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 20, 2011


Study claims paid sick leave improves public health

Star-Ledger • Stacy Jones • May 20, 2011

“Almost 40 percent of private sector employees don’t have paid sick days, according to a Rutgers University study, and its authors hope policy makers will consider making the benefit mandatory statewide.  Paid sick days are generally offered less often to employees earning low wages, the report said, with only 24 percent of food preparation workers getting the benefit. In contrast, 87 percent of management and 84 percent of legal employees received sick leave.  Karen White, director of the Work and Family Programs at Rutgers’s Center for Women and Work, finds the disparity troubling.”

Public Favors Increased Government Role in Promoting American Dream

• Pew Charitable Trusts • May 19, 2011

“Economic Mobility and the American Dream – Where Do We Stand in the Wake of the Great Recession, a new national poll released today by Pew’s Economic Mobility Project, finds that 83 percent of Americans support a government role in promoting upward economic mobility, a sentiment that cuts across party lines. In fact, 58 percent think it could do even more.  Moreover, 80 percent believe the government does an ineffective job helping poor and middle-class Americans, but there is disagreement over whether government is pursuing the ‘wrong’ policies (37 percent) or is pursuing the ‘right’ ones ineffectively (43 percent).”

Lumpy Labor

Robert Skidelsky • Project Syndicate • May 19, 2011

“But let’s put these grim prospects aside, and ponder what a civilized solution to the problem of technology-driven unemployment would look like. The answer, surely, is work-sharing. […] The choice would then be between limitless technology-driven unemployment and sharing out the work that needed to be done.  Only a workaholic would prefer the first solution. Unfortunately, such people seem to be in charge of policy in the United States and Britain. Many other European countries are adopting the second solution. Work-sharing schemes, in many different forms, are becoming the norm in Holland and Denmark, and have made inroads in France and Germany.”

“As a crucial vote on paid sick time approaches in the state Senate, supporters have watered down the bill to cover service workers only.  The measure, a familiar, annual controversy in the state Capitol, would allow workers to earn up to 40 hours a year of paid time off for sick leave, or to care for a sick child, at companies with at least 50 employees in Connecticut.  It’s a close vote every year, and this year is no exception. But with the Senate ready to take it up as soon as this week, the stakes are higher in 2011 because Gov. Dannel P. Malloy says he supports the idea. Connecticut is likely to become the first state in the nation to force restaurant chains, home health care agencies, school bus companies and other employers of low-paid service workers to give paid time off for illness.”

In Rust Belt, manufacturers add jobs, but factory pay isn’t what it used to be

Michael Fletcher • Washington Post • May 17, 2011

“The nation’s factories have added 250,000 jobs since the beginning of last year — about 13 percent of what was lost during the recent recession — marking the first sustained increase in manufacturing employment since 1997.  But the new hiring also reflects another emerging reality of U.S. manufacturing: Many of the jobs don’t pay anything close to what they used to. Assembly-line workers who will be making the EdenPure products under the auspices of Suarez Corp. Industries will start at $7.50 an hour.  That’s a far cry from the $20 an hour that most workers made with Hoover, which shifted its century-old production lines to Mexico and El Paso in 2007 after concluding that it was too expensive to make its products in the industrial Midwest.”


Flexible Workplace Solutions for Low-Wage Hourly Workers: A Framework for a National Conversation

Liz Watson and Jennifer Swanberg • Workplace Flexibility 2010 and Institute for Workplace Innovation •

“Providing ‘flexibility’ for low-wage hourly workers requires a willingness to rethink traditional scheduling practices for workers on a wide range of schedules.  For some workers, this might mean loosening up rigid scheduling practices by giving workers more meaningful input into their work schedules without jeopardizing their jobs.  For other workers, it might mean making scheduling practices that are already very loose […] more predictable and stable, while also providing them with opportunities for meaningful input into their work schedules. […] In this report, we focus on flexible work arrangements that can improve scheduling for low-wage hourly workers in each of these areas. 

