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Timesizing News, July 2-31, 2013
[Commentary] ©2013 Phil Hyde, Timesizing.com, Harvard Sq PO Box 117, Cambridge MA 02238 USA 617-623-8080

7/31/2013 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from today will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. HdG Furlough Friendly campaign picks up steam, by David Anderson daanderson@baltsun.com, BaltimoreSun.com
    [And furloughs are certainly a lot friendlier than firings in the first place.]
    HAVRE de GRACE, Maryld., USA - It has been almost a week since Havre de Grace businesses participating in the city's Furlough Friendly Community campaign began providing discounts to furloughed Aberdeen Proving Ground [APG] workers, and some businesses are starting to see interest from customers.
    In all, 21 businesses had signed on as of this week, offering discounts of at least 15 percent to military and civilian workers at APG who have been affected by the ongoing furlough of federal employees as a result of the government's sequestration program to cut federal spending.

    Businesses began offering discounts last Friday.
    The discounts vary from one establishment to another, with some offering 15 percent, others 25 percent, and are being applied to the varied products and services offered by the businesses, such as restaurants, gift shops, galleries, financial institutions, even the Aug. 9 Oak Ridge Boys concert, to be held during the Havre de Grace Seafood Festival.
    Some businesses are offering the discounts on days when proprietors expect APG employees to be off work, Brigitte Peters, director of marketing and tourism for the city, said Wednesday.
    She said the campaign, which is being put on by the city with support from the Havre de Grace Chamber of Commerce and Havre de Grace Main Street Inc., is designed to let those affected by the furloughs "know that Havre de Grace supports them in trying to alleviate that stress that comes with the furloughs."
    Aberdeen Proving Ground, Harford County's largest employer, has more than 11,500 employees, most of them civilians. U.S. Department of Defense employees are being furloughed one day a week over 11 weeks, starting this month, causing them to lose 20 percent of their pay during those weeks.
    Participating businesses have displayed stickers with the Furlough Friendly logo, and discounts are available to those who show civilian employee or military identification.
    Alex Lee, general manager for MacGregor's Restaurant, which is offering 20 percent discounts to diners, said it is still early in the campaign, but customers are beginning to take advantage of the discounts.
    "When customers notice that we're Furlough Friendly and notice the sticker, then they take advantage of the 20 percent discount," he said.
    Lee said APG civilian employees and active-duty military members patronize the waterfront restaurant and tavern.
    "MacGregor's supports our veterans and government employees, and that's why we've joined the program," he explained.
    Devra Giles, owner of Creative Sanctuary on North Washington Street in Havre de Grace, is offering a "furlough from stress" to APG employees, with a 50 percent discount to participants in her morning drop-in classes.
    Giles said the discount will be expanded next month to evening and morning drop-in classes, and participants in the 9 a.m. Friday drop-in yoga classes can take it for $5 if they are APG employees.
    "We feel that yoga and meditation, Tai Chi and art, and dance too, are all good means of stress relief," she said.
    More information on the Furlough Friendly Community campaign can be found by calling 410-939-2100 or visiting http://www.hdgtourism.com or the Explore Havre de Grace Facebook page.

  2. Many French can only dream of 35-hour work week, report shows, Reuters via MSN Money via money.msn.com
    PARIS, France - A work week famously limited by law to 35 hours has become a distant dream for many French, as executives chase ever tougher deadlines and the rank and file look to make ends meet with overtime.
    French workers put in an average of 39.5 hours a week in 2011, continuing a steady rise in the decade since the 35-hour work week was introduced and not far behind an EU average of 40.3 hours, according to a labor ministry report.
    That still puts them behind the British on 42.4 hours and the Germans on 41. But, defying some foreign stereotypes of a nation shy of hard work, the French work longer hours than the Belgians, Finns, Dutch, Italians, Irish and Danes.
    French middle-management and above worked 44.1 hours.
    "For executives there is no such thing as set hours. We work like crazy," said one manager at an online retail firm meant to work a 39-hour week but who puts in at least 50 with no extra pay and eats a sandwich at his desk for lunch.
    Fiercely guarded by unions, France's move to a 35-hour work week was a flagship reform of the Socialist government in power during a boom at the end of the 1990s and was meant to stoke job creation. Instead, many employers say it has bloated labor costs and hurt their ability to compete globally.
    Most companies have accords in place with unions for staff to work a 39-hour week and then convert the four extra hours of work a week into anything up to two dozen extra days holiday a year, known as "RTT" days.
    Two Frances
    The shift up to an average work-week of 39.5 hours from 38.9 in 2003 leaves France ranked 21st in terms of hours worked per week out of the 27 states that comprised European Union in 2011.
    Work hours slid in France, as in much of the industrialized world, in the 1970s and 80s from as high as 1,900 at the time of the 1968 street protests.
    The Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, which uses a different methodology to compare different countries, found the French worked 1,479 hours in 2012 compared with an average of 1,765 across its 34 members.
    While France's 5.3 million public sector employees are often accused of sticking rigidly to a 35-hour week, private sector workers such as taxi drivers and waiters commonly complain of long hours. At the other end of the scale, so do top business executives and even senior government advisers.
    One oil industry executive, who also declined to be quoted by name, told Reuters he suffered medical burnout after spending two years working from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m. five days a week under pressure from his bosses, who worked even later.
    "This is the problem of France. It's cut in half. Half the French are working like madmen to make up [unnecessarily] for the other half who stick to their hours," said Gerard Dussillol, an investment adviser and author of a 2012 book on France's economy.
    [No, France cut in thirds, same as every other economy. One third self-important, self-righteous workaholic employment hoarders, one third disemployed and marginalized by employers' downsizing response to waves of more productive technology, and one third working "part" time which should have been regarded as full time several waves of technology ago if employers had sustainably downsized their workweeks instead of suicidally downsizing their own markets via their own employees. Shorter hours is a system requirement in order to have marketable productivity leaps from technology; otherwise, you just have unmarketable productivity leaps as now. Name calling about shorter hours being laziness in the age of robotics is a ridiculous anachronism and a cowardly avoidance, despite rhetoric to the contrary, of the most basic freedom, free time. And posturing about the virtue of Hard Work merely in terms of long hours is empty and dysfunctional when it just subjects you to a bigger and bigger bill for mounting numbers of unemployed, welfare, disabled, homeless and incarcerated that you don't have the murderous guts to starve to death.]
    "Companies can't afford to recruit at the moment so people with jobs are having to do more and more," the executive said.
    (Editing by Mark John, John Stonestreet)
    [If long hours are so virtuous, how about 24/7 = all 168 hours a week? -]

  3. Plea on SHOs [Station House Officers'] working hours: HC seeks report from police, Business-Standard.com
    DELHI, India - The Delhi High Court [HC] today asked the city government to file a fresh affidavit on a PIL [Public Interest Litigation] seeking withdrawal of police circulars which asks SHOs to be on duty 24 hours without any leave and does not allow them to go home unless they have permission from their seniors.
    "Is it correct to work for 24X7? How will they give service," a bench of acting Chief Justice B D Ahmed and Justice Vibhu Bakhru said
    and asked Delhi government's standing counsel to relook at the issue and then file a more comprehensive status report on it within six weeks.
    The bench was hearing a PIL filed by an advocate A K Biswas seeking withdrawal of police circulars relating to alleged inhuman working conditions of SHOs claiming people of Delhi would suffer by way of "degraded and inefficient policing".
    The petitioner said that "both the circulars of August 30, 1995 and September 10, 2012 are not in conformity with the Delhi Police Act and Article 21 of the Constitution of India and are also not according to the general conscience of a human being.

7/30/2013 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from today will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. What I did on my furlough, by Petula Dvorak, Washington Post via Tampabay.com (blog)
    [Obamacare-avoiding furloughs = The Right Deed for the Wrong Reason.]
    WASHINGTON, D.C. USA - There's a picture of painted toenails against the background of a cool, blue pool.
    A proud dad with a newborn son.
    A garage project.
    A thick, smoked brisket.
    These are all responses by federal workers explaining how they spent their furlough day.
    Nice, right? Except forced time off is also divisive, painful and political, like everything else in Washington these days.
    Two women who work at the Pentagon — and are part of the 650,000 defense civilian workers taking 11 mandatory furlough days throughout the summer and into October — tried to put a positive spin on the sequester debacle with a Facebook page, "How I Spent My Furlough Day." (Those numbers include 3,550 civilian employees at MacDill Air Force Base.)
    They invited other folks who are forced to take a 20 percent cut in their workweek to post how they're spending that one pay-free day every week.
    "Making lemons out of lemonade" is how one of the page's creators, Beth Flores, put it.
    And they have gotten stories of house projects finally done, recipes to try, coupon exchanges to help stretch dollars. They posted a "Furlough Friday" rap (recycled from 2010), Furlough Fashion (a plain old T-shirt) and Furlough Food (ramen).
    Flores, who is 40 and lives in Arlington, Va., said she started the unofficial Facebook page after all the mundane, clinical details of the furloughs were rained upon her staff, with no levity.
    "No one had really tapped into the human dimension of it. We just wanted to lighten the mood," she said.
    Those with upbeat takes — like a dad spending more time with his kids or using his furlough time to do volunteer work — have been blasted for playing into the public perception that federal employees are overpaid.
    And there has been no shortage of political commentary flambéing Congress, whose inaction triggered the sequester and put everyone in this place.
    Beyond an album of how people spent their furlough day, Flores helped create a tapestry of the American economic story — how the cut in pay affects so many different people in different ways. She said she wasn't naive and knew that opening the page to the public could make it less than lighthearted. So she wasn't surprised when it became more combative — and poignant.
    Flores works as the director of leadership and organizational development in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Now she does that just four days a week. And she was hoping to create a Facebook community to help others through the furloughs.
    Flores and a fellow furloughed worker, Christel Fonzo-Eberhard, even organized a Furlough Fun Run this month, complete with slogans such as, "I'm running instead of ... providing world class military health care." Like their workweeks, the run ended at the 80 percent mark of the expected length.
    [But why on earth do you need a pre-technology 1940 workweek of 40hrs/wk to provide "world class military health care" or anything else in view of the seven decades of automation, robotics and artificial intelligence that have accrued since 1940?]
    Flores has watched the group swell and the posts quickly go from DIY projects to political screeds. The pool and a day around the house isn't in the cards for folks who need every penny of their earnings to pay their bills.
    "Not sure what/how a lot of you get to 'go away,' " writes a man who posted a photo of six packages of rice and ramen, explaining that this is his "lunch & dinner for the week," thanks to the bite out of his family's budget.
    This is a time in America when the gap — let's call it the ramen-pool gap — is widening.
    "The income of the top 1 percent nearly quadrupled from 1979 to 2007, but the typical family's incomes barely budged," President Barack Obama said last week.
    No kidding. It's all laid bare on that Facebook page, where you see exactly what a 20 percent reduction in work — and what amounts to about a 25 percent cut in pay — means for folks who are squarely in that middle class or trying to arrive there.
    It's a reminder that all it takes is one or two bad turns — a spouse out of work, a sick kid, a major home repair, a 20 percent cut in the workweek — to fall out of the pool and into the ramen.

  2. 40-hour work weeks hardly standard in Houston area, by John Donnelly, Fox 26 via MyFoxHouston.com
    HOUSTON, Tex., USA - To paraphrase President Calvin Coolidge, "The business of Houston is business." 40-hour weeks? Oh please!
    FOX 26 News asked random Houstonians about their typical work week and how many hours they put in.
    "More than forty, about fifty with overtime," said Enrique Hernandez.
    "At least fifty, at least fifty,"said City of Houston employee Walter Goldy.
    "About fifty plus. Demand. Business is good right now," said contractor Leon Horn.
    The real estate website Movoto performed the study. Authors compiled numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on the country's fifty largest cities. The study examined factors like hours worked, commute times, unemployment rates, cost of living, volunteer hours and employed workers per household and came up with a list.
    Here's the breakdown.
    Number one is Seattle, Arlington, Texas, Fort Worth, Austin, San Jose, California, San Francisco, Dallas, Virginia Beach, Washington D.C. and Houston. We may be tenth but Houstonians put in more hours on the job per week than anybody else. Why? Is it because we have to make ends meet?
    We put those questions to Latha Ramchand, the Dean of Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston. She says we don't have to, in a weird way we WANT to. It's kind of how we are.
    "It's the mindset that we have to get the job done. and it's the culture that helps promote that. We're entrepreneurial where the focus is not have we worked forty hours but did we get the job done?," said Ramchand. She also credits the large number of immigrants for our strong work ethic.
    The study may not be all that scientific, but it does seem to hold up. Every person interviewed about their work weeks said they put in forty plus hours.
    [So the purpose of technology would be ____ ???]
    You may wonder where the bustling Big Apple ranks. After all it's "the city that never sleeps." It ranks 11th, right behind Houston. As they'd say in New York, "Who knew?"

  3. ObamaCare Call Center To Keep Employees Under 30 Hours/Week, posted by Brian Gilmore. (7/29 late pickup) UnitedLiberty.org
    CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, Calif., USA - ObamaCare’s employer mandate may have been delayed until 2015, but its disastrous effects on the price [=cost?] of labor are still being felt throughout the country. Now we have a new prime (and hilarious) example of its inevitable market distortions. Much of the budding bureaucracy being hired in a California ObamaCare call center inform eager entitlement-seekers how to access the new ObamaCare dole will be working under 30 hours/week. Of course this hiring policy is designed to avoid, of all things, ObamaCare.
    [This kind of ridiculous contradiction comes of putting the cart before the horse, or in this case, the benefits before the jobs. Granted healthcare is important and fashionable, but it's still a benefit. And JOBS come before BENEFITS. That means FULL EMPLOYMENT comes before universal or single-payer HEALTHCARE. And the only way in the age of robotics to get full employment that is sustainable and non-eco-bashing and gradual and market-oriented is emergency worksharing that morphs into permanent timesizing.]
    As originally reported in the Contra Costa Times and picked up widely by Eliana Johnson at NRO, the California county and job applicants are less than pleased with the development:
    Earlier this year, Contra Costa County won the right to run a health care call center, where workers will answer questions to help implement the president’s Affordable Care Act. Area politicians called the 200-plus jobs it would bring to the region an economic coup.
    Now, with two months to go before the Concord operation opens to serve the public, information has surfaced that about half the jobs are part-time, with no health benefits — a stinging disappointment to workers and local politicians who believed the positions would be full-time.
    The Contra Costa County supervisor whose district includes the call center called the whole hiring process — which attracted about 7,000 applicants — a “comedy of errors.”
    “The battle for the call center was over jobs with good working wages and benefits; I never dreamed they would be part-time,” said Karen Mitchoff, who has heard from complaining constituents and expressed her “extreme displeasure with how it was handled” to call center supervisors.
    One recent hire, who last week learned the job would be part-time, said the new “intermittent” employees feel like they’ve been used as a political tool, and many now regret applying for the positions.
    “What’s really ironic is working for a call center and trying to help people get health care, but we can’t afford it ourselves,” said the worker, who asked for anonymity out of fear of losing the job. The county says it had been telling the public and supervisors all along that some positions would be full-time and some part-time. However, portions of staff reports list all 204 jobs as full-time, and a job posting said the same.

    As I wrote about previously, this Contra Costa call center in the San Francisco Bay Area was the source of an epic battle earlier this year between two cities within the county determined to profit from the latest public trough, this time tied to California’s ObamaCare exchange dubbed “Covered California.” The city of Concord (and a politically entrenched family that owns the local garbage company as well as the site for the new jobs) ultimately prevailed to much community fanfare at the prospect of over 200 new full-time jobs. The excitement was short-lived.
    Tax Dollars for Jobs to Inform of Access to Tax Dollars
    As Covered California and the rest of the ObamaCare exchanges around the country prepare to open their doors on October 1 for enrollment that will take effect January 1, there has already been quite a bit of controversy surrounding the so-called navigators, assisters, and counselors being hired to help access ObamaCare’s subsidies.
    A group of Republican Senators led by Sen. Hatch (R-UT) sent a letter to HHS Secretary Sebelius last month expressing deep concern about the education and professional credentials of these agents for ObamaCare, as well as the consumer protections for those who utilize their services. “In fact, the standards proposed by your Department could result in a convicted felon receiving federal dollars and gaining access to confidential taxpayer information. The same standards allow any individual who has registered with the exchange and completed two days of training to facilitate enrollment….”
    But the administration’s real goal is ensuring maximum exposure to the law’s subsidies ASAP. As Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) stated over the weekend: “On Jan. 1, the exchanges kick in and the subsidies kick in,’ said the Texas Republican in a speech Saturday at the Western Conservative Summit. ‘Once those kick in, it’s going to prove almost impossible to undo Obamacare. The administration’s plan is very simple: Get everyone addicted to the sugar so that Obamacare remains a permanent feature of our society.” This includes a PR campaign of nearly $700 million.
    Employer Mandate Still Looms
    The other key concern this story highlights is that the Obama administration’s unconstitutional one-year delay of the employer mandate is another temporary, stop-gap measure based on a faulty premise. Why is this ObamaCare call center still concerned about the employer mandate if it doesn’t kick in until 2015? As we’ve learned from countless unsuccessful stimulus attempts to date, temporary measures fail to even have the desired temporary effects.
    The Obama administration also failed to account for the fact that the employer’s testing period for the mandate’s oppressive excise tax penalties occurs in the prior year. For example, you’ve likely heard that only companies with 50 or more full-time employees are subject to the mandate. That’s true, but guess how you determine whether your company is an “applicable large employer?” 2014 is the year that matters for 2015 penalties:
    “(4) Applicable large employer. The term applicable large employer means, with respect to a calendar year, an employer that employed an average of at least 50 full-time employees (including full-time equivalent employees) on business days during the preceding calendar year.”
    How about those employers that clearly have at least 50 full-time employees? They still have their work cut out in determining which employees count as full-time employees. Under ObamaCare’s standards, that means a complicated testing period to determine whether the employee worked at least 30 hours/week during the past year. Again, this determination of an employee’s full-time status will be made in 2014 for the penalties that have been delayed to 2015.
    “(40) Standard measurement period. The term standard measurement period means a time period of at least three but not more than 12 consecutive months that an applicable large employer member selects and uses in determining whether an ongoing employee is a full-time employee under the look-back measurement method….”
    The result: ObamaCare forces employers to be just as stingy in their offering of full-time jobs in 2014 as they did before the delay. There’s a reason James Hoffa and other prominent labor leaders, hardly crusaders for free market principles, wrote a letter to Sen. Reid (D-NV) and Rep. Pelosi (D-CA) earlier this month warning that “the ACA will shatter not only our hard-earned health benefits, but destroy the foundation of the 40 hour work week that is the backbone of the American middle class.”
    Defund Now
    There’s only one left way out of this morasse. It’s Sen. Mike Lee’s (R-UT) effort to defund ObamaCare before it can take full effect in 2014. January 1, 2014 is the ObamaCare ultimatum.
    If the Continuing Resolution this Fall allows that date to arrive with full funding for ObamaCare’s implementation, the government-driven healthcare revolution will be complete and forever entrenched. If that’s not worth standing up for in the face of a government shutdown, what is?

