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 20, 2010

Articles

Fidelity: 401(k) hardship withdrawals, loans up

David Pitt • Associated Press • August 20, 2010

“In the wake of news about a spike in new applications for unemployment benefits comes another potentially troubling sign: A record number of workers made hardship withdrawals from their retirement accounts in the second quarter. [. . .] A key concern is that these withdrawals are just that, they are not loans. As a result there can be a significant impact on someone’s overall retirement savings. If the worker is younger than 59 1/2, they’ll pay a 10 percent penalty for early withdrawal in addition to taxes. The average age of the workers taking hardship withdrawals is between 35 and 55, their peak earning years. It’s also often a time when competing financial challenges emerge, McHugh said.”

More Workers OK With Their Pay in 2010

Lydia Saad • Gallup • August 19, 2010

“Fewer than half of U.S. workers today, 43%, believe they are underpaid for the work they do, down from 51% in 2008. [. . .] Today’s workers continue to express heightened concern about being laid off or having their pay or benefits cut back, and only 10% say it’s a good time to find a quality job (compared with 20% before the crisis). These findings help explain why workers may now be happier to hang on to the jobs they have than they were only two years ago, without looking for greater financial rewards.”

A New White-Collar Juggle

Wall Street Journal • Sue Shellenbarger • August 18, 2010

“Moonlighting traditionally has meant juggling two hourly jobs, or an hourly job plus freelancing. But waves of furloughs, pay cuts and layoffs among professionals and managers have driven many white-collar workers to start cramming a second job into the workweek, too. Some need the added income to make up for pay cuts; others want to avert the risk of losing their income in the event of a layoff. [. . .] While white-collar moonlighters have the advantage of more flexibility on the job, they also face challenges. Juggling the open-ended hours and demands of two white-collar jobs can stretch the workweek to exhausting lengths. The setups raise touchy issues with moonlighters’ day-job employers, including potential conflicts of interest.”

In Mott’s Strike, More than Pay at Stake

Steven Greenhouse • New York Times • August 17, 2010

“Tim Budd, a 24-year employee who belongs to the union’s bargaining team, said he was shocked by one thing the plant manager said during negotiations. ‘He said we’re a commodity like soybeans and oil, and the price of commodities go up and down,’ Mr. Budd recalled. ‘He said there are thousands of people in this area out of jobs, and they could hire any one of them for $14 an hour. It made me sick to have someone sit across the table and say I’m not worth the money I make.’  Mr. Barnes, the company spokesman, said the union took the plant manager’s words out of context.”

Blogs

Podcast: Enabling Working Parents to Attend to Sick Children and School Activities

David Gray, Interviewer • New America Foundation - Early Ed Watch • August 20, 2010

“This is the last 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 Netsy Firestein, founder and director of the Labor Project for Working Families.”

The Coming Part-Time Nation

Derek Thompson • Atlantic - Business • August 19, 2010

“A part-time nation fits the modern needs of both employees and employers. For employees, elective part-time work often provides a release from the just-a-paycheck job. Demographers have observed that the Millennial Generation—twentysomethings and people just entering their 30s—is particularly focused on achieving not only wealth, but also fulfillment. (Whether this is something inherent to Millennials or just a fixture of youth remains to be seen.) As the jobs sector moves away from lifelong company-men toward a horizontally mobile workforce, we should expect part-time to become more mainstream.”

A Wrong and Wrong-Headed Look at the Wage Gap

David Chavern • Chamber Post • August 19, 2010

“Yesterday, Brad Peck posted a piece on ChamberPost about the wage gap between men and women. There is a lot that I don’t like about the piece. It is simplistic and misguided. Even worse, I find it very, very old fashioned. ‘Women still face challenges at work because of their own work-life choices’, blah, blah, blah. It is an argument from the 1960’s.”

Equality, Suffrage and a Fetish for Money

Brad Peck • Chamber Post • August 18, 2010

“It is true that culturally speaking women are more likely to have to make the tough choices about work-life balance. But as we all seek to fit our values into a dynamic 24/7 economy, let’s not overlook the obvious, immediate, power-of-the-individual solution: choosing the right place to work and choosing the right partner at home.”

Who’s Minding the Kids?

Sara Mead • Education Week - Policy Notebook • August 18, 2010

“The Census Bureau’s ‘Who’s Minding the Kids?’ report is a critical resource for child care policy analysts, because it provides the best available picture of American families’ use of child care, where children are actually being served, for how long, and at what cost. The Census Bureau released the most recent update, which covers data from 2005-06, today.”

Senate forms caucus on military families

Elise Viebeck • Hill - Blog Briefing Room • August 18, 2010

“Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.) announced Wednesday that they would be co-chairing a new caucus focused on military families.  According to a press release, the group will aim to ‘improve programs and services for military families’ and will address issues like healthcare, child care, education and ‘the effects of multiple deployments on the mental health and well-being of spouses, caregivers and children.’”

Gen X: A New Generation of Role Models?

Cindy Krischer Goodman • Sloan Work and Family Blog • August 18, 2010

“Advocacy groups such as WorldatWork and Families and Work Institute are putting up a good fight to coax workplaces to be more accommodating. The Whitehouse even has its own push for flexibility and Obama recently cited a new White House report which concludes that flexible workplace rules could increase productivity. While many large companies do have work life initiatives, when Gen Yers come in with expectations, they still bump up against a traditional chained-to-your-desk mentality of boomers.  Advocates of greater workplace flexibility consistently said their biggest obstacle is managers who can’t let go of the need to exercise authority over employees — in person.”

Global News

Election 2010: Paid parental leave

Stephen Lunn • Australian • August 20, 2010

“Labor has a paid parental scheme already in place for the first time in Australia.  It has been well received as a “first step’’ as at 18 weeks it is shorter than many overseas systems and doesn’t include superannuation.  Late in the campaign Julia Gillard announced it would add two weeks for fathers.  Tony Abbott, who as a Howard government minister expressed stern opposition to a paid parental leave scheme, surprised everyone when he unilaterally announced the Coalition’s policy, which is far more generous to families than Labor’s.”

Factory bosses docking workers’ wages… every time they go to the toilet

Author Unlisted • Daily Mail, UK • August 18, 2010

“Factory workers who claim their wages were docked every time they went to the toilet are taking their bosses to an employment tribunal.  The Unite union said 86 employees at Dunbia in Sawley have raised complaints over the policy forcing staff to clock in and out to use the toilet, with money then being taken from their pay.”