Labor Market Policy in the Great Recession: Some Lessons from Denmark and Germany

John Schmitt • Center for Economic Policy Research •

“Danish institutions – which include extensive opportunities for education, training, and placement of unemployed workers – appear to perform well when the economy is at or near full employment, but have not been effective during the downturn. German labor-market institutions, which emphasize job security by keeping workers connected to their current employers, may have drawbacks when the economy is operating at or near full employment, but have performed well in the Great Recession.”


Rocket Scientists, Part 2

Jared Bernstein • On the Economy • May 19, 2011

“The stalwart Bureau of Labor Statistics happened to release a new report on workers by occupation […] What’s notable here again is that, with a few exceptions (e.g., registered nurses) these are not jobs that typically demand high levels of education.  Moreover, as numerous commenters noted, they are jobs that risk being of low quality. […] My point is that along with—not instead of!—policies that make higher education more accessible, we need strategies to improve the quality of these jobs as well.” 

The Work-Life Balance Quiz

Sheri Caplan • Forbes - Pettistripes • May 19, 2011

“The conundrum of finding time to devote both to one’s career and one’s personal life has become popularly known as the work-life balance. As far as I know, there haven’t been any studies on the ramifications of this issue in the prehistoric era, but it’s likely a problem that’s plagued both men and women since time began.”

Are Young College Grads Too Lazy to Work?

Catherine Rampell • New York Times - Economix • May 17, 2011

“Dominic Orr, president and CEO of Aruba Networks, a wireless-networking company, adopted what he termed a ‘no-vacation’ policy two years ago for all North American employees. Orr told New York Times columnist Adam Bryant that instead of giving each person a set number of weeks off each year, the standard approach to vacation planning, Orr requires them to take responsibility for scheduling their own paid vacation time any time they want – as long as they and their managers agree they are reaching their job objectives.”

Name Your Own Vacation

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

“Dominic Orr, president and CEO of Aruba Networks, a wireless-networking company, adopted what he termed a ‘no-vacation’ policy two years ago for all North American employees. Orr told New York Times columnist Adam Bryant that instead of giving each person a set number of weeks off each year, the standard approach to vacation planning, Orr requires them to take responsibility for scheduling their own paid vacation time any time they want – as long as they and their managers agree they are reaching their job objectives.”

Balancing Elder Care and a Career

Laura Steele • Glass Hammer • May 17, 2011

“Caregiving often leads to significant disruptions in a woman’s work/life balance. Caregivers experience higher levels of stress, have more health issues themselves, and report more conflicts with other family members or colleagues. Typically, this added burden leads to absenteeism at work, or an inability to fully focus on the job. According to the MetLife Caregiving Cost Study, US companies lose up to $33 billion each year, as caregivers attempt to balance their careers and the needs of their family members.”

Global News

Work-life balance a battle for both sexes

Henrietta Cook • Cranberra Times • May 20, 2011

“Employed mothers still do the bulk of domestic chores while fathers work longer hours and feel more pressure to spend time with their children, a new report into Australian families has revealed.  The Families in Australia 2011 report was issued yesterday and provides the public with a snapshot into families, drawing on statistics from a range of sources.  The report shows that fathers increased the amount of time they devote to paid work by 5.7 hours a week between 1997 and 2006, but also feel more pressured to spend time with their families, with 66 per cent of fathers stating their work had resulted in them missing out on family activities they would have liked to take part in.”

Will sharing parental leave be fair?

Louisa Peacock • Telegraph • May 19, 2011

“Employers would not be obliged to pay ‘enhanced paternity pay’ to fathers under the new rules but those that only award women the perk could have to justify their actions at a tribunal, lawyers said.  In a generous workplace maternity leave scheme, mothers can be offered as much as six months off at full pay, with another three months at half pay.  Setting aside 22 weeks of leave, which must be reserved for the mother under the new rules, the employer in this scenario would pay an extra 14 weeks of enhanced pay to the woman – nine months in total.”

Workers queuing up for a pay cut. Really?

Deborah Orr • Guardian • May 19, 2011

“What planet does the British Chambers of Commerce pontificate on? The group says it would be ‘absurd’ for the government to introduce a universal right to request flexible working – as proposed in a new report called Modern Workplaces – because businesses would be ‘inundated’ with requests.”