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Timesizing News, May 1-14, 2004
[Commentary] ©2004 Phil Hyde, Timesizing.com, Box 622, Porter Sq, Cambridge MA 02140 USA 617-623-8080
5/14/2004 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 5/13 from GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA (except #1 which is from the 5/14 WSJ &/or NYT hardcopy), and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
5/13/2004 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 5/12 from GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA (except #1 & 2 which are from the 5/13 WSJ &/or NYT hardcopy), and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
- Constitutional court reinstates South Korea's impeached president, by James Brooke, NYT, A6 (WSJ, A1)
...Roh Moo Hyun, restoring full powers...in a case that had tested the nation's fledgling democracy. [On] March 12...the National Assembly unexpectedly approved a bill to impeach Mr. Roh on minor election law violations. A month later, voters punished conservative parliamentary candidates and tripled the seats of the Uri Party, a new liberal coalition that backs Mr. Roh, giving it a slim majority....
[That's good, because Roh was behind the plan to cut from the 44 to the 40 hour workweek starting this summer.]
- [Meanwhile, the USA falls further behind -]
Region's workweek edges close to 6 days - Kim Skiner works a decal printing press at Tidewater Emblems Ltd. in Virginia Beach, by Mark Mitchell & Michael Davis, The Virginian-Pilot & AP.
EASTERN VIRGINIA - Ever feel like your workweeks are getting longer? You just may be right.
The average production employee in Hampton Roads is now on the job nearly a full day longer than the traditional, 40-hour schedule, according to federal data. Local hours have risen since at least the mid-1990s, even as national averages have slipped.
Analysts and business owners believe the data are yet another indicator of the region’s stable economy and a mix of heavy industries that’s healthier than the U. S. overall.
“We’re always playing catch-up,” said Mark Huenerberg , president of Tidewater Emblems Ltd., a family-owned print shop in Virginia Beach. The company produces patches and decals, including the popular “OBX” and other stickers peddled at Oceanfront gift shops.
So during the busy spring and summer seasons, Huenerberg and at least a few of his dozen or so workers will routinely work extra hours to meet demand. “We do run some overtime,” he said. “It’s always a concern whether you can get the job out in time.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, average weekly hours in the local manufacturing sector hit 47.2 last year. That was more than 10% higher than in 1997, the first year for which local numbers are available. It was up almost 3 hours from 2002.
Nationally, meanwhile, production employees averaged just 40.4 hours last year, off slightly from six years earlier amid a slow downward slide.
Observers say several factors are driving the region’s growing schedules: Hampton Roads is home to numerous industrial businesses that rode out the most recent national economic slowdown. The 900 hourly workers at Stihl Inc. in Virginia
Beach, for instance, average up to five hours of overtime a week.
Human resources director Monica Mills said that while the power equipment maker has hired more than 100 new workers in the past three years, overtime is still necessary since the factory will only accommodate so many employees at once. “We
obviously want to get the product in the customers’ hands in the shortest amount of time,” she said. “We just build in that flexibility.”
Shipbuilding and military equipment manufacturers have also seen increased business with the federal government’s response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. “They have to keep up production by increasing overtime, because there just isn’t
time to train new people who would take a longer time to get up to speed as their current experienced work force,” said Michael Wald, the BLS’ regional economist in Atlanta.
Industries that have hit hard times – cut-and-sew apparel and furniture, for instance – are not as numerous locally.
Some Hampton Roads producers increased overtime in the weeks following Hurricane Isabel in September, to compensate for storm-related closures. And even companies that have remained stable have often avoided hiring, according to Wald, since a downturn might force them to lay off the new workers. That has generated more overtime for existing staff.
“No question that after the 2001 recession, manufacturers have been reluctant to add people,” he said. “Adding permanent staff means that the employer must not only be currently experiencing increased business but must also have the expectation that business will continue to grow in the future.”
The longer weeks pose a “good news, bad news” proposition for both companies and workers. For employers, working their crews more than 40 hours allows them to meet production demands. But with labor costs comprising the largest expense for many companies, overtime pay of one-and-one-half times the normal rate quickly erodes profit.
“The volume is there, but the margins are not,” said Ken Hartfelder of spice and herb producer Famarco Ltd. Inc. in Virginia Beach, which scaled back on overtime for its four dozen employees last year. “We have the business, but it cuts so deeply
into our profits.”
For employees, working just one day of coveted “golden time” a week might push annual pay to nearly one-third above normal.
It can also burn out workers and harm their health and family life. Mandatory overtime, in particular, has since the mid-1990s increasingly become a bargaining issue during labor contract negotiations. “These sacrifices can translate into increased risk for accidents and injuries; greater chronic fatigue, stress, and related diseases; reduced parenting and family time; and diminished quality of goods and services – a serious public concern,” the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington -based think tank, wrote in a 2002 briefing paper.
Overtime has even become a political pressure point in this election year, as the Bush administration pushes to rewrite the complicated, half-century old laws that govern it. Supporters say the rules will guarantee overtime rights for white-collar workers earning up to $23,660 a year, and protect or expand current eligibility for those earning up to $100,000.
The Labor Department also insists the changes will clarify the complex regulations and reduce the growing number of lawsuits against employers by workers challenging their status.
Backers admit the new rule will exempt about 100,000 workers now eligible for overtime pay. Democrats and labor unions charge that the number will be much higher, and that business will be able to cut costs at the expense of workers. Organized labor has lobbied furiously to kill the new rules.
Just Wednesday, House Republicans rebuffed a Democratic attempt to force a vote on the new regulations. “They have shut down debate and denied a vote in Congress so that the Bush administration can take away workers’ overtime pay,” said Rep. George Miller, D-California, the top Democrat on the House Education and Workforce Committee. “It is obvious that the House Republican majority is simply rubber-stamping the orders of the Bush administration.”
- Taking pay - and pain - out of work, by Ruth Sinai, Ha'aretz [Israel].
"The key to solving the problem of unemployment lies in growth." How many times have we heard the captains of our economy explain that if only the local product and the exports would increase, enough new jobs would be created for the unemployed? Perhaps they are wrong? What is the explanation for the fact that despite the prosperity in the world economy - the increase in the scope of international trade, the rise in companies' profits and the value of shares, the constant rise in production - the number of unemployed people in the world has only been increasing constantly during the past 30 years and, according to the estimates of the International Labor Organization of the United Nations, has reached approximately 130 million, of them about 20 million in the European Union?
Johano Strasser, a sociologist and philosopher who serves as the secretary of the German branch of the PEN Club (an international association of writers who promote literature and free expression), in fact sees growth as a mechanism that expands the dimensions of unemployment. Strasser sets forth the explanation for this theory, backed by the thinking of theoreticians who paved his way, like Hannah Arendt and Jeremy Rifkin, in a short book that has been translated and published by Hakibbutz Hameuchad publishers as part of the Kav Adom (Red Line) series, in which he attempts to deal with the question of what Western society, which is based on the value of work, will do when this resource is depleted.
The book analyzes what is happening in the German labor market. But it is relevant to any country that during the past 20 years has worshiped the market economy, under the leadership of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan - and also to a country like Israel, which has been swept up by this ideology, seeing it as a cure for all its ills without stopping to think about its profound significance for the labor market and the future of society.
The main failure in industrialized countries is not the lack of efficiency and the loss of competition, as politicians and employers claim, but rather a surplus of production for which there is no demand, believes Strasser. Therefore, there is no relevance to the repeated demands to make work places more efficient by reducing the cost of labor - in other words, by lowering wages and cutting back social benefits. These, argues Strasser, have the opposite effect: They only shrink the buying power of workers and increase unemployment.
No full employment
Mechanization and rationalization are two long-term processes that are gradually wiping out the resource of labor, at the same time as the demand for this resource is growing as the result of forces joining the labor market that had hitherto been absent from it - women and people of 65 and older. In the Third World, 700 million people are expected to join the labor market by 2010, according to Jeremy Rifkin's prediction. The service industry - "the last refuge of those who cannot imagine a society without growth in the GNP and without the centrality of labor" - does not provide the desired solution, as institutions like banks and supermarkets are increasingly controlled by computerization and therefore do not compensate for the loss of jobs in production.
Strasser acknowledges that the service field has created an impressive number of jobs in the United States, but at the price of the creation of a new class - "the working poor" - who labor for miserable wages and without benefits, such as health insurance. They too are expected to fall victim to the process of rationalization (firings) because the conditions of their employment lead to a low level of productivity, according to Strasser.
Therefore, the solution is not to be found in either of the two competing recipes put forth by the right and the left in industrialized countries - lowering wages and eroding benefits for the sake of growth, or enlarging the public sector and investing in infrastructure in order to increase employment. Strasser preaches waking up from the illusion that it is possible to provide full employment for everyone, and instead proposes a different and more just distribution of existing employment.
The first adaptation to this reality has already been made: All the Western countries have already cut the work week, which in countries like Germany reached 48 hours after World War II, down to a 40-hour week and in countries like France even down to 35. Rifkin, in his book "The End of Work: The Decline of the Global Labor Force and the Dawn of the Post-Market Era" predicted in the mid-1990s that all countries would have no alternative but to go in this direction; John Maynard Keynes had already expected this back in 1930, when he wrote about a 15-hour work week.
[Presumably five 3-hour workdays per week. This compares to the Technocrats' advocacy during that period for a 16-hour workweek of four 4-hour days.]
To the question of how to shorten the work week, Strasser suggests various solutions - his own and others' - like limiting or eliminating overtime, expanding advanced training courses and instituting sabbaticals, job-sharing and so on. Surveys have shown that in the minds of working people, and especially younger ones, work is no longer perceived as something that gives meaning to their lives. Therefore Strasser concludes that while paid work was to a certain extent the religion of the 20th century, it will not be so in the 21st century, but only one of the possibilities for human development. In addition to the expansion of leisure time, the place of paid work will be taken (and in fact is already taken, even in Israel) by other kinds of work - in the family, in volunteer frameworks, in the community and in other areas of endeavor that the traditional economy does not recognize because they are not kinds of work that are done for pay.
In these areas of personal services, rationalization is not possible and like Rifkin, Strasser believes that in this context the third sector - the sector that works for the common good - will play a key role in the future, even more important than that of the first two sectors: the public sector (which is shrinking in most countries) and the market sector. Strasser suggests that in this sector, it will be possible to offer people part-time employment, perhaps complementary to that which will be lost in the classical job framework, and to fund it through imposing a value-added tax or through an unemployment compensation fund.
Reducing the number of paid hours of work will also ameliorate the growing problem of eroded motivation among many workers, which is caused by the increasing competition in the labor market, the reduction in wages and benefits, the large turnover
of workers and the shift work that exploits the capacities of machinery and provides service 24 hours a day.
Strasser sees in the erosion of the working society a historic opportunity to improve the individual's life, and relates to surveys that show that not only are people not addicted to paid work - they see a focus on it as a kind of missing out on life. In his vision, Strasser sees men and women whose work week looks like this: Twice a week they work in a children's nursery, on Saturdays and Sundays they are employed in the kitchen of a restaurant and the remaining time is devoted to journalistic or literary activity. A distribution like this would provide variety and interest as well as an income that would maintain the lifestyle to which they have become accustomed. In the model of the humane work world that Strasser imagines, every individual will change occupations frequently, would engage in other forms of activity that do not involve the exchange of money, will enjoy a plenitude of sabbaticals that will be used for travel, further education and raising children - and will nevertheless enjoy the protection of social security and labor laws.
Strasser only alludes to the issue of how to ensure a level of income that will allow a dignified existence and a reliable social safety net. He says that it is necessary to loosen the connection between paid work and income, to make a fundamental change in the system of taxation and welfare payments, to consume less and to recycle more for the sake of the environment - but he does not develop this topic. Herein, perhaps, lies the weakness of this book (and of its clumsy translation from German into Hebrew). Yet nevertheless its importance is in its complete undermining of the received assumptions in our life and the presentation of an alternative that encourages creative thinking.
- Hours limit could 'devastate' farms, by Jennifer Mackenzie, The Journal via ic Newcastle.co.uk.
NORTHERN ENGLAND - North farmers could be left with labour shortages, and miss out on lucrative trading opportunities if changes to a key European directive set to cap working hours are agreed.
The European Commission's review of the Working Time Directive (WTD) will have far-reaching implications on UK farming businesses. An obvious problem is the long hours necessary during busy harvest periods, but there would also be major knock-on effects to sectors such as dairying, where farmers consistently work over 48 hours a week, with milking commitments at least twice a day.
NFU [North Farmers Union?] President Tim Bennett said: "A cap on the number of working hours per week could devastate many farm businesses.
[That's exactly what they objected when people were talking about cutting the workweek from seven 12-hour days. Skeptical? It's going on TODAY at those levels and above in American hospitals relative to resident physicians.]
"Growing crops are time-critical and must be harvested quickly in order to maintain high quality British produce. Many farmers and their farm workers work non-stop from sun-up to sundown to maximise this small window of opportunity. "Also, the proposed system of averaging working hours, even over a 26 week period, would be impossible for many farmers."
[We believe they are actually doing this "impossibility" in France today under the annualization provisions of the 35-hour workweek.]
For example, on a dairy farm, with essential commitments such as milking and calving, farmers would clock up more than 48 hours every week, making the concession of averaging hours meaningless.
Mr Bennett added: "A regulation limiting working hours could severely hamper free trade, and make UK farmers uncompetitive on world food markets. "To this end, the NFU is working with other UK industries to retain the necessary flexibility for
farmers and growers."
The European Commission is consulting on current derogations allowed under the Working Time Directive, including the individual opt-out of the maximum 48-hour working week. Currently, the UK is the only member state that has adopted the
derogation to opt-out across all sectors.
The UK also wishes to retain the extended reference periods for calculating the hours worked from 17 weeks to 26 or 52 weeks, depending on the industry.
The Commission consultation, on this and other related issues, closed on March 31.
It is expected that a report from the Commission will be released sometime during the summer that may include proposals to reform the current Working Time Directive; placing further restrictions on employers and employees with regard to working time.
* The NFU has called on the Government to put an end to the uncertainty over visa applications which is adversely affecting the operation of the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme (SAWS), just as the fruit harvest in England gets under way. Students from Bulgaria, Romania and Moldova had made applications for work under the SAWS and were expected to travel to the UK to work on the fruit harvest but were affected by the recent suspension of visa applications. SAWS operators have sought alternative students from other countries such as China, but have struggled to meet demand at this busy time of year.
In recent years Israel has undergone an accelerated process of change (there are those who say destruction) in its social and economic fabric. The beginnings of its harsh outcomes are already visible. It would be good if Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as he shapes the continuation of the path, were to pause and add Strasser to his reading list, instead of learning only from the disciples of Milton Friedman.
5/12/2004 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 5/11 from GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA , and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
- France: Economic growth, Bloomberg via NYT, W1.
France's economic growth unexpectedly accelerated in the first quarter, expanding at the fastest pace in two years, as consumer spending helped offset slowing exports....
[This is the expected pattern of a shorter-hours economy. It is not dependent for prosperity on unreliable exports because, by redefining "full-time job" downward, it has spread the vanishing market-demanded employment and reactivated millions of consumers that long-hours economies waste in unemployment, welfare, disability, homelessness, prison, prolonged education, and early or weakened retirement.]
GDP...grew 0.8% from Q4, when it expanded a revised 0.6%, the national statistics office said. Economists had predicted growth of 0.5%, according to the median of 31 forecasts.
[0.5 instead of 0.8% is a typical underestimate by mainstream economists of the power of worktime economics and of worksharing as opposed to their impotent preference, makework.]
The statistics office said that the growth was in line with an increase in household spending.
- Companies band together as a way to offer health care to part-time employees - A move to help some of the 43m Americans without health insurance, by Milt Freudenheim, NYT, C1>C3.