  4. 35 hour work week fading as the average full-time work week in France nears 40 hours, by Trista Bridges trista@satisfymysoul.com, RudeBaguette.com
    PARIS, France - After years of debates over the 35-hr work week which became law in 1998, it turns out that the infamous law is fading into obscurity. A survey which was conducted and recently published by the employment ministry’s research group Dares and covered by La Tribune proves that the “normal” French work week (i.e. outside of vacations, holidays and RTT days) for full-time employees actually far exceeds the legal limit, hitting an average of of 39.5 hrs. While this level of work still lags behind the EU average for full-time employment, when taking into account both full and part-time work, the French actually beat the EU-15 average, coming in at 36.6 hours vs the EU-15 average of 35.6. In fact, they not only surpass the EU-15 average on this measure, but also work more total hours/wk than the Austrians, British, Swedes and Germans. The main driver of this looks to be that part-time work / wk in France is simply longer than in many other European countries, averaging 23.3 hrs in France vs 20.1 for the EU-15.
    35-hr work week: a law without teeth
    The reality, which anyone who has worked in the French startup or corporate worlds can attest, is that the 35-hr week has never really been the norm. Soon as it became law, all types of schemes to limit its fall-out, such as RTT days, negotiated agreements and mini-reforms, came into effect. As it appears that the established legal limit on work hours is fading away (albeit not taking into account holidays and vacation), it seems that the main impact of the 35-hr law has been to create more hoops for companies to jump through in order to get around it. The principal reasons behind the 35-hr work week, namely to reduce unemployment (which clearly hasn’t happened) and to give workers more personal time to improve quality of life, seem to have faded away over time. And given all the challenges the government is dealing with around unemployment and reform, it’s very unlikely that they’ll jump up to defend the law and/or put more resources behind enforcing it. So, the logical thing would be to simply do away with a law that clearly has no teeth, right? Well, that’s not likely either as the subject still continues to be a political hot potato, particularly for the current administration. Chances are that it’ll remain on the books and continue to be largely symbolic.
    Chance to change perceptions
    This study should come as welcome news to the French government, who in responding to accusations that France is a country whose people have little interest in working, tend to either offer non-factual, bland responses or proclaim ‘we’re more efficient’, which is perhaps true but not likely to move foreign investors much. This study presents useful, factual information that busts a big myth about the French work ethic. These findings are actually a big PR gift which the government should be talking about constantly. But given the law’s political issues discussed earlier and the fact that the current administration often struggles when it comes to effective communication, it’s anyone’s guess how they’ll utilize these findings.

7/28-29/2013 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from today will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Public defender's office facing harsh cutbacks, by Elaine Silvestrini esilvestrini@tampatrib.com 813-259-7837, 7/28 Tampa Tribune via Tbo.com
    TAMPA, Fla., USA - Federal public defenders are used to being underdogs.
    And now with federal budget cuts hitting the justice system, the lawyers who represent indigent criminal defendants are facing the harshest effects of the federal budget cuts known as sequestration.
    While the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Middle District of Florida has been able to hire prosecutors this year, public defenders and staff are facing layoffs and furloughs. The courts here have stopped hearing most criminal matters on Fridays, mostly because of the public defenders' troubles.
    This fiscal year, the public defender's office has had to absorb a 10 ½ percent budget cut, according to office officials;
    projections now are for an additional 23 percent cut in the next fiscal year, which starts in October.
    If nothing is done, the office is on track to lose a third of its staff while the number of criminal cases continues to rise in the district.
    "This is absolutely the worst thing that's ever happened to our program," said Public Defender Donna Elm, who is in charge of 84 attorneys, investigators and other staff in the defender's office for the Middle District of Florida. The district encompasses five courthouses and stretches from the northern border of Florida south to Fort Myers. Public defenders currently represent 76 percent of all federal criminal defendants.
    As hard as the budget cuts have been for defenders, officials say they are likely to cost the taxpayers money. That's because indigent criminal defendants are constitutionally entitled to taxpayer-funded lawyers. If public defenders are forced to decline cases, judges will have to appoint private lawyers, who cost more.
    According to Elm, court-appointed, private lawyers are paid $125 an hour for most cases and $175 an hour for death penalty cases. Federal public defenders are paid $24 to $73 per hour for all cases, she said.
    Although most federal agencies had a 5 percent cut this year, Elm said the effect was increased for public defenders because of the way money is budgeted for indigent defense work. Officials decided not to cut the funds used to pay court-appointed private attorneys, known as CJA lawyers for the Criminal Justice Act, the law that governs their appointments. Consequently, public defenders were cut more.
    "It's one thing to take out one person and cover for them, but when you do that broad a hit, how we defend cases, how we would be able to defend cases and make sure we are getting everything done is very doubtful," Elm said of the projected cuts. "There's all kind of ethics requirement about investigating cases,talking to witnesses, duties to go talk to your client about a variety of things, of course, appearing in court for all appearances. These are all ethically required and it will become very difficult for us if we undergo these cuts that are anticipated. It will be difficult for us, and a lot of cases will start going out to CJA at a higher rate."
    CJA lawyers are appointed when the public defender's office has a conflict of interest, such as representing a co-defendant or a victim in a case. But if public defender budget cuts force the appointment of more CJA lawyers, the fund for those appointments could also run short.
    Chief Judge Anne C. Conway said the courts have cut as much as possible from their own budgets without affecting service to the public. "The biggest problem is with the federal defenders so far," she said. "We've had to tighten our belt like everyone else. The prospect for the future doesn't look so good."
    Middle District Court Clerk Sheryl Loesch said she had to lay off seven employees in March, including three in Tampa. The layoffs could have been worse, but Loesch said she hasn't filled job openings since last year.
    The clerk's office is authorized to have 186 employees because of its workload, she said, but now has 127, down from 139 last year. Nationally, she said, federal courts are at 1999 staffing levels. That's roughly where they are in the district here, Loesch said.
    Loesch spoke from Washington, where she was in meetings at the Administrative Office of the Courts. She said clerks were told Thursday to expect the next fiscal year to start with a continuing budget resolution. "It's, in essence, a hard freeze," she said. "We are probably facing a decline of another 39 positions. It's going to be a disaster. I don't even have words to describe it. We're not alone. This is all district courts in the country."
    Earlier this year, Elm had to lay off an attorney, two clerical workers and an investigator. Others took early retirement or left on their own in the face of those cuts, Elm said. She lost her chief administrative officer, another attorney, three investigators, two legal assistants and an IT technician.
    The attorney who was laid off volunteered to continue working without a salary, Elm said. He recently landed a public defender job in Ohio.
    "He loved his job, cared for his clients, and wanted to keep doing this until he could find another job," said Elm, who called the lawyer "pretty amazing." She didn't want to release his name, and said he preferred not to talk about what happened.
    The remaining staff have had to take 13 furlough days. The furloughs have been on Fridays when the courts are hearing only emergency criminal matters. Elm said employees work nights and weekends to make up for their forced Fridays off.
    "We still have to do the work," she said. "We still have to represent these clients.''
    Elm said if nothing changes by October, she will have to lose 29 out of her 84 employees. She has already sent out layoff notices to staff members she expects to lose in October to give them time to look for jobs.
    Conway said one possibility if the cuts go into effect will be that some defendants may have to be freed because the courts failed to try their cases in time to meet legally mandated speedy trial deadlines. "If you don't try them within 70 days, they're free," she said. "They're dismissed."
    Court officials also say civil trials could be delayed for lack of court resources.
    But while the courts and public defenders have had to shed employees, the U.S. Attorney's Office has added staff. "We've been really fortunate because over the past couple of years, we were able to hire probably more (assistant U.S. Attorneys) than probably any office in the country because the Department of Justice recognized we were a large district, probably one of the biggest districts in the country, and we were under resourced compared to comparable districts," said Acting U.S. Attorney Lee Bentley. He said the hiring has stopped and the office is now under a hard hiring freeze.
    Bentley's office has 113 assistant U.S. attorneys district-wide, including 57 in the Tampa office. Since January 2011, the office has hired about 24 assistant U.S. attorneys, including four this fiscal year, according to Bentley. "Hiring has allowed us to stay at a constant level, rather than suffering a net loss due to attrition," he said.
    "We were very fortunate this year we were not required to furlough any employees and we will not have to furlough any employees through the end of this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30," Bentley said. "We cut back on a lot of our expenses.We've had to limit foreign travel even if it would help a case to interview a witness overseas.''
    Bentley said the office also has cut training expenses, trying to do more training in-house to reduce costs. He said the office has been told it might have to furlough employees next year.
    Bentley is not happy about the public defender budget cuts. "The attorneys there play a critical role in the system, and without the quality of representation that they provide, the system simply cannot function effectively," he said.
    A U.S. Senate subcommittee convened a hearing last week into the effects of sequestration on the justice system.
    Subcommittee Chairman Christopher Coons, D-Del., noted this year is the 50th anniversary of Gideon vs. Wainwright, the Supreme Court decision that extended the right to counsel to all criminal defendants facing prison.
    He said most measures being considered by the courts to address budget issues would come with "significant pain."
    "One proposal - to simply not schedule civil jury trials in the month of September - would effectively impose a 30-day uncertainty tax on every civil litigant before the courts," he said. "A judge in Nebraska has threatened to dismiss so-called 'low priority' immigration-status crimes because of a lack of adequate capacity. In New York, deep furlough cuts to the public defender's office caused the delay of the criminal trial for Osama bin Laden's son-in-law and former al-Qaeda spokesman Sulaiman Abu Ghaith."
    Elm said the cuts so far have not affected the quality of the representation afforded clients, but that will likely change if the next round of cuts take place. So why not continue to operate on the current lower budget? "You can only overwork people for a little while," she said.

  2. Americans, On Average, Working Fewer Hours Than Previous Generation, 7/29 MyFox Philadelphia via myfoxphilly.com
    PHILADELPHIA, Pa., USA - According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans are working less than the generation before.
    The data shows that compared to 1964, when the average work week was 38 hours, the average work week in America is now 34 hours.
    [If true, a momentous change from the trend Juliet Schor reported in 1992 in "The Overworked American."]
    There are a few big reasons for the decrease in the average number of hours worked, say experts. First of all, part-time jobs have increased throughout the years, all those restaurant positions and shopping mall seasonal jobs. Second of all, people tend to stay in school for longer and retire or semi-retire earlier.
    Many Americans are working part-time not because they want to, but because they can't find full-time positions, or that their jobs have been replaced by technology, eliminated, or outsourced.
    The average leisure time an American reported having in 1965 was 35 hours. It is now 42 hours, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. We spend the extra leisure time tuned to our televisions, says John Robinson, a sociology professor at University of Maryland.

7/27/2013 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from today will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. ObamaCare Cuts To Hours Hit Low-Wage Workers In Ultra-Rich East Hampton, by Jed Graham, Investor's Business Daily (blog) via news.investors.com
    EAST HAMPTON, Long Is. NY, USA - In East Hampton, N.Y., playground for the super-wealthy, ObamaCare has dealt a blow to low-wage workers.
    [And not to the super-wealthy who may have to pay more at the supermarket or make do with less service or no supermarket?]
    Waldbaum's Supermarket in the village of East Hampton has cut the hours of many of its 100 employees in an apparent move to avoid liability under the health care law's employer mandate, the East Hampton Star reported this week.
    In some cases, the workers facing cutbacks had been with the store for decades; some also lost their health coverage. While the move came in April, the one-year delay of ObamaCare's employer penalties to 2015 hasn't meant restored hours for those workers.
    The fact that modest-wage workers are taking a hit in such an ultra-rich community would seem to offer a powerful example of the "growing inequality" which President Obama sought to highlight in an Illinois speech on Wednesday.
    Yet, ironically, the loss of work hours is a non-existent problem as far as the White House is concerned, even as Republicans trumpet every instance as a national tragedy.
    White House Press Secretary Jay Carney asserted last week, "The data reflects that there is not support for the proposition that businesses are not hiring full-time employees because of the Affordable Care Act."
    The White House, and some of its progressive allies, might want to talk to Richard Abondolo, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 342, which represents Waldbaum's workers.
    "It's happening everywhere," Abondolo told the East Hampton Star. "Anyone with more than 50 employees has made cuts to part-time."
    There is some economic data to support Abondolo's contention. The average retail workweek for nonsupervisors had shrunk to 30.1 hours in June, down from a post-recession peak of 30.8 hours in January 2012. That's the sharpest contraction in the retail workweek since the early 1980s.
    Economists making a case that the impact of ObamaCare's employer mandate on hours worked has proven to be minimal based on current data are ignoring some important facts.
    First, it is probably too early for a dramatic effect. For many employers, penalties for 2014 were to be based on staffing levels in the second half of 2013, and many public employers plotted a change beginning in July, along with their fiscal years.
    Further, regulations detailing the workings of the mandate were late in coming, confusing and still being updated. Should we be surprised that employers weren't much better prepared for the mandate than the government which is supposed to enforce it?
    Then there is the temp factor. ObamaCare allows employers to hire full-time temps, just as long as they don't keep them around for much more than six months. Wal-Mart (WMT) has acknowledged ramping up the temp share of its workforce.
    But the real question for the left is this: How many people need to have their hours cut before it matters?
    We have seen home-care providers face cuts to working hours because Medicaid payments won't cover the cost of their health care. Schools have been cutting bus driver hours so much that field trips are in jeopardy. Special needs students who have worked one on one with their education aides will now have to get used to working with two. College undergrads and graduate students trying to help earn their way through school by working as many hours as they can will now face a 29-hour ceiling on campus.
    When so many public employers are cutting worker hours, it seems a tad unfair to beat up on businesses for doing the same thing — or for tilting new hiring to part-time. Some will argue these companies are making bad business decisions, and that may be true in some cases. But the law shouldn't have been written in a way that lets employers shift ObamaCare's cost back to the government by hurting modest-wage workers.
    There are far too many stories of people being hurt by ObamaCare's employer mandate to keep ignoring the fact that this element of the law was poorly written and needs to be changed.
    The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co., which owns Waldbaum's and emerged from bankruptcy with new owners last year, didn't respond to a request for comment.
    Obama again talked about raising the minimum wage on Wednesday, but doing so while ObamaCare adds as much as $2.40 an hour to the cost of a full-time, minimum-wage worker would surely make full-time work more scarce for the lowest earners.
    I've proposed eliminating the employer mandate for very low-wage workers and gradually phasing it in at higher wage levels. But further changes would be useful, in part to make the mandate compatible with immigration reform.
    Some in Congress are calling for the law's full-time workweek to be raised from 30 hours to 40 hours, but that's likely to be costly from a budget standpoint at a time when fiscal battles are already pretty poisonous.

  2. Commission tells Government to speed up moves to reduce doctors’ working hours - IMO says State potentially facing massive fine, by Martin Wall, IrishTimes.com
    DUBLIN, Eire - The European Commission has told the Government that it has to “substantially accelerate” and “deepen its efforts” to eliminate excessive working hours for non-consultant hospital doctors.
    The commission said it had intensive talks with the Irish authorities and would now be assessing the progress made in improving compliance with an EU directive which governs the amount of hours which employees can be required to work, with an emphasis on the period from January to June of this year.
    The commission said it had registered an infringement, sent a letter of formal notice and a reasoned opinion to the Government in recent years regarding its failure to comply with the European working time drective in relation to the hours of non-consultant doctors in public hospitals.
    The comments by the commission were set out in a letter sent last week to the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) which has lodged a complaint on the issue.
    Legal sources maintained yesterday that if the Government was found to be continuing to be in breach of the directive the commission could seek the imposition of fines.
    The IMO said the Government was potentially facing fines of millions of euro.
    It said the commission had confirmed to it that it would investigate the complaints made by the doctors’ union and that it would meet with it in the coming weeks to discuss the issues in detail.
    Minister for Health James Reilly on Thursday said he wanted to see major reforms to the working and training arrangements for non-consultant hospital doctors.
    He said it was a “perversity” that the best and brightest in Ireland were trained as doctors and then pushed out of the country by the way they were treated, with the health service then left to rob the third world for doctors.
    He said he had asked the president of Dublin City University Brian MacCraith to bring together a group of non-consultant doctors – interns, senior house officers, registrars and specialist registrars – to ask them how the situation could be addressed.
    He wanted to create a space in which non-consultant doctors could give their thoughts “without intimidation from people at the top” or “fear of consequence for them”.
    ‘Lack of action’
    However, Steve Tweed, IMO director of industrial relations, said: “You have to be cynical when you see the lack of action by this Minister since he took office, not to mind when you realise that his words followed hot on the heels of a stinging criticism of the Government on this issue by the European Commission.”
    Regardless of his comments on Thursday, the Minister “would have to be judged by his failure to date to do anything to address the issue”.

