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 31, 2011


New study: You can’t live on minimum wage

L.L. Brasier • Detroit Free Press • May 31, 2011

“Working harder and longer may not be enough to support a family in Michigan, particularly for employees in low-paying jobs such as retail sales, clerical work and home health care, according to a new study released today.  The Basic Economic Security Tables for Michigan, a study that analyzes the cost of essential needs for singles and families across Michigan, found the cost of providing basic necessities—such as shelter, food and transportation—far exceeds minimum wage and the paychecks of people working full-time in low-paying job categories.”

Business travel takes toll on workers’ health

Charisse Jones • USA Today • May 30, 2011

“Now, a recently published study backs up business trekkers like Briles who’ve long suspected life on the road was negatively affecting their health.  The study, which analyzed data gathered from roughly 13,000 workers, found that those who traveled more than 20 nights a month were 2.61 times more likely to report they were in poor or fair health than those on the road one to six days a month. And they were 1.92 times as likely to be obese, a condition that can lead to diabetes and heart disease.”

A Generation of Slackers? Not So Much

Catherine Rampell • New York Times • May 28, 2011

“To older workers, wanting help looks like laziness; to younger workers, the gains that come from teamwork have been learned from the collaborative nature of their childhood activities, which included social networks, crowd-sourcing and even video games […]  Employers also complain about millennials checking Facebook and Twitter on the job, or working with their ear buds in.  Older workers have a strong sense of separate spheres for work and play: the cubicle is for work, and home is for fun. But to millennials, the boundaries between work and play are fuzzier, said Michael D. Hais, co-author of ‘Millennial Makeover: MySpace, YouTube, and the Future of American Politics.’”

Workplace Cited as a New Source of Rise in Obesity

Tara Parker-Pope • New York Times • May 26, 2011

“Looking beyond poor eating habits and a couch-potato lifestyle, a group of researchers has found a new culprit in the obesity epidemic: the American workplace. A sweeping review of shifts in the labor force since 1960 suggests that a sizable portion of the national weight gain can be explained by declining physical activity during the workday. Jobs requiring moderate physical activity, which accounted for 50 percent of the labor market in 1960, have plummeted to just 20 percent.”

Your Commute Is Killing You

Annie Lowrey • Slate • May 26, 2011

“Commuting is a migraine-inducing life-suck—a mundane task about as pleasurable as assembling flat-pack furniture or getting your license renewed, and you have to do it every day. If you are commuting, you are not spending quality time with your loved ones. You are not exercising, doing challenging work, having sex, petting your dog, or playing with your kids (or your Wii). You are not doing any of the things that make human beings happy. Instead, you are getting nauseous on a bus, jostled on a train, or cut off in traffic.”


Overworked and Underplayed: The Incredible Shrinking Vacation

Joe Robinson • Huffington Post • May 31, 2011

“A study led by Princeton’s Alan Krueger and Nobel-prize-winning psychology professor and researcher Daniel Kahneman found that of all the things on the planet, humans are at their happiest when they’re involved in engaging leisure experiences. […]  Engaged recreation is one of the world’s best stress buffers, no doubt why an annual vacation cuts the risk of heart attack in men by 30 percent and by 50 percent in women who take more than one vacation a year. […] Research by Tim Kasser has documented that, as work time increases and leisure time decreases, negative emotions and health problems increase and life satisfaction plummets.”

Women Who Delay Return To Work Breastfeed Longer: Study

Catherine Pearson • Huffington Post • May 30, 2011

“Writing in the journal Pediatrics, researchers examined the effect of three factors—total maternity leave length, paid maternity leave length and the amount of time women actually took before first returning to work—on both breastfeeding initiation and duration. They found that the total amount of time women took off before first returning to work, regardless of whether it was paid, did affect breastfeeding rates. Women who waited at least six weeks to return to work were more likely to start breastfeeding.  And the more time women took off, the more pronounced the effect.”

Honor the Troops by Hiring Them

Paul Rieckhoff • Atlantic - Politics • May 30, 2011

“The Department of Labor reported in April that 10.9 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan-era veterans are currently unemployed, a full two percentage points higher than the national average. An internal survey of IAVA members suggests that number is actually much higher at 20 percent. By now, it’s well known that the veterans of this generation won’t be getting a welcome-home parade. Most have come to accept this after 10 years. But it’s a travesty that so many are coming home to an unemployment check.  These numbers show that employers are shying away from hiring veterans. Sometimes, years of military training and certificates don’t perfectly translate to a civilian marketplace. Other times, if that candidate is still in the National Guard or Reserves, the employer cites concerns about future deployments.”

America’s Vanishing Middle Class: A Tale of Two Economies

Jeff Stibel • Harvard Business Review Blogs - The Conversation • May 27, 2011

“Meanwhile, middle-class jobs are declining at an alarming rate. Middle income jobs have been falling rapidly for some time and now represent well less than half of all jobs in the US. New numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggest that these middle income jobs have been replaced by low-income jobs. This has left 17 million college-educated Americans with jobs well below their educational levels. If the middle-class are filling the jobs available for the less educated, then the poorest Americans will largely be left jobless.”

Global News

No room for flexible work

Judith Sloan • Australian • May 28, 2011

“We have seen one consequence of modern awards this Easter, when several restaurants, cafes and other food outlets could not afford to open during the break because of the stipulation that public holidays attract a 2 1/2-time loading on normal pay rates.  It was a case of losses all around: the public could not eat out at the affected establishments; the workers who would have been happy to work during the break were not offered any hours of work; and the employer faced the costs of having capital sit idle for those days.”

Telework’s time has come

Kim Covert • Vancouver Sun, Postmedia News • May 28, 2011

“Telework is becoming increasingly popular, with one in four Canadians saying their employer supports the idea of working from home, according to a survey from Workopolis released ahead of Canada’s unofficial Work From Home Day on June 1.  The federal government launched its telework program nearly 10 years ago. More recently, the City of Calgary has just completed its second annual WORKshift Week, and Ottawa said recently it will spend $20 million over the next four years to introduce a telework program.”