Some of the nation's largest employers, including GE, IBM, McDonald's and Sears Roebuck, plan to pool their buying power to try extending health coverage to part-time employees and other workers without insurance.
But some analysts say that even if [they] succeed, they will make only a small dent in the enormous number of the nation's uninsured - more than 43m and growing....
[Never mind the 43m figure is 3½ years out of date (11/20/2000), everybody, even John Kerry (fundraising letter received yesterday), is still using it.]
While the companies said that as many as 4m uninsured workers might be eligible for coverage under their plan, others predicted that the program might attract only a few hundred thousand enrollees. That is because many part-time workers are deep in debt, spending more than they earn each year, and healthy young workers often go without insurance.
[= the disintegration of America = lack of an adequate sharing principle.]
The new coverage, which will also be offered to retirees who are under age 65 and not eligible for Medicare, will range from inexpensive, barebones benefits that provide only minimal help with medical bills, to more comprehensive coverage for those who can afford it. Annual premiums might range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. That would compare with the average of $9,100 that employers spent last year to cover a full-time employee and his or her family, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
The employers will pay none of the direct costs of the program, although they do promise to use their benefits specialists to help keep down costs for plan members....
[but then, what are employer promises worth in a labor surplus that only timesizing can cure?]
...as well as for health insurance companies.
[which sooo badly need the big companies' help....]
Big companies say that they ultimately pay for the uninsured because hospitals raise their fees to cover costs of people who cannot pay their bills, and those fees translate to higher insurance premiums for everyone else....
[So big companies are beginning to connect the dots - "pay me now or pay me later."]
- [Here's the full AP version of the above Journal squib -]
House blocks Democrats' vote on overtime, by Leigh Strope, AP via Newark Star Ledger.
WASHINGTON - House Republicans yesterday rebuffed a Democratic attempt to force an election-year vote on the Bush administration's new overtime pay rules.
The vote, 222-205, blocked a move by Rep. George Miller (D- Calif.) to force the House to take sides on the controversial issue. Miller sought a vote on a provision to require the new regulations to retain eligibility for all workers who currently qualify for overtime pay.
"They have shut down debate and denied a vote in Congress so that the Bush administration can take away workers' overtime pay," said Miller, the top Democrat on the House Education and Workforce Committee. "It is obvious that the House Republican majority is simply rubber-stamping the orders of the Bush administration."
The Senate approved a similar measure last week. The Labor Dept. rules were issued last month and take effect in August.
Miller's procedural move to force a vote surprised Republican House leaders, who scrambled for the votes to block the effort.
"Today's House vote in support of the Dept. of Labor's new overtime security rules is a victory for the millions of American workers who will benefit from stronger overtime protection," Labor Secretary Elaine Chao said.
Had Miller succeeded, the overtime vote would have been largely symbolic, and would not have changed the new regulations. But it would have forced members of Congress to take a stand in an election year on a pocketbook issue important to many voters.
"It's clear that Democratic Party leaders are only interested in a partisan attack at the expense of lower-income workers who deserve new overtime protections," said Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), chairman of the Education and Workforce Committee.
The new regulations mark the first thorough overhaul of government overtime rules in more than 50 years. Administration officials say the rules will guarantee overtime rights for white-collar workers earning up to $23,660 a year, and protect or expand current eligibility for those earning up to $100,000.
[The brief WSJ version -]
The House voted, news blurb, WSJ 5/13, front page.
...By 222-205, Republicans blocked Democrats' bid for an election-year vote on Bush overtime rules.
- Most Belgians work overtime, Expatica [Netherlands].
BRUSSELS – Over two thirds of Belgians regularly put in extra hours at work, it was reported on Wednesday.
According to a study by human resources experts SD Work, 67% of Belgians work longer than the legal minimum number of hours they are required to each week.
[Ah, is this a typo for "work longer than the legal maximum number of hours they are allowed to each week", because if it isn't, there's no overtime in this situation and this whole story is pointless. Funny how many people get screwed up thinking about worktime, and time in general.]
Only 33% of the sample of 3,000 workers questioned said they never work overtime.
The average Belgian worker puts in an extra two hours a week, the survey found.
But if the SD Work study is to believed, the country’s real workaholics are Belgium’s employers. Bosses put in an average of five extra hours a week or 230 hours a year.
5/11/2004 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 5/10 from GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA , and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
- Your money or your life - Mega-bucks mean mega-misery to many workers trapped in jobs they hate, by Emma Hall, Sydney Morning Herald (May 12, near dateline).
AUSTRALIA - Wouldn’t it be great to have a $200,000 salary? Big house, nice car, yachting at the weekends. Wouldn’t it be great to be a high flyer? But what if you often had to work weekends? What if you were at the office until eight or nine every night? What if the boss made you keep your mobile on all night in case you were needed? What if the job was so stressful, you started dreaming about work in your sleep?
Would it be worth it? Would you happily go back to your nine-to-five, $45,000 no-stress job? Or would it be too hard to give up the money?
Life coach David Wood once ditched a six-figure job in New York to sing in bars. Now he helps workers hooked on high salaries to “downsize” to lower-paid jobs. Wood reckons there is no reason – not even a high salary – people should stay in a job they hate.
- Senior IT executive James Atkins* gets paid almost $200,000, but hates his job. He is desperate to leave, but feels trapped. Atkins cannot find a similarly high-paying position to maintain his family’s financial commitments.
“I just can’t believe the organisation I work for. Every week we have a meeting where the incompetence of my peers, my colleagues, my new boss just drives me into a black depression. They are driving a business into the ground with no process, no integrity, no ethics. All the things I value aren’t present. I feel like I should just down tools and stalk away in disgust. But I just can’t do it.
“I would find it too hard to give up the high borrowing power which lets me invest in side projects such as property development. It’s [also] nice to not have to worry about buying that suit or computer or trip with the kids.”
- Susan Taylor* works as a financial controller in the manufacturing industry. She gets paid more than $100,000 but is usually late to work because she can’t bear getting out of bed. Her working week is made up of 10-hour days and weekend slogs.
“I’m incredibly lonely in my work,” she says. “I don’t have one person I can confide in, or joke with, or even have anything in common with. But my lifestyle now is dependent on my current level of income. You can’t scale back on your permanent commitments such as mortgages, repayments or other loans. Much as I hate to admit it, the money is stopping me from moving on.”
“You should never do what you don’t want to do. A classic case is someone saying: ‘I can’t do it – I’m miserable in my job but I’ve got a mortgage.’ Get rid of the bloody house! Live in a tent and be happy!”
Almost a quarter of people aged 30 to 59 have voluntarily reduced their income to improve their lifestyle in the past 10 years, according to a recent Newspoll survey conducted for the Australia Institute. Downshifting – reducing income for more fulfilment – is being embraced by those rejecting the notion that money brings happiness, according to the study Downshifting in Australia: a Sea Change in Pursuit of Happiness.
High earners often distract themselves from their unhappiness, Wood says. “We watch a lot of television, we drink alcohol, and we distract ourselves from the fact that we’re not really enjoying what we do. But if you hate your job, you should use that energy to motivate you to change.”
- Gavin Gordon earned about $80,000 as an executive at one of Australia’s leading banks. He spent much of his salary escaping on overseas holidays. Looking forward to his annual leave was one of the few highlights in an otherwise unbearable job. It was 48 weeks of misery for four weeks of luxury.
“I spent the best part of 16 years in financial services and had zero job satisfaction for most of that time,” he says. “I’d walk through the train station after having left work at 9.30pm, my chest was all twisted and I knew that on my desk there was a stack of stuff still to be done. I just didn’t feel like I was contributing much to society, and yet was putting so much time and effort into it. “Then a good mate [US: 'friend'] of mine died of a heart attack at 35. That really woke me up and I started thinking what would people say at my funeral – that Gav was a great manager of all these financial policy holders?”
[A lot of Americans had this reaction right after 9/11, Colleague Kate for instance - resulting in summer 2002 as a volunteer ranger in the Grand Canyon.]
Gordon considered other income alternatives and hit on the idea of running trivia nights. His resignation from the bank soon followed. “When you make a decision like that, you’ve got to take money out of the equation. You’ve got to think, ‘well, what do I need to survive, how much do I need to pay my mortgage, etc,’ and then you start thinking, ‘OK, what could I do, that I will enjoy, that is going to earn that?’ That’s the hardest part – to say you are prepared to accept this big drop in pay.
Four years on, Gordon now runs four regular pub gigs each week, plus corporate nights, and has six trivia hosts working for him. He earns much the same as before – but he is an exception among downshifters.
Of course, you don’t have to be highly paid to experience corporate misery. “Downshifters certainly include people in this [highly paid] category, but they are just as likely to be low- and middle-income people who have decided to accept reduced incomes, live more simply and spend more time on activities [o]ther than making money,” Hamilton [not introduced!] says.
It can take many forms, including working fewer hours, changing to part-time work, starting out on your own, or moving to a less stressful and lower-paying job.
Gardiner [not introduced, unless same as 'Susan Taylor' above] resigned. “I decided I didn’t really care what I had to do to earn money – just so I could still bring in a wage and spend more quality time with my family.” She started a home-based administration business, Woman Friday. Would she return to her old job if offered $300,000 a year? “Well, I used to spend a lot on lunches, clothes and socialising but, no, I wouldn’t. Now I have a lot more fun in my life.”
Gordon says: “I’m 10 times the person I was four years ago in terms of my confidence level. I guess I could walk back into my old job and do it so much better now than I would have done it then. But so many people I used to meet in financial services were like me. They thought this is life – that everybody hates their job. As long as you know you can go back to a similar job, why not just do it?”
* Names changed
- German workers get an offer they cannot refuse, Business Report [South Africa].
FRANKFURT - The 220 technicians at a Siemens phone repair lab in Germany faced a choice: work five hours more a week - or don't work at all.
[Bingo - sounds just like the subtitle to Ben Hunnicutt's masterful 1988 history of the Depression: title "Work Without End", subtitle "Abandoning Shorter Hours for the Right to Work."]
They found there wasn't much to decide.
By giving up their 35-hour week, won by German industrial workers in a seven-week strike 20 years ago, the employees kept their jobs from heading to low-wage Hungary and won a no-layoff pledge from Siemens.
[Neither of which will last long. Employees should have stood firm and fought for the principle, you only access our consumer base to the extent that you contribute to it with employment. As it is, the admission of 10 near-3rd-world economies to the 1st world EU will take the whole EU down to 2nd world levels, unless they implement automatic overtime-to-hiring conversion and adjust the workweek downward across the whole EU and enforce it on special pleaders like the UK.]
German workers are increasingly facing the prospect of longer work weeks as industry tries to cut sky-high labor costs, under pressure from cheaper wages abroad and a sluggish economy at home.
"The question was simply this: either make 220 people unemployed or accept these drawbacks," said Michael Stahl, head of the employee council at the Siemens plant in the northern town of Bocholt. "And after going back and talking with the workers, we decided together to accept these disadvantages."
With millions of cheaper, often highly skilled workers in ex-communist countries just to the east and Germany's jobless rate at 10.7%, at least some on Germany's factory floors appear ready to compromise.
Several other major German companies are discussing longer hours with employees in some departments. Automaker DaimlerChrysler is talking with product development workers, tire company Continental with chemical workers, and auto supplier Robert Bosch with employees of unspecified departments.
In most cases, discussions are still under way and the companies are reluctant to discuss them until a deal is reached. Bosch said it considered cutting hours a last resort.
Siemens and its chief executive, Heinrich von Pierer, drew sharp criticism from the IG Metall industrial union, which represents some 2.5 million workers in manufacturing and electronics. But even IG Metall agreed to increase the limited use of 40-hour weeks for some workers in a new agreement reached with major industries in February - though employees would get paid for those extra hours, just not at overtime rates.
Under the contract, workers can agree at the company level to work longer to save their jobs, but union higher-ups must endorse the decision. On their own, workers and management can also agree on 40-hour weeks for limited numbers of highly paid, white-collar research and development workers.
Siemens' von Pierer says longer hours aren't a solution for all its 170 000 workers in Germany, out of 417 000 worldwide. But he says some places, such as Bocholt and a nearby mobile-phone assembly facility in Kamp-Lintfort, must lower costs or see 2 000 jobs leave.
"I want to keep the jobs here," von Pierer said last week.
Employee representative Stahl said moving to Hungary offered Siemens a 20-25% cost savings. "We tried to show in various ways how it would be possible to match this cost advantage here," he said. "Unfortunately," he added, "it wasn't possible to do it by other means. We were instead forced, if we wanted to keep the work, in the end to introduce a longer working time. Just by doing that, we achieved a cost saving of 14.3%."
The rest of the savings came from dropping extra pay for night shifts and by linking another cherished German labor tradition - the "Christmas money," or year-end bonus of a month's pay - to performance.
He warned that the deal only worked because the Bocholt lab had enough phone repair work to fill the extra hours, so it shouldn't be seen as a model. "This was a step back," he said, "and one must be very careful with such steps."
IG Metall officials have vowed to fight the trend. Their leader, Juergen Peters, has called industry's push for extra hours "madness." His deputy, Berthold Huber, said that "if the head of Siemens doesn't get down from his political high horse, the company will face a huge confrontation." IG Metall's right to strike, however, is limited under German law while a collective bargaining agreement is in effect.
During the 1980s, as unemployment rose steadily in Germany, the union began a push for lower hours on the theory that would spread available work among more people.
[This is not a theory. This is a standard working successful policy that the developed world followed for 150 years when we all cut the workweek from over 80 hours a week to 40 hours a week.]
After the 1984 strike, the union won a step-by step reduction from 40 hours to 35 hours a week by 1995. Most Germans in other sectors work several hours a week longer; the contractual average is 37 hours.
Workers at many companies have agreed to work longer anyway, especially in struggling formerly communist east Germany. And unemployment has in fact kept inching up.
Most studies have found that cutting hours has actually cost jobs because pay levels don't fall, which raises hourly labor costs and gives companies a reason to use fewer workers, University of Nuremberg labor economist Claus Schnabel said.
But working longer for the same pay also isn't a cure-all for Germany's economy, burdened by excessive regulation and inflexibility in hiring and firing, Schnabel said. In the short term, stretching the week "doesn't create additional jobs," he said. "It may be a quick solution for saving jobs."
- [here's the EU's future unless they reverse the rollback of hours -]
Gap offers unusual look at factory conditions - fighting 'sweatshop' tag, retailer details problems among thousands of plants, by Amy Merrick, WSJ, front page, A12.
...At the mostly developing country plants.., of the hundreds of factories that are vying to win Gap contracts...about 90% fail the retailer's initial evaluation....
Sometimes, factory managers oppose changes because their other customers don't demand the same requirements - say, a 60-hour workweek [six 10-hour days] rather than an 84-hour workweek [seven 12-hour days]....
- You can take this job and... - Overburdened workers hope to bail out when economy improves, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via Knight Ridder Newspapers.
ST. PAUL, Minn. - In his former job, Mike McGuire's workload grew with every round of layoffs.
As head of service for a medical and dental benefits administrator, he took on increasing responsibility during the last few years as management layers were peeled back. The stress was getting to him. When a headhunter called, he jumped.
His former boss tried to entice him to stay with stock options and other perks. "Yeah, all of that," McGuire said.
But as the saying goes, it was too little, too late.
As the job market begins to loosen, companies could find that the years of retaining their best employees with merely the promise of a job are a thing of the past.
Having been socked with three years of cost cutting, salary freezes and layoffs, some survivors are polishing their resumes and preparing to bolt.
Employees intending to leave their posts as soon as the job market opens up are at the highest level in four years, according to WorkTrends 2004, an annual survey of more than 10,000 U.S. workers. The report, by Minneapolis research firm Gantz Wiley, was released in February.
"There is a weariness of it all from the survivors of the layoffs," said Scott Brooks, research director for Gantz Wiley.