7/26/2013 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from today will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Wake up, Tucson - President Obama is self delusional about saving jobs, by Chris DeSimone, InsideTucsonBusiness.com
    TUCSON, Ariz., USA - President Obama this week embarked on a mini-barnstorming tour to execute “a strategy aimed at giving him credit for the improving job market and lifting his rhetoric beyond the Beltway squabbles,” as the New York Times put it.
    I understand that a person who runs for president of the United States has to be some sort of egomaniac, but Mr. Obama is bordering on self delusion. As I work my way through this thing called Tucson’s local economy, I encounter folks who are business entrepreneurs and owners. One of them is Joe Higgins, with whom I do a radio show each weekday morning.
    After discussions with owners, big and small, there is only one conclusion that we can draw from Mr. Hope and Change: his presidency is a virtual cancer to job creators and the innovators of tomorrow.
    Let’s review how President “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs” is doing on Main Street.
    They aren’t any better and for most the federal regulatory web has become worse. A local small business owner tells me he writes monthly checks and/or submits reports to more than 34 agencies. I am all for legal business activity executed on a fair, level playing field, but it is getting a tad ridiculous.
    A recent — and comical — example from the Washington Times: “Magician Marty Hahne didn’t think things could get any more harebrained after the U.S Department of Agriculture harassed him for using an unlicensed rabbit in his magic shows two years ago.
    “‘My USDA rabbit license requirement has taken another ridiculous twist,’ he continued. ‘I just received an eight-page letter from the USDA, telling me that by July 29 I need to have in place a written disaster plan, detailing all the steps I would take to help get my rabbit through a disaster, such as a tornado, fire, flood, etc. They not only want to know how I will protect my rabbit during a disaster, but also what I will do after the disaster, to make sure my rabbit gets cared for properly. I am not kidding–before the end of July I need to have this written rabbit disaster plan in place, or I am breaking the law.’”
    You can’t make this stuff up.
    This 2,000 page behemoth that was read by very few of the lawmakers who voted for it, is the entrepreneur’s iceberg. We don’t know how far this thing is going to drag down our company. The uncertainty of this thing is so huge it caused previous backer U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., to call it a “train wreck. “
    For a president who is so job-focused, his signature legislation is only going to cause layoffs, fewer job opportunities and the cutting of weekly hours. [But in the age of robotics, the cutting of weekly hours prevents layoffs and provides more job opportunties with an overtime-to-jobs conversion program in place.]
    This week, Florida’s Brevard County started cutting hours of part-time employees to avoid the sting of Obamacare. Even President Obama’s usual union supporters are unhappy. Last week, James Hoffa, president of the Teamsters Union, wrote to the president saying Obamacare will “destroy the very health and well-being of our members,” and “destroy the foundation of the 40-hour work week that is the backbone of the American middle class.”
    The program is so fraught with problems, the administration has decided to delay the employer mandate for a year.
    Availability of capital
    After the finiancial crisis, we had to TARP hard to supposedly right the ship. The banks received lots of taxpayer money under the Troubled Asset Relief Program and are now operating under regulations of the so-called Dodds-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.
    For business to start, expand and/or innovate, the availability of “non-rich uncle” capital is important. You may have noticed that the big banks are having record quarterly profits, but they are not loaning out much money. Why would they?
    Banks get cheap money from the U.S. Treasury and flipping it out on the street for very nice returns. Why mess with chasing down payments and dealing with details of Dodds-Frank?
    Local banks in Tucson, most of which did not make the garbage loan decisions of the big banks, are having a hard time making loans. With all the new requirements coming from on high, they are finding it hard to find folks who qualify for business loans. And no, they can’t play the monetary games the big banks can play.
    What does the death of an entrepreneur look like? It is ugly and it is slow. It is an economy that has fewer employees, less capital investment, and less innovation.
    This is a president who views business as the bad guy. His concept of a fair playing field is destroying the “haves” and giving to the “have-nots” through bureaucracy. It started five years ago and will creep on for another three. If not for the 2010 elections that tipped the U.S. House of Represenatives to Republican, Obama’s plans might have set this nation’s economy into a tailspin from which we could never recover.
    When they write his page in the “Big Book of Presidents,” they may include in quotes under his name one of two things: “In over his head” or “The Entrepreneur’s Cancer.” That original slogan “Hope and Change” is in the rearview mirror and it’s hundreds of miles back.
    Contact Chris DeSimone at provenpartner@comcast.net. DeSimone co-hosts “Wake Up, Tucson,” 6-8 a.m. weekdays on The Voice KVOI 1030-AM.

  2. How long does a 34-hour restart really take? by James Jaillet, Commercial Carrier Journal via ccjdigital.com
    TUSCALOOSA, Alabam., USA - Among several other kinks thrown into scheduling for fleets and drivers by the new hours-of-service rules that went into effect earlier this month is the requirement that a driver’s 34-hour break (almost a day and a half) to restart his or her work week include two periods between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.
    [This might sound like a 34-hour workweek, but it's a 34-hour "weekend" (two hours short of a day & a half), leaving a 134-hour period (over five and a half days) for a driver's actual 70-hour workweek (see below) to play upon.]
    So how much time exactly will that add to a driver’s restart? It could be as much as 17-hours, if a driver times his or her restart poorly.
    Posted this week on the Journal of Commerce is an interactive infographic designed to show just that and to show how minor changes to the end of a driver’s workweek can add nearly an entire day to the time a driver must stay sidelined before starting a new 70-hour workweek.
    As noted in the JOC article, for drivers to attain a restart that satisfies the minimum 34 hours and only that, a driver would have to end his work week within a 6-hour window between 7 p.m. and 1 a.m. Aiding in the math is a chart that allows drivers to select what time they would go off duty at the end of their week. The chart then shows when a driver would be allowed to resume work and begin his or her next 70-hour week.
    For instance, if a driver ended his or her workweek at 3 p.m., he or she would not be able to resume work until 5 a.m. two days later, resulting in a 38-hour restart.
    If a driver ended his work week at 2 a.m., however, he also wouldn’t be able to resume work until 5 a.m., resulting in a 51-hour restart period. ...

7/25/2013 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from today will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Health-care law grows new caps on work hours, by Sandhya Somashekhar, Washington Post via The News Journal via delawareonline.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — For Kevin Pace, the president’s health-care law could have meant better health insurance. Instead, it produced a pay cut.
    Like many of his colleagues, the adjunct music professor at Northern Virginia Community College had a hefty courseload, despite his official status as a part-time employee. But his employer, the state, slashed his hours this spring to avoid a Jan. 1 requirement that all full-time workers be offered health insurance. The law defines “full time” as 30 hours a week or more.
    “We work so hard for so little pay,” he said. “You would think they would want to make an investment in society, pay the teachers back and give us health care.”
    Earlier this month, the Obama administration delayed the employer insurance requirement until January 2015. But the state of Virginia, like some other employers around the country that capped part-timers’ hours in anticipation of the initial deadline, has no plans to abandon its new 29-hour-a-week limit.
    The impact on Pace and thousands of other workers in Virginia is an unintended consequence of the health law, which, as the most sweeping social program in decades, is beginning to reshape aspects of American life.
    Under the law, companies with 50 or more workers will be required to provide health insurance to all their full-time employees, or face significant fines.
    The decision to delay that requirement was welcomed by business groups, which said companies needed more time to adapt to the law. But the delay has emboldened the law’s critics, who say it is evidence the statute is ill-conceived and should be repealed.
    A new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds that the country, which remains deeply divided about the law, is similarly split about the delay in the employer requirement. Fifty-one percent say they support the delay, while 45 percent say they do not. The public is also divided over whether the setback means the law is fatally flawed.
    The poll, taken at a time of heightened criticism of the law, also finds support has weakened among Democrats since last year. Just under six in 10 Democrats say they support the law, the lowest point for Post-ABC surveys since the law was passed in 2010.
    When the law was written, advocates hoped the employer requirement would help reduce the ranks of the uninsured. Some employers have indeed said they would offer insurance to additional workers, but others have gone in the opposite direction.
    Virginia’s situation provides a good lens on why. The state has more than 37,000 part-time, hourly wage employees, with as many as 10,000 working more than 30 hours a week. Offering coverage to those workers, who include nurses, park rangers and adjunct professors, would have been prohibitively expensive, state officials said, costing as much as $110 million.
    “It was all about the money,” said Sara Redding Wilson, director of Virginia’s Department of Human Resources Management. “If we could cover everyone, we would.”
    It is unclear how many companies have already cut staffing hours this year in anticipation of the law. Mercer, a human relations consulting firm that regularly queries public and private entities, found that 12 percent of employers in a survey last year planned to cut staff hours to avoid a jump in costs under the new rules.
    However, the numbers are higher for the retail and hospitality industries, as well as for government, because those employers often rely on a large number of part-timers but do not already offer them benefits, the firm said.
    Obama administration officials say there is no evidence that large numbers of businesses are cutting their workers’ hours this year. Rather, they say, Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers suggest full-time hiring has grown despite the employer mandate.
    “We are seeing no systematic evidence that the Affordable Care Act is having an adverse impact on job growth or the number of hours employees are working,” said Alan Krueger, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisors, adding that “the law is helping make health insurance coverage more affordable, which supports job growth.”
    While a number of private businesses cut worker hours this year because of the health-care law, they have been loathe to do it because of fears of public blowback, said Jared Pope, a Texas consultant whose clients include local governments and businesses. Governments have been more open because they must make their decisions publicly, he said.
    He estimated that seven of his 62 clients had capped hours and another 18 were considering it. Those that took the difficult step of curbing part-time hours are not likely to reverse course, only to have to reinstate the limit next year, he said.
    “They kind of somewhat [ticked] people off already,” he said. “They don’t want to undo it and become a good guy now, only to do it all over again to be the bad guy.”
    Part of the dilemma lies in the definition of “full-time,” which diverges from the industry standard of 40 hours per week. Advocates say the 30-hour bar was supposed to discourage employers from simply shaving a few minutes off a full-time worker’s hours to skirt the law. But it turns out that “an awful lot of people work less than 40 hours a week,” said Timothy Jost, a health policy expert and consumer advocate.
    Now, business groups and unions are urging Congress to change the rule to define full time as 40 hours, but they face long odds, given both parties’ reluctance to tinker with the law. Some Democratic-leaning communities, including Dearborn, Mich., and Long Beach, Calif., have imposed caps on part-time workers to keep them below the 30-hour threshold.
    Officials in Utah’s Granite School District, which includes about 70,000 students in the Salt Lake City area, said their new policy limiting part-timers to 29 hours per week affected about 1,200 workers. Extending benefits to all of them would have cost the district $14 million, officials estimated.
    The biggest impact was felt by substitute teachers, said Gayleen Gandy, president of the school board. The best ones, she said, regularly work more than 30 hours per week. The administration’s delay is unlikely to cause the district to review the new cap on hours.
    “From what I understood, the change simply extended the implementation timeline,” she said. “That really doesn’t change anything about what we decided. It just put us ahead of the game for next year.”
    Pace, the music professor, said it will be a challenge to make ends meet, even with the odd jobs he does to supplement his college income, which has been cut to $17,000 a year. He gives bass and guitar lessons in his Alexandria, Va., home, plays live gigs around the area and runs a nonprofit called the D.C. Jazz Composers Collective.
    He argues that the state should have recognized the contribution of workers like himself and coughed up the extra money to offer insurance. But since that didn’t happen, he said, he would have preferred to keep the status quo, rather than to end up with reduced hours and an $8,000 pay cut.
    “We treat this as our job,” said Pace, 34. “We devote all of our time and love and hours to teaching our adjunct classes. This isn’t right on any level.”

  2. Is work coming between you and your spouse? by TwoOfUs.org, FresnoBee.com
    FRESNO, Calif., USA - Every day, you dutifully punch the clock. But sometimes the clock punches back.
    You find yourself working hours upon hours of overtime. And each hour of overtime means one less hour with your spouse. When your job is hectic, stress can easily seep into your marriage. Below are some ways to limit the spread of work-related tension into your relationship with your spouse.
    - Identify the source: First, be sure the pressure to work nonstop is truly coming from external sources - your company, your boss, or your clients - rather than yourself. There are legitimate "crunch times" at any job; sometimes all you can do is keep your nose to the grindstone. Most jobs require at least occasional long hours. But if your work hours are chronically excessive, it might be time to explore other career options.
    However, if you are the one piling pressure on, you may have some workaholic or perfectionist tendencies. The problem is there is always something else that could be done - or be done better. Give your best effort during work hours, and try not to obsess about the rest. While a strong work ethic is commendable, so is a strong marriage ethic - a commitment to give your spouse the time and attention he or she deserves. Some people are on a perpetual quest for a better title, more clout and more money. There's nothing wrong with ambition, but the impulse can quickly become distorted.
    - The Joneses are miserable: Everyone feels a subtle pressure to "Keep up with the Joneses" - to pull into the parking lot in a sleek vehicle wearing a sharp new suit. But no one is entirely clear who the Joneses are or why their standards have to be our own. Americans tend to spend more than they make, and the weight of debt can feel crushing. The rush we get from buying expensive things is short-lived, but the complications related to debt tend to linger.
    Don't deprive your spouse of quality time under the pretense of trying to secure "the best" for him or her. Sure, we've all got to pay the bills, and you need to keep a roof over your spouse's head. But remember that the best life is one where you and your spouse have sufficient time and energy to enjoy what you have - and each other.
    - Dare to disconnect: We're not suggesting you go off the grid or refuse to ever check your phone or email after work hours. Just do it less frequently. Constantly being "wired in" can leave you feeling wired ... and that isn't good for your health or relationship. Never make your spouse feel like he or she has to compete with a smart phone (or any technology) for your attention.
    - For the love of humanity: You are not a work-bot. You need sunshine, exercise, meaningful communication and recreation. Whenever possible, include your spouse in these essential, humanizing activities. They help you manage stress and reconnect with your spouse.
    Don't be afraid to lean on your spouse for emotional support, but be sure to offer the same support to him or her. Try not to ambush your partner with a work-related tirade the minute you walk in the door. Simply offer him or her a big hug or kiss and then take a few minutes, if needed, to decompress. Go play with the kids for a while, take the dog on a walk or draw a bath. Afterward, you can sit down for a nice meal with your spouse and discuss the day.
    - Assess your priorities: Inevitably, responsibilities to your company will compete with your responsibilities to your spouse. Ask yourself if it's more important to attain that next promotion or to have a strong, happy marriage. Hopefully, you'll never have to choose between those two, but if push comes to shove, be sure you know which one you value most.

7/24/2013 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from today will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Riverside County restores 5-day work week, Inland Empire News via inlandnewstoday.com
    RIVERSIDE, Calif., USA – For the first time in nearly 4-years, County offices will be open 5-days a week beginning Friday.
    When the economic downturn hit, the county imposed furloughs to avert layoffs.
    County Supervisor Jeff Stone says better times are here.
    “The bottom line is that the people’s work has to be the priority. We serve at the pleasure of the taxpayers who pay a significant sum of money to this county for us to provide the plethora of services that we do. It has been difficult to provide them for only 4-days a week. I’m supporting the 9/80 schedule.”
    [For people who find the 4/40 schedule exhausting (4 days to get 40-hr workweek via ten-hour days =8/80 =8 days to get 80-hr biweek), and don't want to just go back to the 5/40's straight two-day weekend schedule (5 days to get 40-hr week via eight-hour days =10/80 =10 days to get 80-hr biweek), the 9/80 schedule provides an intermediate option (9 days to get 80-hr biweek): a three-day weekend every two weeks by means of squeezing 80 working hours into nine workdays, usually via eight 9-hour days (eg: M-Th x2) and one 8-hour day (eg: the first Friday with the second Friday a day off). None of this has any relevance to work-spreading and -sharing or unemployment reduction because it preserves the 40-hour workweek. But it's good to get it all on the table so we can informedly dismiss it as rearranging the deckchairs...]
    County officials estimated that the furloughs reduced salary costs over several years by $72.8 million.

  2. Obamacare won't slash workers' hours, report finds, BY Maggie Fox, NBCNews.com (blog)
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Opponents of Obamacare say it will kill jobs, and they specifically say provisions forcing employers to offer health insurance to workers will encourage smaller businesses to cut jobs and cut hours. But a new report finds that, if anything, fewer people are working part-time this year than the year before.
    The report, from the left-leaning Center for Economic and Policy Research, says data show companies have not been cutting hours in anticipation of the law. It contradicts business owners who say they’ve already started cutting back.
    CEPR researchers found that just 1 million workers, roughly 0.6 percent of the labor force, work between 26-29 hours a week. Two-thirds of them said they did so by choice, not because they were forced to.
    “While there may certainly be instances of individual employers carrying through with threats to reduce their employees’ hours to below 30 to avoid the sanctions in the ACA, the numbers are too small to show up in the data,” wrote CEPR's Helene Jorgensen and Dean Baker.
    Earlier this month, the Obama administration delayed a requirement that anyone with 50 or more workers offer health insurance to any of them working fulltime. The requirement defines full-time as 30 hours a week or more -- something constructed to make sure that employers didn’t shave a few hours off people’s work weeks to avoid having to provide the coverage.
    Critics of the law, known official as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) leapt onto this as further evidence that it isn’t working. The White House said it was merely giving confused employers more time to work out the details of the paperwork that will be required.
    But many employers say a delay isn’t enough, and they say they’ll cut both workers and their hours. The state of Virginia already has done so -- it has capped part-time [state] workers’ hours at 29 hours a week. State officials have said it would cost more than $100 million a year to provide them all health coverage.
    Restaurants, which employ many part-time and seasonal workers, would be especially affected by the law. Jamie Richardson, a vice president at White Castle System, Inc, said his burger chain already has been affected by fears about the law. “White Castle’s growth has halted,” Richardson told a hearing of the House Subcommittee on Health, Education, Labor and Workforce Tuesday.
    “In the five years prior to the health care law, we were opening an average of eight new White Castle restaurants each year. In 2013, we plan to open just two new locations. While other factors have slowed our growth, it is the mounting uncertainty surrounding the health care law that brought us to a standstill.”
    Companies such as Whole Foods and Domino’s Pizza have also said they’ll reconsider hiring practices – although , Darden Restaurants, which owns Red Lobster and Olive Garden, changed course on a plan to slash hours for many workers last year after an outcry.
    Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president of the right-leaning American Action Forum, predicted matters will only worsen. “The ACA will contribute to slower job growth,” Holtz-Eakin told the hearing.
    “The law will lead to a greater reliance on a part-time workforce, as companies will not be mandated to provide health insurance benefits to part-time workers.”
    CEPR’s Jorgensen and Baker decided to look at data that might show whether this is happening.
    “If this is the case, we should have first begun to see evidence of the impact of ACA in January of 2013, since under the original law employment in 2013 would serve as the basis for assessing penalties in 2014,” they wrote.
    “Fortunately, it is possible to test whether employers are actually reducing hours below the 30-hour hreshold. The Current Population Survey (CPS) provides monthly data on workers usual weekly hours. We used the CPS to compare the first four months of 2013 with the first four months of 2012. We looked at the numbers and percent of workers who reported working 26-29 hours a week.”
    That's when they discovered that just 1 million people work those limited hours.
    “While the sanctions in the ACA may provide some marginal incentive to reduce worker hours below the 30-hour cutoff, other considerations in setting worker hours appear to be far more important.”
    More than half of Americans -- 160 million people – currently get their health insurance through an employer. The law is designed to expand that number, and to help more people get health insurance through marketplaces called exchanges in each state.

