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 4, 2011

Articles

Spurred by Private Hiring, Job Growth Gathers Steam

Catherine Rampell • New York Times • March 4, 2011

“The unemployment rate ticked down to 8.9 percent, falling below 9 percent for the first time in nearly two years. […] That is partly because the size of the working-age population has grown, and because the promise of more job opportunities has lured some discouraged workers back into the labor force. […] A broader measure of unemployment, which includes people working part-time because they could not find full-time jobs and those so discouraged that they have given up searching, was 15.9 percent in February, down from 16.1 percent in January. That left 13.7 million people still out of work.”

Senate bill would end Milwaukee’s paid sick day ordinance

Georgia Pabst • Journal Sentinel • March 4, 2011

“Milwaukee’s paid sick day ordinance would be nullified under a bill passed Thursday by the state Senate. […] The measure is now under review by the state Court of Appeals.  But under legislation passed Thursday by the Senate, family and medical leave must be uniform throughout the state. And no city, village, town or county could enact an ordinance to provide employees with more leave.  The bill passed on a 19-0 vote, with all Republicans voting for it and all Democrats absent.”

Government ending telework center funding

Ed O'Keefe • Washington Post • March 4, 2011

“About a dozen telework sites across the Washington region are losing federal funding. […]Funding began in 1993 as the government began promoting the use of alternative work schedules and sites.  But ‘telework has become less about where work gets done and more about how work gets done,’ the GSA said in a statement. The wider availability of smartphones and Internet service at home and in public places means that government workers no longer need to rely on a federally funded room of computers.”

Girls and Boys Together

Gail Collins • New York Times • March 2, 2011

“A change that happened later, and the one that’s going to be driving the future, is that women’s ability to succeed in their work life is now a matter of concern for both sexes. The turning point for American women really came on the unknown day when the average American couple started planning their futures with the presumption that there would be two paychecks. In a country where no one has real power without a serious economic role, we entered a time when, whether we liked it or not, all hands were needed to keep the economic ship afloat. Even women who get the opportunity to stay home when their children are young have to be ready to jump back into the work force if their partner is suddenly laid off.”

Workplace Flexibility Gets a Little Blue Around the Collar

Erin Holaday Ziegler • Business Lexington • March 1, 2011

“Workplace flexibility is a banner idea, but does it apply to the server trying to make ends meet at your local fern bar? Or the factory line worker with an immovable eight-hour shift? […] Low-wage workers include those on both standard nine-to-five schedules and nonstandard schedules (nights, weekend, rotating and variable), according to Liz Watson, legislative counsel for Workplace Flexibility 2010, a public policy initiative at Georgetown Law.”

White House marks Women’s History Month with 50-year progress report

Daniel B. Wood • Christian Science Monitor • March 1, 2011

“Many authors and academics agree with that assessment and say they are delighted the White House intends to cast a weekly spotlight on each of the report’s five main topics throughout the month: (1) people, families, and income; (2) education; (3) employment; (4) health; and (5) crime and violence. But some wish the report would have gone further in laying out more completely what challenges women face in 2011.”

“Work-life balance doesn’t mean today what it did even five years ago. The days of having two mobile phones, one for work and one for personal use, are fading fast. However, your employer might still prefer to see some boundaries because how secure are company e-mails on your smartphone, anyway? And what restrictions should there be about apps you can install on a company-issued device?
A new app, currently in a closed beta for devices on Android 2.2 and up, seeks to solve the work-life balance issue by turning one phone into two.”

Reports

Women in America

• White House •

“In support of the Council on Women and Girls, the Office of Management and Budget and the Economics and Statistics Administration within the Department of Commerce worked together to create the Women in America (pdf) report which, for the first time in recent history, pulls together information from across the Federal statistical agencies to compile baseline information on how women are faring in the United States today and how these trends have changed over time.”

Women at Work

• Bureau of Labor Statistics •

“Over the past several decades, the women’s labor force in the United States and throughout the world has experienced many changes. Women’s labor force participation rates are significantly higher today than they were in the 1970s. Throughout that period, women have increasingly attained higher levels of education and experienced an increase in their earnings as a proportion of men’s earnings. In addition to highlighting the past, present, and future of women in the workforce, this Spotlight presents BLS data on the types of activities that women spend their time doing during an average week, how they choose to spend their hard-earned money, and the nature of fatal injuries in the workplace.”

Events

Work and Family Research Network Inaugural Conference

• Work and Family Researchers Network • June 14, 2012

“Please save the date for the inaugural meeting of the new Work and Family Researchers Network.  The theme of the conference will be Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Work and Family.  The conference will feature cutting-edge research along with synthetic overviews of different topic areas. The program will include invited papers as well as those accepted via an open-submission process. A call for papers will be sent out later this spring with a September 2011 deadline.”

Improving Work-Life Fit in Hourly Jobs

• New America Foundation • March 9, 2011

“In the challenging American economy, hourly workers, who often face acute work-family conflicts as single mothers or tag-team families, need particular attention. These families typically face rigid schedules that can leave many having to choose between caring for a sick child and going to work. Some also face unstable schedules that vary from day to day and week to week with very little advance notice. Meanwhile, employers struggle to control labor costs in the face of high turnover and absenteeism rates.”

Blogs

The Struggles of Men

David Leonhardt • New York Times - Economix • March 4, 2011

“The Hamilton Project has produced a fairly stunning chart, suggesting that median real wages for men have dropped significantly more than is commonly understood…”

When Family Mental Illness Unbalances

Sue Shellenbarger • Wall Street Journal - The Juggle • March 2, 2011

“Helping out a troubled loved one in such cases poses a dilemma, because the stigma placed on mental illness forces most people to keep it a secret. Yet a new survey shows people are taking off a surprisingly large amount of work time for this purpose. Some 41% of working adults took from four to nine days off work in the past year to deal with a mental-health issue of their own, or of a friend, family member or co-worker, says arecent survey of 669 working adults by Workplace Options.”

Status of Women Measured by White House – But Then What?

Ann Friedman • Atlantic - Politics • March 1, 2011

“True, you can’t solve a problem if you don’t know it exists. But with the release of this report, the question the Obama administration is about to face is even thornier: Once you name and quantify the problem, how do you go about solving it?  Even as it highlights the major advances women have made over the past few decades, the report raises some challenging questions about the meaning of women’s progress. Does it matter that more women are getting educated if they still aren’t making money on par with their male colleagues in the workforce? Does it matter that women are delaying childbirth if they still overwhelmingly end up as primary caregivers?”

Telecommute to the future

Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA) • Hill - Congress Blog • March 1, 2011

“To ease the burden and to foster the use of telework, I recently introduced legislation to give a tax credit for the purchase of technology to telework, creating an incentive for individuals and families to acquire the technology needed to create a complete work environment in their home. Eligible taxpayers would qualify for an annual tax credit for qualified teleworking expenses paid or incurred by the taxpayer that year, of up to $1,000. Under this legislation, those who perform services for an employer under a teleworking arrangement where the employee works at least 75 days per year would be eligible to receive the tax credit. The tax credit would be given for expenses such as furnishings and electronic information equipment that is needed in order to telework.”

Global News

Family-friendly and flexible working – the new norm?

Celia Donne • HR Magazine, UK • March 3, 2011

“What we see is a world where family-friendly and flexible working is becoming the norm. Employers are allowing staff to work to timetables that fit their commitments and in locations close to home. It is not just mothers who benefit from this – it’s fathers, people who care for elderly relatives, and anyone else who has commitments outside work.  Employers benefit too. By allowing all employees, not just parents, to work flexible hours or closer to home, they are rewarded by a more productive and loyal workforce.”