To be sure, the productivity gains posted over the last few years are good for the economy. But those gains have come on the backs of professionals, many of whom are operating in a sort of shell-shocked haze while their companies extract as much as they can.
The economic downturn forced McGuire...to take on longer hours, more work and more stress as the company went through several rounds of layoffs.
When he came to the company four years ago, he was responsible for two call centers. By the end he was in charge of call centers across the country and what had once been his boss' job - the entire telecommunications side of the operation. He also ended up running all Web-based customer-service functions.
"Your focus gets pulled in so many directions that you don't produce the quality product the customer is looking for," he said. Like other professionals, he had had enough with multiple jobs and 60-hour workweeks.
The squeeze on workers is evident in the numbers. Overtime hours are inching up and wage increases have been declining. Workers' wages and benefits grew a measly 0.7% in the fourth quarter of 2003 - the smallest quarterly increase in a year.
"White collar professionals have had to work longer hours, in part, because all businesses have had to do more with less," said Sung Won Sohn, chief economist for Wells Fargo Bank.
[Doing layoffs and having survivors work longer hours is not "doing more with less" - because there are roughly the same number of hours on the table, and if there aren't, not even the same amount of work is getting done, let alone more - except as effective working hours are amplified by efficient technology. And now businesses are having to make do with weaker markets too, because they've laid off and de-activated so many consumers. And this was all started when businesses didn't "have to" downsize due to losses but when they were in profit, often record profit. So why did they downsize? Because they could - in a labor surplus there was no countervailing power to stop them.]
But relief may be in sight....
[No it isn't. We're becoming a big 3rd-world nation where there's lots of money but it's all concentrated and decelerated in the top income brackets.]
5/08-10/2004 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 5/07-09 from GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA , and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
- Has Israel run out of jobs? by Isaac Herzog, Jerusalem Post.
Now that the commotion over the Likud Party referendum on Gaza has subsided, it is a good time to get back to the things that concern citizens personally. First and foremost of these is their livelihoods. The huge media din surrounding the disengagement plan obscured the extremely bad figures of an alarming rise in unemployment published at the beginning of the month.
According to Central Bureau of Statistics figures, unemployment has spiked to an all-time high of 11%. There are no less than 291,000 jobless Israelis. In the short run, we cannot expect any drop in that brutal figure.
A recently issued Bank of Israel report says that current economic growth is not felt equally throughout the population. According to Bank economists, "the growth trend has not filtered down equally and, at least in the first stage, is likely to deepen economic gaps in Israel. The acceleration in growth expanded the public's financial assets, enjoyed especially by the upper deciles."
The explanation, according to the report's authors, is very simple: The high rate of unemployment and cuts in salaries and allowances have hurt low-wage earners. Indeed, the government's declared policy – using direct and indirect means – diverts billions of shekels from the lower and middle deciles toward the top deciles and a half of Israeli society.
[So even erstwhile communitarian Israelis ahve been suckered by the deliberate reversal of the well-established economic principle of the marginal utility of capital, and are in the process of impoverishing their nation by means of unlimited concentration of income and wealth. Does it never occur to these self-interested plutocrats that there is plenty of money in the Third World too, but it's all concentrated in the hands of a tiny elite? They're doing nothing but spreading the Third World around the globe.]
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Finance Minister Netanyahu, and Justice Minister Yosef Lapid, the Shinui party leader, have caused a dramatic widening of economic gaps in our society. By every objective index, these disparities – from top to bottom – are at record levels.
The finance minister and his senior officials promise that able members of the economy will reinvest their money in the market, thereby offering a cure for the high unemployment.
[Pure theory - pure unsupported faith - pure pie in the sky.]
They suggest waiting a while; relief is just beyond the horizon; the recession is over, remember?
Meanwhile, every month thousands of Israelis join the ranks of job seekers and, like millions of unemployed in Western countries, are afraid they will never find a decent livelihood.
One employee in a development town who had not received a salary in months and borrowed to cover living expenses, recently told me: "There is no job anywhere in this area. And there is not going to be anything to live from. This country has run out of jobs."
The contemporary German philosopher Johano Strasser, in a provocative book recently published in Hebrew (When the Labor Society Runs out of Jobs) argues that Western society is undergoing a process of labor collapse caused by two main factors:
[And 3. the failure to let the unemployment rate control the workweek, so that as unemployment mounts, the workweek adjusts downward to counter it by squeezing the vanishing work out onto everyone. Incomes would not fall because they are a function of labor supply and demand, and shorter workweeks absorb labor surpluses, especially when combined with an effective and unambiguous overtime design.]
- The disappearance of entire production industries relocated to third world countries, where wages are particularly low.
- The rationalization of many industries and services by advanced technologies, which render millions everywhere unemployed.
This process, of course, has not skipped Israel. It is exacerbated by an ongoing recession and a brutal government ideology. The government has taken the state out of public management, mainly using budget cuts, privatization and worker layoffs throughout the public service sector.
[Sounds familiar to Americans. And this is happening in so-called "democracies"?!]
The result? This month's all-time high unemployment.
Under these circumstances education, health, welfare and municipal services are bankrupt, and only the volunteer sector saves the day, to a limited degree.
Strasser portrays an apocalyptic vision: In the not too distant future there simply will not be any work for people,
[sounds like Jeremy Rifkin's 1995 book, The End of Work]
and the average work day will be only two hours.
[Ah, an average workday of 2 hours is NOT "simply not any work for people." It is less work, but that is exactly what you'd expect in a technologizing world. If the vanishing work is carefully spread to everyone, so that everyone can easily and well support themselves because there is no labor surplus to drive down pay, and if the workweek is adjusted downward further, or even raised but switched to alternating weeks so that the nation's consumer base is restored and not further damaged, this is exactly the liberating process that technology promises but can never deliver when near-sighted and undisciplined CEOs use it for downsizing instead of timesizing.]
Such a development will have tremendous implications for maintaining a sane and organized state; indeed, for the very survival of modern society.
[That's ri-ight. This is the biggest obstacle in the path of human progress in our lifetimes, and it is easily and intelligently removed by Timesizing.]
Such a prediction seems unrealistic for Israel.
[The operative word is "seems" and the whole sentence is just wishful thinking.]
To the contrary, leaders of the economy promise us that soon we will see a high demand for jobs.
[Well, how long before you realize you're being played for suckers?]
But the socioeconomic trend in Israel in recent years points exactly in the opposite direction: toward a greater social gap and less decent work places. These are reserved for the outstanding among us, and we can already see how many people are knocking on the doors of employers for every available job in the country.
Barriers of age, gender, nationality and social background block hundreds of thousands of citizens from finding decent places of work. At best they settle for temporary jobs without social benefits, causing them endless anxiety.
[Keep this up and you won't need the Muslims to destroy Israel. The Israeli government is doing it pretty effectively for you.]
Before it is too late, I want to challenge some of the economic conventions that dominate official thinking:
On the contrary, it is time to examine every such move through the prism of what alternative employment is available to workers who become unemployed.
- Not everything – especially in the public sector – has to be determined by the net balance outcome.
[Huh? Sounds like academic gobbledygook to hide spreading disaster that is carefully excluded from the official figures.]
- Not every process of cutbacks, layoffs, streamlining and privatization contributes to the balance of our national fortitude.
[Almost none of it does, because it cuts into national diversity, which cuts into national variability and adaptibility and survivability.]
- The bottom line does not always have to come first.
[Sure it does, but a bottom line for everybody, especially employees, not just CEOs, top execs, directors and big short-term shareholder-speculators.]
[Evidently none based on a 40-hour-or-more workweek.]
How does one cut the impact on the widening economic gap and on social solidarity?
[Open your eyes and your mind and CUT THE WORKWEEK, as we all did for 150 years before 1940 (from 80 hours to 40), and as Father Moses brought down from Sinai embodied in the Fourth Commandment of Exodus 20 (from a 7-day week to a 6-day week). What is the problem?!]
What does it mean for the national interest?
[A common workweek range provides a visible integrating principle that strengthens the common interest of the nation.]
Market forces cannot guarantee an enlightened and healthy society.
[They can if the framework, the definition, of the market is continually readjusted to level the playing field for everyone in the society, and that means a workweek that is continually readjusted to absorb the unemployed, welfare cases, disabled, homeless, incarcerated and the forced-early-retired, forced-interrupted-retired, forced single and multiple part-time.]
We need some different thinking before we find ourselves living in a state without work.
[That will never happen in a sustainable state, but work will certainly be much less invasive and burdensome.]
Actually, without a state.
[True. If a society allows itself to split into workers and drones, like Eloi and Morlocks, it embraces instability.]
5/07/2004 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 5/06 from GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA , and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
- 5/10 Swedes mull shortened work week study, The Age [Australia].
Sweden's government is planning a two-year study to evaluate whether a 30-hour workweek, at a 40-hour salary, will result in healthier employees and lower health care costs.
The study, which is planned to start in 2005, will select about 300 people who will have their work hours cut by 25% while retaining their current salary during a two-year trial period. The project is meant to evaluate whether a shorter work week will improve people's health, thereby cutting costs for health care and sick pay.
That concept is not new, and has been tried in both the public and private sectors in Sweden and elsewhere. "It's really important that this is done in a scientifically correct way so that the results can't just be batted away," said lawmaker Laila Bjurling, of the governing Social Democrats. "This is an economic question: can it be profitable from a health care aspect, or can it not?"
The government has allocated 100 million kronor ($A18.05 million) for the study, but the procedure for choosing and monitoring participants has yet to be worked out. Bjurling said participants will likely represent "both male and female dominated areas" from different parts of the country and different industries.
The study is controversial, however, and is not supported by Sweden's main opposition party, the Moderates. Fredrik Reinfeld, the Moderate party leader, told the newspaper Svenska Dagbladet that taxpayer money should not be used to give financial contributions to "healthy adult people with jobs."
"This is a disguised, gigantic pay raise that randomly will benefit some and not others," he said.
[OK, so choose 150 people with more absenteeism and only 150 healthier people with less absenteeism, or choose six groups of 50 people with absenteeism all up and down the scale.]
- 5/09 Future of BPOs: The part-time worker? by Sujata Dutta Sachdeva, Times of India via Times News Network.
[What's BPO stand for? Something to do with British Petroleum?]
NEW DELHI: And now, BPO companies have found the perfect way to cope with the high attrition rate that had become a major headache: Hiring older employees on a part-time basis.
It has been touted as one of India's biggest success stories of recent times. And in keeping with its image, the BPO industry is growing, and growing fast. A recent ICRA[??] study suggests the size of the domestic market will touch $12 billion by 2006 and employ 400,000 people.
But if the sector is reputed for its great job opportunities and good pay packets, it's also known for high attrition rate.
Companies like GE, Wipro-Spectramind, V-Customer and many others have been doing it for some time. Part-timers account for 15-20% of the workforce, say experts. Nasscom forecasts the ratio of part-timers and middle-aged employees to fresh-graduate full-timers in the BPO sector is likely to increase in the future. "Companies are beginning to look beyond recruiting fresh graduates on a full-time basis at retired professionals and housewives on a part-time basis. The advantage is that they tend to prefer stable jobs and are less prone to 'job-hops' for a marginal increase in compensation. It also helps to considerably increase the base for recruitment," says Nasscom president Kiran Karnik.
[And they don't have to pay for full-time-linked benefits?]
According to Ganesh Kejriwal of Megamind, "With part-timers becoming popular, a broad range of people are now in circulation, which was not possible earlier."
So, you have students, aspiring artists and young professionals rubbing shoulders with housewives and retired defence officers.
What attracts the bunch is the shorter schedule - five hours most often - with ample free time to pursue other interests.
[If we're talking about a five-day week, this means a 25-hour workweek - which by now in most of the automated and robotized world should be the level that defines "full time," not "part time."]
As Raja Varadarajan of Wipro Spectramind says, "It's a mutually beneficial arrangement for both the company and the employee." An arrangement, which is fast becoming popular.
- 5/10 Balancing act - If all you do is wish, then all you will get is nothing, by Ellen Miller, Indianapolis Star.
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Lack of imagination and courage may be the biggest obstacle to a better work-life fit.
You have to believe flexibility is possible and envision what would work for you. And you have to have the guts to ask for it. If you're waiting for your boss to create an ideal arrangement, you'll probably still be waiting on retirement day. Businesses may be paying more attention and lip service to flexibility, but you must take the first step.
Ten years ago, nobody but me was stressing over the clash between my need to work and my need for more time for family and self. Nobody was going to read my mind and reduce my hours, especially since at the time, no one at my level had ever gone part time.
[What's your level?]
I explored what I wanted and how it could work for all parties. I proposed a three-day week, and my boss said yes.
There are many options between the extremes of working 24/7 and quitting altogether. But finding one may mean giving up pay or pace of advancement. Or abandoning messages like:
Cali Williams Yost, a New Jersey-based work-life expert, believes most employers want workers to have a good work-life fit. But Yost, who attended last week's Work+Family Roundtable in Indianapolis, believes workers must take the lead.
- Good workers give their all, and if you can't, get out.
- Good parents don't work outside the home, so don't even try.
- Having a baby is no big deal, so find a good day care, and work like nothing's changed.
Bosses want to keep trustworthy, self-starting employees. If you are one, you've got nothing to lose by proposing fewer hours, a compressed workweek, telecommuting, job-sharing or some combination, she says. Her new book, "Work+Life: Finding the Fit That's Right for You" ($25.95, Riverhead Books), is a guide through the process.
"You really do have much more control of this than you think," Yost says.
Candi Lange, a work-life expert with Eli Lilly and Co., a corporate member of the Work+Family Roundtable, encourages valued employees to propose job arrangements that factor in worker and boss needs." 'This is what I want; give it to me' won't come across well," Lange says. But neither should an employee agree to something unworkable.
"Sometimes people will negotiate a three-day workload, for instance, and they're so grateful, they feel they have to prove they are worthy of it," she says. "So they take on more than 60% of their workload. They end up more stressed than ever." She recommends that worker and boss set up clear expectations, communicate clearly and periodically review the situation. "What makes for flexible work is less about the job and more about the relationship between the boss and the employee," Lange says.
Yost adds that sometimes, tiny changes are all that are needed. She coached a client into leaving work at 6 p.m. instead of 6:15 p.m. That way, he caught the express train, which got him home 45 minutes earlier so he could put his son to bed.
At first, he feared not being the one at work for the boss's periodic 6:15 calls. "He had to redefine success for himself," Yost says. It took courage. But imagine his satisfaction when he kisses his son goodnight.
- [All of which would be just ducky, except here's another article indicating a situation more in line with our expectations of employer attitudes during a labor surplus -]
5/08 Employers ax family-friendly policies - Reduced job flexibility has more working moms opting for family life, by Stephanie Armour, USA Today via DetNews.com [Michigan].
After Melissa Kimball’s son was born, she asked her company to let her work part time on a permanent basis. When they said no, Kimball said goodbye.
“I didn’t want to quit. I loved my job,” says Kimball, 36, an architect in Washington, D.C., who left her job in April to stay home with Chance, 20 months. “But I felt like, if I’m not valuable enough for them to make family-friendly policies work, then the job isn’t for me.”
Companies that once touted family-friendly benefits are cutting back on them in this tight job market, slashing programs that let employees telecommute, work part time, share jobs, or take paid family leave. The reversal is having a profound impact on working mothers now struggling with whether to leave jobs for their families.
The labor force participation rate of mothers age 15-44 with infant children under one year old slid from a record 59% in 1998 to 55% in 2002, part of the first downward slide since the Census Bureau began tracking the figure in 1976. While those women may represent a return to more traditional family arrangements, some workplace experts suspect they may also be leaving the work force — at least temporarily — because they can’t find the flexibility they seek.
“Some of the reasons women are going to the home is because organizations are not stepping up to the plate. Some organizations are cutting back,” says Lisa Levey of Catalyst, a research and advisory group in New York.