7/23/2013 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from today will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Work Sharing Solves Fiscal, Labor Challenges, by Kevin Prather, Manufacturing.net
    DETROIT, Mich., USA - Manufacturers around the country have found themselves struggling to find the qualified workforce needed to meet demand. This problem is compounded by the ever present threat of economic downturn, making it difficult for employers to maintain their workforce and ensure that employees remain available for work as needed, despite layoffs and other challenges.
    Work sharing provides two means of addressing these challenges. The first definition of work sharing is often referred to as job sharing. In this strategy, manufacturers share employees, who work part-time for each employer. This helps employers make up for the lack of available and experienced labor, but is not without its own potential complications.
    First, it remains to be seen if work sharing in this form can provide a long-term solution to the issue of manufacturers not being able to find enough qualified employees to fill available positions or if the available labor force is big enough to sustain this strategy. Manufacturers must also consider potential conflicts created by sharing skilled labor.
    For this version of the work sharing strategy to be a feasible solution to a workforce shortage, manufacturing executives and human resources teams should create contracts that explicitly spell out the requirements for employees, thus allowing manufacturers to better handle any issues that may arise related to over-scheduling, workers not meeting manufacturers’ needs, or other issues.
    The second, and more common, definition of work sharing provides an effective alternative to employers faced with layoffs. Nearly two dozen states [next paragraph says "nearly 30"] have adopted work sharing programs that allow employers to reduce hours, generally by 20 to 40 percent, for groups of employees rather than laying them off. Employees in this situation are then allowed to apply for partial unemployment benefits to help fill a portion of the income shortfall created by the work reduction.
    There are many examples of how this type of work sharing has been effective. Earlier this year, SharedWork Ohio was established as a program similar to ones in nearly 30 other states. Kenworth Truck Company, a large employer in Ohio that has experienced ebbs and flows in its business the past several years, has said it would consider eliminating [sic - does he mean limiting] operations to states that used shared work to help it avoid layoffs.
    This strategy is in many ways beneficial to all involved. Employees are not laid off, and avoid all the negative consequences of a layoff. In many states, employers are required to maintain existing insurance and benefit plans for the employees involved. The states avoid having large numbers added to unemployment, and face minimal added costs to their unemployment insurance programs. The U.S. Labor Department estimates that states spent $125 million on work sharing programs in 2011, saving more than 61,000 jobs.
    Manufacturers that have used these types of formal work sharing programs can significantly reduce their overhead and operational costs at a time when margins are extremely thin. One Tier 2 automotive manufacturer in Michigan has reduced its unemployment insurance costs significantly and have not had to deal with the headaches and operational challenges associated with layoffs, recruiting of lower-paid labor, and quality issues that can come with inexperienced employees.
    During the summer, this auto manufacturer has been able to create a flexible schedule for its employees that allow for the maximization off time off during the desirable weather months with a slight reduction in overall hours to the employer. Allowing for more long weekends and flexible time has slightly reduced the sting of lower hours and overall pay for its employees, while the manufacturer has been able to continue providing full health benefits through Michigan’s work sharing program. Earlier this year, Michigan was the first state to offers qualified employers work sharing with no risk of tax penalty as long as federal money is available. As with traditional unemployment, states cap the benefits workers can receive.
    Most importantly for manufacturers, employers are able to continue employing their experienced workers at a reduced cost while they wait for an economic rebound, thus retaining their experienced, skilled employees and workplace continuity, while avoiding a labor shortfall as well as the costs associated with employee turnover.
    Depending on the economic and financial situation facing a manufacturer, one or both of these work sharing strategies should be considered. Available programs depend on the state and specific industry in which a manufacturer is located.
    Has work sharing in the manufacturing industry been successful for you? Comment below!
    Kevin Prather, CPA is a partner with Baker Tilly Vrchow Krause LLP (Baker Tilly) in Detroit. He has more than 20 years of experience serving publicly-held and closely-held clients in manufacturing and financial services. He can be reached at Kevin.Prather@bakertilly.com.

  2. TUC, NAACIE fully supportive of the National Minimum Wage and 40-hour work week, letter to editor from Norris Witter & Kenneth Joseph, StabroekNews.com
    GEORGETOWN, Guyana - Dear Editor,
    We are never amused by the position taken by Mr Mohamed Akeel since he exited his job as the Chief Labour Officer. The record will show that he has been acting and advising [in the] big business interests in the country.
    With respect to the National Minimum Wage Order, Mr. Akeel again showed his preference for big business interests and subtly attacks a minimum wage of $35,000 and the five-day work week. This is brought out by the question he asks, “Can a developing country afford to have the wheels of production going for 5 days or increase cost of production by overtime payment and risk limiting access to overseas markets?”
    [Hey, employment-funneling long hours and wage&spending-depressing labor surplus is what keeps a developing country under-developed.]
    Reading through the letter, it is clear that Mr. Akeel is making out a case for garment manufacturers whom he believes, if not given a respite, can cause “hundreds of workers, mostly females, (to) be on the breadline.” It should be mentioned that garment manufacturers had a free rein for in excess of 10 years, and even when wage increases were announced for certain categories of workers, they were not affected since it was felt that this group was at an initial stage of job creation and tapping into the overseas market. After this extended holiday period, we find it difficult to believe that they cannot pay workers a minimum wage of $35,000 per month or US$40 per week. Paying less than this can only be seen as exploitation and will need an investigation as to the prices being paid by the big companies, such as JC Penny and the distributors of Victoria Secret lingerie. Our Guyanese workers should not be exploited to make foreign entrepreneurs and companies rich.
    Akeel then went on to cite the Teemal and Labour Amendment cases. These have absolutely no relevance with the National Minimum Wage Order. His grouse seems to be also that there was lack of consultation and that the correct procedure under law was not followed. We would like to state that much more was done in accordance with the law on this issue than he ever attempted to do when he was Chief Labour Officer. In fact, since last May a subcommittee of the Tripartite body, including ourselves and Mr. Samuel Goolsarran, Consultant Adviser of the Consultative Association of Guyanese Industry Ltd (CAGI), among others, deliberated on the issue of a national minimum wage.
    In fact, we had taken that decision when we had agreed to a new minimum wage for certain categories of workers commencing May 1, 2012. The position that the Ministry of Labour was working on a national minimum wage to be implemented in 2013 was publicly made known. At every stage of the deliberation of the Committee, we were advised by the CAGI representatives, including Mr. Goolsarran (who incidentally is out of the country), that regular consultations have been held with the business community and in fact, they are summoned to meetings every two months to discuss industrial relations matters. The minimum wage issue at the Tripartite level was approved as early as February 2013 and we were advised by the Hon. Minister of Labour, Dr. N.K. Gopaul that he would take it Cabinet for its no-objection. Subsequently, we were told that Cabinet set up a Ministerial Task Force to look at the issue, a position which was made public by the Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon.
    Additionally, we heard statements from the Minister of Labour during the 2013 budget debate in the National Assembly while responding to a question from the Opposition that very shortly a new minimum wage with working hours will be implemented. That was public knowledge. Again on May Day, the Minister in an address to the Trades Union Congress conference at which leading trade unionists and Opposition politicians were present, indicated that he had draft regulations on his desk which he was looking at for the implementation of a new national minimum wage order. His Excellency, President Donald Ramotar also on the eve of Guyana’s independence on May 25, 2013 indicated quite clearly and emphatically that the Government of Guyana will introduce a new national minimum wage of $35,000 and a 40-hour work week, as well as ratify the International Labour Organization’s Convention 189 on domestic workers. Those positions were followed by advertisements in the national newspapers and the Official Gazette more than a month before the July 1, 2013 deadline for the implementation of the National Minimum Wage Order. The Order was also tabled in the National Assembly during this period of time. There was no concern expressed by anyone. We were not sure whether, as Mr. Christopher Ram pointed out, these businessmen were asleep. To speak then of consultation and awareness, Akeel is begging the issue to prop up his consultancy.
    It should be made abundantly clear that CAGI is the recognized business entity by the International Labour Organization on the Tripartite Committee and this has been so from the time Guyana joined the ILO.
    In addition, CAGI has been the business body consulted on all the major labour legislation we have in this country. Notwithstanding this, at the meeting with representatives of the Chambers of Commerce a week before the implementation date of July 1, 2013 of the new National Minimum Wage Order, the Hon. Minister gave the undertaking to these concerned businessmen (who by that time became awake) that in the future, he will seek to broaden business representation on labour matters.
    The procedure therefore which was followed was exhausted and the duration was quite significant. Attempts therefore to put the issue on hold can only be seen as a deliberate attempt at procrastination. The format of the new National Minimum Wage Order is exactly the same used for decades by the Ministry of Labour and Mr. Akeel when he was Chief Labour Officer when dealing with the issue of the minimum wage for certain categories of workers.
    It should be noted that the National Minimum Wage and its implementation, as well as the implementation of the new hours of work is historic. In that for the first time, it’s being implemented in independent Guyana. If there are technical flaws, then that should not be the reason for its recall or being repealed. The workers of this country deserve at least the minimum wage and working hours that have been prescribed by the Ministerial Order.
    We recognize that there are some archaic laws under existing statutes and these were taken into consideration by the Tripartite body. These may have to be amended so as to bring them to modern day reality, thus avoiding the issues of conflict raised by Mr. Akeel. As members of the Tripartite Committee we were of the impression up to the end of May 2013 that this issue had widespread support. We still believe it has widespread support with the exception of the garment manufacturers and some security establishments, the latter of which endorsed the minimum wage, but mainly wanted renewal of contract or increases in their contract charges to compensate for the increases made for the workers.
    The last piece of advice for Mr. Akeel would be to, rather than publicly question the role of managers and their entitlements, he should read the case of Mahasrudeen vs. the Guyana Sugar Corporation Ltd. which went to the Court of Appeal and was adjudicated in favour of Mahasrudeen.
    Counsel for Mashasrudeen was Senior Counsel, Mr. Ashton Chase and those who gave evidence as experts were James Dastajir of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers’ Union (GAWU) and Nanda Gopaul of the National Association of Agricultural, Commercial and Industrial Employees (NAACIE). The Court ruled that Mahasrudeen was entitled to payment under the Factories Act.
    We, as members of the Tripartite Committee, are fully supportive, and will prevent resolutely, any attempt to derail this process.
    Yours faithfully,
    Norris Witter, President, Guyana Trades Union Congress
    Kenneth Joseph, General Secretary, the National Association of Agricultural, Commercial and Industrial Employees

7/21-22/2013 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from today will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. The EU red tape that's strangling the NHS: Hague to reveal extent of meddling as evidence shows patients are at risk from strict rules on working hours, by James Chapman, 7/21 DailyMail.co.uk
    [What nonsense - as if any patient wants self-martyringly sleepless doctors treating them. What's putting patients at risk is medicos' arrogance and exceptionalism, the whole medical culture of money-worshipping self-martyring strangulation of access to medical skills and incompetent hospital management that refuses to hire enough personnel on well-rested short hours.]
    Foreign Secretary William Hague [is] set to publish official audit of the costs of Britain's membership while David Cameron is being urged by to take action to pull Britain out of the working-time directive (photo caption)
    [The working-time directive is the single best part of EU membership.]
    - Officials' comprehensive assessment of extent of meddling from Brussels [working hour limits are general groundrules - they are not, and never have been, "meddling" micromanagement]
    - Evidence that patient care is at risk after strict EU rules on working hours [oh sure, let's have doctors treating us who have been sleep-deprived for years]
    - Rules seen as uncompetitive against big economies such as India and China [just what we want - the medical "systems" of India and China]
    LONDON, U.K. - The burden of EU regulation on the NHS and businesses will be laid bare today in the first official audit of the costs of Britain’s membership.
    Officials have spent months collecting evidence on a comprehensive assessment of the extent of meddling from Brussels.
    The first of their reports will be published tomorrow by William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, and senior Conservatives hope it will help their plans to try to renegotiate looser ties with the EU.
    Foreign Secretary William Hague, left, set to publish official audit of the costs of Britain's membership while David Cameron, right, is being urged by to take action to pull Britain out of the working-time directive
    It comes amid alarming evidence that patient care is being put at risk by strict EU rules on working hours.
    [Oh please, the erstwhile first Brits are bucking for last with US-style fear-mongering.]
    Doctors’ leaders have warned ministers that the working-time directive, an EU edict which limits the working week to 48 hours, is having a serious impact in the NHS.
    [Only sick doctors and a sick medical culture digs itself into long hours.]
    Hospitals have had to alter traditional shift patterns and hire huge numbers of agency workers to ensure staff do not break the rules.
    [That's what sick hospitals' healing process looks like. More and more well-rested professionals instead of fewer and fewer sleep-deprived zombies in lab coats.]
    The heads of the medical royal colleges suggest that thanks to the rules, patients in hospital increasingly see a ‘conveyor belt’ of doctors at their bedside, while trainee doctors are unable to gain the hands-on experience they need.
    [Better three shifts of well-rested doctors who know what they're doing than one shift with a self-important self-martyring workaholic.]
    Tory MPs are urging David Cameron to take action to pull Britain out of the working-time directive in a renegotiation ahead of a referendum on EU membership, which the Prime Minister has promised to hold by the end of 2017 if he remains at No 10.
    The rules are also seen by many business leaders as uncompetitive when EU countries are up against booming economies such as India and China.
    [Just what we want - the medical "systems" of India and China. And apparently this reporter has not noticed that China is no longer booming and India never was. They're third world. They have huge unemployment. This clown wants us all to join "the race to the bottom."]

    The analysis, ordered by Mr Cameron, is supposed to be a neutral, fact-finding exercise about Britain’s future in the EU.
    The first report will look at how the EU and the single market affects UK taxation, health, business, overseas aid, foreign policy, animal welfare and food safety.
    A further 26 reports will be published in coming months.
    Open Europe, the Eurosceptic think-tank [not to be confused with a Euroseptic tank], described the reports as a ‘useful exercise that will inform the EU debate for years to come’.
    But Stephen Booth, one of its researchers, added: ‘Unless this review is complemented by a political strategy to set out the parameters of a future EU renegotiation, it will not be sufficient.’
    The Prime Minister insisted other EU members know the UK is ready to leave unless it negotiates a better relationship, and that Britain now rejected the founding principle of the EU. ‘Ever closer union, something that’s in the Treaty of Rome, shouldn’t apply to the UK,’ he added. ‘We’ve never signed up to that, we’ve never liked that. Let’s get Britain out of that.’
    The Prime Minister said that in recent months, other EU member states had agreed that reforms were necessary to allow some countries to have looser ties, including Germany, Sweden, Holland and Italy.
    [But not looser working hours. And high youth unemployment in Europe (and the world) pressures for tighter working hours.]

  2. Teachers slam new working hours, 7/22 Times of India via articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com
    CHANDIGARH, India - An indefinite strike by teachers' union under the banner of Joint Action Committee of Teachers, Chandigarh was held at Masjid grounds, Sector 20, in which around 700 teachers of 105 government schools of UT were present.
    The strike was held to protest the suspension of four teachers [who are also?] union leaders from schools, who stood against the decision of DPI [Director Public Instructions (Schools) = PK Sharma?] under which teachers will have to work for 45 hours per week instead of 36 hours. Newly promoted lecturers were also required to deliver lectures on their respective subjects in front of senior officials immediately after they joined service.
    Addressing the protestors, union leader Shivender Singh, a physics lecturer in a Sector 40 school, said, "We will not drop our demands until the department takes back the orders, which are totally irrelevant and extraneous, taken in the name of improving the education system of UT".
    "Today, no teachers supporting the protest took classes in any of the schools. At sector 40, school students also protested against the suspension of their teachers and demanded their return to school", said Ranveer Singh, union leader and lecturer at Sector 40 government school.
    "This concept is entirely unacceptable as, being a lady, I have taken this job so that I could take care of my family as well, but their order of increasing the teachers" working hours at school would totally disturb the schedule. It is not appropriate for the govt to do this. We are totally against this and have come to support our leaders who are fighting for us," said Sunita, JBT teacher at Sector 37 school.
    "First of all, it is not at all applicable that lecturers who are just promoted will deliver lectures about their respective subjects in front of the officials. We are not totally against this concept but we demand that the department should give some time at least to lecturers in getting hold of their subjects. New lecturers joined in May and June had vacations and as soon as the session started, this new concept is introduced, which is totally out of the context of teaching," said Shakuntala, maths teacher in a school.
    "We want this programme to be rectified as lecturers need to refresh their subjects," Khushaali Ram, a lecturer said.

7/20/2013 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from today will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Shared work 2013, - Employment Security Dept. via esd.wa.gov
    OLYMPIA, Wash.State, USA - Description: The department will amend rules related to the Shared-Work program for consistency with changes to state and federal law. Additional policy changes may be proposed.
    CR 101 (PDF, 94 KB)
    CR-101 (June 2004)(Implements RCW 34.05.310)
    Do NOT use for expedited rule making
    Agency: Employment Security Department
    Subject of possible rule making: Chapter 192 - 250 WAC, Shared Work Program. Amendments will be made to implement Engrossed House Bill 1396. Additional changes will be made to clarify policy and procedures and to streamline program operations. WAC 192-250-045, Who is not eligible for participation in the shared work program?, will also be reviewed to determine if program participation should be limited to hourly employees and whether businesses with a tax rate of 5.4 percent or more should continue to be ineligible for program participation
    Statutes authorizing the agency to adopt rules on this subject: RCW 50.12.010 and RCW 50.12.040
    Reasons why rules on this subject may be needed and what they might accomplish: This rule-making will implement Chapter 79, Laws of 2013 (Engrossed House Bill 2013). The bill makes a number of changes to the shared work program and existing rules must be updated to reflect these changes. Other proposed changes will be considered to improve program operations, including eligibility for participation in the program.
    Identify other federal and state agencies that regulate this subject and the process coordinating the rule with these agencies: The United States Department of Labor (USDOL) reviews the state’s administration of the UI program to ensure conformity to federal statutes and regulations. The state has broad flexibility in the implementation of UI laws as long as conformity is maintained. The proposed rules will be shared with USDOL prior to adoption.
    Process for developing new rule (check all that apply):
    O Negotiated rule making
    O Pilot rule making
    O Agency study
    X Other (describe) The proposed rules will be shared with stakeholders identified in the rule-making process. We will solicit input from stakeholders and consider all written comments in the development of the final rules.
    How interested parties can participate in the decision to adopt the new rule and formulation of the proposed rule before publication:
    Interested parties can participate in the development of the rules before public ation by contacting:
    Juanita Myers, Unemployment Insurance Rules Manager
    Employment Security Department
    P.O. Box 9046
    Olympia, WA 98507-9046
    Fax (360) 902-9799
    Email jmyers@esd.wa.gov
    Please include your name, organization (if any), mailing address, email address and telephone number
    Date 6/12/2013
    Dale Peinecke ...
    Code Reviser Use Only
    Office of the Code Reviser
    State of Washington Filed
    Date: June 13, 2013
    Time: 11:06AM
    WSR 13-13-034

