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?

April 19, 2011

Articles

Public-Worker Retirements Surge as States Cut Benefits to Shrink Deficits

Simone Baribeau • Bloomberg • April 19, 2011

“California, Florida and Texas are seeing more retirements as rising benefit costs, pay cuts and looming furloughs prompt workers to leave. Inducements to quit early also boosted departures in New York as U.S. states tackled budget gaps totaling more than $540 billion since fiscal 2009,according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. In New Jersey, Wisconsin and Ohio, added motivation came from attacks on unions over costs that strained budgets.”

Dead Suit Walking

Rick Marin and Tony Dokoupil • Newsweek • April 17, 2011

“Through the first quarter of 2011, nearly 600,000 college-educated white men ages 35 to 64 were unemployed, according to previously unpublished Labor Department stats. That’s more than 5 percent jobless—double the group’s pre-recession rate. That might not sound bad compared with the plight of younger, less-educated workers and minorities, but it’s a historic change from the last recession, when about half as many lost their oxford shirts. The number of college-educated men unemployed for at least a year is five times higher today than after the dotcom bubble. In New York City, men in the 35-to-54 kill zone have lost jobs faster than any other group, including teenage girls, according to new data from the Fiscal Policy Institute.”

Workplace Fiction That’s True to Life

Bryan Burrough • New York Times • April 16, 2011

“These shows also illuminate the lives that people lead in the workplace — another part of experience that is not especially well represented in fiction. […] Mr. Ford attempts to add to the meager store of workplace fiction with a new paperback collection of short stories he has edited, called ‘Blue Collar, White Collar, No Collar: Stories of Work’ (Harper Perennial). By and large, these pieces don’t pierce the dark heart of Corporate America, or limn its existential dilemmas. Instead, most are character studies set in all manner of work environments, be they barrios, furniture warehouses or typewriter repair shops.”

Odd Work schedules pose risk to health

• Associated Press • April 16, 2011

“In a sign of growing awareness of the problem, the Federal Aviation Administration said Saturday it was changing air traffic controllers’ work schedules most likely to cause fatigue. The announcement comes after the agency disclosed another incident in which a controller fell asleep while on duty early Saturday morning at a busy Miami regional facility.”

Patrick aide gives backing to proposal for paid sick days

Kyle Cheney • Boston Globe • April 13, 2011

“Governor Deval Patrick’s top labor adviser threw the administration’s weight behind a proposal yesterday that would require employers to allow workers to earn seven paid sick days a year, calling the proposal a ‘basic right.’  Joanne Goldstein, secretary of labor and workforce development, argued that the plan would enhance workplace productivity, and rejected assertions that sick leave policies should be left up to individual businesses.”

Blogs

Mothers With First-Born Girls Work More

Brian Blackstone • Wall Street Journal - Real Time Economics • April 18, 2011

“Want to stimulate the labor market? Start by having girls.  A trio of European economists concludes in a recent paper that in a group of large developed countries, having a first-born son means fewer hours worked outside the home for the mother. In sum, having a first-born boy increases fertility, leaving mothers out of the work force longer.”

Giving Back to our Military Families

Hilda Solis • White House Blog • April 18, 2011

“President Obama and this administration know that, too. Its why, just a few days ago, I joined Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden Ohio to launch a new campaign called Joining Forces.  Together, we’re joining forces with businesses all across the country, calling on them to recruit and hire veterans and military spouses. We’re calling on them to make their workplaces more military-spouse friendly, and more Guard and Reserves-friendly, with things like flexible work schedules and portable jobs.”

Does the Economy Predict Suicides?

Edward Tenner • Atlantic - Business • April 18, 2011

“It isn’t surprising that unemployment affects suicide rates, but there are a few unexplained complications, especially the rise of suicide in the boom years of the 1920s. (It’s too bad the authors of the study didn’t at least try to use earlier, admittedly less precise, statistics.)  And some mental health organizations have been uneasy about this kind of publicity.”

Ask the Juggle: How to Get Flex Time

Sue Shellenbarger • Wall Street Journal - The Juggle • April 17, 2011

“A freelance writer and mother of two writes The Juggle for advice: When is the right time to ask a prospective employer to work from home – during the interview, or after she has a job offer in hand? And how should she pitch the idea?  The answer depends in part on her priorities. Is telecommuting more important to her than getting a job? Or does she place higher priority on getting back to work?”

Global News

Millions of parents to be worse off due to tax credit changes

Rosie Murray-West • Telegraph • April 19, 2011

“Millions of families have received letters telling them that their income is about to go down, because of the Government’s changes to tax credits.  A spokesman for Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) said that letters had been sent out relating to the change in tax thresholds announced in the Budget. However, those families who claim Working Tax Credit may find that they just end up receiving less than they expect without notification, because letters have not gone out regarding the change to the percentage of childcare costs that can be recouped through the credit.”

Four-day working week? Three cheers!

Ian Price • Guardian • April 16, 2011

“Oddly enough, the four-day week was once envisaged as the future. As Prime Minister in the 1950s, Winston Churchill saw a time when accelerating technological advancement would enable us to ‘give the working man what he’s never had – four days’ work and then three days’ fun’. This did not seem as improbable then, as it sounds now. After all, the weekend was a comparatively recent and expanding invention. ‘What’s a weekend?’ asked the (fictional) Edwardian Dowager Countess of Grantham quite plausibly in Downton Abbey, set at a time when Saturday mornings were still worked.”