Few programs are being spared. The number of employers offering paid family leave dropped from 27 percent in 2001 to 23% last year, according to a Society for Human Resource Management survey of nearly 600 members. Those offering flexible work hours tumbled from 64% in 2002 to 55% in 2003. Job sharing dropped from 26% in 2001 to 22% last year.
A separate study by tax and business information provider CCH of more than 400 employers also found that family-friendly programs are getting the ax, with job sharing dropping from 37% in 2002 to 30% in 2003. Telecommuting fell from 47% to 45% during the same time. And those offering compressed workweeks, which generally let workers put in their hours over four days rather than five, slipped from 49% in 2002 to 40% last year.
Not all companies are slashing benefits, and some work-family experts say employers won’t go too far because these benefits are so valued by employees. But the cutbacks have left some working mothers feeling squeezed.
After being laid off from her sales job two months ago, Krista Sweeney, 33, decided she’d had enough of the inflexibility. Instead of looking for another corporate job, she launched a Web site, a resource for moms called MomsVoice.com, and she is selling health care benefits from home so she can spend more time with her sons, Tyler, 10, and Stephan, 1.
“It’s much more flexible. I can be here for my children,” says Sweeney of Redmond, Wash. “I don’t have to ask for sick time, vacation time. I can go to my son’s games and plays, the things I couldn’t do before. They see that family is important, not the dollar.”
A cost-cutting frenzy
Companies are scaling back on their flexible programs in part because they’re on a cost-cutting frenzy. Work-life programs are sometimes scratched as part of that effort and because they’re seen as benefiting only some employees.
But many of these programs don’t cost much to implement, so cost-cutting is just one reason for the change. In this competitive business environment where being accessible to clients is critical, some employers are reducing family-friendly programs because they perceive a greater need to have everyone in the office. Others have tried the programs but think they don’t work: More than a quarter of supervisors say telecommuting can impair job performance, according to a 2001 study by Menlo Park, Calif.-based staffing services firm OfficeTeam.
And some employers remain uncomfortable with the benefits. They worry that some workers will abuse arrangements such as telecommuting and that so many employees will want the arrangements that they’ll be forced to pick who gets the perk.
“In an era when employers have the upper hand, there’s little upside to family-friendly policies,” says Steven Friedman, a New York lawyer who chairs the benefits practice at law firm Littler Mendelson. “In the 1990s, there was this feeling that these policies were necessary. There’s been quite a turnaround.”
While a number of work-family experts believe companies will expand those programs once the economy improves, others say the economy’s health is so uncertain that any comeback will take time. Meanwhile, working mothers say it’s frustrating to make life decisions based on benefits that can vanish as quickly as stock market gains.
But it’s not just an issue for mothers. Childless employees who want to spend less time in the office and working fathers also say they’re facing more resistance. It was a rough lesson for Robert Smith, 30, a father of four children, all younger than 9. His wife also worked for a telemarketing company and the children were in day care. In 2002, Smith worked at a public relations job, but he often missed work when his children got sick. His company allowed 12 days to be missed for personal reasons or illness in a year. On the 13th absence, Smith says he was fired.
“It’s rhetoric. Companies say they’re family friendly, but it’s only pro-family if nothing goes wrong,” says Smith of Rockford, Ill., who has started his own public relations business, Robert Smith & Associates PR. “I was biting my nails, wondering, ‘How are we going to eat?’ ”
Employers are able to make cutbacks because the tight job market means there are an abundance of job candidates to pick from. But the approach could mean significant recruiting and retention problems once hiring accelerates. “It’s a real concern,” says Robert Morgan, president of employment solutions at Spherion, a Fort Lauderdale-based recruiting and work force solutions company. “There’s real pent-up demand for changing jobs, and I’m not seeing companies respond with retention strategies.”
Not all work-family experts are concerned. Some say that while there have been cutbacks, many leading companies continue to offer flexible benefits. Such programs, they say, are too valuable to do away with. And while some believe the cuts could be permanent, others don’t expect massive benefit losses or an exodus of working mothers from the labor force.
5/06/2004 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 5/5 from GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA (except #2 & 3), and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
- Need for family-friendly flexible working hours, says Green Party, Politics.ie [Ireland].
IRELAND - Green Party Deputy Leader and European candidate for the East, Councillor Mary White, would like to see work trends in Ireland becoming more compatible with family life and said today; "If elected to the European Parliament, I would push the Commission to ensure more flexible working time arrangements which would make it easier for Irish citizens to reconcile work and family life."
"Workers in Ireland have benefited from equal pay and working hours' directives implemented by the EU - but I would like to see this extended much further. In continental Europe, the majority of people (typically two-thirds or more) work a standard week of around 35 to 40 hours, with relatively few putting in longer or shorter hours. Here in Ireland the average working week is 39-40 hours."
"I would like to see the average working week in Ireland come more into line with countries like France where the average
working week is 35 hours and above all I would like to see greater flexibility in working hours."
"I believe that greater flexibility is an integral part of attracting and keeping staff and leads to a competitive edge,
for example the service industry is then available at non-standard times in order to meet customers' demands. Flexibility
should apply to all employees - to parents, to carers of the sick, to those who are also part-time self-employed, to those
studying part time and to those seeking career breaks."
- Civil service flexi-hours get more flexible - A new pro-family scheme open to all officers allows them to work just 11 hours a week - down from at least 21 previously, by M. Nirmala, Straits Times.
SINGAPORE - Former President's Scholar Dawn Yip clocks in only 11 hours a week in her civil service job and is confident her career will not be derailed by her flexi-hours.
[= an awkward and ambiguous term meant as an impact-buffering, resistance-lulling 'eu'phemism. Let's not support it beyond this article and rather call it what it is, shorter hours. Note we also replace age references with three leads (...), unless age is pertinent. We won't ditch agism until we quit obsessing about people's ages, pertinent or impertinent.]
Officers like her are taking advantage of a new scheme the Government started this year that allows them to work 11 hours a
week, down from the previous options of either 21 or 28 hours a week.
Also, all civil servants can now apply for such [shorter] hours. In the past, only married female officers with children and retirees who were re-hired could do so.
A Public Service Division (PSD) spokesman said that so far, four men and a handful of single women, whose numbers it could
not confirm, have flexi-hours work arrangements along with married women who make up the majority on the scheme.
For Ms Yip..., working 11 hours a week has been ideal. An adjunct fellow at the Civil Service College, she prepares case
studies for civil servants in training. But she is also a mother of two babies, aged one and two, and chose the 11-hour
option in March after two years of no-pay leave to start a family. She used to be a coordinator (projects) of the Scenario
Planning Office in the PSD.
'The main plus is to have time with my kids,' she said. 'I'm nocturnal, so it helps to be able to work late into the night,
and not always have to worry about being somewhere by 9am the next day!'
Her 11-hour work week is a talking point among her friends, she said. 'Some do express envy. Quite a few are surprised by
how enlightened the civil service is.'
Her career will go back on track in a few years when she returns to full-time work, she said, adding that for now, her
bosses and colleagues have helped her stay 'quite engaged' in her work.
Others on the scheme are also happy with their shorter hours, saying they actually get more done. Mrs Tan Huey Ling..., an
assistant commissioner of labour with the Manpower Ministry, is expecting her third child and works 21 hours a week. She
said: 'I've learnt how to manage time more effectively. As a full-timer with more time on your hand, you tend to drag your
deadlines and take things for granted.'
Ms Jane Lee..., a social assistance policy officer at the Ministry of Community Development & Sports, said that for
flexi-work arrangements to succeed, there must be a mindset change. 'There should be a greater move to measure performance
through the quality of output achieved, rather than the Singaporean obsession with number of hours spent in the office,'
said the mother of two who works 28 hours a week.
The new arrangement is part of the civil service's moves to retain talent and take the lead in creating a pro-family work
environment. 'Without the scheme, the service will lose good people who might not be able to work full time,' said the PSD
Part-time work in the service has grown. In 1999, 100 officers worked shorter hours. Last year, the number of new applicants
was 210 and as of this March, it stands at 90. These officers, who can have flexi-hours only if their department heads
approve, are in a variety of jobs, from frontline work to management positions.
Part-time employees get pro-rated salary and benefits, said the PSD spokesman. They can earn
25% to 50% of
the salary of a full-time officer. For example, a frontline counter person working half-time could draw a gross monthly pay
of about $800 and a middle-to-senior level officer could earn $1,750.
5/5/2004 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 5/04 from GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA (except #1,2,3 which are from the 5/5 WSJ &/or NYT hardcopy), and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
- United States: Dept. of Labor implements long-awaited FLSA reform, by Steven Catlett & William Goldsmith & Matthew Lampe, www.mondaq.com.
On April 20, 2004, after significant public commentary and debate, the Dept. of Labor published final regulations changing the standards governing whether employees are exempt from the overtime and minimum wage requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"). The changes to the regulations are extensive and are a welcomed effort to update the FLSA to better accommodate the realities of the modern workplace. The new regulations, which can be found at 69 Fed. Reg. 22,122
(April 23, 2004) (to be codified at 29 C.F.R. Part 541) and at http://www.dol.gov/esa/regs/compliance/whd/fairpay/main.htm, were published in the Federal Register on April 23, 2004, and will go into effect August 23, 2004. The following summary provides an overview of the new final regulations and their impact on employers.
Overview of the revised regulations
In order to restore the overtime protections intended by the FLSA, but weakened by the dramatic changes in the workplace environment since the regulations were last updated, the DOL’s new regulations reflect multiple changes from the prior regulations, which include:
Tests for exemption from overtime rules
- Increasing the minimum salary level required for the executive, administrative, and professional exemptions, and establishing the salary level required for an employee to be considered "highly compensated";
- Adopting a single standard duties test for each exemption category, and discarding the "long" and "short" tests structure utilized in the prior regulations;
- Revising and clarifying the elements — while generally retaining key concepts in the basic requirements — to be considered when determining whether an employee’s primary job duties fall within any of the five identified exemptions;
- Including a section explicitly stating that police officers, fire- fighters, paramedics, emergency medical
- technicians, and similar public safety employees, as well as manual laborers or other blue-collar workers, are entitled to overtime pay; and
- Reorganizing and streamlining the regulations to make them easier to understand, eliminating the distinction between "regulations" and "interpretations" found in the prior regulations, organizing the subparts according to each category of exemption, updating the definitions of key terms and phrases, and eliminating outdated examples.
To be considered exempt, an employee must be paid on a salary basis at not less than certain minimum amounts and must meet certain minimum duties tests related to the employee’s primary job duties. The new regulations, like the prior regulations, make it clear that job titles are insufficient to establish the exempt status of an employee. Rather, the critical analysis is whether an employee’s salary and duties meet the requirements of the exemption tests.
Salary Level and Basis Analysis. Executive, administrative, and professional employees will be exempt from the FLSA’s overtime regulations only if they meet certain salary requirements. The previous regulations set the minimum salary level at $155 per week or $8,060 annually. To be exempt under the new regulations, an employee must be compensated at a salary level of at least $455 per week, which is equivalent to $23,660 annually. Thus, workers earning less than $455 per week are guaranteed overtime compensation. In addition, the minimum salary level must be paid on a salary basis.
Generally speaking, employees are paid on a salary basis if they regularly receive, each pay period, a predetermined amount constituting all or part of their compensation, and if that predetermined amount is not subject to reduction due to variations in the quality or quantity of the work performed. Although exempt employees need not be paid for a workweek in which they perform no services, they must receive their full salary for any week in which they perform any work.
Employers should be aware, however, that certain types of exempt employees are subject to unique salary basis rules. For example, the compensation requirement for academic administrative employees — such as department heads, counselors, or principals — may be satisfied at a rate equal to the entrance salary for teachers in the school where the employee works. The salary for exempt computer employees can be based on an hourly formula if the wage rate is no less than $27.63 per hour. Further, under the professional employees exemption, the minimum salary requirements do not apply to teachers, practicing lawyers or doctors, or outside sales employees. In addition, administrative and professional workers may be paid on a fee basis, rather than a salary basis, if the employee receives an agreed sum for a particular job regardless of the time required for performance.
Impact of Deductions.
The new regulations, like the prior regulations, provide that regardless of the payment arrangement, an employee will not be considered to be paid on a "salary basis" if deductions are made from the predetermined amount of compensation for any absences arranged by the employer or due to the operational needs of the business. The new regulations did not modify the specific circumstances in which an employer may make deductions from pay on a salary basis without sacrificing the overtime exemption, such as deductions for personal absences of more than one full day, for absences due to sickness and disability if made pursuant to a bona fide plan or policy of providing compensation for loss of salary, and for penalties imposed for infractions of major safety rules. However, the revised regulations add a new permissible deduction: An employer now may deduct an exempt employee’s pay for unpaid disciplinary suspensions of one or more full days for infractions of workplace conduct rules applicable to all employees. As under the prior regulations, all other types of deductions may expose employers to the risk that their classification of certain employees as exempt will be challenged.
An employer who makes improper deductions will lose the exemption applicable to particular employees for the affected time period if the facts demonstrate that the employer did not intend to pay the employees on a salary basis. Thus, if the employer has an actual practice of making improper deductions, the overtime exemption will be lost during the time period in which the deductions were made, for all employees in the same job classification who work for the same manager responsible for the deductions.
On the other hand, in a new safe harbor provision, the revised regulations provide that isolated or inadvertent improper deductions may not always jeopardize exemption status. To avoid losing exempt status based on an inadvertent improper deduction, an employer should have a clearly communicated policy prohibiting improper deductions, include a complaint mechanism in that policy, reimburse employees for any improper deductions, and, if an inadvertent improper deduction is made and discovered, take corrective steps to ensure compliance with the regulations in the future.
Special rule for highly compensated employees.
Recognizing that a high level of compensation is a strong indicator of exempt status,
[this is the big flaw that creates a disintegrated economy; the highly compensated employment is precisely the employment that needs most to be spread to fully activate the consumer base and unleash the economic dynamism that uncapped funneling of income and wealth has stifled for so long]
the regulations offer a special exemption for highly paid employees without engaging in a detailed analysis of their job duties. Under the new regulations, employees earning a total annual compensation of at least $100,000 are exempt from the FLSA overtime requirements, if they customarily and regularly perform any one or more of the exempt duties of an executive, administrative, or professional employee. The total annual compensation figure must include at least $455 per week paid on a salary or fee basis and may include commissions, nondiscretionary bonuses, and other nondiscretionary compensation earned during a 52-week period.
It is important to remember that this overtime exemption applies only to highly compensated individuals who perform primarily office or non-manual work. Thus, for example, nonmanagement production line, maintenance, and construction workers — including carpenters, mechanics, iron workers, longshoremen, and other laborers — are not exempt, no matter how highly paid.
Job Duties Analysis.
As a preliminary matter, recurring through the duties tests are three significant concepts generally applicable to all the exemptions under both the prior regulations and the new regulations:
Under the new regulations, an employee’s "primary duty" is the principal or most important duty of the employee. The test to determine the primary duty remains substantially unchanged: The employee’s job must be considered as a whole, looking at factors such as the relative importance of the exempt duties as compared to any nonexempt duties, the amount of time spent performing exempt work, freedom from direct supervision, and the relationship between the employee’s salary and the wages paid to other employees for the kind of nonexempt work performed by the employee. The regulations further specify that the amount of time spent performing exempt work provides guidance, but is not determinative. Thus, although an employee who spends more than 50% of his time performing exempt work likely will meet the primary duty requirement, an employee who spends less than 50% of his time performing exempt duties may meet the requirement so long as other factors support the conclusion that the performance of exempt work is the employee’s primary duty. Notably, the new regulations eliminate the 20% limitation (or 40% limitation for retail or service establishments) on the amount of time devoted to nonexempt tasks."
- an employee’s "primary duty";
- work "directly and closely related" to exempt work; and
- combination exemptions.