  2. Jobs saved pending final vote - Stewart County committee approves school budget with $210K bailout, by Bonnie Lill, The Stewart Houston Times via The Stewart Houston Times via Clarksville Leaf Chronicle via TheLeafChronicle.com
    DOVER, Tenn., USA - — Stewart County School System employees are breathing a bit easier following a lengthy Stewart County Budget and Finance meeting on July 18 in which the committee voted unanimously to send the school system budget on to the County Commission for final approval.
    If approved, all of the school system employees that were facing layoffs or shortened hours will be brought back at 32.5 hours per week.
    Although the final vote will not be taken until August 8, a week after school starts, Stewart County Mayor Rick Joiner said he was confident enough of passage that he instructed Schools Director Dr. Phillip Wallace to “put ‘em all back to work.”
    School and county financial personnel have been working non-stop over the past weeks to work out a way to avoid laying off and/or cutting hours of some 120 school system employees.
    Credit was given to School Finance Director Jamie Bogard, County Budget and Finance Director Heather Morgan, Assistant Schools Director Leta Joiner and Mayor Joiner, among others, for working out a solution to this year’s woes.
    Next year’s situation is anybody’s guess.
    The bailout
    The school system was able to pare $360,000 out of their budget by not hiring staff to fill positions vacated by those who left the employ of the school system, cutting out vocational supplements, taking away one personal day from teachers, changing the vehicle policy, holding off buying textbooks, cutting some travel, among other things, but step raises cost them about $100,000, making the net cuts about $260,000.
    However, they still had a shortfall of about $210,000 needed to maintain the required three percent fund balance, which resulted in cutting personnel.
    The county stepped in with a two-prong approach: forgive for one year only the $60,000 the school system pays into debt service for school construction; and buy three buses on a capital outlay note that the county can pay over 12 years, freeing up six cents of property tax normally going into the bus transportation fund that could now go into the general operating fund, giving the school system about $150,000 in operating capital.
    It’s simple, clean and won't affect maintenance of effort (the mandate that government cannot give schools less than they gave them the year before),” said Mayor Joiner after the meeting.
    One thing mentioned later is that the county did increase its maintenance of effort by $27,000 by paying for raises for non-certified employees.
    Lengthy discussion
    The discussion opened with Wallace explaining how state and federal revenues have dried up for the school system and how expenses due to medical insurance have escalated.
    He outlined the strategies to keep costs down, including not replacing staff members who had left.
    Wallace said another move was to make four teachers who had been half-time teachers and half-time teacher assistants in to full-time teacher assistants. This would keep them working at a lower rate of pay, but they would at least have a job.
    He said one elementary school assistant principal was made half-time, and those who were working more than 180 days were cut back to 180 days whenever possible.
    District #6’s Marty Blane was concerned about cutting the nursing staff back, and he was told there would be one nurse in each school for 6.5 hours per day.
    Assistant Director Joiner said that in most school systems the size of Stewart County’s, there is only one nurse. However, due to the rural nature of the schools, one in each building is considered better.
    However, she said that each school is located near an EMS station or clinic in case of emergency. Assistant Director Joiner gave even more detailed financial information about Better Education Program funding, Race To The Top funds and more.
    Wallace said that 90 percent of the non-certified staff had worked 32.5 hours, so most of them would be getting back all of their hours.
    Commissioners asked many questions, focusing not only on their primary concern, which was getting people back to work, but also on the future.
    Blane summed up the feelings of the bulk of the committee when he asked about employment, saying, “I just wanted to make sure that no one was losing his job unless he wanted to.”
    Many of the questions centered on the Affordable Health Care Act, and there were no clear cut answers. There is talk in Washington of extending Obamacare to all employees, not just those working 30 hours or more a week.
    Bogard estimated that if the school system had to take on health insurance premiums for all of its employees, it could cost anywhere from $500,000 - $1,000,000 annually.
    Blane was clearly concerned about the future.
    “What are your plans for Obamacare?” he asked. “If we band-aid this, then what happens? We need a plan.”
    No doubt a plan will be worked out – but Obamacare is still in a state of flux with no clear guidelines for employers yet. Instructional time
    In a deviation from customary procedure, Blane and Mayor Joiner devoted a little instructional time to the 60 or more gathered at the Stewart County Middle School cafeteria for the meeting. (Many had also braved a storm to come to two preceding meetings that night, a working session and a called session of the School Board.)
    Blane addressed the audience, encouraging citizens to attend the meetings and thanking them for coming to this one.
    He addressed the School Board members who had remained for the county meeting as well.
    “We are happy to have you all here to explain your budget,” Blane said. “We have limited money in this county, so any expenditure we make affects the schools.”
    He addressed the issue of School Boards having – or desiring – taxing authority.
    “It’s challenging to tell citizens you have the power to take money out of their pockets,” he said. “It’s a serious matter.”
    He also asked Bogard to keep the commission informed on a regular basis as to the school’s finances, even when there is not a scheduled meeting.
    Blane addressed the audience again as he explained the reason there is a bus transportation fund, telling them that it was a way to plan for purchases they would have to make on a regular basis.
    When the vote came up, Mayor Joiner spoke to the crowd as well, explaining that the committee can only approve to send the budget to the full commission; it is the commission’s job to pass it or not at the August 8 meeting. He was very hopeful.
    District #4’s Terry Fitzhugh asked for assurance once again that everyone would be put back to work.
    “All those employees had their feet pulled out from under them,” he said.
    Bonnie Lill, Reporter, The Stewart-Houston Times, 931-232-5421, blill@gannett.com

7/19/2013 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from today will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Fed Ponders Part-Time Shift as Obamacare Role Questioned, by Alex Nussbaum & Jeanna Smialek, Bloomberg.com via "Federal Reserve Considers Obamacare's Role in Shortening Work Hours", Reason.com
    [Compare big part-time shift article on 11/06/2012 #2.]
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Bailey Brewer, 28, is a writer with a graduate degree in journalism. She’s been employed since the start of the year as a temporary office worker, unable to find a full-time job.
    “The part-time thing, I’m really grateful for the work, but it’s also really frustrating because nothing is renewable,” Brewer said. “I want to feel settled in Los Angeles.”
    Brewer isn’t alone. The number of workers holding full-time positions fell in the U.S. in June as part-timers hit a record after rising for three straight months, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics household data. Part-time employment has been outpacing full-time job growth since 2008. Economists cite still-tough economic conditions as the root cause, with some saying President Barack Obama’s 2010 health-care law exacerbates the trend.
    U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told a House committee July 17 that policy makers consider underemployment, which includes part-time workers who want full-time jobs, one of the gauges of labor-market strength.
    “As we look at the unemployment rate and try to determine what it means for the labor market, we look at these other indicators as well,” Bernanke said in response to a question from Marlin Stutzman, a Republican representative from Indiana, during the Fed chairman’s semiannual testimony to Congress.
    Part-time Share
    The number of part-time employees in June rose by 360,000, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported, based on its survey of households. Full-time workers fell by 240,000, erasing much of the gains from April and May. The share of Americans who work part-time for economic reasons, meaning they can’t find full-time jobs or because their hours have been cut, is 78 percent higher than in December 2007, when the 18-month recession began.
    “It’s hard to make any judgment,” Bernanke said when Stutzman asked if the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s mandates are slowing the economy. Bernanke said that it has been cited in the economic outlook survey known as the Beige Book, which the Federal Open Market Committee considers in assessing the economy.
    “One thing that we hear in the commentary that we get at the FOMC [Federal Open Market Committee] is that some employers are hiring part-time in order to avoid the mandate,” Bernanke said. He added that “the very high level of part-time employment has been around since the beginning of the recovery, and we don’t fully understand it.”
    The health care law has been included as a job market concern by businesses surveyed in each of the Beige Books released by the Fed this year. In July’s report, for instance, the Chicago district noted that “several retailers reported that the Affordable Care Act would lead to more part-time and temporary versus full-time hiring.”
    Small Portion
    Studies by Federal Reserve Banks in Philadelphia and Minneapolis show only a small portion of respondents say they have changed their workforce structure because of the law.
    The law requires employers with 50 or more full-time equivalent employees to provide benefits to those who work at least 30 hours a week, or pay a $2,000-per-person fine. The Obama administration said this month that it would give businesses an extra year to comply with the mandate, which was to take effect in 2014, while it aims to streamline reporting.
    The high number of part-time workers is “primarily an issue of labor demand: we have a weak economy,” said Elise Gould, director of health policy research at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, which receives about a quarter of its funding from labor unions.
    [No, it's primarily an issue of a flock of policy wonks, rightwing AND leftwing, who can't conceptualize the possibility that an economy that's constantly automating and robotizing MAY NOT HAVE ENOUGH 40-HOUR JOBS FOR EVERYONE FOREVER and who are totally ignorant of the history of their own economy's workweek. (And latter-day labor unionists too dumb to realize their power issue is and always was shorter hours.)]
    Economic Reasons
    The number working part-time for economic reasons in June was at its highest since October. It has decreased by 1 million from a high of 9.23 million in September 2010.
    Employer uncertainty surrounding the health-care law “is having a dampening effect” on full-time hiring, said Ken Mayland at ClearView Economics LLC in Pepper Pike, Ohio. He said he has “a strong suspicion” that it contributed to the recent increase in part-time workers.
    Of about 75 manufacturers surveyed by the Philadelphia Fed, 5.6 percent said they have shifted from full-time to more part-time workers to avoid health-care rules and 2.8 percent have refrained from hiring or fired workers, based on results released July 18. Over the next year, 8.3 percent plan to have more part-time workers and 5.6 percent plan to fire or refrain from hiring workers because of the law.
    For firms near the 50-employee cutoff “we did find that they were taking actions already,” said Michael Trebing, senior economic analyst for the Philadelphia Fed. “A lot of the comments that we received, and we received a lot of them, still suggested that there was a lot of uncertainty about long-run effects.”
    Larger Companies
    The businesses averaged 236 employees apiece, skewing the survey toward larger companies, Trebing said. All responded after the mandate’s delay was announced.
    The Obama administration has questioned the law’s effect on part-time employment, saying that 96 percent of the employers it covers already offer health insurance.
    “The health-care law will decrease costs, strengthen small businesses and make it easier for employers to provide coverage to their workers, as we saw in Massachusetts, where employer coverage increased when similar reforms were adopted,” said Joanne Peters, a Health and Human Services Department spokeswoman, in an e-mailed statement.
    A March survey of 205 companies released by the Minneapolis Federal Reserve, which included a broader array of business types than the Philadelphia data, found 89 percent of businesses had no plans to shift to more part-time staff to avoid the rule.
    ‘No Impact’
    “Because the president moved the date of the employer requirement to 2015, there should be absolutely no impact” on part-time employment in the near-term, said Gould of EPI.
    Andy Puzder, chief executive officer of CKE Restaurants Inc., a Carpinteria, California-based company that runs the Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. burger chains, takes a different view.
    “While American businesses appreciate the reprieve, they still know this mandate is coming down the road, so I’m not sure it’s going to meaningfully change anyone’s behavior,” Puzder said. CKE has been hiring more part-time workers as a result of the law, though that hasn’t come at the expense of full-timers, Puzder said in an interview.
    Virginia restaurateur Christopher Savvides said he has stopped hiring full-time and limited part-timers’ hours to steer clear of the law’s requirements. Savvides said he has no plans to change course at his three restaurants and an associated catering company based in Virginia Beach.
    “Everyone I hire right now is going to be part-time,” he said in a phone interview. “I can’t afford health insurance for everyone.”
    Income Cut
    In Ohio, April Freely is among a few hundred adjunct professors poised to see their income cut after the University of Akron decided to strictly enforce limits on the number of courses part-timers teach. The college is among more than a half-dozen in Ohio that have said they’ll restrict hours at least partly due to the Affordable Care Act.
    For Freely, who teaches English composition, that means losing about half the $12,000 she earned from the school last year -- and still not getting health benefits, she said.
    “Some people are quitting academia all together, some are picking up courses at other campuses,” Freely, 30, said by telephone. “Mostly, it’s making people really angry.”
    The university is awaiting legal advice and IRS guidance before deciding how to respond to the delay, said Eileen Korey, a spokeswoman. For now, it’s maintaining its limit on part-time faculty hours, she said in an e-mail. The school would have to find an extra $4 million to offer benefits next year to 400 part-timers now over the limit, Korey said.
    Main Driver
    Economic weakness is the main driver elevating part-time statistics and it is hard to separate out health care effects, said Alec Phillips, a Goldman Sachs Group Inc. economist and analyst based in Washington. Some employers do have a health-care-based incentive to hire part time, he said.
    “We do expect to see more part-time workers and fewer full-time workers than we would otherwise have seen,” Phillips said. “There is probably a limit to how much employers can use the shift to part-time to reduce costs” even in the face of health-care mandates, he said.
    In a stronger economy, Gould said, employees would have more power and employers would have less ability to cut hours to avoid health-care costs. “If there was more labor demand generally, then there would be a different reaction to these requirements,” she said. “Overall, we’re just still in a very weak economy.”
    Brewer, the writer, agrees with that assessment. “I know a lot of people in my life who are also searching for jobs,” said the University of Missouri-Columbia graduate. “There are jobs out there, but I think it’s bleak.”
    To contact the reporters on this story: Alex Nussbaum in New York at anussbaum1@bloomberg.net Jeanna Smialek in Washington at jsmialek1@bloomberg.net
    To contact the editors responsible for this story: Reg Gale at rgale5@bloomberg.net Christopher Wellisz at cwellisz@bloomberg.net

  2. Why Canada's 'slacker' work week is not necessarily a bad thing, by Linda Nazareth, TheGlobeAndMail.com
    OTTAWA, Canada - It’s summer and Canadians are taking their well-earned vacations. Then again, maybe they are not so well-earned after all. According to data from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Canadians put in what seems like slacker hours compared to the rest of the world.
    Okay, maybe “slacker” is a bit unkind, but the OECD data (which is pulled from 2011 or latest available year) shows that only 3.9 per cent of Canadians reported working “very long hours,” defined as more than 50 hours a week. That’s the ninth-lowest of the 36 countries surveyed, and much lower than countries like Australia (where 14 per cent of workers put in 50-plus hours a week), the United Kingdom (12.1 per cent), the United States (11.1 per cent), France (9 per cent) and even Greece (5.2 per cent). Then again, long hours are much less common in countries like the Netherlands (0.66 per cent), Sweden (1.2 per cent) and Denmark (2 per cent).
    So how do we interpret the data? The OECD takes a sunny view of it, noting that while it is not necessarily a bad thing to put in a long week if you enjoy the work, it is a phenomenon more often seen in countries with high income inequality. It is also a function of the general economy and of wage levels: the figures do include overtime, which is something that is going to be sought after in a world where paycheques are not going far enough. As much as Canadians would argue that they are stretched, most measures suggest there is a higher percentage of Americans who are having a hard time paying their bills.
    Culture is arguably part of how many hours workers put in, particularly in white-collar jobs which typically do not pay overtime. As weak as the Canadian economy may sometimes seem, let’s remember that our recession and its aftermath were less brutal than in a lot of other places, including the U.S. That’s why in 2011, a relatively low percentage of Canadians apparently felt pushed to put in face time. Our higher rate of unionization – 31.5 per cent of Canadian employees belonged to a union in 2012, compared with 11.3 per cent of U.S. workers – arguably means that there are more people who can afford to leave at the official end of the day.
    And what about the productivity side of things. Would the economy actually be better off if we all put in a few more hours, paid or unpaid? That’s a hard one. Staying after hours just to show you’re there does very little for the bottom line – but neither does being a nation of clock-watchers.
    The truth is, there is no ideal score or number that would show how productive Canada is or that Canadians are happy and engaged at their jobs. True productivity is measured by how much you produce per hour, not how many hours you put in total. In an ideal world, Canada’s productivity on the job would be much higher than it is these days, and companies would be happy to let people leave on time, and happy to wave them away in the summer, too. That’s not where we are, but it is something to dream about on vacation.
    Linda Nazareth is the principal of Relentless Economics Inc. and a senior fellow at the Macdonald Laurier Institute ["Canada's only truly national public policy think tank based in Ottawa"].

7/18/2013 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from today will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Shared-work program highlighted, ChillicotheGazette.com
    CHILLICOTHE, Ohio, USA — The plant manager at one of Chillicothe’s largest employers was credited Wednesday morning with helping to lay the groundwork in Ohio for legislation creating a work-sharing program that gives employers an alternative to laying off employees.
    Scott Blue, of Kenworth Truck Co., talked about the creation of legislation during the Economic Development Alliance of Southern Ohio’s Insider Outlook breakfast at the Chillicothe Country Club.
    He offered details of the SharedWork Ohio program, also known as House Bill 37, that allows employers to reduce work hours for employees instead of having to lay them off. Through the program, employees would be allowed to collect unemployment benefits for hours they lose that would be prorated.
    The legislation already has been signed into law by Gov. John Kasich, and Blue gave credit to State Rep. Gary Scherer, R-Circleville, for sponsoring the bill, which also allows workers to keep their benefits under the program. The law requires employers who want to participate in the program to submit a plan to the director of the Department of Job and Family Services for approval.
    “Ohio is now the 26th state to adopt this legislation,” Blue said. “It’s a good thing for Ohio … and it’s certainly a good thing for our employers.”
    Federal dollars totaling $3.7 million could be obtained for the program as part of its start-up costs. In addition, the federal government also would pick up the costs of benefits until August 2015, according to the Ohio Legislative Service Commission.
    The breakfast featured several speakers discussing a variety of development topics, including:
    • Tom Worley, director of the OSU South Centers in Piketon, who told those attending about the facility and the number of programs it offers. Among the areas the center deals with are aquaculture, specialty crops and soil, water and biology resources. Worley said one of the center’s specialties involves research for hops used to create craft beer, along with berries and wine grapes since Ohio winemakers have a growing demand.
    • John Carey, chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents and former state representative and state senator for the local area, who offered some insight into the state of higher education today. Carey said he believes higher education has made the state “more prosperous,” but that more work needs to be done to let people know about job opportunities available in Ohio.
    • Chris Manegold, CEO of the Economic Development Alliance of Southern Ohio, who offered an update on a new economic development group made up of four counties seeking to attract companies looking to do business in this part of the state. The Joint Economic Development Initative of Southern Ohio was rolled out three weeks ago and already has received national attention, according to Manegold, who said consultants have contacted him seeking to get a marketing program established. The group includes economic development officials from Jackson, Pike, Ross and Scioto counties and has received a $126,000 boost from the Fluor-B&W Portsmouth Community Commitment Fund through a grant to begin its efforts.

  2. Harper Government helps local businesses and employees affected by floods through Work-Sharing, (7/7 late pickup) news.gc.ca via RayBoughen.ca
    HIGH RIVER, Sask., Canada - The Honourable Ted Menzies, Member of Parliament for Macleod and Minister of State (Finance), on behalf of the Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, announced that the Harper Government has approved the use of special measures under the Work-Sharing program to assist employers and workers temporarily affected by the flooding in Alberta and Manitoba. Over 1 700 workers at Cargill Limited will benefit from Work-Sharing as the company restarts operations following the unprecedented floods.
    “Our Government remains committed to supporting hardworking Canadians and businesses alike,” said Minister Menzies. “By easing access to the Work-Sharing program, we are helping avoid unnecessary layoffs and additional hardship for people already impacted by this catastrophe.”
    Work-Sharing is designed to help companies facing a temporary downturn in business avoid layoffs by offering Employment Insurance Part I income support to workers willing to work a reduced work week while their company recovers.

