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?

May 10, 2011

Articles

Plan would mandate paid sick leave in Seattle

Lynn Thompson • Seattle Times • May 9, 2011

“Seattle would become the fourth city in the nation to require all private employers to provide paid sick leave to workers under a proposal being advanced by a coalition of labor and community groups.  Advocates say such a law would improve public health by keeping sick parents or their children at home and not forcing workers to choose between getting paid and getting well.  Many small-business and restaurant owners oppose the idea, saying the costs could be staggering to operations with small profit margins and a large number of part-time employees.”

Employers rethinking five day workweek

Eve Tahmincioglu • MSNBC.com • May 8, 2011

“Bert Martinez, CEO of a business-training firm in Houston, has decided to blow away the five-day workweek for himself and his staff of 28.  Starting next month the entire company is going to work for four ten-hour days instead of five eight-hour days, and the company’s workweek will stay that way if productivity and profits stay the same or increase. [...]  While his experiment may sound unusual, it’s actually part of a growing movement to rethink the standard five-day, 40-hour workweek that has been around in this country since the New Deal.”

‘Superjobs’: Why You Work More, Enjoy It Less

Anne Kadet • Wall Street Journal • May 8, 2011

“Some workplace experts say the superjob is the logical next step in management’s quest to make the workplace more cost efficient. The latest shift started when businesses redistributed the workload during the recession; last year’s nascent recovery intensified the process. In a recent survey by Spherion Staffing, 53% of workers surveyed said they’ve taken on new roles, most of them without extra pay (just 7% got a raise or a bonus). Now that sales are picking up, there’s even more work to do, but companies are reluctant to hire, say human-resources experts. Some are anxious about what the economic future holds, while others are seeing their profits increase now that their work forces are leaner.”

Movement to keep moms is remaking the workplace

Brigid Schulte • Washington Post • May 7, 2011

“Flexibility can come with trade-offs: contract jobs with no benefits and no long-term job security, fewer opportunities for advancement or reduced hours with reduced pay.  But those in the opt-in movement say many mothers are willing to give up income if that means taking control of their schedules, and, perhaps most important, doing meaningful, challenging work in their chosen professions rather than what they see as the less interesting work of the often-stigmatized ‘mommy track.’ [...] Liz Watson met with companies as part of the Workplace Flexibility 2010 program at Georgetown Law. What she found was simply inertia. ‘A lot of employers just didn’t know how to make their workplaces more flexible or didn’t know the research showing how it improved productivity.’”

For some military moms, a long-distance juggle

Petula Dvorak • Washington Post • May 7, 2011

“These are military moms. And this is how they still manage to nag, nurture and bond with their children from 6,000 miles away.  About 220,000 women have served in Afghanistan and Iraq. About 40 percent of active-duty women, or almost 85,000, are mothers, according to a Joint Economic Committee report. And of those, at least 30,000 are single moms.  That’s a lot of American kids who know that Mommy’s not going to make it to the dance recital, won’t be there for the birthday party and, to be perfectly truthful, might not come home at all.”

Presidential Proclamation -- Mother’s Day

President Barack Obama • White House • May 6, 2011

“To support the parents who are raising tomorrow’s leaders, my Administration is committed to doing all we can to create jobs and economic opportunities for families across America. We are striving to help mothers in the workplace by enforcing equal pay laws and addressing workplace flexibility as families balance the demands of work, child and elder care, and education.”

Blogs

Opt-in Movement Great for Upper-Middle Class Moms. But the Rest Need Options, Too.

June Carbone and Naomi Cahn • Huffington Post • May 9, 2011

“The Washington Post article is representative of much of the work in this area: While the headline would lead one to believe the story would focus on all working mothers, the article is really about a select group of women who are highly educated professionals. The news media show a disproportionate interest in professional women who leave the workforce to become full-time mothers. This article adds a new twist on the old story; it focuses on women who leave, but then re-enter on terms that respect their goals for work-family balance.”

This Company Is Certified Work-Life Friendly

Sue Shellenbarger • Wall Street Journal - The Juggle • May 9, 2011

“Governments use various means to help ease the juggle. Several European nations subsidize paid parental leave or child care. [...] Now, one government, the Canadian province of Quebec, has another idea to boost work-life balance.  Officials there launched a new program last month to grant an official government seal of approval to employers that meet standards for encouraging work-family balance. Employers can earn points toward achieving four progressive levels of recognition for family-friendly programs, and display an official government logo for each level they achieve.”

Unemployed Mother’s Day

Nancy Folbre • New York Times - Economix • May 9, 2011

“Single mothers are still more likely to be employed than married mothers, for the obvious reason that they depend more heavily on their own earnings. But it’s harder for them to find jobs, in part because they find it harder to make child-care arrangements.  Unemployment rates among single mothers have long surpassed those among married men and women. In 2010, their unemployment rate averaged 14.6 percent, compared with 6.8 percent among married men and 6.3 percent among married mothers.”

Women + Manufacturing Jobs + Workplace Flexibility = Success

Sara Manzano-Diaz • White House Blog • May 6, 2011

“On Thursday, April 14, I traveled to Chicago to host the U.S. Department of Labor Women’s Bureau National Dialogue on Workplace Flexibility.  This was the 7th Dialogue in a series of ten we’ve hosted around the country following the lead of the March 2010 White House Forum.  In Chicago, we brought together educators, workers, flexibility experts, women’s rights leaders, employers and union representatives to discuss the unique challenges and solutions for implementing flexible work arrangements in manufacturing jobs.”

Depression and the Mommy Wars: Who’s Worst Off?

Belinda Luscombe • Time - Healthland • May 6, 2011

“Are working moms more prone to depression than those who stay at home? One faces long hours away from her family, a lot of juggling and exhaustion. The other faces long hours with needy little humans, a lot of isolation and exhaustion. A new study suggests that it’s less important whether a mother works outside of the home than the kind of job she has.”

Why Flexibility Won’t Work Unless Your Employees Are Your Partners

Cali Yost • Work+Life Fit Blog • May 5, 2011

“Individuals can’t manage their work+life fit without some degree of flexibility in how, when and where work is done.  Conversely, flexibility in the way work is done can’t become a targeted business strategy if individuals don’t know how to use it.  And most don’t.  For individuals to use flexibility deliberately and thoughtfully, they need to have the right mindset, tools and training.”

Global News

The workaholic nation

Judith Ireland • Sydney Morning Herald • May 7, 2011

“When Julia Gillard first addressed the nation as our surprise new Prime Minister she talked of ‘hard work’ above all else. Working in Kevin Rudd’s office was so intense that the former prime minister said you could measure it in dog years. No wonder he had time for only three hours’ sleep a night.  Even though we complain about the drain long hours place on everything not related to work, there is a fair bit of pride mixed in as well - a sort of overworked machismo.”

Workforce surveillance: Is your boss keeping a private eye on you?

Iwona Tokc-Wilde • Guardian • May 7, 2011

“Although the code discourages them from doing so, bosses may snoop without our consent when checking for violation of company policies, quality control or evidence of business transactions. To get private investigators on board to check up on us secretly, they must have grounds to suspect criminal activity or serious misconduct, such as abuse of sick leave. [...] Absenteeism is a big headache for British bosses. According to the 2010 Absence and Workplace Health Survey – commissioned by the Confederation of British Industry and Pfizer – of the 180m sick days UK workers took in 2009, around 27m were not genuine, costing employers an estimated £2.5bn.”