In this same vein, work that is "directly and closely related" to the performance of exempt work remains exempt work under the new regulations. This includes tasks that are related to exempt duties and contribute to or facilitate the accomplishment of exempt tasks — e.g., physical, menial, or routine tasks that are necessary to the proper performance of the exempt work — even if such tasks themselves do not constitute exempt work.
Finally, the new regulations continue to recognize that an employee may perform a combination of exempt duties under multiple exemptions. Further, the combination exemptions provision of the revised regulations eliminates the prior requirement that the employee meet the "stricter" of the requirements on salary and nonexempt work.
Executive Employees Exemption.
Under the prior regulations, an employee qualified for the executive exemption if his primary duty consisted of management of the enterprise (or a customarily recognized department or subdivision) and if he customarily and regularly directed the work of two or more employees. Under the new regulations, an employee qualifies for the executive exemption if:
Moreover, the regulations recognize that concurrent performance of exempt and nonexempt duties does not automatically preclude an employee from the executive exemption if the remaining requirements are met. The key distinction here is that an exempt employee makes the decision for himself whether to perform nonexempt work and always remains responsible for the business operations under his management while performing nonexempt work. In contrast, a nonexempt employee performs work —
exempt or nonexempt tasks — at the direction of a supervisor for particular time periods.
- he earns a salary of not less than $455 per week;
- his primary duty is management of the business or management of a customarily recognized department or subdivision of the business;
- he customarily and regularly directs the work of at least two or more other full-time employees or their equivalent; and
- he has the authority to hire or fire other employees, or his suggestions or recommendations as to the employment actions concerning other employees are given particular weight (even if a suggestion or recommendation is subject to review by a higher-level manager and the employee does not have the authority to make the ultimate decision on an employment action).
Finally, the new regulations retain a safe harbor for business owners. An employee who owns at least a bona fide 20% equity interest in the business and is actively engaged in management of the organization qualifies for the executive employees exemption. Moreover, the salary requirements of the executive employees exemption do not apply to employees who qualify under the business owners rule.
Administrative Employees Exemption.
Under the new regulations, an employee qualifies for the administrative exemption if:
This test has been streamlined substantially, but remains similar to the prior regulations, except for the updated salary level, the deletion of the required categories of job duties, and the addition of the clarifying phrase "with respect to matters of significance" to the existing requirement that the employee exercise discretion and independent judgment. In addition, the list of illustrative examples has been updated to discuss the classification of specific types of white-collar employees such as claims adjusters, financial services industry employees, purchasing agents, human resource employees, inspectors, and examiners/graders.
- he earns a salary of not less than $455 per week;
- his primary duty is the performance of office or non-manual work directly related to the management or general business operations of the employer or the employer’s customers; and
- his primary duty includes the exercise of discretion and independent judgment with respect to matters of significance.
As under the prior regulations, for an employee’s primary duty to be "directly related to the management or general business operations," the employee must perform work directly related to assisting with the running or servicing of the business. For example, this includes work in functional areas such as tax, finance and accounting, budgeting, purchasing and procurement, personnel management, etc. Similarly, the discretion and independent judgment element requires that the employee be empowered to evaluate possible courses of conduct and to make independent decisions, free from immediate supervision (even if the decision is subject to higher review). Specifically excluded from the administrative exemption are employees who apply well-established techniques, procedures, or specific standards described in manuals or other sources within closely prescribed limits, including performing clerical or secretarial work, recording or tabulating data, or performing other mechanical, repetitive, recurrent, or routine work.
Professional Employees Exemption.
This exemption remains substantially similar to the prior regulations, although the new regulations provide additional and updated guidance on the specific requirements. Under the new regulations, an employee qualifies for the professional employees exemption if he earns a salary of not less than $455 per week and his primary duty is the performance of work
The regulations refer to these kinds of employees as "learned professionals" and "creative professionals," respectively.
- requiring knowledge of an advanced type in a field of science or learning customarily acquired by a prolonged course of specialized intellectual instruction; or
- requiring invention, imagination, originality, or talent in a recognized field of artistic or creative endeavor.
To qualify under the "learned professionals" exemption, an employee must meet a three-part primary duty test:
The regulations provide that this exemption requires that an employee perform work that is predominantly intellectual in character, including work requiring the consistent exercise of discretion and judgment, and in which the employee uses advanced knowledge to analyze, interpret, or make deductions from varying facts or circumstances. The regulations explain that such advanced knowledge does not include work involving routine mental, manual, mechanical, or physical work and cannot be attained at the high school level.
- the employee must perform work requiring advanced knowledge;
- the advanced knowledge must be in a field of science or learning; and
- the advanced knowledge must be customarily acquired by a prolonged course of specialized intellectual instruction.
This exemption thus extends to professions such as law, medicine, theology, accounting, actuarial computation, engineering, architecture, teaching, physical, chemical and biological sciences, pharmacy, and other similar occupations that have a recognized professional status. Excluded from this exemption are mechanical arts or skilled trades, even where the knowledge is of a fairly advanced type, that are not in a field of science or learning. Only those professions where specialized academic training is a standard prerequisite for entrance into the profession qualify for the exemption. The exemption is not available for occupations that may be performed with only the general knowledge acquired by an academic degree in any field, with knowledge acquired through apprenticeship, or with training in the performance of routine mental, manual, mechanical, or physical processes. Further, this exemption does not apply to occupations in which most employees have acquired their skill by experience rather than by advanced specialized intellectual instruction.
[Talk about "the right hand of gov't worked against the left hand" - The whole rationale that Rexford Tugwell in "The Industrial Discipline" (1933) used to argue against worksharing and in favor of makework was that everyone would have interesting creative occupations, but that is exactly what the exemption of creative professionals and all these other exemptions from a cap on worktime per person prevent, and exactly what the Timesizing approach of mandatory reinvestment of ALL overtime profits and earnings facilitates - all reinvestment to be as directly and proportionately as possible in overtime-targeted training and hiring. Thus it is seen that Timesizing unleashes the market in the service of human progress, a market that is split and strangled by near-sighted, sweet-talkin' plutocrats, who claim to support the free market but do everything they can to control it in their own narrow interest.]
Alternatively, to qualify under the "creative professionals" exemption, an employee’s primary duty must be the performance of work requiring invention, imagination, originality, or talent in a recognized field of artistic or creative endeavor. Excluded from this exemption is work that can be produced by a person with general manual or intellectual ability and training.
This exemption extends to employees in fields such as music, writing, acting, and the graphic arts, and its requirements typically are met by actors, musicians, composers, conductors, soloists, painters, cartoonists, essayists, novelists, writers, and other comparable employees. However, this exemption does not apply to employees whose work is not creative in character, such as copyists or photograph retouchers. Journalists may qualify as exempt creative professionals if their primary duty is performing on air, conducting investigative interviews, analyzing or interpreting public events, writing editorials or commentary, or acting as a narrator or commentator. In contrast, media employees who collect, organize, or record routine or public information, or who do not contribute a unique interpretation or analysis to a news product are not exempt creative professionals.
The professional employees exemption also includes any employee with a primary duty of teaching, tutoring,
instructing, or lecturing in the activity of imparting knowledge and who is employed and engaged in this activity as a
teacher in an educational establishment. Certified teachers qualify for the exemption, but a teacher’s certificate is not
required to qualify for the exemption, so long as the individual is employed as a teacher by the employing school.
Practice of Law or Medicine.
The professional employees exemption also includes:
The regulations further provide
that employees engaged in internship or resident programs, whether or not licensed to practice at the time the program begins, qualify as exempt professionals if they enter such programs after earning the appropriate degree required for the
general practice of the profession.
- any employee who is the holder of a
valid license or certificate permitting the practice of law or medicine or any of their branches and is actually engaged in
the practice thereof; and
- any employee who is the holder of the requisite academic degree for the general practice of
medicine and is engaged in an internship or resident program. The medical practice exemption applies to physicians and
other practitioners licensed and practicing in the field of medical science and healing.
Computer Employees Exemption.
This exemption remains substantially similar to the prior regulations. An employee qualifies
for the computer employee exemption if he earns a salary of not less than $455 per week or is compensated on an hourly
basis at a rate not less than $27.63 per hour, and his primary duties consist of:
In line with the above test, the computer employees exemption does not apply to employees engaged in the manufacture or
repair of computer hardware and related equipment. The exemption likewise does not apply to employees who are not primarily
engaged in computer systems analysis and programming, regardless of whether their work is dependant on or facilitated by
the use of computers or computer software programs (including engineers, drafters, and others skilled in computer-aided
design software). In addition, a computer employee, whether or not he is covered by this exemption, may also have executive
or administrative duties that independently qualify him for one of those two exemptions.
- the application of systems analysis techniques and procedures, including consulting with users, to determine hardware, software, or system function specifications;
- the design, development, documentation, analysis, creation, testing, or modification of computer systems or programs, including prototypes, based on and related to user or system design specifications;
- the design, documentation, testing, creation, or modification of computer programs related to machine operating systems; or
- any combination of the above duties, the performance of which requires the same level of skills.
Outside Sales Employees Exemption.
As under the prior regulations, an employee qualifies for the outside sales exemption
under the new regulations if:
For purposes of this test, work performed incidental to and in conjunction with the employee’s own outside sales or
solicitations, including incidental deliveries and collections, should be regarded as exempt outside sales work. Similarly,
other work that furthers the employee’s sales efforts should be regarded as exempt outside sales work, including writing
sales reports, updating or revising the employee’s sales or display catalogue, planning itineraries, and attending sales
- his primary duty is either making sales or obtaining orders or contracts for services or for the use of facilities for which a consideration will be paid by the client or customer; and
- he is customarily and regularly engaged away from the employer’s place or places of business in performing his primary duties.
The regulations require that the employee make sales at the customer’s place of business or at the customer’s home. Outside
sales do not include sales made by mail, telephone, or the Internet, unless such contact is merely in addition to personal
calls. Moreover, a driver who delivers and sells products may, depending on the circumstances, qualify as exempt if he has
a primary duty of making sales.
Employer compliance with the new regulations
It is important to remember that the recent changes to the FLSA regulations do not change the general rule that no
provision contained within the FLSA will excuse noncompliance with any state or local law establishing a minimum wage
higher than the minimum wage established in the FLSA or a maximum work week lower than the maximum work week established in
the FLSA. Therefore, employers always must be familiar with any applicable state or local wage and hour law.
Indeed, although many state wage and hour laws closely track the FLSA, opposition to the revisions to the FLSA regulations
may lead to local wage and hour legislative activity. For example, on April 2, 2004, before the DOL passed its final rules,
Illinois passed legislation that rejected — prior to publication of the final rules — the proposed changes to the
definitions of the three primary job categories exempt from overtime pay. This legislation purports to maintain overtime
rights for employees who may have lost those rights under the revised regulations and effectively retains the prior
exemption rules in Illinois. Similarly, the Minnesota Senate passed a bill on April 15, 2004 aimed at preserving overtime
pay for many hourly workers who would be reclassified as exempt salaried employees under the proposed federal regulations,
and it is possible that other states will follow the same course.
The new regulations are expected to go into effect August 23, 2004. During this short interim period, employers should
review their policies and practices and identify any necessary changes in preparation for the new standards.
- Evaluate the impact of the new salary levels. Identify those employees who earn less than $455 per week ($23,660 annually) and evaluate whether they meet any of the duties tests. If they otherwise meet the exemption standards, consider whether increasing their compensation to preserve exempt status is a viable option or, if they do not meet any duties test, adjust practices to provide overtime compensation or to strictly adhere to a 40-hour work week.
- Evaluate the job duties of your workforce to determine whether, under the revised duties tests, employees are properly classified. Where necessary, revise or update job descriptions. Pay close attention to the classification of those employees who, under the prior regulations, were difficult to classify; the revised regulations may tip a close analysis the other way. Remember to consult the updated examples provided in the new regulations for guidance.
- If some employees previously classified as nonexempt could now be classified as exempt, consider employee retention and morale issues before changing the status of a large group of employees.
- Evaluate payroll, attendance, timekeeping, compensation, and discipline policies and practices for compliance with the revised salary basis requirements. Both policies and actual practices are important in evaluating whether an employer properly compensates exempt employees on a salary basis and whether the safe harbor for deductions may apply.
- If substantial changes to exempt status and/or company practices are required, develop a comprehensive communication strategy for explaining the changes to the workforce. Remember that the DOL's changes to the regulations have been controversial, and organized labor and other interested groups have stated publicly that the changes will operate to deprive employees of overtime compensation for time worked. Clear communication with employees about any changes, the reasons for the changes, and their practical impact will help counter any misinformation and maintain employee morale.
- Remember that any applicable collective bargaining agreements and local wage and hour laws still apply. Nothing in the revised FLSA regulations relieves an employer from these parallel obligations.
- Proposed overtime rules blocked - Democratic amendment to stop implementation of new rules passes Senate; 5 in GOP cross party lines, Reuters May 5, 2004: 8:46 AM EDT via AOLNews.
WASHINGTON - A divided Senate defied the Bush administration Tuesday by again voting to block its new rules for
white-collar workers that foes said could cost millions of Americans overtime pay.
Backers argued recent changes in the pending regulations addressed election-year concerns and limited the impact. But
opponents denounced the revisions as inadequate and confusing.
On a largely party-line vote of 52-47, the Senate approved an amendment by minority Democrats to stop implementation of the
regulations, set to take effect Aug. 23. Five Republicans crossed over to provide the winning margin.
"This was a very encouraging vote - a great victory for American workers and families," declared Sen. Tom Harkin, an Iowa
Democrat and chief sponsor of the amendment. "I think it's a clear message to the administration."
But for the amendment to become law, the Republican-led House of Representatives would have to agree to it as part of a
corporate tax bill. That was far from a certainty.
Last year, a majority of both houses went on record in opposition to the new work rules drafted by the Labor Dept.,
backed by business and denounced by unions.
But the administration managed to circumvent the opposition by getting House-Senate negotiators on a spending bill to drop
a proposal that would have blocked funding for the new rules.
The administration contends its work rules would clarify and update antiquated regulations, and it has accused critics of
wildly exaggerating how many workers could lose overtime.
The Labor Dept. in April revised the work rules to reduce the number of workers who could lose overtime as well as
increase the number for whom it would be guaranteed, compared with the initial proposal last year.
The department estimated about 107,000 people earning more than $100,000 a year could lose overtime protection under the
revised rules, but that "few if any" who earn less than that would lose the right to overtime.
Organized labor, police and nurses groups and Democratic lawmakers argued, however, that the revised rules could still end
up costing millions of workers, even some now earning as little as $24,000.
The new rules would also guarantee overtime protection to workers who earn less than $23,660 a year. The Harkin amendment
would allow this portion of the regulations to become law.
Labor Secretary Elaine Chao said after the Senate vote, "As the issue moves to the House, we will continue to expose the
misinformation campaign against the rules... "
AFL-CIO President John Sweeney said, "We urge the House to support the Harkin amendment and reassure all working Americans
that their rights to overtime pay will be protected."
The Labor Dept.'s new regulations would be the first major overhaul in a half-century of the 1938 Fair Labor Standards
Act. The act created the 40-hour work week by guaranteeing overtime pay for each additional hour. It exempted
administrative, professional and executive workers based on duties tests, which the new rules revise and update.
Before the Senate approved the Harkin amendment, it passed one by Sen. Judd Gregg, a New Hampshire Republican, in a failed
effort to siphon support from Harkin's measure.
Approved 99-0, Gregg's amendment stated that 55 occupations - including police officers, registered nurses, computer
programmers and plumbers - would keep overtime protection under the new rules. Democrats begrudgingly supported the
amendment. But they said it did not cover more than 800 other at-risk job classifications, including sheriff's deputies,
juvenile officers and retail clerks. They then rallied around the Harkin amendment to stop the new rules outright.