    Employers like Cargill Limited that are located in communities where a state of emergency has been declared and that are experiencing a temporary shortage of work due to the flooding may benefit from these measures, which involve waiving certain program criteria to enter into an agreement. Eligible employers in affected areas have until September 27, 2013, to apply for an agreement involving these special measures.
    For more information, please contact your local Service Canada Centre. Further information on Work-Sharing can be found at www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/work_sharing/index.shtml.
    This news release is available in alternative formats on request.
    For further information (media only):
    Jan O'Driscoll
    Press Secretary
    Office of Minister Finley
    Media Relations Office
    Human Resources and Skills Development Canada

7/17/2013 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from today will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. 74% of small business will fire wprkers [sic, text says reduce hiring], cut hours under Obamacare, Secrets via Codewit Global Network via codewit.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Despite the administration's controversial decision to delay forcing companies to join Obamacare for a year, three-quarters of small businesses are still making plans to duck the costly law by firing workers [sic, quote says reduce hiring], reducing hours of full-time staff, or shift many to part-time [same thing?], according to a sobering survey released by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
    "Small businesses expect the requirement to negatively impact their employees. Twenty-seven percent say they will cut hours to reduce full time employees, 24 percent will reduce hiring [contradicted by next clause], and 23 percent plan to replace full time employees with part-time workers [which would involve increased hiring] to avoid triggering the mandate," said the Chamber business survey provided to Secrets.
    [A quick google search turns up zero info on this "Secrets" so it may be total scamma-damma dingdong amplified by credibility-challenged reporter "Paul Bedard".]
    Under Obamacare, just 30 hours — not the nationally recognized 40 hours — is considered full-time. Companies with 50 full-time workers or more are required to provide health care, or pay a fine.
    The administration recently decided to wait a year before businesses had to comply, but many are trying to get ready anyway. The president did not delay the mandate that Americans must have health insurance or pay a fine, however.
    The Chamber's second quarter small business survey found that just 30 percent are ready for the law and even understand what is required.
    Dealing with Obamacare is the biggest worry of small businesses and comes as they continue to see a sluggish economy which has already put a brake on their hiring. Just 17 percent reported adding employees in the past two years. And only one-in-five small business owners believe that they will add employees in the next two years.
    The Chamber added that "nearly one-in-four employers say the health care bill is their biggest obstacle to hiring more employees."
    Other key findings from the Chamber survey:
    — 77 percent continue to think the U.S. economy is on the wrong track. However, small businesses are more optimistic about their local economy and individual business.
    — The majority (61 percent) of small businesses do not have plans to hire next year.
    — Concerns about regulation have increased significantly from 35 percent last quarter to 42 percent now.
    Small businesses are looking for leadership on issues that will remove barriers and encourage growth.
    — 88 percent of all small businesses support addressing entitlement spending to resolve America's growing financial challenges and escalating debt.
    — 83 percent support congressional efforts to reform the tax code — with the majority focusing on making it less complex.
    — 81 percent of small businesses surveyed believe the immigration system is broken and needs to be reformed.
    — In contrast to the president's recent speech pushing new energy regulations, 90 percent of small businesses support easing EPA regulations and opening up more federal lands for drilling.
    Methodology/The Q2 U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Outlook Survey was conducted online between June 21 - July 8 by Harris Interactive among 1,304 Small Business Executives (defined as executive level position in a company with fewer than 500 employees and annual revenue less than $25 M).

  2. Castle Season 6 Production Delayed Amidst Nathan Fillion's Feud With ABC, by Tierney Bricker, TV Scoop via E! Online via Eonline.com
    LOS ANGELES, Calif., USA - The Castle has been breached.
    Production on the ABC hit series' upcoming sixth season was delayed last week due to star Nathan Fillion's feud with ABC Studios, sources confirm to E! News. Fillion failed to show up to work on Friday, July 12, amidst contract disputes as he is pushing for a four-day workweek. Deadline first repored [sic] the news of Fillion's no-show.
    A rep for ABC tells us Fillion was on set Tuesday and was scheduled to be there, with a source confirming production is moving forward.
    While our sources spill that ABC and the show's producers want to keep Fillion happy, it's hard for production to move to a four-day work week as he is in almost every scene.
    Fillion tweeted from Castle's set on Thursday, July 11, but was noticably Twitter silent on the following day. The actor, who recently starred in Joss Whedon's film Much Ado About Nothing, posted a photo of himself and guest star Lisa Edelstein from the set on Thursday, saying, "Sitting with @lisaedelstein discussing twitter. Is she a doll? Yes, yes she is."
    When asked by a fan if he was happy to be back with the Castle family, Fillion posted a photo of crew members, saying, "Wouldn't you be?"
    Castle returns for its sixth season on Monday, Sept. 23.

  3. Average Daily Work Hours Shortened Compared to 5 Years Ago, KoreaITtimes.com (press release)
    SEOUL, S.Korea - The average daily work hours of salaried employees has been shortened by 40 minutes compared to five years ago. Korean job portal Job Korea conducted a survey with 1,082 salaried office workers during the period from July 3 to 9 with respect to their average daily work hours.
    The survey showed that their daily work hours averaged at 9 hours and 26 minutes, about 40 minutes shorter than five years ago when the average daily work hours stood at 10 hours and 6 minutes. This, however, is still longer than the legal work hours of 8 hours.

    [And will remain so for any and every economy until it institutes a dynamic workday/workweek that adjusts as low as necessary to restore and maintain a condition of maximum domestic consumer spending that can only be achieved by full employment.]
    By corporate size, the work hours at large companies stood at 9 hours and 40 minutes a day, longer than small- and medium-sized companies' 9 hours and 29 minutes, state-run enterprises' 8 hours and 53 minutes, and foreign-invested companies' 8 hours and 46 minutes.
    By work type, R&D workers turned out to have the longest daily work hours of 10 hours and 29 minutes, followed by production and technical workers (9:49), marketing and sales (8:25), designers (9:24), finance and accounting (9:15), IT (8:50), advertising and PR (8:42) and planning (8:18).

  4. All worked up, by Samuel Lai via Karen Shunqi Lin, Time Out Hong Kong via timeout.com.hk
    [Will some of you shorter-hoursers research these reporters' email addresses and send them "attaboys"?! - I sense they're doing a great job in a tough environment here (tho' I personally am one update behind and in a heatwave in Boston right now) - PH3]
    HONG KONG, HKSAR, China - A government committee has been set up to look into limiting Hongkongers’ working hours – but it’s facing stronger opposition from the business sector every day. Samuel Lai works overtime to weigh up the argument
    Economist John Keynes estimated, in the 1930s, that his grandchildren would work no more than 15 hours a week. British philosopher Bertrand Russell once suggested that people could work for four hours a day and devote the rest of their time to leisure due to our ‘modern methods of production’. But – unless you’re super-rich or super-lucky – these great thinkers were way off the mark. If they visited Hong Kong tomorrow, they’d realise just how overly optimistic they’d been. Welcome to one of the world’s hardest working cities, where sleep is a luxury and stress is the norm.
    But all this could soon change, if a new government committee finds that there needs to be a cap on working hours in the city – and then the authority brings in such legislation.
    In April, the three-year Standard Working Hours Committee was set up to investigate. And if it recommends a limit – and that limit is imposed – then people like Chi-keung Lee, a chef at a Chinese restaurant in Tsuen Wan, would actually be able to live a normal, healthy life. “My whole life is basically: wake up, go to work, finish work, go home, eat a bit, sleep and then repeat the same cycle the next day,” he says. “When I get home, my son is already in bed. I have no time for family.”
    One out of every 10 employees in Hong Kong, like Lee, has to work more than 60 hours a week to make ends meet, according to a government report on working hours, published last year. And a survey conducted last month by the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions found that more than 40 percent of food industry workers who were interviewed spend less than 15 minutes with their children every day due to employment commitments. “Workers shouldn’t be slaves to work,” says Man-hon Poon, Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions spokesman. “The long working hours are depriving Hongkongers of some very precious things: family life, health and rest.”
    The conventional nine-to-five working hours in Hong Kong have become something of an urban myth for many. Last year’s government report into working hours found that full-time employees work, on average, 49 hours per week – significantly higher than the 40-hour working week suggested by the International Labour Organisation. In fact, Hong Kong clocked in at fifth in terms of longest working hours over a year among 72 countries, according to the 2012 Price and Earnings Report by UBS. As Hong Kong University’s social sciences professor, Cho-bun Leung, who sits on the new government committee, puts it: “The problem of long working hours in Hong Kong is severe.”
    It’s statistics like these that have driven the government to begin to investigate setting a standard working hours policy for Hong Kong – indeed, something labour unions have wanted for years. But some have concerns over the committee’s lengthy term. “Why does it have to be three years?” questions Poon. “The Legislative Council’s present term would end by then.” However, the government itself is treating the exercise as a fact finding mission at the moment. “The administration is keeping an open mind on whether we should eventually legislate,” says a government spokesman.
    Under the committee’s plans, there is to be a public consultation into whether legislation to cap the working hours should eventually be implemented – but it hasn’t yet begun and it isn’t clear as to when it will. For the moment, it’s a case of waiting to see what the committee comes up with over the coming weeks.
    Workers across the city are, for obvious reasons, hoping that a limit will be imposed sooner rather than later. However, not everyone is happy. Businesses across town could be set to lose millions of dollars if caps are enforced. The opposition to any legislation from companies of all sizes is getting stronger all the time. Over the past few weeks, the Hong Kong Business Community Joint Conference, a coalition of more than 50 business associations, has declared its opposition to any law imposed. Aaron Shum, conference spokesman, stresses that legislation would limit business adaptability and flexibility – and might lead to waves of small and medium–sized business closures. “The last financial meltdown already slammed us to the ground,” he says. “We’d be, in fact, under the ground if there is a working hours regulation in place when the next economic downturn hits.” Hong Kong might also ‘lose its competitive edge’, he adds.
    Shum is certainly not alone in his view. In November last year, seven of Hong Kong’s largest business chambers – including the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce and the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce – sent a joint letter to the government’s Labour and Welfare Bureau, claiming that ‘the far-reaching implications of regulating standard working hours have the potential to rock the fundamentals which have underlined Hong Kong’s success’.
    Another concern from the business sector is that it’s difficult to set an appropriate level of working hours which is applicable across different industries. “Teachers during exam periods might have to correct papers at home,” says Shum. “Executives need to go on business trips. How are we going to calculate those working hours?”
    But Poon thinks these are all empty threats. “Hong Kong ranks third in the World Competitiveness Ranking 2013, behind the United States and Switzerland,” he says. “Both of those countries have a working hours limit.” Poon adds that more than 100 countries around the globe have some form of cap in place – even Singapore and South Korea. “Have the economies of all these countries been wrecked by a standard working hours legislation?” he asks.
    Long working hours can have disastrous implications, claim experts. Doctors have long complained that overworking could lead to medical errors and patient negligence. There have been instances of containers falling off operating cranes in Kwai Chung Harbour as workers have allegedly been too tired during their long shifts. In March, a taxi driver allegedly dozed off as he was at the wheel, causing a traffic accident, where seven were injured. “Similar traffic accidents could be avoided with a working hour limit,” says Poon. “In Europe, there are strict regulations that limit the daily driving period to nine hours.”
    Professor Leung maintains there’s no need to fear this legislation, should the task force come out in favour of it. “Most countries have their own criteria, according to their unique conditions,” he says. “Certain employees can be exempt from a working hours limit. Some companies make exemptions by salary level, others by occupation or job responsibility. There can still be many arrangements to make it flexible.”
    Another major issue at stake is that many employees in Hong Kong don’t get overtime pay. Last year’s government report points out that 23.4 percent of all workers did overtime work but nearly half of them – around 316,400 employees – were paid nothing for the extra hours. “It’s like eating at a restaurant without paying the bill,” says Poon. “If a worker has to work more than the required hours, then he should be paid for the extra time involved. It’s only fair.”
    Shum, however, in contrast, thinks that this issue should be regulated by the market mechanism. “No-one works overtime for nothing,” he says. “There are bound to be bonuses or salary increases. Employees who are dissatisfied can quit and change jobs. That’s what’s great about a free market.” In response, though, Poon says: “Often the workers do not have a choice. The entire industry is like this. Only legislation could regulate overtime pay.”
    The new committee, which next meets on July 24, is aiming to be fair and constructive in its work. And it could bring about huge change for an extremely hard working city. “The standard working hours debate is indeed a controversial one,” says Professor Leung. “The decision on whether we ought to have legislation should be based on solid statistics and hard evidence. Let’s hope we find something to agree on. I’m prudently optimistic on eventually reaching a consensus.”
    Standard working hours: how other countries do it
    South Korea: 40 hours/week
    If you work in South Korea, you needn’t toil for more than 40 hours every week. Sounds like a dream for most Hongkongers! The country introduced the mandatory cap for firms with more than 1,000 employees in 2004 – and then gradually expanded it to encompass companies with fewer workers over the following years, eventually reaching a full inclusion for all in July 2011. The cautious approach was designed to reduce the negative impact on small and medium-sized businesses. There are 12 industries, including insurance, finance and media, who are exempt from the regulation.
    France: 35 hours/week
    The French adopted the 35-hour working week in 2000. The regulation was made in the hope that the country’s soaring unemployment rates would be reduced and a better division of labour would be attained, as some of the nation’s employees were unemployed while others worked pretty savage long hours. However, it was not without its critics. Jean-Marc Ayrault, France’s Prime Minister, said last year that the regulation had ‘caused difficulties’ for small businesses. There is now a push for the regulation to be relaxed to help some companies survive.
    The USA: 40 hours/week
    The US Fair Labour Standards Act is a federal statute that provides a comprehensive protection net for American workers. It includes both a national minimum wage and a working hour regulation. Under the act, employees who work more than 40 hours a week must receive one-and-a-half times their regular rates of pay as overtime. Executives, professionals and sales staff are generally not covered by the law.
    Singapore: 44 hours/week
    Under Singapore’s Employment Act, the cap on working hours is 44 hours a week. Employees get one-and-a-half times their regular rate of pay for overtime. Employers who want their staff to work for more than 12 hours (a maximum 14 hours) a day are required to apply for overtime exemption after obtaining the employee’s consent in writing.
    China: 44 hours/week
    Since 1995, the Mainland has had a 44-hour working week in place, with a 150 percent rate applying to hours worked beyond that (it’s what the legislation dictates – who knows how many firms stick to it…). If the employer wants you to work overtime, though, he or she must first consult your trade union.

7/16/2013 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from today will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Work-Sharing: A Possible Option During the Flood Recovery Period, (7/11 late pickup) GatewayGazette.ca [Here's a summary of the Canadian worksharing programme, which in contrast to the state-by-state U.S. version, is federal, not province-by-province -]
    CALGARY, Alta., Canada - Some information for those businesses and their employees struggling with the recent flood:
    Work-Sharing is an adjustment program designed to help employers and employees avoid temporary layoffs when there is a reduction in the normal level of business activity that is beyond the control of the employer.
    The measure provides income support to employees eligible for Employment Insurance benefits who work a temporarily reduced work week while their employer recovers. Work-Sharing agreements must be agreed upon by both employee and employer representatives, and approved by Service Canada.
    Work-Sharing is about:
    • helping employers retain skilled employees and avoid the costly process of recruiting and training new employees when business returns to normal levels; and
    • helping employees maintain their skills and job by supplementing their wages with Employment Insurance benefits for the days they are not working.
    • A Funding site is available with additional Work-Sharing information for employers to review. http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/work_sharing/index.shtml
    Eligibility Criteria
    Eligible employers must:
    • be a publicly-held company, a private business or a not-for-profit organization;
    • have been in year-round business in Canada for at least two years;
    • demonstrate a significant (minimum 10%) and current decrease of the normal business activity;
    • demonstrate that the work shortage is temporary and beyond their control;
    • submit and implement a recovery plan designed to return the Work-Sharing unit(s) to normal working hours by the end of the Work-Sharing agreement;
    • not be undergoing a labour dispute; and,
    • have the agreement of the union (if applicable) and employees.
    Eligible employees must:
    • be “core staff” (year-round permanent full-time or part-time employees who are required to carry out the day-to-day functions of the business);
    • be eligible to receive regular Employment Insurance benefits; and,
    • agree to a reduction of their normal working hours in order to share the available work.
    • A minimum of two employees is required for a Work-Sharing agreement.
    The initial duration of a Work-Sharing agreement must be between a minimum of 6 consecutive weeks and a maximum of 26 consecutive weeks. Employers may request an extension of up to 12 weeks (for a total duration of 38 weeks). Extensions are not automatic. All requests for an extension must be assessed and approved by Service Canada.
    Work Reduction
    Work-Sharing agreements must include a reduction in work activity of the employees’ regular work schedule of a minimum of 10% (one half day).
    How to apply for Work-Sharing
    • Employers must complete and submit the Application for a Work-Sharing Agreement,
    • Attachment A (available in PDF and Excel format), and
    • Recovery plan template (available in HTML and Word formats).
    • An applicant guide is available
    For more information
    • Visit the Work-sharing website: http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/work_sharing/index.shtml
    Direct Contact Information:
    Service Canada –
    Colleen Rockliffe (Team Leader)
    250-762-3018 local 2323
    1-888-336-4933 local 2323

  2. Primary care doctors need 35 hour work weeks, kevinMD.com
    BERKELEY, Calif., USA - Jeff Goldsmith recently opined on why practice redesign isn’t going to solve the primary care shortage. In the post, Goldsmith explains why a proposed model of high-volume primary care practice — having docs see even more patients per day, and grouping them in pods — is unlikely to be accepted by either tomorrow’s doctors or tomorrow’s boomer patients. He points out that we are replacing a generation of workaholic boomer PCPs with “Gen Y physicians with a revealed preference for 35-hour work weeks.” (Guilty as charged.) Goldsmith ends by predicting a “horrendous shortfall” of front-line clinicians in the next decade.
    Now, not everyone believes that a shortfall of PCPs is a serious problem.
    However, if you believe, as I do, that the most pressing health services problems to solve pertain to Medicare, then a shortfall of PCPs is a very serious problem indeed.
    So serious that maybe it’s time to consider the unthinkable: encouraging clinicians to become Medicare PCPs by aligning the job with a 35 hour work week.

