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?

June 14, 2011

Articles

Employers Spruce Up Benefits to Keep Older Workers, BofA Says

Margaret Collins • Bloomberg • June 14, 2011

“Employers are sprucing up benefits such as flexible work schedules and retirement planning to retain older workers, according to Bank of America Corp. (BAC)  About 94 percent of employers said they think it’s important to keep older workers because the companies need their skills, said a study released today by the Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank. Employers are offering customized schedules, education on retirement and health care, and the ability to work from home, according to the study, which is based on interviews with 650 company executives and benefit administrators from April 19 to April 23.”

The Hidden Cost of Letting Working Telecommute

Barbara Haislip • Wall Street Journal • June 13, 2011

“Just how much of a tax hit companies face depends on state rules. Some impose income tax based on an out-of-state company’s sales in the jurisdiction. Others also take into account the company’s payroll and property in the state. However they figure the bill, lots of states seem to be on the same page as New Jersey. In a survey issued in April, 35 states, the District of Columbia and New York City said an employee who telecommutes from a home in the state would create ‘nexus’—a connection that warrants imposing income tax on an out-of-state employer.”

Work-life flexibility may be here to stay

• UPI • June 12, 2011

“The Work+Life Fit Reality Check, a telephone survey of 637 full-time employed U.S. adults sponsored by Work+Life Fit Inc. and conducted by Opinion Research Corp. March 3-7, indicates that compared to this time last year, more than eight out of 10 report they have the same or an increased amount of work-life flexibility.”

Don’t Quit This Day Job

Karen S. Sibert • New York Times • June 11, 2011

“Today, however, increasing numbers of doctors — mostly women — decide to work part time or leave the profession. Since 2005 the part-time physician workforce has expanded by 62 percent, according to recent survey data from the American Medical Group Association, with nearly 4 in 10 female doctors between the ages of 35 and 44 reporting in 2010 that they worked part time.  This may seem like a personal decision, but it has serious consequences for patients and the public.”

“In truth, though the work/family balance is often categorized as a ‘women’s issue,’ the problems of caring for families weigh on men, too. And the policy solutions that would better enable women to care for their families are gender-neutral, too. Though ‘women’s organizations’ such as the National Partnership have been at the forefront of the push for paid sick days, for instance, the policy would benefit all workers. Similarly, leave laws – whether paid family leave or parental leave - apply to both men and women, though they’re often perceived as benefiting only mothers.”

Companies Spend on Equipment, Not Workers

Catherine Rampell • New York Times • June 9, 2011

“Companies that are looking for a good deal aren’t seeing one in new workers. Workers are getting more expensive while equipment is getting cheaper, and the combination is encouraging companies to spend on machines rather than people.”

Blogs

They Are No Less Productive

Marcie Pitt-Catsouphes • New York Times – Room For Debate – “Do Older Workers Need a Nudge?” • June 14, 2011

“The concern about age discrimination is diminished if high performance standards and the assessment of fit are equitably applied to employees of all ages.  Fortunately, employers have options other than nudging employees toward a separation. No employer wants workers to show up and perform in a lackluster manner. This is why there has been significant attention focused on levels of employee engagement. Employers can make changes in the job and the work environment, such as the introduction of different types of flexible work options, which help employees (including older workers) to maintain high levels of engagement.”

Where Are Women Working?

Sue Shellenbarger • Wall Street Journal - The Juggle • June 14, 2011

“William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institute, says increased age of the population would lead to higher female employment, because more women have passed their child-bearing years.  States with younger populations, including higher proportions of immigrant families, are likely to have lower female workforce participation rates, he adds. Also, Dr. Franklin says, states with a larger population of children under 6 have lower rates of female employment.”

Should Women Be Doctors?

Lisa Belkin • New York Times - Motherlode • June 13, 2011

“The problem is not that workers — mostly women at this point — are demanding too much, but rather that professions are archaically structured. Also, that the push for change still comes mostly from women. The answer is neither to shut up, nor to buck up. The answer is to recalibrate the hours and expectations of professions so that they can be done by the ‘new worker’ — not a man with a wife at home (which is the assumption of the old structures) but rather a mother or father with a working partner and responsibilities at home.”

One Guard Member’s Flexibility Story

Adam Reich • Sloan Work and Family Blog • June 13, 2011

“We must educate my fellow veterans that they are not alone and asking for the flexibility they need at work is ok.  We also must educate employers about the importance of workplace flexibility for military families and how to actually implement these types of programs.  It is time we recognized the value workplace flexibility has for military families meeting their personal and family obligations at the same time they serve our Country and try to remain a productive member of the workforce.”

“Yesterday, the First Lady was the keynote speaker at the 40th anniversary gala for the National Partnership for Women and Families, where she spoke about the Administration’s commitment to women and children, and the Partnership’s many accomplishments.”

Our Upside-Down Workforce

Ronald Brownstein • Atlantic - Business • June 10, 2011

“Since December 2006, the employment-to-population rate for young people has fallen by a dizzying 10 percentage points, from about 55 percent to just 45 percent. That decline, much sharper than in previous recessions, has reduced the share of employed young people to the lowest levels in 60 years.  By contrast, the employment-to-population rate for older Americans is slightly higher today (37.6 percent) than it was in December 2006 (37.4 percent). During the long slowdown, no other age group has increased its labor-force participation, notes Heidi Shierholz, an economist at the liberal Economic Policy Institute.”

Global News

Balance all in a day’s work for the rare couple who share the load

Nicole Brady • Sydney Morning Herald • June 12, 2011

“JAYNE and Tim Darby don’t realise it but they are living the dream: strong partnership, happy children, fulfilling careers. Theirs is the work-life balance many strive for but few realise. Although the secret to their success sounds simple, it is a formula most Australian families fail to follow: they share the load.  As health professionals, Jayne and Tim both work 30 hours a week - Jayne over four days and nights, Tim over three days. When one is at work, the other does the household chores. If they are both at home they do them together.”