- Labor secretary stands by overtime plan, by David Espo, AP 05/05/04 03:24 EDT via AOLNews.
WASHINGTON - Labor Secretary Elaine Chao is standing by her agency's proposed new overtime regulations despite a 52-47 Senate vote that signaled dissatisfaction with the Bush administration's work on the subject and underscored the election-year importance of pocketbook issues.
``We will continue to expose the misinformation campaign against the rules and strengthen overtime rights for workers'' when the issue reaches the House, Chao said Tuesday.
Her statement was issued after the Republican-controlled Senate voted to demand that any new rules guarantee continued eligibility for overtime pay to any worker who currently qualifies.
Democrats challenged Chao and other Republicans to continue the fight.
``Every member of the House has to stand for election this year,'' said Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, chief architect of the proposal that cleared the Senate.
``The administration just doesn't get it,'' added Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass. ``But the Senate got it today and we hope the House will get it as well.''
The vote was an unusual setback for the administration in the Republican-controlled Senate, and a victory for organized labor.
``There is simply no reason for the Bush administration to slash a single worker's overtime pay, especially in this economy, when middle income families are already so hard-pressed,'' AFL-CIO President John Sweeney said in a statement.
Senators tagged two other amendments to the bill designed to help workers laid off because of foreign competition. One would create federal subsidies to help them pay their home mortgages while learning a new trade. The other would offer manufacturers a tax credit to help create new jobs.
Harkin's proposal was supported by 46 of the Senate's 48 Democrats, as well as one independent and five Republicans. Two of them, Sens. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, are running difficult re-election campaigns in states where organized labor has a significant presence.
Republicans maneuvered for much of the day to scuttle the proposal. Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., with the acquiescence of the administration, offered a concession that provided for continuing overtime eligibility for police, firefighters, nurses and other workers in a total of 55 job classifications. It passed on a vote of 99-0.
But Democrats branded it as insufficient, saying it omitted protection for another 834 job classifications recognized by the Labor Dept..
The regulations take effect in August. Barring a reversal in the administration's position, critics trying to block the rules have many formidable obstacles to overcome.
The Senate's action took the form of an amendment to corporate tax legislation that has been stalled for months and has yet to clear either house of Congress. While the Senate voted last year to block work on the earlier set of regulations, the House sent mixed signals, and the administration threatened to veto any attempt to interfere with Chao's work.
The new regulations would mark the first thorough overhaul of government overtime rules in more than 50 years. Administration officials say they would guarantee overtime rights for all white collar workers earning up to $23,660 and protect or expand current eligibility for those earning up to $100,000.
The department says the rules are meant to clarify confusion that has arisen as the result of changes in the work force over the years, and eliminate the need for workers and employers to go to court to determine eligibility.
Chao recently told a House committee that such lawsuits are on the rise, and that often ``workers receive only a few thousand dollars each, while the lawyers may walk away with millions of dollars.''
Only 107,000 workers earning more than $100,000 annually would be adversely affected by the proposed rules, the department says.
Chao revised the regulations substantially over a draft issued a year ago after Republican lawmakers complained that police, firefighters and others could lose overtime eligibility.
Democrats and organized labor said that despite the revisions, millions of workers in dozens of occupations, including police sergeants, could lose overtime coverage.
Republican Sens. Ben Nighthorse Campbell of Colorado, Olympia Snowe of Maine and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island also voted for the Democratic measure. Sen. Zell Miller of Georgia was the only Democrat opposed.
Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, did not vote. An aide said he supported Harkin's proposal.
- Employers increasingly offering flexibility - More American workers want to be like Christina Bilotta, by H.J. Cummins, Minneapolis-St.Paul Star Tribune.
[Glad somebody still thinks so, but in a general and rising labor surplus, the market forces are against it. This is either an exceptional pocket or a case of the wealthy-owned media shouting a tiny piece of good news while it ignores or whispers giant chunks of bad news.]
A senior audit manager at KPMG in Minneapolis, Bilotta negotiated a part-time schedule about a year ago with her
supervisors, after her son, Tyler, was born. "I'm 30, I've worked hard at my career, and I want to keep working, but I also
wanted time with my son," Bilotta said. She works about 70% of the time and plans to stick to that while she and her
husband, Michael, have young children.
"It has made a major change in my life," she said. "It's important to me to be a good career woman, and a good mother and
wife, and this helps."
There's a growing appetite for flex time among U.S. workers. And flexible work schedules are among the most important
forces behind productive and happy workplaces, according to a study, "When Work Works," released by the Families & Work
Institute, a research agency based in New York.
For companies, flexible work schedules will become one of the most potent recruitment tools to attract and retain talent as
a recovering economy bids up demand for workers.
"I think we will increasingly work flexibly for a variety of reasons, including commuting times, office space and costs,
family situations and just because technology makes it so much easier to do," said Ellen Galinsky, Institute president and
co-author of the report. "I don't think it will necessarily be a smooth path; old management assumptions - presence equals
productivity - die hard," Galinsky said.
[Or never, given a deepening global labor surplus.]
"But if it's well done, it is win-win."
[Galinsky still isn't addressing the labor surplus and the timesizing imperative.]
The versatility of flexible scheduling suits the many interests of a diverse workforce, from younger employees with family
demands to older veterans who wish to taper their workloads heading into retirement, Galinsky said. It costs employers
little, once they have learned how to institute the options and manage flexibly. Paying two sets of benefits for employees
who job-share, or covering an employee on leave, will cost money, Galinsky said. But it can cost less than the alternatives,
which could include recruiting and retraining new hires.
[Devil's advocate: but recruiting and retraining is ideally a one-time cost, while double benefits go on and on.]
Also, while employees still rank health care as the most important benefit, flexibility is among the top predictors of a
satisfied and productive workforce, workplace surveys regularly show. Galinsky said institute research shows, for example,
that 28% of younger workers plan to take time off for children and 57% of older workers want to work part
time. Challenging stereotypes, the survey showed that 70% of men want flex time; so do 68% of the nonparents.
The state of flexibility in today's workplaces is less clear. In the institute's survey, 43% of 3,500 workers polled
said their places of employment are flexible: up from 29% from 1992 to 2002. But it also said that two in every five
people with flexibility options are afraid that using them would jeopardize their careers.
On the other hand, a survey of 600 employers shows they have cut their flexibility offerings during the past two years: a
drop in flex time from 64% to 55%, and compressed work weeks from 33 to 31%. That annual benefits
survey by the Society for Human Resource Management shows the 2003 levels were about the same as in 1999.
The big differences show up when comparing jobs, a 2001 Bureau of Labor Statistics report indicates. Almost half of managers
and professionals said they have schedule flexibility, compared with 18% for production workers and 20% for
mechanics. Most of the flexibility they reported was informal, not part of an employer-sponsored program. Also, more men
than women report flexible schedules, possibly because of their greater numbers in the more-flexible higher levels of
At KPMG, Bilotta said she appreciates that her temporarily reduced schedule doesn't change her status in the company, where
she has been for nine years. She's eligible for pay raises and incentives and promotions, just as full-timers are.
- The solution to the irregular worker issue rests with whom?, Chosun Ilbo [South Korea].
Last month, unions affiliated with the Federation of Korean Trade Unions and the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions said they would struggle to see the five-day work week implemented so that work conditions do not worsen and the wages of irregular workers increased to 85% of those received by regular workers. Concerning this, this nation's five major business groups said Wednesday in a joint statement that the irregular worker issue should be solved by lessening the overprotection of regular workers.
We must urgently solve the issue of irregular workers who do not receive social insurance and must survive on meager wages.
If the wages of irregular workers is pulled up to 85% of that of regular workers, however, it will increase the burden on businesses by W20 trillion annually. We wonder if it would't be difficult for our businesses to shoulder that kind of burden and still be able to sell goods on the global market. Actually, there's no need to ask. They won't be able to sell goods. If they can't sell goods, then the businesses shut down. At that point, it becomes a problem for both regular workers and irregular ones.
Therefore, if the unions are to get public support for the irregular worker issue, they must attach some bold concessions. These concessions could become the strongest tool to pressure the business world. If they do not make these concessions and simply scream about about improving the treatment of irregular workers, it will be seen as nothing more than lip service, a public display linked to internal power struggles within the labor unions.
The five-day work week system, which goes into affect from July, is the same thing. Would it be right for laborers to receive the same wages and social welfare conditions while contracting [ie: reducing] their work hours to 40 hours a week?
[Yes, because wages fundamentally vary with labor supply and demand, not with working hours, especially in the age of automation and robotization, when employees, usually a surplus commodity because there's been no mechanism to raise their pay in sync with their productivity, have never received fair pay for their technology-enhanced productivity. And so their pay, and economy-wide consumption, has fallen further and further behind productive capability.]
In the end, the issue of improving the conditions of irregular workers or contracting [ie: shrinking] work hours is an issue of wage increases [and market maintenance]. According to the Bank of Korea's analysis, however, our laborers last year made an average of US$1,869 a month, 1.5 times that made by workers in our competitor Taiwan (US$1,222 a month), and more than in Hong Kong (US$1,596 a month) and Singapore (US$1,845). What should we do about this?
[Enjoy it. Fundamentally you're not competing with Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore or anyone else. You're just competing with your own past. And there's no point in losing the living-standard competition with your own past for the small percentage of your present that relies on exports.]
We await the trade unions' answer.
[Let's see how smart they are - or how stupid and self-destructive, like unions in America from the time the CIO split off from the AFL back in the 1930s because they couldn't understand that shorter hours was the key to reframing the market and harnessing market forces to flexibly raise wages in response to a declining labor surplus, rather than minimum wage legislation that bucked market forces, created incentive for layoffs, and wound up flattening wages and decimating American unions.]
5/04/2004 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 5/03 from GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA (except #4,5,6 which are from the 5/04 WSJ &/or NYT hardcopy), and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
- US Senate handed Bush a defeat, pointer summary (to D3), WSJ, front page.
...in his bid to relax overtime-pay rules, voting 52-47 to require that all who now qualify stay eligible.
Punching the clock, pointer summary (to D3), WSJ, D1.
The Senate voted down a plan that would make it easier for employers to deny overtime pay to many white-collar workers.
[& the misworded target headline -]
Senate votes against proposal to overhaul federal wage[??] rules, by David Rogers & Kimberly Pierceall, WSJ, D3.
DC - In a major victory for organized labor, the Senate held firm in its opposition to the Bush administration's ambitious plan...to deny overtime pay to white-collar administrative personnel...despite last-minute lobbying by Labor Secy Elaine Chao
[what a disgraceful 'advocate for labor'!]
and significant revisions to proposed rules made last month to appease critics of the business-backed initiative. Five Republicans joined the opposition, even after their party leaders agreed to exempt scores of job categories from any adverse impact from the rules.
Adopted 99-0 immediately before the crucial vote, these exemptions cover as many as 55 job categories
[more nose-leading 'conservative' government micromanagement]
and could come back to haunt the administration, which appeared surprised by the tactic.... Democrats mocked the effort as...a sign that Republicans aren't confident of promised safeguards....
The pResident still can implement the overtime rules as planned in August. But..\..the vote illustrated continued nervousness among Republicans over wages...add[ed] to pressure on the House to join in opposition and all but ensure[d] skirmishes through the elections....
The overtime language was added to a pending corporate-tax bill addressing a trade fight with the EU over taxbreaks for American exporters [which] the WTO ruled in 2002 amount...to an illegal subsidy....
- Senate works overtime, editorial, WSJ, A14.
The Senate rolled over the Bush Administration's new overtime rules yesterday.... Beneath all the rhetoric about workers' rights, the Dept. of Labor's new overtime regulations are really about regulatory tort reform.
[But hell, might as well squeeze in some favors to CEOs in the process.]
The overtime system had become so antiquated that companies no longer knew how to classify workers. Lawyers had exploited this confusion by filing suits on behalf of "miscategorized" laborers, turning overtime cases into one of the more lucrative areas of labor law. The real benefit of the new regulations is that they clarify the definitions and rules, blocking off avenues for litigation.
[But the GOP couldn't leave it at that, oh no. It had to go on and try to exclude people from overtime protections at the top, thus nullifying their inclusion of people at the bottom AND their vaunted clarification of the rules. "The stupidity of over-reach."]
...Among the five GOP defectors was none other than Arlen Specter, who thus repaid the White House for its recent support in his cliffhanger Pennsylvania primary....
- [Times' version -]
Senate blocks new rules on pay for overtime work, by Carl Hulse, NYT, A16.
DC - The Senate handed the Bush administration a significant defeat Tuesday by voting to block new rules on overtime that opponents say would cause millions of workers to lose their eligibility for the extra pay.... Sen. Tom Harkin (D, Iowa)...said the Dept. should..."go back to the drawing board" to produce a fairer plan.
...The prior approval of of a Republican plan to preserve overtime pay for 55 occupations...was not enough to sway five of the six Republicans who last year also sided with Democrats in opposing the overtime changes. Two...Arlen Specter of Pa. and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, are in tough re-election fights....
[Still don't have names of all five gutsy defectors.]
- Some resident work-hour limits could change - The ACGME considers raising 80-hour averages for a few specialties, by Myrle Croasdale, AMNews via AMedNews.com.
The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education [ACGME] is considering modifying duty-hour standards for residents in response to feedback from program directors.
During its annual conference in March in Chicago, Ingrid Philibert, vice president of field operations for the ACGME, said changes being considered included raising the weekly average for chief residents in surgical programs to 88 hours, up from the 80 hours originally set July 1, 2003. Program directors have argued that this is a key year for training.
Also under review is the 10-hour rest period following in-hospital call. The ACGME is looking at ways to credit residents for sleep gotten during the on-call period and counting it toward the recommended break.
The ACGME will consider changes during its June meeting, and revisions could take effect as soon as July 1.
As of January, the ACGME had approved 53 requests from programs seeking a 10% increase to the 80-hour weekly average and denied 17. Neurosurgical programs made the largest number of requests.
During this first year of resident duty-hour limits, the ACGME noted, many programs found the 24 hours on-call duty plus six hours for patient transfers difficult to work under. Programs also noticed residents were spending less time with faculty, presumably because faculty were taking on more clinical duties as a result of the residents' shorter hours.
Programs in urban areas said attempts to hire more staff to offset the loss of resident hours weren't always successful.
[But are still the way of the future.]
The ACGME also said it found some programs were so focused on being technically compliant that they were ignoring aspects of patient safety. One program in New York City, for example, was assigning its on-call resident to cover two separate hospitals blocks apart, a situation that was completely unworkable.
- HR Zeitgeist - a ‘high price’ for flexibility, HRGateway.com [UK].
[Don't they mean: a high price for 'flexibility'?]
U.K. - Surveys can sometimes be surprising. One recent [EU? sirvey] into commuter views on [at-]home working suggested that 80% would love the chance to work from home occasionally. ...20% don’t want the chance to work from home.
OK, so full-time home working may drive you a little 'Dilbert,' but to not even want to have the opportunity...makes you feel for this 20%: is their home life THAT bad? If so, the UK portion of the survey may well be horrified to learn that 40% of employers see the largest growth in flexible working over the coming years being in home working.
It is almost a year since the right to ask for flexible hours was brought in, and some surprising surveys have appeared this year to celebrate the fact. As previous research has suggested, the stampede has not happened. Take-up is relatively low, [because men] especially [are] terrified of being thrown from the career ladder.
[Arg, this is ebulliently bad writing.]
The surprising factor, however, is that 45% of organisations surveyed by data-crunchers IRS [stands for what in the UK?] are currently offering flexibility to all staff, and they see this trend growing over the coming years. Part-time working will lead the field, they predict, followed by variable starting and finishing times, temporarily reduced hours and home working.
However, it is not all success and champagne. A new report released today suggests that while 60% of parents have had their requests granted, half of the reasons given for refusal did not fit into the allowable grounds set by the legislation.