    I can already hear all clinicians and readers older than myself harrumphing, but bear with me and let’s see if I can make a persuasive case for this.
    The crisis we face
    First, consider the situation.
    The most pressing and urgent health services research problem society must solve is how to restructure healthcare such that we can provide compassionate, effective healthcare to an expanding Medicare population, at a cost the nation can sustain.
    This is a problem with very high human stakes at hand. As we know, most older adults end up undergoing considerable health-related suffering at some point, with family caregivers often being affected as well. Much of this is due to the tolls of advancing chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, COPD, arthritis, dementia. And a fair part of the suffering is inflicted by the healthcare system itself, which remains ironically ill-suited to provide patient-centered care to those medically complex older adults – and their caregivers — who use the system the most.
    Needless to say, the financial stakes are high as well, with projected Medicare expenditures usually cited as the number one budget buster threatening the nation’s financial stability over the next 50 years.
    A necessary part of the solution
    Next, consider an essential component to compassionately and effectively meeting the healthcare needs of the Medicare population:
    Medicare beneficiaries – and their family caregivers – must be partnered with good PCPs who can focus on person-centered care, and can collaborate with them as they navigate the many health challenges of late life.
    Especially once they are suffering from multiple chronic illnesses and/or disability, seniors – and their families — need a stable relationship with a clinician who can fulfill the role of trusted consultant and advisor as they go through their extended medical journey. Healthcare for older adults almost always becomes complex and stressful for seniors and their families. Even educated and activated patients who are willing and able to direct their own care will need a generalist who can maintain a longitudinal health dialogue with them, and who can help them sort through complicated medical situations as they arise.
    Now, much as been made of teams in primary care, and the importance of moving past our historic model of PCP as the person who knows it all, and does it all. This change is long-overdue, and I’m thrilled to see it coming. When properly implemented, I’m quite sure that team-based care will help older adults obtain the comprehensive primary care services they need and want.
    But even with excellent team-based care, I believe most older adults will want and need a PCP to function as their high-level medical strategy consultant and collaborator.
    Common challenges for PCPs of older adults
    For instance, consider the kinds of issues I routinely addressed as a general internist for older adults:
    • Following up on 6+ chronic conditions and 12+ medications, in an integrated whole-person fashion. Good luck outsourcing this to disease management.
    • Following-up on the work of multiple specialists, many of whom hadn’t explained their thinking to the patient and family. Yes these specialists should get better at explaining their thinking. No, they will probably not resolve the conflicts between their recommendations and some other specialist’s recommendations.
    • Resolving the conflicts inherent in attempting to follow clinical practice guidelines in patients with multiple conditions. For a fun read on how elderly patients routinely generate a gazillion conflicting clinical practice guidelines, read this JAMA article.
    • Adjusting care plans as a function of goals and what seems feasible for the patient. It is pointless to recommend chronic disease management per best practices if it doesn’t seem feasible to the patient and family. Also, many disease management approaches must be modified in the face of conditions such as dementia, cancer, advanced COPD, etc. I’ve spent my fair share of time taking diabetics with mild dementia off sliding scale insulin regimens. (Hello endocrinologists, please stop recommending labor-intensive blood sugar management.)
    • Explaining why certain commonly requested interventions – antibiotics, diagnostic tests, specialty consults – might not be helpful. People have questions. Answering questions takes time and attentiveness. It’s obviously much easier to rely on the historic approach of doctors and just tell people what to do, but that’s not good care.
    • Helping patients and families prioritize and identify a few key health issues to work on at any given moment. Many older patients have 15 items on their problem list. Prioritizing is key. (Not losing track of all the issues is hard though.)
    • Helping patients and families evaluate the likely benefits and burdens of possible medical approaches. Should that lung nodule be biopsied? Should knee replacement surgery be considered now, or still deferred? So many of the decisions we face have no clear right answer.
    • Helping patients and families cope with the uncertainties of the future. For instance, it’s impossible to predict how quickly someone with dementia will decline and become unable to live at home, but these issues are of grave concern to families and they need a clinician to talk to.
    • Addressing end of life planning. I’ve found this is often trickier in the outpatient setting than on an inpatient palliative care service.
    • Weighing in on family conflicts. I’ve had to watch patients and spouses squabble in the visit over what the patient is and isn’t able to do. Similarly, adult children worried about a parent will call and ask for me to intervene. (Stop her from driving! Make him take his pills!)
    I must say that I love doing the work above. It’s deeply satisfying to help patients make sense of all that is medically happening to them, and to support them as they cope with their health challenges. But it’s also, as you can imagine, difficult work that is cognitively and emotionally demanding. The pressure of 15-20 minute visits makes things harder than they should be, but even if we went to 30-45 minute visits, the work will remain fundamentally intense and somewhat taxing for the provider.
    Can anyone seriously argue that we won’t need PCPs to do the work above for Medicare beneficiaries over the next 20 years? (Plus we’ll need them do manage dementia, falls, and all the other geriatric problems too.) Ok. Then if we agree that the work above is essential to the wellbeing of millions of older adults, and is a crucial component to providing overall cost-effective healthcare to the Medicare population, we must get serious about how we can recruit and keep clinicians as Medicare PCPs.
    The benefits of a 35 hour work week
    If the work of Medicare PCP could be organized so that it fit into a 35 hour work week, we’d see the following benefits:
    • More clinicians would be willing to do, or stay, in the job. Let’s face it, we have ample evidence that work-life balance is important to the younger generation of physicians, especially those with young children. As much as this dismays the older generation of physicians, this trend seems to be here to stay, so perhaps we should learn to work with it. Debt relief – the usual hope for attracting people to primary care – is never going to be enough on its own.
    • PCPs would do the job much better. Providing compassionate, comprehensive person-centered care to medically complex patients demands cognitive and emotional energy. The work of Daniel Kahneman and others has shown that people do get cognitively depleted by work which requires complex decision-making. (Once depleted, they begin seriously avoiding cognitive and emotional challenges.)
    Given that we are asking PCPs to actively engage with patients and families, embrace shared-decision making, adapt to technological changes, and make a whole host of behavior changes, making sure that clinicians in this role aren’t burnt out by long working hours just makes sense
    Summing it up
    The impending shortage of PCPs constitutes a national emergency. In order to provide the growing Medicare population with compassionate, effective healthcare at a sustainable cost, seniors will need stable relationships with PCPs who can function as their strategic medical consultants, collaborate in helping to meet healthcare goals, and provide emotional support.
    Doing this type of PCP work can be extremely rewarding, but it’s also cognitively and emotionally demanding.
    Structuring the job of Medicare PCPs into a 35 hour work week would probably attract more clinicians to the job. It would also help PCPs maintain the cognitive and emotional resources needed to do the job consistently well, and could reduce burnout in this group of key clinicians.
    Leslie Kernisan is an internal medicine physician and geriatrician who blogs at GeriTech.

7/14-15/2013 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from today will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Mandate delay muddles redefining of workweek...a 'full time' headache for employers, by Paige Winfield Cunningham, 7/14 Politico.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Restaurants and other employers essentially got an extra year to push for Obamacare changes when the administration delayed the law’s employer mandate. But it isn’t as good as it sounds.
    The decision to delay the mandate until 2015 left two big sticky issues standing in the way for employers: a lowered sense of urgency in Congress to enact the changes they want and sharp divisions among House Republicans over how to approach the law.
    The biggest concern for employers is the health law’s definition of full time.
    The law defines coverage-eligible, full-time workers as those clocking 30 hours per week. But many businesses are hoping to get that raised to 40 hours, the more traditional definition of full time.
    The Senate already approved that change in a nonbinding vote last spring, but it could be held up in the House by some conservative Republicans who won’t vote to improve Obamacare, short of repealing or defunding the entire law.
    “We have a good bloc of our members who will not vote to, what they call, ‘fix the law’ — they want to repeal the law,” Pennsylvania Rep. Joe Pitts, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee, told POLITICO. “I don’t think [leadership has] the votes.”
    Employer groups say that while they’re happy for a yearlong reprieve from the law’s reporting requirements and mandate, they view it as a Catch-22: All their complaints about the law remain and Congress can more easily put the issues on the back burner.
    “It took some of the wind out of our sails by delaying [the employer mandate],” said Matt Haller, vice president of the International Franchise Association. “Our focus right now is on re-creating that sense of urgency.”
    Scott DeFife, a lobbyist for the National Restaurant Association, said the delay “cuts both ways.”
    “Some people are going to react to what the administration did by saying, ‘We don’t have to act on it right away,’” he said. “We have more time to make our case to build support for our legislative ideas. At the same time, some people are going to get temporarily distracted.”
    The employer mandate requires companies with more that 50 full-time workers to offer those employees affordable health coverage, with full time meaning 30 hours a week.
    Employers have been furiously lobbying Congress to change that to 40 hours, attracting bipartisan attention on the Hill, including from Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, who has said he’s hearing from constituents about the issue but hasn’t yet backed legislation. Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) has co-sponsored a bill to change the definition, and more than 120 House Republicans have signed on to legislation introduced by Rep. Todd Young (R-Ind.).
    Congress has passed — and President Barack Obama has signed — legislation repealing or defunding parts of the law seven times, including those as part of larger spending deals.
    But in the current climate, it’s unclear whether GOP House leaders will get the 218 votes they’d need to pass legislation changing the workweek definition. Their attempt earlier this year to shift funds in the law toward high-risk pools failed when conservatives revolted, partly because of fears they’d appear to be propping up the law. That legislation was sponsored by Pitts.
    “We don’t have 218 members to do very much,” Pitts said. “You saw what I tried on pre-existing conditions. I couldn’t get to 218, so that’s what we’re dealing with.”
    Paige Winfield Cunningham (pcunningham@politico.com | @pw_cunningham)

  2. Bishops oppose 4-day workweek, (7/12 late pickup) 7/15 CBCPNews via VoxBikol.com
    MANILA, Philippines — At least two Catholic bishops thumbed down a proposed four-day workweek to decongest roads in Metro Manila.
    Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo said the more that he would oppose the proposal if it means “no work, no pay.”
    ‘I would not favor it. Many need to work everyday to earn a living for their families,” Lagdameo said.
    Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes said implementing such policy is bad for the Philippine economy.
    “It does not solve the traffic problem. The productivity of the nation will be lessened instead,” he said.
    Lawyer Romulo Macalintal earlier proposed a four-day workweek to ease the traffic congestion in Metro Manila.
    Malacañang also rejected the idea because it might affect the country’s employment and economic growth.

7/13/2013 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from today will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Furlough Friday. It's here to stay, by Leada Gore lgore@al.com, blog.al.com
    HUNTSVILLE, Alabam., USA - The first indication things weren't going well this morning was a text from my husband:
    "Glad I took Rideout Road."
    It was quickly followed by a second one detailing how one of his coworkers had been stuck in traffic for over an hour in an effort to make it downtown.
    Welcome to Furlough Friday. Or, as it could be called, The New Reality.
    [With employment and markets maintained and no job losses.]
    The furloughs of more than 15,500 civilian Department of Defense workers began Monday, and Huntsville saw the effects in the long lines of snaking traffic trying to make its way through reduced lanes only to land at gates manned with fewer guards. Monday wasn't so bad, Tuesday was OK, Wednesday was horrible, Thursday gave some reason for hope and then, there was Friday.
    Gridlock. Two closed gates. Reduced staffing at all the others. Some drivers waiting more than an hour to get into Gate 9.
    Imagine how bad it would have been if the thousands of workers who weren't on the job today had been there. There would probably still be people waiting to go through the checkpoints.
    Even for those of us who don't have to navigate the traffic every morning, Furlough Friday had its effects. The first place they showed up for me was the sound of an answering machine on the other end of the line.
    Reporting on a military installation is not like covering a city or town. Access to military installations is closed and you have to go through set lines of communications to get the info you want. It is a rare occasion (read never) when you call a commander and ask them a question. Instead, you go through the chain of command, which, for me, starts with the individual Public Affairs Offices.
    On Friday, most of the public affairs people were on furlough. So, instead of talking to a person, I got an answering machine and no response to emails. Furloughed employees aren't allowed to work on their days off, so even if they'd wanted to respond from home, it's not allowed.
    While it's an inconvenience for me, it's just one small example of what furlough means. It means unanswered calls and no emails. It means a general slowdown for all sorts of work that takes place at Redstone Arsenal. It means new people assigned to Redstone will wait longer for their identification badges. It means those seeking services from the Army Substance Abuse Program office will have to wait until Monday. It means those working with the Equal Employment Opportunity Office will find their requests delayed one more day.
    This is the logic of sequestration.
    Army Aviation and Missile Life Cycle Management Command Commander Major Gen. Lynn Collyar said it best Thursday when speaking to a crowd gathered at Bob Jones Auditorium for a change of command ceremony. He said the traffic lines at the gates were the first real taste of sequestration many people have.
    It's not the grounded planes or the docked ships. It's not the cutbacks to military construction or the ever-growing impact on troop readiness. For most, it's not even the furlough of civilian workers who are faced with a 20 percent cut in pay over the next three months.
    For the majority of people in Huntsville this week, sequestration means long lines of traffic and headaches that aren't going away anytime soon.
    So, welcome to Furlough Friday. It's here to stay.

  2. Abstract: Macroeconomic Implications of the German Short-time Work Policy during the Great Recession, by Alexander Herzog-Stein & Gustav A. Horn & Ulrike Stein, onlinelibrary.wiley.com
    DURHAM, U.K. - Despite a sharp fall in GDP, German employment in terms of employees stayed remarkably robust during the Great Recession.
    At the same time, hours worked per employee declined significantly.
    This is seen as the core of the German employment ‘miracle’.
    A general discussion arose about the reasons behind this astonishing labour market performance and the role of short-time work (STW) as a kind of exportable panacea.
    In this article we look at the macroeconomic implications of STW and other measures of internal flexibility, in particular focusing on the quantification of safeguarded jobs during the crisis.
    We find that STW played an important role and helped to safeguard employment in Germany during the Great Recession.

    However, we show that other measures of internal flexibility (working time accounts, contractual arrangements on working time reductions, reduction of overtime) were equally[?] important.
    Together with STW these instruments saved around 1 million jobs.
    To explain and understand the German success story, the features of the German core model – with a strong employer–employee relationship of mutual trust, strong employment protection, traditional standard working contracts and strong works councils at the firm level – are of key importance.

7/12/2013 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from today will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Ohio latest to adopt shared-work program designed to reduce layoffs, by Jeff Bell, Business First of Columbus via bizjournals.com
    COLUMBUS, Ohio, USA - State Rep. Mike Duffey, R-Worthington, has high hopes for a new work-sharing program that he believes will help employers and workers during tough business times.
    Gov. John Kasich signed into law House Bill 37 on Thursday, paving the way for the launch of the SharedWork Ohio program. It gives employers the ability to reduce the number of hours worked by employees in lieu of layoffs, and employees can collect federally funded unemployment benefits to help cover the loss of the hours.
    “I’m pretty excited about it,” Duffey told me, saying Ohio employers, workers and the state’s unemployment trust fund will benefit from the program.
    As I have reported, Duffey has been pushing for adoption of a shared-work bill for about two years. He got it done this time along with Rep. Gary Scherer,R-Circleville, the bill’s cosponsor in the House, and Republicans Bob Peterson of Washington Court House and Frank LaRose of Copley Township who steered it through the Senate.
    Ohio’s becomes [sic] the 26th state to adopt a work-sharing program, but Duffey said Ohio’s version contains a benefit for employers not available in other states. It provides that employers opting for the shared-work approach can avoid a major increase in their unemployment insurances [sic] premium rates.
    Here is how Duffey explained it to me: “Basically Ohio employers will have the choice between a traditional layoff where they (gradually) pay 100 percent of the layoff’s resulting expenses through higher unemployment taxes, or a shared-work program where they pay just 5 percent of the layoff’s resulting unemployment expenses.”
    He feels that going the shared-work route will be a pretty easy decision for employers needing to cut payroll but wanting to retain skilled workers. The only caveat is they must maintain retirement and health-care benefits for workers whose hours are cut and collect unemployment benefits.
    The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services will administer and promote the program. The state can draw on $3.7 million in federal funds to cover startup costs, and the feds will also pick up nearly all of the tab for the unemployment benefits through August 2015.
    Duffey said he has seen statistics that show only about 1 percent to 5 percent of employers in other states chose shared work over traditional layoffs, but he thinks Ohio’s rate can be much higher if SharedWork Ohio is marketed properly.
    “This is a new program and new way of doing business,” he told me. “Employers have to be educated about it.”
    Jeff Bell covers public policy, utilities, energy and the business of sports for Business First.

  2. Longer Work Hours Seems To Equate With Lower Pay, Gender Gap - As Work Hours Mount, So Might The Gender Pay Gap - For women, flexibility is key and law firms are beginning to bend, so long as work is done, by Vivia Chen, National Law Journal via Daily Report (registration) via dailyreportonline.com
    ATLANTA, Ga., USA - An annoying fact that might explain (at least in part) the gender gap: Men logged far more hours than women at work. Joan Williams, a professor at University of California Hastings College of the Law, writes in the Harvard Business Review blog:
    "How many employed American mothers work more than 50 hours a week? Go on, guess. I've been asking lots of people that question lately. Most guess around 50 percent.
    "The truth is 9 percent."
    In contrast, fathers who work more than 50 hours a week stand at 29 percent. (For parents with at least a college degree, 37 percent of fathers vs. 14 percent of mothers worked 50 hours or more per week.) This gap in hours "is a key reason why the percentage of women in top jobs has stalled at about 14 percent, a number that has barely budged in the past decade," Williams wrote.
    Why the sizable gap? Williams suggests that the American workplace—particularly in the elite circles of law or finance—equates working long hours with virtue and masculinity. Work arrangements that offer more flexibility and controlled hours—the type of arrangement that women and an increasing number of men want—are disparaged.
    Progressively flexible
    How do women fit in this scheme? They don't. Women want to work; they just don't want to work insanely. What women also want/need is some control over their work—namely, in the form of flexibility. But even flexibility—a hard-earned option—is increasingly under attack. Despite research that supports the business benefits of flexibility (increased efficiency, lower turnover, better morale), there's been a backlash. Yahoo Inc.'s elimination of off-site work is, of course, the most notable example.
    If it's any comfort, flexibility is one area where law firms tend to be somewhat progressive. I don't think most firms care where or how you bill these days—just as long as you get it done. That said, big law firms glorify those with the most billables.
    So where does this leave us? I'm afraid nowhere. Williams suggests that the value placed on the masculine model of working is entrenched in our belief system:
    "If institutions are serious about advancing women, they'll have to address the hours problem—that's the only way to get a critical mass of women poised for leadership. But we'll never address the hours problem until we open up a conversation about what drives it.
    "It's not productivity. It's not innovation. It's identity."
    [No it isn't, it's surplus or shortage - of you, especially in terms of your skills and who you know.]
    I don't know about you, but I'm not holding my breath that change is coming anytime soon. (I'm not sure Williams is that flexible on the identity issue , either. She basically says that women can't or won't put in the grueling hours that men do.)
    In the meantime, let me ask you this: Do you believe Big Law will ever become saner? Is it the male work culture that dictates the hours—or is the job just inherently crazy?
    Vivia Chen is chief blogger for The Careerist. Updates appear daily at thecareerist.typepad.com. This article first appeared in The National Law Journal, a Daily Report affiliate.

