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 3, 2011

Articles

College Campuses Could Change Work-Life Culture

Pete Thompson • WAMU • May 3, 2011

“George Mason Professor Jaime Lester has conducted work-life studies on women at universities across the country. She says many women are not as fortunate as Maydar.  Frequently, she says, women are the ones most in need of work flexibility due to family obligations. But that can be difficult to find at most universities. According to her research, many office positions which women frequently hold require employees to be present. […] And it’s not just a gender issue; some say it’s a class issue. Many experts point to a perception that work flex is reserved for elite, white-collar professionals, whether it’s professors or accountants. Lester says that’s why it’s so important that universities embrace the concept of workplace flexibility, because academic institutions have tremendous influence on work-life trends across the country. They have the power to affect all fields of work.”

Paid Sick Days Debate: Economics vs. Public Health

Jennifer Kaylin • New Haven Independent • May 3, 2011

“‘Food service is not a place were you want employees showing up with contagious infections,’ said U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd District.  DeLauro was on hand at a rally in support of the proposed legislation outside a Friendly’s restaurant in West Haven. In recent weeks similar rallies, organized by Everybodybenefits.org, have been held in front of Walmart, Starbucks, the International House of Pancakes and McDonalds, all employers who don’t provide paid sick days for their front-line employees.”

“Businesses that have good work-flex plans are already seeing sharp increases in productivity, an average of 19 percent according to the society of human resource management.  Horn says this could be one crucial way to compete globally into the next century, against countries such as India and China.  ‘It’s gonna have to get done differently,’ he says. ‘And that’s what drives this need for flexibility.’  A need that Horn says many now regard as the next great business imperative.”

Caregivers need government help or they’ll go broke

Gail Sheehy • USA Today • May 2, 2011

“Three-quarters of caregivers work for a living as well as look after family members who are chronically or seriously ill or lingering with dementia. How do they manage this most challenging and extended passage?  They give up their savings, sell their homes, often move into the same home with their frail loved ones to cut expenses, and face the constant danger of being fired for their divided concentration between family and work.  Will family caregivers get government help before they go broke?”

Telework Order

Joseph Marks • Government Executive • May 2, 2011

“President Obama signed an executive order Thursday giving federal agencies three months to update their computer policies and purchasing plans to account for an expected surge in federal employees working from home following December’s Telework Enhancement Act.”

As Labor Costs Rise, Spotlight Is on Benefits

Joe Light • Wall Street Journal • May 1, 2011

“The cost of benefits continues to drive up employee compensation costs, according to a report released Friday by the U.S. Labor Department.  Over the last 12 months, total compensation—which includes salaries, wages and benefits—rose 2%. The rise was primarily due to a 3% rise in benefit expenses, the report said.  In addition to health insurance, benefit expenses include paid leave, retirement and overtime premiums.”

Decline of the working man

• Economist • April 28, 2011

“The main reason why fewer men are working is that sweeping structural changes in rich economies have reduced the demand for all less-skilled workers. Manufacturing has declined as a share of GDP, and productivity growth has enabled factories to produce more with fewer people. Technological advances require higher skills. For the low-skilled, low demand has meant lower wages, both relative and absolute. This in turn reduces the incentive to find a job, especially if disability payments or a working spouse provide an income.  Men have been hit harder than women by these shifts.”

Blogs

Work and motherhood: Can you really not do it all?

Deborah Netburn • Los Angeles Times • May 3, 2011

“For those of us who live in a constant state of anxiety about how we’ve compromised our careers for our kids or the other way around, books about the work/life balance and how other women have dealt with it remain perennially interesting. […] most of the essays underscore what modern moms already know— achieving a balance between career goals and parenting goals is generally impossible, and all you can do is your best.”

RIM takes aim at work-life balance

Don Reisinger • CNET • May 2, 2011

“The company today announced a new technology called BlackBerry Balance that it says allows users to engage in both personal and work-related activities without compromising the safety of corporate information. For example, IT managers could create policies that will disable the ability for work information to be copied to e-mail accounts or Twitter, as well as lock down corporate data or files, so they cannot be used on personal applications. When an employee leaves the company, IT staff can remotely wipe corporate data from the device without affecting the user’s personal information.”

More employers warm to power naps

Sandra Endo • CNN - This Just In • April 30, 2011

“In fact, in many cases napping on the job is a fireable offense.  But new research from the Society of Human Resource Management shows this year more employers are slowly building nap rooms for workers to get some shut-eye during the day.  It’s a relatively new concept with a 1% uptick this year, according to the group’s survey, which says 6 percent of employers provide nap rooms compared to 5 percent last year.”

The Good Old Days

Megan McArdle • Atlantic - Business • April 29, 2011

“But the suburbs of the era were not created simply by the rise of the middle class.  Their existence, in the way that Manzi and Krugman remember, was also completely dependent on other forms of inequality: of the ability to move away from social problems, which is harder now; of generations of women whose sole destiny was the kitchen.  This produced a world in which most homes were, from the point of view of kids, basically the same: all of them contained a mom who spent most of her time cleaning the place or feeding its occupants, and the size and contents were naturally limited to the amount of stuff that Mom was personally willing to care for.  It was a great world for kids.  But not everyone was so lucky.”

Global News

Siesta? What siesta? Mexicans work longest hours in world

William Booth • Washington Post • May 1, 2011

“According to a report issued last month by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Mexicans devote an average of 10 hours per day to paid and unpaid work, such as housework.  The Belgians — bless them — work the least. About seven hours.  The Japanese, followed by the South Koreans and Chinese, work the most paid hours in a day, though they devote fewer hours to unpaid work, such as cooking, cleaning, caring and shopping for the household. Americans fall in the middle, though they spend the least time cooking (30 minutes), especially compared with the Turks, who put in 74 minutes at the stove. OECD members include much of the developed world, alongside still-developing nations such as Mexico, India, China and South Africa.”

Businesses protest against yet another parental leave shake-up

Louisa Peacock • Telegraph • April 30, 2011

“In mid-May, the Government is expected to announce a radical overhaul of the way mothers and fathers take time off work to look after their babies. Most companies are still trying to get used to the latest parental leave changes – introduced at the beginning of April – allowing fathers to take more time off.  Under the expected new proposals, fathers will be allowed to take time off at the same time as mothers, to encourage men to play a greater role in bringing up their children.”