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?

March 18, 2011

Articles

City business community blasts bill that would require paid sick leave

Troy Graham • Philadelphia Inquirer • March 18, 2011

“Members of the business community turned out at Thursday’s City Council meeting to lambaste proposed sick-leave legislation as a job-killing burden on business, even though the bill wasn’t up for consideration.  The proposal would require businesses to give employees paid sick days, which several speakers characterized as costly ‘unscheduled vacation days.’”

Raises Don’t Make Employees Work Harder

Ray Fisman • Slate • March 18, 2011

“So it seems bosses are smart not to cut wages. It’s bad for morale, which is bad for productivity. Sending out pink slips might seem similarly demoralizing, and thus bad for productivity, but layoffs have a more complicated effect on the lucky employees who hang on to their jobs. Layoffs can even boost productivity by giving workers a bit of extra motivation to prove their value, in the same way that Ford’s high salaries encouraged hard work. And it might not be so crazy for workers to respond to wage cuts with suspicion—in the current recovery, corporate profits have sprung back, even as wages have stagnated. What could be more unfair, from the worker’s perspective, than a cut in wages accompanied by higher profits?”

Hidden workforce challenges economic recovery

Yian Q. Mui • Washington Post • March 15, 2011

“People like Bos have historically made up just a sliver of the 86 million Americans who aren’t part of the workforce, most of whom are are students, retired or stay-at-home spouses. But since 2007, the number of people who want a job but aren’t looking for one — the hidden labor force — rose from 4.7 million to more than 6 million. Making ends meet can be a struggle, as they do not qualify for unemployment benefits.  Over a million members of this group have given up looking for work even though they are able to hold a job — people officially designated as ‘discouraged.’ That’s more than double the number at the start of the recession.”

Ohio Town Sees Public Job as Only Route to Middle Class

Sabrina Tavernise • New York Times • March 15, 2011

“At the time, she was living in a trailer and working in low-wage jobs at Wendy’s, Dairy Queen and a Big Lots discount store. Her hourly wage jumped to $9 when she started at the Gallipolis Developmental Center, a state home for mentally retarded people, up from $5.25 at a private nursing home.  ‘If I wasn’t working at the G.D.C., I’d have to work around the clock,’ said Chris Smith, Ms. Taylor’s colleague, referring to the center, where she has worked for 20 years. ‘I’d have to work two or three jobs to keep at this level.’”

Blogs

It’s a Free Agent Nation, Except in Washington

Justin Fox • Harvard Business Review Blogs • March 18, 2011

“I’ve just been rereading Daniel Pink’s famous 1997 Fast Company article on ‘Free Agent Nation.’ It has withstood the test of time pretty danged well. In 1997, Pink had recently left a job as Vice President Al Gore’s speechwriter to strike out on his own, and discovered (or decided, if you prefer) that he was part of an important new movement sweeping the land.  Not everyone believed him. I didn’t — I was a happy employee of a very large corporation (Time Warner), and I was and remain skeptical of sweeping pronouncements of economic change. What bothered me most about Pink’s article was its celebratory tone. Sure, the downsizings of the 1980s and early 1990s had forced lots of people to make a go of it as free agents. But did they really want to work that way?”

An NPR Host’s Other Job: Stay-At-Home Dad

Guy Raz • Atlantic - National • March 17, 2011

“The story behind this video is that a stay-at-home dad received another rejection letter from a potential employer.  He decides to rip it up in front of his son Micah, who, as you can see, finds this gleefully amusing.  So do I.  […] The program I host airs in most places in America from 5 to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.  While I am fortunate to have a job, I’m also fortunate to spend a lot of time with my kid on days when most people are at work.  But on those Mondays and Tuesdays, I also have the privilege of experiencing a taste of life as a stay-at-home dad.”

No German Jobs Miracle, but There May Be a Lesson for U.S.

Luca Di Leo • Wall Street Journal - Real Time Economics • March 17, 2011

“Germany’s jobs market fared much better than the U.S. in the recent recession mainly because hiring in Europe’s largest economy had been so much weaker during the boom years preceding the economic crisis, a paper released Thursday shows.  The study presented at a Brookings Institution conference found that Europe’s widespread use of reducing the number of work hours during tough times instead of laying people off also helped, suggesting America could benefit from the practice.”

First Conference of the new Work and Family Research Network

Judi Casey • Work and Family Blog • March 16, 2011

“As many of you know, the Sloan Network is transitioning to the new Work and Family Researchers Network. […] The WFRN’s mission, a natural evolution from the former Sloan Network, will be to facilitate virtual and face-to-face interaction among academic work and family researchers from a broad range of fields as well as engage the next generation of work and family scholars. The WFRN also will welcome the participation of policy makers and workplace practitioners as it seeks to promote knowledge and understanding of work and family issues among the community of global stakeholders.”

Mommy! Mommy! Mommy! Mommy! Make It Stop Please.

Rachel Larimore • Slate - XX Factor • March 15, 2011

“I buy that there are women who didn’t make partner or become a CEO because they were on the ‘mommy track.’ But that’s because we’re still working out how to accommodate women who take a few years off while their kids are young, not because the ‘mommy track’ doesn’t have a sanitized legalistic name like ‘extended parental leave career path.’”

Time for a War on ‘Mommy’

Taffy Brodesser-Akner • Wall Street Journal - Ideas Market • March 14, 2011

“In the 1980s, the attempt to simplify our conflict over how to balance family and career by results in a conclusion called the Mommy Track. It was a way to paint us as women who were so flighty that now that we’d gotten what we wanted—careers!—we realized that jobs weren’t all that and we wanted to go back home, where we could safely watch soap operas. Calling us Mommy then said, ‘You’ve done a good job pretending to be men, but the minute you get a baby in you, you become a hearth-sweeping woman who can only speak in goos and gahs.’ The prefix ‘part-time’ or ‘work-from-home’ to whatever the job title would have worked just fine.”

Global News

Flexible working regulations for parents to be scrapped

Allegra Stratton and Patrick Wintour • Guardian • March 18, 2011

“The government is to scrap regulations due to come into force next month that would have given parents with children under 17 the right to request flexible working as part of a package of measures to reduce bureaucracy for businesses.”

Charities plead with chancellor not to cut maternity pay in budget

Amelie Gentleman • Guardian • March 18, 2011

“Parenting and women’s rights charities have called on the prime minister not to weaken maternity legislation in next week’s budget, following reports that employers with fewer than 10 staff may no longer be obliged to offer the full amount of paid leave. […] Maternity leave legislation is one area likely to be affected, and the government is said to be considering giving small employers the right to negotiate maternity and paternity leave arrangements individually with staff.”

Working longer only way to keep pensions afloat: OECD

Leigh Thomas • Reuters • March 17, 2011

“Making people work longer is the only way governments can keep pension systems going without cutting benefits to the point of driving the elderly into poverty, the OECD think tank said on Thursday.  […] As life expectancy grows, taking early retirement will cease to be the norm and people work until around 66, the OECD said, suggesting ‘effective’ retirement ages should be 66.6 years for men and 65.8 for women.”