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 3, 2010

Articles

City workers who refused working OT face discipline

Fran Spielman • Chicago Sun-Times • August 3, 2010

“The Daley administration is preparing to take disciplinary action against scores of city laborers who refused to work extra hours after last month’s flooding rains because they no longer get cash overtime.  Lou Phillips, business manager for Laborers Union Local 1001, said the union’s contract makes extra work mandatory whenever the city declares an emergency and gives his members at least 16 hours’ notice. But Phillips said the cost-cutting agreement that substituted compensatory time for cash overtime has made some rank-and-file laborers either reluctant to or unable to work extra time.”

Stressed States Are Forcing Workers to Retire Later

Jeannette Neumann, Michael Corkery and Marcus Walker • Wall Street Journal • August 2, 2010

“States are deciding it’s time their workers retire later. Lawmakers in at least 10 states have voted this year to require many new government employees to work longer before retiring with a full pension, or have increased penalties for early retirement. A similar proposal is pending in California. Mississippi, already among the states requiring more years of service for a pension, is weighing the additional step of increasing its retirement age.  The change comes as foreign governments from France to Morocco have either decided to increase or are contemplating a rise in the age at which private and public workers can receive government pensions.”

Taking a Break from the Lord's Work

Paul Vitello • New York Times • August 1, 2010

“Public health experts who have led the studies caution that there is no simple explanation of why so many members of a profession once associated with rosy-cheeked longevity have become so unhealthy and unhappy.  But while research continues, a growing number of health care experts and religious leaders have settled on one simple remedy that has long been a touchy subject with many clerics: taking more time off.”

Paid Leave for Family Care

Ellen Bravo • New York Times • August 1, 2010

“One of paid leave’s great values is that people can stay attached to a job. Unfortunately, for many Americans, having a baby right now triggers a spell of poverty rather than a time of joy. President Obama has included $50 million in the 2011 budget to help states get over the hurdle of initial costs to establish paid leave programs, as California and New Jersey have already done. Congress should make sure this item passes.”

Health Care's Reliance On Women Calls For Flexible Work Arrangements

Author Unlisted • Ithaca College • July 30, 2010

“Sweet notes that during the economic downturn of recent years, health care and social assistance was the only major sector that experienced growth and is a sector where there are many jobs, with a lot of high-paying positions available. Because they are experiencing greater skill shortages than other sectors, employers in health care need to respond in a more aggressive fashion in advancing flexible work arrangements.”

The crisis of middle-class America

Edward Luce • Financial Times • July 30, 2010

This report conveys the consequences of the recession for America’s middle-class working families.

Blogs

Don’t Worry, Working Moms

Motoko Rich • New York Times • August 3, 2010

“The study showed that, over all, children whose mothers went back to full-time work within the first 12 months after birth performed worse on a series of cognitive tests. But there there were big exceptions: the study also found that children whose mothers improved the family income significantly, or selected high quality childcare, or remained sensitive to their children did not suffer any cognitive setbacks when compared with children of stay-at-home mothers.”

Telecommuting is Not Just an HR Perk

Kate Lister • Sloan Work and Family Blog • August 3, 2010

“Occasional telecommuting grew significantly as the first decade of the 21st century drew to a close, increasing 74 percent from 2005 to 2008, though few companies had adopted it as a regular, multiple days per week, business practice. In fact, only about 2 percent of private workers and 5 percent of federal workers telecommute on a regular basis, although GSA says 61 percent could. In 2009, 12 members of Congress urged the House Transportation Committee and House Committee on Energy and Commerce to include telework incentives in the nation’s energy and transportation laws.”

Good Retirement Benefits Keep Men on the Job

Emily Brandon • U.S. News and World Report - Planning to Retire • August 2, 2010

“Flexible work arrangements play a larger role in keeping women loyal to the company than men.  A convenient commute (43 percent) and flex time (35 percent) are enticing many women to remain at their current jobs, while a quarter or less of the men say these are important job attributes.”

Job-Sharing: Appealing, But Little-Used

Sue Shellenbarger • Wall Street Journal - The Juggle • August 2, 2010

“In the realm of family-friendly benefits, job-sharing is among the most appealing to jugglers – and the least-granted by employers.  Many employees would love to job-share.  Having a partner eliminates the biggest pitfall of part-time work, of being pulled into work on your days off.  Instead, your job-share partner is there to handle everything when you can’t.”

How Employers Can Love (or Stop Hating) Maternity Leaves

Cali Yost • Work+Life Fit Blog • July 28, 2010

“I’m always baffled by the panic of these same in-denial business owners every time someone becomes pregnant, takes care of a sick parent, has a heart attack, or stays home because of their child’s snow day.  By facing the reality that work+life conflict is a business issue, they’d create a culture that encouraged an open, ongoing, problem-solving dialogue about how to flexibly manage and adapt.  Everything would run so much more smoothly.”

Global News

The rise of home working

Phil Daoust • Guardian, UK • August 3, 2010

“We’re still a long way from the dreams of 20 or 25 years ago, which imagined offices emptying of everyone who didn’t operate a franking machine or wield a mop. According to the official Labour Force Survey, in the spring of 2009 there were 691,000 British home workers (working mainly in their own homes, using both a phone and a computer) versus 582,000 three years before. But Borrett and others reckon those figures are underestimated. Even in 2008, a survey for the CBI found 46% of businesses allowing their staff to work from home, up from just 11% in 2004.”

Life balance still not working

Rachel Browne • Sydney Morning Herald, Australia • August 1, 2010

“Improvements to parental leave, flexible working hours, telecommuting and job sharing have had little effect on the nation’s workplace culture.  In fact, Australians are increasingly dissatisfied with their job conditions, and many are risking their health by spending too many hours at work, the fourth Australian Work and Life Index study says.  More than a fifth of Australians spend 50 hours or more at work each week and 60 per cent do not take regular holidays.”