporate profits might drop, but right now our problem is that corporate profits are chugging right along while 9.5 percent of the workforce is unemployed.  Timothy Egan: I like that: The Gail Collins Back to Work Relief Act.”

Celebrating the Best of Congress 2010

Rob Jewell • Corporate Voices for Working Families • August 10, 2010

“When we launched this prestigious recognition in 2008 we had several important goals. We wanted to elevate the discussion and policy debate on working family issues, and we wanted to demonstrate that many members of Congress are tireless advocates for improving the lives of working families.  The recipients of the Best of Congress Award serve as models for what can be accomplished through legislation and a personal commitment to policies that benefit working families”

How to Be Productive: Stop Working

Margaret Heffernan • BNET - Leadership • August 10, 2010

“Shouldn’t we all be working as hard as we can? Who has the luxury of time? What do you mean weekends aren’t for working?  Well, for the last 100 years, every productivity study in every industry has come to the same conclusion: after about 40 hours in a week, the quality of your work starts to degrade. You make mistakes. That’s why working 60 hours may not save you time or money: you’ll spend too much of that time fixing the mistakes you shouldn’t have made in the meantime. That’s why software companies that limit work to 35 hours a week need to employ fewer QA engineers: there isn’t as much mess to clean up.”

Global News

Global Youth Unemployment Reaches New High

Matthew Saltmarsh • New York Times • August 11, 2010

“The agency, the International Labor Organization, said in a report that of some 620 million young people ages 15 to 24 in the work force, about 81 million were unemployed at the end of 2009 — the highest level in two decades of record-keeping by the organization, which is based in Geneva. [. . .] The trend will have ‘significant consequences for young people,’ as more and more join the ranks of the already unemployed, it said. That has the potential to create a ‘“lost generation” comprised of young people who have dropped out of the labor market, having lost all hope of being able to work for a decent living.’”

“The coalition government has declared that from October 2011, lone parents on income support must, when their youngest child reaches the age of five, actively seek work or take up a job, or lose up to 40% of their benefits. [. . .] Gingerbread, a charity supporting lone parents, says it hears from both mothers and fathers who say they would like a job but cannot see how to juggle work commitments with the inevitable unpredictability involved in being the sole carer of their children.”

New study blasts theory that women do more work

Isabel Coles • Reuters • August 5, 2010

“London School of Economics sociologist Catherine Hakim’s research shows that when both paid work and unpaid duties such as housework, care and voluntary work are taken into account, men do pull their own weight.”