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 3, 2011

Articles

Hiring in U.S. Slowed in May With 54,000 Jobs Added

Catherine Rampell • New York Times • June 3, 2011

“The Labor Department reported on Friday that the United States added 54,000 nonfarm payroll jobs last month, following an increase of 232,000 jobs in April. May’s job gain was about a third of what economists had been forecasting.  The unemployment rate ticked up to 9.1 percent from 9.0 percent in April.  ‘The economy clearly just hit a brick wall,’ said Paul Ashworth, chief United States economist at Capital Economics. ‘It’s almost as if it came to a complete standstill.’”

BLS Report: http://bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm

KPMG Sued for Gender Discrimination

Accounting Today • Michael Cohn • June 2, 2011

“Kassman felt that she had no choice but to move to a ‘flexible’ work schedule, under which she retained all the responsibilities of a full-time employee, but was paid less. KPMG frequently touted her as a role model for other working mothers, even though one of the partners acknowledged that women on flexible schedules were ‘not going to get anywhere’ at KPMG. The lawsuit alleges that many female employees at the firm feel pressured to move to a flexible work schedule after having children because of a stereotype that they are less effective employees and less committed to their careers.”

The benefits of paid sick days

Lonnie Golden and Stephen Herzenberg • Philadelphia Daily News • June 1, 2011

“Paid sick days are good for business and the community, as well as for families. Businesses save because worker turnover declines, lowering hiring costs and eliminating lost productivity as new workers get up to speed.  The cost of hiring is high compared to paying for sick days because managers and human-resource professionals who recruit earn more than lower-wage workers. Businesses also save because paid sick days reduce worker resentment and improve worker-manager relations.”

Mortgage Company Settles Maternity Leave Case

Tara Siegel Bernard • New York Times • May 31, 2011

“Cornerstone Mortgage initially approved a mortgage for Elizabeth Budde, a 34-year-old oncologist in Kenmore, Wash., while she was pregnant. But soon after she had the baby and the lender learned she was on maternity leave, Dr. Budde said, it rescinded the approval via e-mail.  Since ‘maternity leave is classified as paid via short-term or temporary disability income,’ the e-mail said, that income could not be considered. With the help of her real estate firm, she eventually requalified after proving that she was receiving her full salary during her time off.”

Study: Revamp Workday to Combat Obesity Problem

Jennifer Ludden • NPR - Morning Edition • May 30, 2011

“A new study suggests that efforts to address the obesity epidemic should include dramatically changing the workday. Some are already dong so, using treadmill desks at work to burn calories. And in Portland, Ore., city officials are trying to get desk-bound workers up and about.”

Blogs

Working-mother readers share stories of opting in and out of the workforce

Brigid Schulte • Washington Post - Story Lab • June 3, 2011

“Some of the stories were inspiring. Some depressing. Some wrote of entire businesses that have embraced flexible work for everyone, or new programs, like those at Georgetown University and Harvard Business School, addressing this very issue: how to keep moms and their brains and skills in the workforce in a meaningful way that doesn’t mean sacrificing family life. […]The universal theme from readers was pretty consistent: it ain’t working now, and something’s gotta give.”

Ys Just Wanna Have Fun (and Flexibility)

Sylvia Ann Hewlett • Harvard Business Review - Blogs • June 3, 2011

“Workplaces are more demanding than ever in terms of hours and performance. Americans are putting in more hours per week than previous years. That’s creating a rising tide of resentment among the 70 million Gen Ys flooding into the workforce.  Gen Ys know what they want — and it’s not the all-work-and-no-life dynamic of their Boomer parents.”

Best Buy’s bet on work-life balance for workers

Jeremy Olson • Star Tribune - Daddy-O • June 2, 2011

“What fascinated me was how ROWE reduced turnover across such a broad array of workers. The U of M authors expected that turnover would be reduced mostly among working mothers with young children—women with great need for workplace flexibility. But the survey-based study found the reduction in turnover across all genders and ethnicities—and among workers with and without children.”

With More Single Fathers, a Changing Family Picture

Lisa Belkin • New York Times - Motherlode • June 2, 2011

“Doing some comparative math in the weeks before Father’s Day, Matthew Weinshenker, an assistant professor of sociology at Fordham University, has calculated that the number of single-father families in the United States has jumped 27 percent in the past decade. Since 1990, it has nearly doubled — to 2.79 million from 1.5 million. That is still only 15 percent of all single parents, but the increase, Dr. Weinshenker says, shows that the picture of American families is changing.”

The 10 Countries With The Best Work-Life Balance

Harry Bradford • Huffington Post • June 1, 2011

“In times of economic uncertainty, personal lives can often be forgotten to the pressures of the workplace, knocking the work-life balance out of whack.  That might be true now more than ever, but not for all countries. Recently, the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released the Better Life Initiative, examining how various aspects of people’s lives affect the general well-being of whole countries.”

The 30-Year Collapse of American Economic Optimism

Derek Thompson • Atlantic - Business • June 1, 2011

“The three decade decline of economic optimism in American families has perhaps never been clearer than in this graph.  The University of Michigan’s Survey of Consumers asks participants by what percent do they expect the family’s income to increase during the next 12 months. Over the last 30 years, optimism has plummeted […]”

Global News

ONS: Motherhood is now no barrier to work for women

Tim Ross • Telegraph • June 2, 2011

“Government figures show that the last 15 years have almost completely wiped out the gap in employment rates between mothers with young families and those with no dependent children.  Experts suggested that more working women were waiting for longer before taking a break to start a family so they could return to work more easily after maternity leave.  However, there were concerns that the trend could also indicate that more families were struggling financially and needed both parents to be in paid work.”

Home working: Why can’t everyone telework?

Tom de Castella • BBC • June 2, 2011

“Why travel for hours a day to a central location when you can roll out of bed and start working from your kitchen table with none of the hassle and environmental damage that commuting entails?  Home working is certainly on the rise. A survey of firms by the Confederation of British Industry showed that the number offering at least some teleworking rose from 14% in 2006 to 46% in 2008. Figures later this month are expected to show the trend continuing.”