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?

July 21, 2011


Unlimited Vacation, but Can You Take It?

Sue Shellenbarger • Wall Street Journal • July 20, 2011

“A growing number of employees at companies with ‘no-vacation’ or ‘open-ended-time-off’ policies are deciding how much time they dare take off as peak summer vacation season approaches.  […] Workers get no guaranteed amount, or official limit, of vacation time, but they have to get time off approved and generally have to make sure things go smoothly in their absence. Some employers promote this as liberating, saying their workplaces are so flexible that old-fashioned constraints such as assigned time off aren’t needed. But others say the lack of guidelines fuels a tendency to work all the time.”

In U.S., 3 in 10 Working Adults Are Strapped for Time

Magali Rheault • Gallup • July 20, 2011

“Women and those with children in the household are the most likely among working adults to report being strapped for time. Working Americans between the ages of 30 and 49 and those with a college education are also among the most likely to lack the time they need. At the other end of the spectrum, younger (aged 18 to 29 years) and older (aged 65 and older) working Americans, and those who are single/never married, are among those most likely to say they have enough time.”

Social Media History Becomes New Job Hurdle

Jennifer Preston • New York Times • July 20, 2011

“The Federal Trade Commission, after initially raising concerns last fall about Social Intelligence’s business, determined the company is in compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act, but the service still alarms privacy advocates who say that it invites employers to look at information that may not be relevant to job performance. […] Marc S. Rotenberg, president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, based in Washington, said that employers were entitled to gather information to make a determination about job-related expertise, but he expressed concern that “employers should not be judging what people in their private lives do away from the workplace.”

Rural workers without sick leave hurt harder

Bill Knight • Daily Review Atlas • July 19, 2011

“Employees in such rural areas have less access to sick leave, forcing them to choose between caring for themselves or family members, and losing pay or perhaps even their jobs, according to new research from the University of New Hampshire’s Carsey Institute.  Too many companies excuse not providing paid sick leave with insults or attacks on their own labor force, claiming that workers wold abuse the benefit.”


The New Face of Flexibility: Innovations Across Industries

• Corporate Voices for Working Families • August 3, 2011

“Please join Corporate Voices for Working Families on Wednesday, August 3, 2011, for a webinar where researchers, practitioners and business leaders will discuss these issues. Amy Richman of WFD Consulting will discuss findings from a recently updated Corporate Voices report, ‘Business Impacts of Flexibility: An Imperative for Expansion.’ Richman will shed new light on how flexibility has taken on an ever-growing role as a strategic business imperative for domestic and global enterprises, and how it is being used across different industries.”


Study: Why Maternity Leave Is Important

Meredith Melnick • Time - Healthland • July 21, 2011

“The study found that working doesn’t lower the quality of parenting overall — or even worsen the load of parental stress.  Researchers Pinka Chatterji, Sara Markowitz and Jeanne Brooks-Gunn looked at a broad set of family-based outcomes such as maternal health and mental health, parental stress and quality of parenting using data culled from the National Institute of Child Health And Human Development’s Study on Early Child Care (SECC).”

Rising Family Income: More Work, Not Raises

Catherine Rampell • New York Times - Economix • July 20, 2011

“The share of men between age 30 to 50 who are married with children was 70 percent in 1975, and only 47 percent today.  Today, there are many more single-parent families, meaning that just looking at two-parent families over time doesn’t give a full picture of what has happened to family incomes.”

Staples: Telecommuters boost productivity

Chris Reidy • Boston Globe - Business Updates • July 19, 2011

“Office-supplies giant Staples Inc. has some advice for the boss: Send your workers home. According to a recent survey from the company’s business-to-business unit, 86 percent of telecommuters say they are more productive in their home office than at the boss’s workplace.”

Beyond the Cubicle

Allison Arieff • New York Times - Opinionator • July 18, 2011

“Some companies are more progressive than others, offering liberating options like employee sabbaticals, flex time and job sharing. I was pleasantly surprised to discover companies that even offer a Babies at Work program that allows parents to bring newborns in the office — part of the design here is creating a sound-proof room, the other part has already been designed. Parenting in the Workplace Institute (PIWI) has developed an agreement to facilitate a co-op babysitting arrangement among working parents in the respective workplace to cover for one another throughout the day. But as more and more people strike out on their own by wont or by necessity, new places of work are emerging to respond to their needs.”

Why are web workers happier?

Jessica Stillman • GigaOm • July 18, 2011

“The research is conclusive: compared to office-based colleagues, those who are free to work where they choose are happier with their jobs. But why is this? The answer isn’t as clear as it might first appear to web work boosters. After all, ask non-experts for their opinion of telecommuting and you’ll likely get a mixed bag of advantages and disadvantages. Sure, controlling your own time is bound to be freeing and allow an easier juggle of home and work responsibilities, but what about the isolation? Don’t relationships fray without face-to-face contact, leading to misunderstandings and loneliness?”

Global News

New mothers told it’s better to go back to work

Tim Ross and Charlie Baker • Telegraph • July 21, 2011

“The best arrangement for children’s emotional stability is a home in which both parents are in paid jobs, partly because mothers who work are less likely to be depressed, the study concluded. […] The United Nations Children’s Fund warned that children could be suffering because maternity leave provision in the UK is ‘inadequate’, while a separate international study found earlier this year that British working mothers spent just 81 minutes per day looking after their children. […]However, the latest report, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, suggested that parents who are struggling to combine paid work with family life need not fear that they are undermining their children’s emotional wellbeing.”

Norway, the fatherland

Anne Chemin • Guardian • July 19, 2011

“In Norway this family revolution has a name: pappapermisjon. After every birth, the parents both benefit from a two-week leave and then divide up the 46-week parental leave paid at 100%, or alternatively, 56 weeks paid at 80%. In this way Norwegian babies spend their first year with both their parents. To encourage men to take care of their children, a special 10-week quota is reserved for them. If they are reluctant to take pappapermisjon, they lose the 10 weeks, since the time can’t be transferred to the mother and the whole family loses out. The results have been spectacular. In Norway, 90% of fathers take at least 12 weeks’ paternity leave.”

Care fund proposed to pay for paternity leave

Graham Snowdon • Guardian • July 19, 2011

“A leading policy thinktank has proposed a pension-style, contribution-based fund to cover the costs of taking shared parental leave and encourage more fathers to take paternity leave. […] The research, Reinventing the Workplace, painted a mixed picture of employers’ attitudes towards flexible working, with 91% offering some form of flexible working to employees, and six out of 10 workers saying they now worked flexibly.”

Getting Away From It All Now Means Taking All Your Tech With You

Kit Eaton • Fast Company • July 18, 2011

“British citizens enjoy a generous 5.6 weeks of legally protected paid vacation every year, but they’re no longer using their time to kick back with a stack of sandy best-sellers on the beach. Instead, they’re glued to smartphone, tablets, and computers to keep up with Facebook, Twitter, and other social media and news sites, according to a new survey by luxury holidays specialist Cox & Kings.”