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 17, 2010


A push for paid sick leave in Pa. and Philly

Jake Blumgart • Philadelphia Inquirer • August 16, 2010

“In fact, studies show that paid sick leave could be beneficial for employers. Currently, businesses lose money from high turnover rates caused by illness absences and from the lowered productivity that results from sick employees spreading their germs at work. [. . .] Today, even San Francisco business owners have come around. Jim Lazarus, senior vice president of the city’s Chamber of Commerce, told the Wall Street Journal that the legislation hasn’t stirred up any backlash from his members. And in June, former doomsayer Westlye sounded downright enthusiastic about the bill in Business Week: ‘[Paid sick leave] is the best public policy for the least cost. Do you want your server coughing over your food?’”

Working moms redefining success

Eve Tahmincioglu • MSNBC • August 16, 2010

“The traditional model of professional success in corporate America has been based on a ‘Company Man’ archetype popularized in the 1950s, which mainly referred to a white, male, corporate climber with a wife at home.  Fast forward to 2010. Women now make up 51 percent of the total U.S. workforce. Last year, the number of working moms as sole family breadwinners hit a record high. As a result, many working moms are starting to think this outdated career template needs an overhaul.”

Family values?

Joanna Weiss • Boston Globe • August 15, 2010

“As critical as maternity leave is to babies’ and mothers’ health, it’s something that’s left up to luck: the size of your company, the generosity of your boss, the salary (or existence) of your spouse. And if it’s a financial burden? Serves you right for having a kid.  That has been the overarching, infuriating theme of this week’s debate over maternity leave, sparked by the Supreme Judicial Court decision that codified Massachusetts’ guarantee of eight weeks, unpaid. Amid the talk about how much time new mothers need and how much businesses should be burdened, one particularly coarse argument has bubbled up repeatedly: If you can’t afford to stay home with your baby, you shouldn’t bother to procreate.”

Wellbeing Lower Among Workers With Long Commutes

Steve Crabtree • Gallup • August 13, 2010

“Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index data add to the growing body of evidence that long commutes have negative effects on workers’ wellbeing. These effects are present among full-time and part-time workers, and they hold up after controlling for respondents’ age, education, and income levels.  The results imply that many employers may need to reevaluate their options for helping workers manage those effects, particularly in light of the costs associated with low wellbeing. Those who are hesitant to allow telecommuting, for example, may need to consider balancing the physical and emotional toll of long commutes against the social benefits of having employees together in the workplace.”

Reassessing Four-Day Workweeks

Katie Kuehner-Herbert • Human Resource Executive Online • August 9, 2010

“According to a performance audit of the Working 4 Utah Work Initiative published last month by the state’s Legislative Auditor General, the program has saved less than a $1 million in building operations, overtime, and fleet services costs. That figure is far less than what former Republican Gov. Jon Huntsman had initially projected when he instituted the four-day workweek for most state employees in 2008. About 13,000 of the state’s 17,000 employees work 10 hours a day from Monday to Thursday.”


Yes, You Can Get Fired After Taking Maternity Leave

Sharon Lerner • Slate • August 17, 2010

“In its absurdly stingy approach to what happens to mothers and families after we bring a new life into the world, our country is almost entirely alone. The United States is the only developed nation not to have paid maternity leave and one of a small handful of countries in the world—rich and poor—not to do so. Had Stephens been employed in Haiti, Chad, Afghanistan, or Djibouti, for instance, she would have been entitled to paid time off. Meanwhile, back in Massachusetts, she took only unpaid time off, and even that turned out to come back and bite her.”

Working moms: Forget time off

Tracy Clark-Flory • Salon - Broadsheet • August 16, 2010

“From the department of Things We Already Knew, there comes news that taking time off work after having a baby is seen as a liability to women’s careers. Put another way, courtesy of the ever-delicate Daily Mail, women ‘should return to work as quickly as possible or give up on having children altogether.’ Such is the sadly predictable finding from a survey of 100 of the U.K.‘s top headhunters. “

Why Girly Jobs Don’t Pay Well

Nancy Folbre • New York Times - Economix • August 16, 2010

“In a careful analysis of longitudinal data on earnings that includes survey questions regarding attitudes related to work preferences, Nicole Fortin, at economist at the University of British Columbia, finds that women tend to place less importance on money and more importance on people and family than men do.  Those preferences help explain why women often choose to care for children and other family members, knowing full well that this will limit their career opportunities, lower their earnings and increase their economic vulnerability.”

The Four Horsemen of the Job-pocalypse

Derek Thompson • Atlantic - Business • August 16, 2010

“With 25 million Americans broadly unemployed, enough to fill the states of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland, our job crisis is multi-dimensional. First, as we know, very few employers are hiring. Even when they announce job openings, they’re slow to fill them. Second, when employers set aside money for workers, they’re increasingly adding contracters rather than full time staff. Third, a team of factors are depressing the wages and benefits of our workforce. Fourth, even if you’re hired at a decent wage, the rampant rise of medical inflation will eat into your salary in the years to come.”

Fewer Workers Able to Retire at Age 65

Emily Brandon • U.S. News and World Report - Planning to Retire • August 13, 2010

“Instead of jumping straight from full time work to full time retirement, seniors are becoming more likely to work part time in retirement. Over half of workers born in 1913 to 1917 left the labor force upon retirement and never returned to work. But only about a third of workers followed this traditional path into retirement 20 years later. More recent retirees are gradually shifting their balance of work and leisure time. Among those born between 1933 and 1937, 45 percent of working men and 41 percent of working women partially retired after age 50, compared with less than a third of men and a quarter of women 20 years earlier.”

Global News

The Best Countries in the World

Rana Foroohar • Newsweek • August 16, 2010

“In NEWSWEEK’s first-ever Best Countries special issue, we set out to answer a question that is at once simple and incredibly complex—if you were born today, which country would provide you the very best opportunity to live a healthy, safe, reasonably prosperous, and upwardly mobile life? Many organizations measure various aspects of national competitiveness. But none attempt to put them all together. For this special survey, then, NEWSWEEK chose five categories of national well-being—education, health, quality of life, economic competitiveness, and political environment—and compiled metrics within these categories across 100 nations.”