[Are we talking about 2 reports now, IRS and EOC, or just one? Terrible writing!]
Also, several respondents were told that they couldn’t work flexibly unless they gave up their management/supervisory roles.
According to the IRS research, 94% of all flexible working options offered over the year were based on part-time working and we already know that it is women who are the ones shouting loudest about the need for flexibility. So, it is not a large jump to say that by combining the research we get more evidence of the barriers women face in the workplace.
Women are coming forward to demand flexible hours, they then get their requests granted but have to take lower positions - supporting men’s vice-like grip on the long hours career ladder. However, women have another obstacle: the pay gap. In a full-time position the gap is already bad between the sexes, but in part-time positions women face an even bigger gap, one worked out last week to be the worst in the EU.
The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) figures suggest that when all employees are taken into account, the UK has the largest pay gap in the European Union, reflecting the difference between pay rates for part-time female workers and full-time male workers. When based on full-time employee only research, the UK fares slightly better – although still way down the list - with a pay gap of 25.3% between the sexes, however, when all employees are taken into account the gap rises to 33.6%.
Most part-time workers are women (82% across the EU) and the UK is the only country to show such a vast difference in the pay gap between part-time and full-time female employees (8.3%). In most countries the difference in the pay gap averages between 2 and 3%. Julie Mellor of the EOC feels that women are paying a ‘high price’ for wanting a part-time option: ‘The most common reason for working part-time is the time spent caring for a child or adult. And it is clear that women in the UK are still paying a high price for taking on these caring responsibilities. A more positive attitude toward part-time and flexible work arrangements at all levels would help close the gap between women's and men's pay as well as helping companies retain staff and save millions in recruitment and training costs as a result,’ she said.
It is great to see many employers offering flexible hours to all employees and not just parents and carers, but at what price? If both men and women suffer for looking to work flexible hours then it is a hollow victory winning the ‘right to request’. [The new charity,] Working Families, wants to see the right extended legally to all staff and want to the requesting nature of the law replaced with a ‘right to have’.
[Working Families was introduced on 11/26/2003 #1and 2/07-09/2004 #5. Looks like they're on the right track by not turning shorter hours into a subsidy for reproduction in an age of overpopulation and mounting ecological crisis. Plus they've addressed the impotence of a "right to request" that we mentioned above.]
The trouble with [a ‘right to have’] is that such moves do not necessarily remove injustices and would need so many caveats that most firms could jump through the loopholes.
[Well, the trouble with a right merely to request is that legislating it is totally meaningless since it already exists. If there are troubles with a right to have, they are simply challenges you should be having and cannot avoid in designing a step forward in human progress; in short, they are the right troubles, no pun intended.]
Sadly, the only route is through steady culture change. Pressing home the bottom-line benefits of flexible working coupled with a steady evolution in case law is the only way forward for long-term change which removes the price paid by men and women for flexibility.
- [Here's another British article that makes the mistake of turning shorter hours into a subsidy for reproduction in an age of over-population -]
Fathers too scared to request flexible work hours, by Sarah Womack, Telegraph.co.uk.
LONDON - Fathers are failing to capitalise on new flexible working time arrangements because they fear that it will mean "career death", the Government admitted last night.
Just 10% of those men eligible has asked to change hours, despite legislation which gives them the right to ask for flexible working, including only working during school terms, job sharing and working from home.
The admission came as the Dept. of Trade & Industry publishes a survey today of 3,500 parents which claims an extraordinary response to the arrangements - but only among mothers.
25% of women have asked to change hours, it says. 80% have had their requests granted;
[we'd say "amazing!" that it's that high a percentage, but maybe a more accurate response in a strongly gender-differentiated society is "unflattering"]
another 10% have reached a compromise with the employer. But fathers are holding back because they think they will be passed over for promotion, or sidelined.
The survey coincides with Europe's largest fatherhood conference, organised by Fathers Direct, which is being held in London.
The right to request flexible working was one of a number of measures, including two weeks' paid paternity leave, introduced under the 2002 Employment Act, which came into force last April. Those entitled to ask for it must have a child or children under six or a disabled child or children under 18.
[Ah, what good is a "right to request"? Isn't that a given? The real substance here is the obligation to grant the request, which then changes it from a "request" to a "demand" or even a "command."]
Patricia Hewitt, the Trade & Industry Secretary, said: "In so many organisations it's acceptable for a woman to say 'I have got children and I need to combine [that with work]', although even then she might be regarded as not being serious about work commitments. "But for a man to say he wants to balance work and family is so counter-cultural that many men fear it is going to be career death."
Under the law, an employer need only give "serious consideration" to a request for flexible working and can refuse because of a "sound business reason", such as additional costs. If an employee goes to a tribunal and wins, compensation is capped at £270 a week, for up to eight weeks.
Charities, including the Maternity Alliance, argue that even among those mothers who ask for flexible working when their children are young, many have to accept a cut in salary or job status.
Contrary to the DTI's poll, its research shows that a quarter of parents have had their request for flexible working refused. Nearly half (45%) said their employer did not know or follow the correct procedure for considering their request and 92% said their employer refused a request for reasons not allowed by the law.
"We want a new right for parents to reduce their hours if they return to work within one year of their baby's birth," said Liz Kendall of the Maternity Alliance. "Too many parents are having their request refused for unjustifiable reasons."
The Work Foundation's analysis showed that low-income parents have less chance of having their request accepted by employers.
Jack O'Sullivan, of Fathers Direct, the national information service for fathers, said that fathers now did a third of parental child care in dual-earner families.
5/01-03/2004 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 4/29-5/02 from GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA (except #4 which is from the 5/01-03 WSJ &/or NYT hardcopy), and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
- Tax breaks offered to firms that retain workers, Asia Times Online [Hong Kong].
SEOUL - The South Korean government will offer tax breaks in the form of deductions for companies that opt for job sharing instead of laying off excess workers, the Ministry of Finance & Economy said on Monday.
The ministry's Tax & Customs Office said it will forward a bill to parliament in June that will provide firms with 500,000 won (US$425) worth of deductions for every worker retained instead of fired.
The bill comes on the back of moves by many companies to pour money into purchasing new equipment that makes it unnecessary to hold onto a large number of expensive workers. The economy's inability to shake off its lethargy has also put pressure on companies to cut outlays and raise efficiency by laying off workers, which is contributing to unemployment that may reach 3.4% this year, according to figures released by the finance ministry.
[Don't stop with unemployment. What's the unemployment doing to the consumer base?! Where are the measures of the consumer markets and their downstream influence on the industrial and financial markets?]
Under the proposal, a company can receive the deduction if it increases the number of shifts operated on a rotational basis, though this must be accompanied by a drop in working hours. Moreover, a firm can apply for benefits if it moves to cut the number of working days from five, which the government is pushing to eventually implement nationwide, to something like four.
"If they can prove they are continuing to employ workers instead of firing them, then the government will give tax breaks for those that have not been laid off," Deputy Minister in charge of the Tax and Customs Office Lee Jong-kyu said.
The measures, which are an extension of the 1 million won the government will give to firms for every employee hired more than last year, are part of a move to get firms to employ more people.
Companies in the manufacturing, mining, transportation and logistics sectors with more than 100 employees will be eligible for the tax breaks, Lee said. In addition, the 1 million won in tax refunds for firms that hire more people than the previous year will be applicable to conglomerates, small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and privately owned businesses in both the manufacturing and service sectors.
The refunds will not be extended to hotels, motels and drinking establishments. Those that want to apply for the benefits must do so before December 31, 2006. Workers must also be employed at the businesses for more than three months.
[Here we have a lot of good timesizing design ideas. If the Koreans keep this up, they're going to surpass France in leadership on this strategically central issue in economic evolutionary advance.]
Other measures in the tax exemption bill include benefits to those that own stocks in the companies where they work through various employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs). Under this change, people who want to sell their share of the company to the management authority of the ESOPs can do so without paying transfer taxes. However, they must have owned the shares for more than a year and the total face value of these shares must not be more than 18 million won.
The tax benefits will also apply to non-listed companies, the ministry said. "The measures are designed to raise the sense of employee ownership of these companies and expand greater management participation by all members of a company," it added.
Besides these moves, the government will expand the number of years that companies will be exempt from paying corporate taxes if they hire more workers and will give similar assistance for firms that spin off businesses.
In the case of the former, tax benefits are to be given to both conglomerates and SMEs. In addition, the government said it will increase the number of sectors eligible for tax deductions if they hire new workers from the current 11 to 16. It said jobs created in the manufacturing sector and those in the service sector are to be equally applicable.
- Meanwhile: You can't buy happiness, but you can measure it, by Andrew Johnston, International Herald Tribune.
NEW YORK - When Senator John Kerry released a "misery index" this month - combining a bunch of economic indicators to argue that times have gotten tougher for middle-income families - he was playing a game whose popularity has quietly soared over the past decade. People whose job it is to think about society's well-being have turned their minds to measuring it, and have come up with some surprising results.
Quantifying happiness is a relatively new endeavor. In the past, if we wanted to know whether life was getting better, we simply measured wealth. The most useful figure was gross domestic product, the measure of the goods and services that a nation produces. When GDP went up, crime generally went down and health got better.
Some time in the 1970s, according to researchers, that connection broke. It will always be true that people suffer in a recession. But when social policy experts subtracted from GDP the cost of unpaid work, crime, family breakdown, pollution, environmental damage and other factors, they found that for the last 30 years, rising incomes have not necessarily meant better lives. In fact, the number of people suffering from depression in industrialized countries had grown tenfold in 50 years.
The New Economic Foundation attracted scorn last month when it released an analysis suggesting that life was best in Britain in 1976 - when the country was beset by high inflation, drought and strikes. But its conclusion is similar to other broad measures of how we're coping.
The problem with such indexes is that they often seem designed to produce precooked conclusions - Kerry, for example, would hardly produce an index that suggested life was better under President George W. Bush. But the basic premise - that traditional ways of measuring progress are failing us - is shared by a surprising number of economists, social experts, governments and international organizations.
Measuring well-being is obviously tricky, and all indexes are not created equal. The tiny Himalayan country of Bhutan (population 750,000) has been compiling a happiness index since 1972, which is supposed to take into account the Bhutanese people's economic, social, emotional and cultural needs. The survey was the whim of the king, and we don't know exactly what it's been telling him since the government doesn't release the results.
[Doesn't sound good.]
The United Nations has been trying to measure social progress for decades by looking at incomes, education and life expectancy. Some serious scientific data has emerged from the World Values Survey, which studies levels of satisfaction by country. There is even an online World Database of Happiness and a Journal of Happiness Studies, both based in the Netherlands.
It's tempting to imagine what would happen if everyone trying to measure social progress pitched in and contributed to one big index - a sort of contentment barometer. At a minimum, it would spark plenty of public debate about where happiness can be found.
There is, naturally, a branch of psychology devoted to happiness and well-being. One of its gurus is Martin Seligman, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, who posits three ways to find happiness. The pleasant life, which consists of experiencing as many of life's pleasures as possible, is what we mean most often when we talk about happiness. Deeper contentment, he says, lies in the other two: the good life - getting absorbed in the things you do best and losing yourself in the process - and the meaningful life, where engaging with a cause or an institution supplies a sense of belonging to something much bigger than you are.
So - since we're in an election year, and people are talking misery - what, if anything, can politicians do to increase the happiness quotient? The answer is not necessarily more vacations and shorter working hours, the cure that many in Europe have prescribed. In Germany, Seligman says, a 35-hour work week and a host of positive social indicators haven't dented the crushing rate of depression.
[Relative to what? How does he know that depression, mental and economic, wouldn't be much worse with longer hours and shorter vacations; in a word, more concentrated employment and more disemployed people? Americans are straining harder and harder to keep believing that they are best. Their comparisons get more and more dislocated. They presume to compare their health insurance non-system that omitted 43m Americans in Nov.2000, probably 50m by now, with Canada's system of universal coverage and that of every other developed nation. No matter what the weaknesses of universal coverage, they are trivial compared to an economy where one in six citizens is uncovered - never mind its pettier problems. And Seligman thinks he knows anything about happiness when he presumes to compare the developed economy with the longest annual working hours and the least free time with the group of economies with the shortest and the most? Don't make us laugh. And again, there's no magic in any permanently fixed level of the workweek while worksaving technology is still pouring into the economy. The only real solution is fluctuating adjustment of the workweek against unemployment, as Reuther called it. In other words, as long as there's under-employment, you keep trimming the workweek, hiring more people, and cutting unemployment and welfare and disability and prison and homelessness taxes, just as South Korea is doing in the article above, and just as France did 1997-2001.]
"We should be asking what governments and corporations can do to recraft work so that people can see their jobs as part of something larger," wrote Seligman in an article, "Beyond Money: Toward an Economy of Well-Being."
[We should not be asking what governments and corporations can do, just corporations. Governments' job is to do the minimum necessary, not the maximum. It's not up to governments to meddle with the qualitative and detailed 'vapors' of job satisfaction. The top-priority "minimum necessary" is for governments to define and enforce a full-employment level of the workweek (instead of cultivating a non-accelerating-inflation rate of unemployment or NAIRU, as our Federal Reserve does), and to do it in a way that avoids runaway inflation by generally balancing the inflationary and deflationary incentives of both corporations and individuals.]
He notes, too, that satisfied people are more productive. So policies designed to bolster well-being should make even the most hard-line economists, well, happy.
[Governments' role is to find the stable minimum of freeing, general rules. Corporations' role is to experiment with up to a burgeoning maximum of stifling, detailed controls. No economy can long survive when both government and corporations are 'sweating the details.' The public sector (gov't) is properly focused on per-person variables; the private sector (corps.) on per-job variables. The former has a lot less variability and a lot more standardizability than the latter, starting with: one person, one vote. As the diversity of the private sector increases, it is the public sector's task to harmonize that diversity to create variability, the stuff of very long-term survivability; to integrate that diversity by discovering and facilitating the integrating principle of minimum necessary despecification (generality) of the moment. A good government treads a narrow path between stifling over-specificity and vague over-generality. 'Because strait is the gate and narrow is the path that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.' (Matt.7:14.) ]
- Some moms quit as offices scrap family-friendliness, by Stephanie Armour, USA TODAY.
After Melissa Kimball's son was born, she asked her company to let her work part time on a permanent basis. When it said no, Kimball said goodbye.
"I didn't want to quit. I loved my job," says Kimball...an architect in Washington, D.C., who left her job in April to stay home with Chance, 20 months. "But I felt like, if I'm not valuable enough for them to make family-friendly policies work, then the job isn't for me."
Companies that once touted family-friendly benefits are cutting back on them in this tight job market,
[tight employment market and loose labor market - in short, a job shortage and a labor surplus, made possible by our 64-year frozen workweek and decades of subsequent worksaving technology, not to mention decades of non-existent or perverse population policies in terms of imports, immigrants and births]
slashing programs that let employees telecommute, work part time, share jobs, or take paid family leave. The reversal is having a profound impact on a number of working mothers now struggling with whether to leave jobs for their families.
The labor force participation rate of mothers ages 15-44 with infant children — under 1 year old —slid from a record 59% in 1998 to 55% in 2002, part of the first downward slide since the Census Bureau began tracking the figure in 1976. While those women may represent a return to more traditional family arrangements, some workplace experts suspect they may be leaving the workforce, at least temporarily, because they can't find the flexibility they seek.
"Some of the reasons women are going to the home is because organizations are not stepping up to the plate. Some organizations are cutting back," says Lisa Levey of Catalyst, a research and advisory group in New York.
Few programs are being spared. The percentage of employers offering paid family leave dropped from 27% in 2001 to 23% last year, according to a Society for Human Resource Management survey of nearly 600 members. Those offering flexible work hours tumbled from 64% in 2002 to 55% in 2003. Job sharing dropped from 26% in 2001 to 22% last year.
