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?

January 11, 2011

Articles

Family-friendly policies? In the U.S., not so much

Ruth Mantell • MarketWatch • January 11, 2011

“Other than the issue of breastfeeding, when it comes to family friendliness U.S. policies, and businesses, have a way to go.  There is no federally mandated paid maternity leave in this country. In that respect, we are behind other major economies, such as the United Kingdom and Canada, where there are varying levels of entitlement, according to a report from the American Human Development Project. However, some U.S. workers are eligible for unpaid leave.”

Downturn’s Ugly Trademark: Steep, Lasting Drop in Wages

Sudeep Reddy • Wall Street Journal • January 11, 2011

“There are 14.5 million people on the unemployment rolls, including 6.4 million who have been jobless for more than six months.  But the decline in their fortunes points to a signature outcome of the long downturn in the labor market. Even at times of high unemployment in the past, wages have been very slow to fall [. . .] To an extent rarely seen in recessions since the Great Depression, wages for a swath of the labor force this time have taken a sharp and swift fall. [. . .] Many laid-off workers who have found new jobs are taking pay cuts or settling for part-time work when they get new ones, sometimes taking jobs far below their skill levels.”

Conn. gov lobbies business for sick leave mandate

Stephen Singer • Associated Press, Yahoo! Finance • January 7, 2011

“Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy told business leaders Friday he will support legislation requiring paid sick leave for employees, which many companies oppose.  Two days after taking office as the state’s first Democratic governor in two decades, Malloy struck a conciliatory tone in his first appearance before the Connecticut Business & Industry Association, the state’s largest business group.  He acknowledged that his position on a paid sick leave requirement will generate opposition, but he said it could make a significant difference in the lives of employees.”

Flex Time Flourishes in Accounting Industry

Steven Greenhouse • New York Times • January 7, 2011

“Indeed, when it comes to respecting the work-life balance of employees, the accounting industry far outshines the rest of corporate America, workplace experts say.  Some firms allow employees to take off the entire summer to devote to their children; some let employees work just three days a week during nonpeak months. The big accounting firms generally give 12 weeks of paid maternity leave, with fathers often receiving six weeks — and that is on top of the 12 weeks of unpaid leave provided to parents under federal law.”

The Best and Worst Jobs

Joe Light • Wall Street Journal • January 4, 2011

“Software engineer Jesse Severe says he can pretty much throw a dart on a map and find a job. The 41-year-old from San Diego says he’s contacted by headhunters at least once a month, at times has been able to work from home for half his workweek and makes a comfortable living.  All those factors and others landed software engineer in the No. 1 spot on a newly-released study of the 200 best and worst jobs by CareerCast.com [. . .] CareerCast rated 200 jobs based on income, working environment, stress, physical demands and job outlook, based on data from the Labor Dept. and U.S. Census and researchers’ own expertise.”

Blogs

Workplace Flexibility and the Bottom Line

Steven Greenhouse • New York Times - Economix • January 10, 2011

“For several years now, many women’s advocates have been pushing hard for more workplace flexibility to help workers — not just women, but also men — have an easier time juggling work and family responsibilities. But to some people, the whole notion of workplace flexibility — paid maternity leaves, more flexible schedules, telecommuting — is nice-sounding mumbo-jumbo that might makes employees feel good, but doesn’t translate into dollars and cents on the bottom line.”

Memo to accounting firms: Pull back the curtain

Kyra Cavanaugh • Custom-Fit Workplace • January 10, 2011

“Without a culture shift that changes internal attitudes about working flexibly — a shift that loosens face time requirements and makes partnership tracks about performance instead of hours worked — accounting firms will continue to face the challenges of a male-dominated partner track.”

Vacationing at Dewey’s

Vivia Chen • Careerist • January 7, 2011

“Dewey & LeBoeuf has introduced a new vacation policy, giving associates and counsel unspecified, possibly increased, paid vacation time. Sounds promising, right? [. . .] In any case, I’m intrigued by two key details in the memo: (1) Lawyers can take ‘no less time off than you have been accustomed to,’ and (2) they will no longer be able to accrue vacation pay. Am I too cynical in thinking that cost savings are at the heart of the policy?”

Don’t Blame the Snowstorms for Disappointing Jobs Data

Sudeep Reddy • Wall Street Journal - Real Time Economics • January 7, 2011

“Snowstorms hit much of the Northeast in late December, while snow blanketed other regions of the U.S. earlier during the month. But they don’t appear to have done much to hit employment.  Severe weather can suppress payroll figures, particularly if the snow keeps people out of work for a week.”

Global News

Paid parental leave adds to dilemma of family benefits

Jessica Brown • Sydney Morning Herald, Australia • January 11, 2011

“With all working mothers earning up to $150,000 a year now eligible, parental leave is an almost universal entitlement.  This is popular with voters, but has unexamined implications for the wider system of income-tested family payments. If parental leave tips the scales inexorably towards a system of more universal entitlements for families, it could have potentially unaffordable consequences for the budget bottom line.”