A separate study by tax and business information provider CCH of more than 400 employers also found that family-friendly programs are getting the ax, with job sharing dropping from 37% in 2002 to 30% in 2003. Telecommuting fell from 47% to 45% during the same time. And those offering compressed workweeks, which generally let workers put in their hours over four days rather than five, slipped from 49% in 2002 to 40% last year.
[Compressed workweeks are irrelevant to fuller employment and a stronger consumer base. We need shorter workweeks, not just a shell game.]
Not all companies are slashing benefits, and some work-family experts say employers won't go too far because these benefits are so valued by employees. But the cutbacks have left some working mothers feeling squeezed.
After being laid off from her sales job two months ago, Krista Sweeney...decided she'd had enough of the inflexibility. Instead of looking for another corporate job, she launched a Web site, a resource for moms called MomsVoice.com, and she is selling healthcare benefits from home so she can spend more time with her sons, Tyler, 10, and Stephan, 1.
"It's much more flexible. I can be here for my children," says Sweeney, of Redmond, Wash. "I don't have to ask for sick time, vacation time. I can go to my son's games and plays, the things I couldn't do before. They see that family is important, not the dollar."
A cost-cutting frenzy
Companies are scaling back on their flexible programs in part because they're on a cost-cutting frenzy. Work-life programs are sometimes scratched as part of that effort and because they're seen as benefiting only some employees.
But many of the programs don't cost much to implement, so cost-cutting is just one reason for the change. In this competitive business environment where being accessible to clients is critical, some employers are reducing family-friendly programs because they perceive a greater need to have everyone in the office. Others have tried the programs but think they don't work: More than a quarter of supervisors say telecommuting can impair job performance, according to a 2001 study by Menlo Park, Calif.-based staffing services firm OfficeTeam.
And some employers remain uncomfortable with the benefits. They worry that some workers will abuse arrangements such as telecommuting and that so many employees will want the arrangements that they'll be forced to pick who gets the perk.
"In an era when employers have the upper hand, there's little upside to family-friendly policies," says Steven Friedman, a New York lawyer who chairs the benefits practice at law firm Littler Mendelson. "In the 1990s, there was this feeling that these policies were necessary. There's been quite a turnaround."
While a number of work-family experts believe companies will expand those programs once the economy improves, others say the economy's health is so uncertain that any comeback will take time. Meanwhile, working mothers say it's frustrating to make life decisions based on benefits that can vanish as quickly as stock market gains.
But it's not just an issue for mothers. Working fathers and childless employees who want to spend less time in the office also say they're facing more resistance.
It was a rough lesson for Robert Smith...a father of four children, all younger than 9. His wife also worked for a telemarketing company, and the children were in day care. In 2002, Smith worked at a public relations job, but he often missed work when his children got sick. His company allowed 12 days to be missed for personal reasons or illness in a year. On the 13th absence, Smith says, he was fired.
"It's rhetoric. Companies say they're family friendly, but it's only pro-family if nothing goes wrong," says Smith, of Rockford, Ill., who has started his own public relations business, Robert Smith & Associates PR. "I was biting my nails, wondering, 'How are we going to eat?' "
The cutbacks also affect employees without children who want less time at the office. Krista Boughey...of Lemoore, Calif., quit her job in February when she wasn't able to work part time on a permanent basis, a change she wanted so that she could spend more time with her husband, who'd returned from Navy service in the Middle East. She took another job at California Business Furnishings, where such an arrangement was possible.
Employers are able to make cutbacks because the tight job market means there is an abundance of job candidates to pick from. But the approach could mean significant recruiting and retention problems once hiring accelerates. "It's a real concern," says Robert Morgan, president of employment solutions at Spherion, a Fort Lauderdale-based recruiting and workforce solutions company. "There's real pent-up demand for changing jobs, and I'm not seeing companies respond with retention strategies."
Not all work-family experts are concerned. Some say that while there have been cutbacks, many leading companies continue to offer flexible benefits. Such programs, they say, are too valuable to do away with. And while some believe the cuts could be permanent, others don't expect massive benefit losses or an exodus of working mothers from the labor force.
"There's more organizations need to do, but the world as we know it has really changed. It's a new normal," says Levey, with Catalyst, adding that many work-family benefits are here to stay.
Companies that cut too deeply could be in trouble. Employers need to hold onto working mothers, many of whom want flexible work arrangements. About 30% of women in the labor force with children younger than 1 worked part time, according to 2002 data from the Census Bureau.
It's an important issue to many. About nine out of 10 workers cite work fulfillment and work-life balance as their top career priorities, according to a 2003 study by Spherion. Only 35% said being successful and moving up the ladder were their primary goals.
"They're not fleeing work — they're fleeing the demanding way of work," says Ellen Galinsky, president of the Families & Work Institute in New York. "So many of these women who are leaving are starting their own businesses. They're not taking on less. They just want more control."
[And that clashes with the power elite, and employers in general - they want more control - of you.]
'I'm a...better parent'
Diane St. James...of Allentown, Pa., doesn't work any less. But now that she's quit her job and gone into business on her own, she says, she sets her own terms — and that means making time for family.
Four years ago, the mortgage underwriter asked her company if she could work at home because she was weary of the hourlong commute and wanted to be closer to her children. She already had done some work at home and was outfitted with an office, fax machine and three phone lines. They said no.
So St. James, a mother of two, asked if they would let her work at home a few days a week. They said no again.
St. James said she had no choice. She gave her boss two weeks notice. Co-workers asked if she was nuts, but St. James does underwriting out of her home and started her own business, ABC Mortgage Consulting.
She also has time for her daughters, Danielle, 16, and Stacey, 12. When Stacey wanted to join a softball team several years ago, St. James had to say no. There was no way she could take her to the games and practices. But with her new work arrangement, her daughter was able to join up.
"I feel like I'm a so much better parent. I'm so much more accessible," St. James says. "And last year, I made more money working at home than I ever did at an office."
- As Japan recovers[?], an unlikely source gets credit: China - After long seeing jobs flee, Tokyo now finds benefits of its neighbor's boom - Overtime at the shovel plant, by Sebastian Moffett & Phred Dvorak, WSJ, front page.
[A little overtime ain't gonna make up for long-fleeing jobs.]
TSUCHIURA, Japan - here is the home of some of the world's highest labor costs, you wouldn't expect Hitachi Construction Machinery Co. to be hiring more workers to make power shovels.
[In other words, hiring a few more workers to enable firing a lot more workers - who are now hand shoveling. We'd have no problem if the response was timesizing, not downsizing.]
Demand for new buildings has dwindled during the long economic slump. The company lost money in 2001, cut its workforce and started shifting production to China.
But a funny thing is happening this year. Hitachi Construction's two factories amid rice fields 40 miles N/E of Tokyo are so busy that the company has boosted overtime and added temporary workers....
[The funny thing is how the Wall Street Journal can often only bring itself to report all the vast bad news when it can cast it into shadow and shine the spotlight on a little good news. But note that Hitachi Construction CUT its permanent workforce in 2001 and now, so far, it's only boosting overtime for survivors and adding temps, NOT restoring its permanent workforce. Why? Because Hitachi executives have been abusing technology for firing people and weakening consumer markets instead of timesizing people and strengthening leisure-industry, and other, markets.]
Local production is about to outstrip its peak in 1990 [when it had a lot bigger workforce], during Japan's go-go bubble economy.
[That wasn't a bubble economy. It was the kind of strong consumption-based economy you get when you have lifetime employment which Japan had still not completely exchanged for US-style downsizing in 1990.]
...Many Japanese have long feared their industries would "hollow out" and move to China.
[And their industries have....]
For much of the 1990s, their fears were realized as China sucked manufacturing jobs out of Japan.
[Shades of Perot's "giant sucking sound."]
But recently, China's boom is contributing to Japan's economic recovery and actually creating manufacturing work here.
[Note they said creating "work," not "jobs," and that's a big So What? - work for robots ain't gonna stop the downsizing of the consumer base. Ford, "Let's see you unionize these robots." Reuther, "Let's see you sell them cars." And shouting a little good news while whispering a lot of bad news ain't gonna make an economy sustainable when every day you're still weakening the money-centrifuges and refusing to cap the marginally useful concentration of the national income. So the money is there, it's just concentrated and consolidated way beyond the point of diminishing returns and way into the zone of marginal utility. But the dummies who have it are currently using inefficient deliberate centrifugation aka "investment" based on tricking themselves into high-risk (gambling-type) investment. They trick themselves by shouting bitsy goodnews while whispering or ignoring (economese: 'externalizing') mega badnews. If they quit taking these kinds of lulling infodrugs and really had a feedback system, they would implement automatic reinvestment at the grassroots a la timesizing.]
- A bellwether working mom returns to the office - Executive's re-entry shows how times are changing; 'More ammo to negotiate', by Sue Shellenbarger, WSJ, D1.
[Recaps yesterday's story about Brenda Barnes, now of Sara Lee. Note that shouting one case of good news ain't gonna match the thousands of cases of bad news that we're only whispering. Case in point -]
Second chances - After years off, women struggle to revive careers - Resume gaps, new technology make transition difficult; Clearing emotional hurdles, by Anne Marie Chaker & Hilary Stout, 5/06/2004 WSJ, front page.
- [how far gone is our boundary between work and play?]
The jungle - Keep the monitoring of messages to a minimum when you're on vacation, by Kris Maher, WSJ, B6.
- 5/02 Western Australia to introduce working hours code, ABC Regional Online [Australia].
PERTH, W.A. - The Western Australian Government is to establish a code of practice to set limits on working hours across all industries.
The proposal is the first of its type in Australia and is one of seven recommendations contained in a report investigating the effects of long working hours on employees' health and lifestyle. It shows employees in WA work more hours than any other state and has suggested changes to a range of rosters and shift systems.
The Minister for Consumer and Employment Protection, John Kobelke, says establishing a code will help industry and employees assess the risks associated with extended working hours. "It is not to be a regulation which enforces and you can't work beyond, it is a code which if people go beyond they will need to be very careful that they take special precautions because exceeding the code, meaning if an accident or an incident occurs in which there is potential liability, then it will be much more difficult to defend working those extra hours," he said.
The code is expected to be finalised by July next year.
- 5/02 New workweek bill lacks enforcement, editorial, Toronto Star.
TORONTO, Ont. - Labour Minister Chris Bentley may be getting ahead of himself when he claims legislation he tabled last week will kill off Ontario's controversial 60-hour workweek introduced by the former Conservative government.
While the goal of the bill is laudatory, the reality is that many employees may well still work more than 60 hours. And lots of workers will do so willingly, particularly those in a seasonal industry, such as tourism. These workers are not the issue, not the problem.
Bentley's legislation is aimed at protecting workers who are being strong-armed into putting in long hours, week after week, to the detriment of their health and their families. Non-English-speaking immigrants are among the most vulnerable, according to the minister.
Under Bentley's bill, employers who want to exceed a 48-hour work week would have to file an application with the labour ministry. This was an existing measure that was scrapped by the Mike Harris Tories. Also, employers must have staff to agree in writing to work extra hours. These two steps, Bentley argues, will protect workers from coercion.
In the real world, though, employees do what the boss asks or often risk losing their jobs. If an employer tells staff to sign a paper agreeing to work long hours, odds are they will comply. Odds are even higher if the workers are new Canadians, people who live in areas where jobs are scarce, or are among the 4.5 million non-unionized workers in the province.
Still, Bentley's legislation could have the effect he intends — to protect the vulnerable from the unreasonable employer — if he provides enough enforcers, people to follow up, to see that workers are not being coerced.
However, Bentley is not hiring new inspectors — not initially anyway. That's regretable because the labour ministry is already short-staffed. It is impossible to reach a human being at the ministry's Employment Standards Branch to lodge a complaint. There is a serious backlog in processing complaints from workers. It's so bad that of 15,000 workplace claims to the branch in the last year, there was one conviction.
Clearly, the branch's 115 inspectors — 51 fewer than when the Harris Tories took office — cannot keep up with their current responsibilities. Piling on major new responsibilities is unrealistic. And make no mistake, the demands will be huge. More than 466,000 workers in Ontario worked 50-plus hours a week last year.
Bentley deserves credit for keeping a campaign promise to put an end to legislation that allowed workers to be bullied into working 60-hour weeks. But he needs to take the final step, and ensure there is someone to stop employers who step over the line the next time.
- 4/30 Adjusting the work/life-sickie balance, HR Gateway [UK].
LONDON, U.K. - While the CIPD calls on workers to ease off of the ‘long hours culture’ soapbox, a third of British workers take matters into their own hands and throw sickies [US: 'take sickdays'] to realign their work-life balance.
A new survey from Tickbox of 2,052 British workers suggests that 31% of workers call in sick when they are either too tired or hung over, with women being the more likely to call in ill after a heavy night out.
Productivity is also being hampered by people’s more hectic lifestyles, suggests the Lloyds/TSB commissioned survey. Four in ten workers have thrown a sickie in order to catch up with admin at home: ‘British workers are obviously feeling under pressure as long hours and less job security take their toll and are seeking ways to put the odds in their favour,’ said Lloyds/TSB’s Phil Loney.
However, John Philpott, chief economist with the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development (CIPD) feels that it is pressure at work and at home that is the problem: ‘We're not working longer hours,’ he says.
[Another economist in denial. And this story is a repeat. Repeat a lie enough times....]
A new report to be released by the CIPD tomorrow, penned by Philpott, suggests that the average working week has fallen by over an hour since the mid-90s, with full-time workers putting in an average of an hour and a half less a week: ‘The dissatisfaction people frequently express over working hours would seem to reflect the greater pressure they are under in both the workplace and the home rather than the amount of time they put in at the office or factory per se. ‘This suggests that the best policy response to overwork is to encourage a restructuring of working hours rather than to impose a substantial cut in the length of the working week as recommended by supporters of a French-style statutory 35-hour week,’ says Philpott.
[The power elite will do or say anything but give people more control over their own lives.]
In order to stop unwanted behaviour from staff, attention should be spent on improving skills and adopting better management practices, he says, which would bring better productivity and shorter hours without loss of pay or output.
- 5/03 Sara Lee hires Brenda Barnes as president, operating chief, by Kevin Helliker, WSJ, B2.
...who six years ago stirred debate on work-and-family issues when she gave up the top job at PepsiCo Inc's PepsiCola North America unit to spend more time with her children. The move places Ms. Barnes in the No.2 position at one of the nation's largest consumer-products companies - suggesting that she lost no ground during six years devoted primarily to her children.... "I don't feel I dook any step back at all," Ms. Barnes said in an interview.
Her resignation from PepsiCo had the effect of turning Ms. Barnes into a symbol of the struggle professional mothers face in juggling demands of children and work. Although Ms. Barnes never meant to draw attention to herself or make a statement, "the feedback I got was very positive," she says.... Her children - ages 7, 8 and 10 when she announced the decision to leave PepsiCo in late 1997 - "are older now, and very supportive" of her decision, she says, especially since it won't require any move \from\ the Chicago area \where she\ returned...with her family after resigning from PepsiCo. ...She said...her family feels "mixed emotions. We will all be leading a little bit different life." It helps, she said, that her husband manages inestments from an office in their home. "There is always a parent home," she says.
Ms. Barnes never entirely left the corporate world. She serves on six boards, including those of NY Times Co., Sears Roebuck & Co. and Avon Products Inc. She also did a stint as interim president and COO of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc.
Click here for spontaneous cases of primitive timesizing in -
Feb.21-29/2004 + Mar.1
Jan.31 + Feb.1-10/2004
Nov.21-30/2003 + Dec.1
1998 and previous years.
For more details, see our laypersons' guide Timesizing, Not Downsizing, 'flung' into print as a campaign piece during the 1998 race for Joe Kennedy's empty Congressional seat. The handbook is available online from *Amazon.com.Top |
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