7/11/2013 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from today will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Shorttime work: Does it save jobs, by Almut Balleer & Britta Gehrke & Wolfgang Lechthaler & Christian Merkl, voxEU.org
    AACHEN, Germany - During the Great Recession, 25 of 33 OECD countries have used some version of short-time work, a form of publicly subsidised working-time reductions. This column argues that despite its popularity, knowledge of the macroeconomic effects of this measure is limited. Using Germany as a case study, it’s clear that the existence of a short-time work system stabilises the economy and reduces job losses by roughly 20% during a recession. However, short-time work is a lot less effective for Anglo-Saxon labour markets.
    Short-time work means that the government subsidises the reduction of the working time of an employee to prevent firing. Many countries allow a firm to use this instrument when the demand for its products is lower than its production potential. Since more firms face a shortfall of demand in recessions, there is a rule-based component of short-time work. This is similar to the income-tax system where the tax bill drops automatically with lower income (without modifying the tax code). In addition, policymakers facilitate the access to short-time work in recessions. Thus, there is also a discretionary component of short-time work. The equivalent in the tax system would be reductions of the tax rates in recessions.
    To quantify the effects of the rule-based and the discretionary component, we evaluate the case of Germany using its rich microeconomic and macroeconomic data together with a macroeconomic model of the labour market as a case study (Balleer et al. 2013) 1. Since all firms in Germany are subject to the same rules, we can use the cross-sectional dispersion of the use of short-time work and output over time to estimate the automatic reaction of short-time work to changes in output. We then use this result for two purposes:
    • First, to disentangle the rule-based and discretionary component of short-time work in the vector autoregression.
    • Second, to parameterise our macroeconomic model in order to run a counterfactual analysis of an economy with and without short-time work and, hence, to quantify the automatic stabilisation effects of short-time work.
    We are the first to make the distinction between the discretionary and rule-based component (for a pure discretionary analysis, see e.g. Faia et al. 2013) that turns out to be very important in our German case study.
    No effects on unemployment of discretionary short-time work policy
    Our time series estimations deliver surprising results (see Figure 1). Discretionary short-time work interventions do not deliver a statistically significant effect on unemployment. This suggests that policymakers’ actions to save additional jobs in recession seem to be completely ineffective in Germany. Interestingly, our labour-market model provides a rationale for this result. Firms that are on the margin between firing and not firing can already use short-time work due to the existence of the institution (i.e. the rule-based component). Since these firms already use short-time work they do not gain from easier access to short-time work. Easier access will induce additional firms to use short-time work, but these are firms that would not have fired a worker even without short-time work. In that way an extension of short-time work during a recession subsidises some additional firms, without any impact on firing.
    *Figure 1. Estimated [unbiassedly "estimated"??] impulse responses to a short-time workpolicy shock. Quarterly responses to a positive one standard deviation shock. Confidence bands are 90% bootstrapped bands. The structural vector autoregression is estimated with German data on GDP growth, short-time work as a percentage of employment and the unemployment rate from 1993Q1 to 2010Q4
    Strong automatic stabilisation of short-time work
    While our paper suggests that the benefits of discretionary policy interventions are limited, our model simulations document that short-time work is a very powerful economic stabiliser. German short-time work reduces unemployment fluctuations by 21% and output fluctuations by roughly 4% (see Table 1). This is very substantial given that the costs of short-time work account for just 0.03% of GDP on average. As a comparison: The income tax is about 10% of GDP and the literature estimates stabilisation effects to be in between 6% and 30% of GDP (see in’t Veld et al. 2012).
    Table 1. Automatic stabilisation effects, for details see Balleer et al. (2013)
    Stabiliization in %   Baseline f=2.4   Lower firing costs f=1.2   Lowest firing costs f=0
    Output   3.8   3.5   2.7
    Unemployment   21.2   13.1   6.5
    To obtain a better feeling for the magnitude of stabilisation, we simulate a Great Recession scenario in our model. We impose a macroeconomic shock such that it generates the increase of unemployment of 4.8 percentage points, i.e. the effect that could be expected with such a severe recession. Our counterfactual analysis predicts that the rule-based component of short-time work has saved 466,000 jobs in the Great Recession in Germany. Thus, short-time work was an important job-saver in the Great Recession, but can certainly not explain the entire German labour-market miracle (roughly 7% GDP drop without substantial employment losses).
    A further interesting aspect of our model analysis is that short-time work is a more effective stabiliser in countries where firing is more costly for a firm (compare Table 1). When it is very costly to fire workers, firms have a strong incentive to use the hours adjustment (subsidised by the short-time work system) instead of firing. This explains why our simulations suggest that short-time work stabilises employment fluctuations by only 6.5% if firing costs are zero, instead of by 21% as in our baseline. This is well in line with the observation that short-time work is used more in countries with substantial firing costs (Cahuc and Carcillo 2011), i.e. policymakers in these countries seem to be aware of the fact that this measure is more beneficial with their labour-market institutions. Due to additional institutional differences in the US, such as individual instead of collective bargaining, the stabilisation effects would even be smaller in the US economy than in the case with zero firing cost (but otherwise German institutions) case in Table 1 (for numbers and a discussion see Balleer et al. 2013).
    Does our analysis mean that policymakers can use short-time work only passively, by letting the constant rule-based component do its job? The answer is a clear ‘no’. However, if they want to use short-time work as a more active stabiliser, they should incorporate this into the rule set. Policymakers could for example decide ex ante that employer sided subsidies or the maximum duration of short-time work automatically increase in heavy recessions. If done so, firms’ will take this into account in their forward-looking hiring and firing decisions and short-time work may even stabilise beyond the effects described in our paper. However, we leave a detailed cost (or optimality) analysis of such countercyclical rule-based policies for future research.
    Authors' note: The authors would like to thank the Fritz Thyssen Stiftung for support of this research project.
    Balleer A, B Gehrke, W Lechthaler and C Merkl (2013), “Does Short-Time Work Save Jobs? A Business Cycle Analysis”, IZA Discussion Paper.
    Cahuc, P and S Carcillo (2011), “Is Short-Time Work a Good Method to Keep Unemployment Down?”, Nordic Economic Policy Review 1, 133-164.
    Faia, E, W Lechthaler, and C Merkl (2013), “Fiscal Stimulus and Labor Market Policies in Europe”, Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control 37, 483–499.
    In’t Veld, J, M Larch, and M Vandeweyer (2012), “Automatic Fiscal Stabilisers: What They Are and What They Do”, Open Economies Review, 1–17.

  2. Nationwide part-time work increasing, KLFY.com
    LAFAYETTE, La., USA - Nationwide, nearly 17 million people are only working part-time or temp jobs. Part-time employees generally work 35-hours or less a week. It seems full-time jobs are becoming harder and harder to find. Experts say it's a sign employers can't yet commit to long-run hires.
    Gregg Goutreaux with the Lafayette Economic Development Authority explains.
    "Actually, there's just not enough full-time jobs yet in the economy to supply the labor force," said Goutreaux. "And a lot of places around the country, people are taking part-time jobs and it's not really by choice."
    Goutreaux says despite that outlook, Lafayette seems to be bucking the trend.
    "From April to May of this year, we've created 800 new jobs," said Goutreaux." From last May to this May, we've grown around 1500 total."
    The number of temp jobs has jumped nearly 50% over the last four years. It's even trickled into unlikely sectors like healthcare and law. While pending healthcare laws may put another damper on future hires, Goutreaux says it's Acadiana's local industries keeping up with the job flow.
    "Oil and gas is the backbone of the regional economy. Medical is the backbone of the local economy. And manufacturing is the backbone of the oil and gas industry," said Goutreaux.

7/10/2013 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from today will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. World's shortest work weeks: 1 of 10, CNNMoney via money.cnn.com
    AMSTERDAM, Netherlands - Average hours per week: 29
    Average annual wages: $47,000
    The four-day workweek is nearly standard in the Netherlands, especially among working moms.
    About 86% of employed mothers worked 34 hours or less each week last year, according to Dutch government statistics. Among fathers, about 12% also worked a shortened workweek.
    Dutch laws promote a work-life balance and protect part-time workers. All workers there are entitled to fully paid vacation days, maternity and paternity leave. A law passed in 2000 also gives workers the right to reduce their hours to a part-time schedule, while keeping their job, hourly pay, health care and pro-rated benefits.
    Overall, the entire workforce averages around 29 hours a week -- the lowest of any industrialized nation, according to the OECD.

  2. Why the 40hour workweek is too long, by Jason Notte, (7/09 late pickup) MSN Money via money.msn.com
    NEW YORK, N.Y., USA - Still dreaming of a four-day workweek? In historical terms, you're dreaming small.
    CNNMoney's ongoing series on the "New American Workplace" took a look at the 40-hour workweek, adopted shortly after the Great Depression, and how employers have toyed with it during the economic crisis. The key finding is that lots of workers have been forced to either shorten their workweeks or approach them differently as employers cut back.
    At the height of the recession, Utah tried cramming 40-hour workweeks for its government employees into four 10-hour days in order to save on operating costs and avoid layoffs. The government was able to cut costs, while the employees got an extra day off without having to take a hit to their paychecks. But even those 40-hour workweeks fall well short of the ideal.
    "Cutting hours of work can have positive effects on employment levels during a severe economic downturn," the International Labour Organization noted in a report last month.
    Shortened hours can be used to create jobs, the ILO said, as fewer hours for one worker mean more work for another. Since the economic crisis, lots of workers have been forced to shorten their workweek as their employers cut back. Still, that falls well short of what economic thinkers and social scientists were predicting less than a century ago.
    In 1930, renowned economist John Maynard Keynes predicted technological advancements would mean we would all eventually work just 15 hours a week. That same year, evolutionary biologist Julian Huxley predicted the two-day workweek. As recently as 1965, a Senate subcommittee predicted we would be working 14 hours a week by the year 2000, with at least seven weeks of vacation time.
    The reality? The U.S. can't even mandate vacation time, never mind providing seven weeks of it.
    Benjamin Hunnicutt, a historian at the University of Iowa, calls the shorter workweek the "forgotten American dream."
    "New marketing techniques of corporate America were able to convince us to buy things we had never seen before and had never needed before," he said. "Work was valorized -- elevated to the center of life more so than it ever had been before, and leisure was demoted and trivialized."
    Meanwhile, the average German worker puts in 394 hours less than an American each year -- or nearly 10 fewer weeks. Germany is way smaller than the United States in area, population and resources, but still manages to be the fourth largest economy and third largest exporter in the world. Dutch workers, meanwhile, are on par with American workers in terms of productivity per hour, but pay higher taxes and earn less than Americans. On average, however, they work roughly 11 weeks less than their American counterparts each year, have access to government-funded health care, pay little or nothing for a college education and have far more leisure time than the average American.
    While Americans settle for two weeks of vacation or none at all, their forbears and European neighbors continue to shake their heads in bewilderment at a workforce that puts in so much time for so little.
    waterwolves Tue 5:32 PM
    We're nuts for working this hard. We have no time with our families. Both parents have to work to make ends meet. It's insane. It's big business/corporate America screwing us again. Working us to death. Oh and you know what you get when you're done working for them? Nothing. Most Americans die broke.
    We should be down to a 32 hours work week at the very least. We should have 6-7 weeks of vacation time as well. We need to push for these rules/laws to be put in place now. If we cut the work week down to 32 hours guess what? The company will have to hire more people.
    OMG more people will have jobs! More time with their families. OMG OMG it will be terrible!!!!!
    LifeLeason Tue 5:52 PM
    What the heck is a 40 hour work week? I don't remember the last time I worked one of those. Here at my JOB we have been working over 60 hours a week and working 7 days a weeks is really starting to bit really really bad. I would love to work just 40hrs a week. I think my stress level would drop in half if I did. ...

7/09/2013 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from today will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. The case for a shorter work week - What would you do with your time if you only had to work four, three, or even two days a week? by Annalyn Kurtz, CNN Money via money.cnn.com
    NEW YORK, N.Y., USA - Decades ago, experts predicted we would all be working just 14 to 15 hours a week by now, and would have so much free time, we wouldn't even know what to do with ourselves.
    Instead, U.S. workers have been stuck with the official 40-hour workweek -- or even longer for many of us -- since 1938, in order to finance our ever-expensive lifestyles.
    The predictions: Back in 1930, renowned economist John Maynard Keynes predicted technological advancements would mean we would all eventually work just 15 hours a week. That same year, evolutionary biologist Julian Huxley predicted the two-day work week. Both men warned that someday, we would have so much leisure time, we would be bored out of our minds.
    "The human being can consume so much and no more," Huxley said in 1930. "When we reach the point when the world produces all the goods that it needs in two days, as it inevitably will, we must curtail our production of goods and turn our attention to the great problem of what to do with our new leisure."
    More recently, a 1965 Senate subcommittee predicted we would be working 14 hours a week by the year 2000, with at least seven weeks of vacation time.
    The reality: These great thinkers were right about one thing. Technological progress has made workers more productive than ever before.
    Yet rather than cutting the work week gradually over time (like the Europeans did), productivity gains have fueled a consumerism boom in the United States. So instead of taking time off, Americans are just buying much more stuff.
    Benjamin Hunnicutt, a historian at the University of Iowa, calls the shorter workweek the "forgotten American dream."
    "New marketing techniques of corporate America were able to convince us to buy things we had never seen before and had never needed before," he said. "Work was valorized -- elevated to the center of life more so than it ever had been before, and leisure was demoted and trivialized."
    Meanwhile, income gains have been disproportionately distributed throughout the economy. Middle-class wages have largely remained stagnant since the 1980s, after adjusting for inflation, whereas the top 1% richest Americans have captured much of the wealth.
    Poll: If you had a choice between a longer weekend or more pay, which would you choose?
    The 40-hour work week, adopted shortly after the Great Depression, was originally thought of as a job creation tool.
    "Cutting hours of work can have positive effects on employment levels during a severe economic downturn," the International Labour Organization noted in a report last month.
    Shortened hours can be used to create jobs, the ILO said, as fewer hours for one worker means more work for another.
    And shorter workweeks are not entirely unheard of today.
    Since the economic crisis, lots of workers have been forced to shorten their work week as their employers cut back.
    During the height of the recession, Utah tried cramming 40-hour work weeks for its government employees into four 10-hour days, in order to save on operating costs and avoid layoffs. The government was able to cut costs, while the employees got an extra day off without having to take a hit to their paychecks.
    Shorter weeks are also common in Europe. In the Netherlands, four-day work weeks are practically the rule, not the exception. And France tried a 35-hour work week for a few years, too.
    The average German worker puts in 394 hours less than an American each year -- the equivalent of nearly ten fewer weeks. The country is far smaller than the United States in area, population and resources, yet still manages to compete as the fourth largest economy and third largest exporter in the world.

    CNN: Why four-day workweeks are best
    Money doesn't buy happiness: In most cases, fewer hours mean workers might have to take a pay cut, and would not be able to buy as much.
    [Wrong. Fewer hours mean fewer jobseekers underbidding each other and more employers bidding against one another for good help. Result? Wages levels reverse the current downward slide they're doing because CEOs are responding to technology with downsizing and creating those floods of mutually self-cheapening jobseekers. Wage levels will rise and workers would be able to buy more, as well as have more time to shop.]
    But in exchange, they'll get more free time, save on child care costs and likely be healthier and happier in general.
    For example, Dutch workers are on par with American workers in terms of productivity per hour. They pay higher taxes and earn less than Americans. But on average, they work roughly 11 weeks less than their American counterparts each year, have access to government-funded health care, pay little or nothing for a college education, and have far more leisure time than the American.
    When UNICEF recently ranked 21 industrialized nations by well-being for children, Netherlands was on top and the United States was near the bottom, in 20th place.
    Guess who also ranked happier with life overall? The Dutch worker.
    But Americans still labor on.
    "The idea that we can grow our economies forever and ensure everyone a full-time job is a myth," Hunnicutt said. "We have to deliberately choose to work less and therefore buy less."

  2. Work sharing measures can save jobs in times of crisis, The Standard Digital News via standardmedia.co.ke
    NAIROBI, Kenya - Reducing hours of work can have positive effects on employment levels during a severe economic downturn, according to a new book by the International Labour Organization (ILO).
    Work sharing has been widely used to preserve jobs during the economic crisis from 2008 to 2009 and its aftermath, and may even have the potential to generate new employment, said the book titled “Work sharing during the Great Recession.”
    Edited by ILO researchers Jon Messenger and Naj Ghosheh – the book shows that there has been a dramatic re-emergence of work sharing as an effective labour market policy tool to preserve existing jobs in times of economic downturn.
    The researchers said if crisis work-sharing policies are properly designed and implemented, the result could be a “win-win-win solution.”
    “Workers can keep their jobs; companies can survive the crisis and be well-positioned when growth returns, while governments and society can save on the costs of un employment and social exclusion,” they added.
    There are two types of work sharing measures.
    The first is when a company decides to reduce working hours for current employees, to spread a reduced volume of work over the same or similar number of workers.
    The second happens when a government promotes reductions in working hours to encourage additional hiring.

7/07-08/2013 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from today will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Harper Government helps local businesses and employees affected by floods through Work-Sharing, 7/7 Human Resources and Skills Development Canada via Canada Newswire via CNW via newswire.ca
    HIGH RIVER, Alta., Canada - The Honourable Ted Menzies, Member of Parliament for Macleod and Minister of State (Finance), on behalf of the Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, announced that the Harper Government has approved the use of special measures under the Work-Sharing program to assist employers and workers temporarily affected by the flooding in Alberta and Manitoba. Over 1 700 workers at Cargill Limited will benefit from Work-Sharing as the company restarts operations following the unprecedented floods.
    "Our Government remains committed to supporting hardworking Canadians and businesses alike," said Minister Menzies. "By easing access to the Work-Sharing program, we are helping avoid unnecessary layoffs and additional hardship for people already impacted by this catastrophe."

    Work-Sharing is designed to help companies facing a temporary downturn in business avoid layoffs by offering Employment Insurance Part I income support to workers willing to work a reduced work week while their company recovers.
    Employers like Cargill Limited that are located in communities where a state of emergency has been declared and that are experiencing a temporary shortage of work due to the flooding may benefit from these measures, which involve waiving certain program criteria to enter into an agreement. Eligible employers in affected areas have until September 27, 2013, to apply for an agreement involving these special measures.
    For more information, please contact your local Service Canada Centre. Further information on Work-Sharing can be found at www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/work_sharing/index.shtml.
    For further information (media only):
    Jan O'Driscoll, Press Secretary
    Office of Minister Finley
    Media Relations Office
    Human Resources and Skills Development Canada

  2. Volkswagen's Seat proposes cutting working hours at Spain plants, 7/08 Reuters.com
    MADRID, Spain - Seat, the Spanish car firm owned by Volkswagen, said on Monday it wanted workers to take turns to stay at home in order to cope with a fall in demand.
    It is proposing to have 571 workers a day stay at home at Martorell and Zona Franca, its factories in Catalonia, on a rotating basis, between September and December.
    It wants to halt production for 16 days on one of its lines, between September and December, affecting 2,800 workers, and stop production for 35 days next year on another line, affecting 3,800 workers.
    "The measures are aimed at guaranteeing the continuation of all staff at Seat as well as an adequate relationship between production and demand for our products in the market," SEAT said in a statement.

    Seat had managed to halve its net loss to 30 million euros in 2012 and grow sales 20.6 percent to 6.1 billion euros thanks to successful sales of the Audi Q3.
    However, like all car companies, it is battling weak demand in southern European countries. Spanish car sales fell 0.7 percent year-on-year in June.
    Seat has made its proposals to unions and the regional government in Catalonia and said it would now hold a 15-day consultation period.
    (Reporting by Sarah Morris; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

7/06/2013 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from today will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. How Technology Killed the 40-Hour Work Week, by the Undercover Waitress Beth Taylor, PayScale Career News via payscale.com
    [Technology didn't do it but our sloppy and shortsighted response to technology, blurring the distinction between on the job and off. And that can be changed.]
    SEATTLE, Wash., USA - The ability to work at home is a "convenience" that may be cheating workers out of overtime pay. Technology helped to create this problem, but it also offers ways to solve it.
    Since 1938, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) in the United States of America has protected workers in both the public and private sectors. The overtime clause of the FLSA requires time and a half pay for any hours worked in a week over forty hours. If you make $10 per hour, and if you work 42 hours in a week, you should get paid $15 per hour for the two extra hours.
    A recent article in Businessweek discusses the wide use of mobile technology, including laptops, tablets, and smartphones, which allows employees the flexibility of getting work done outside of the office.
    It seems that the convenience of working at home may be a bigger boon for employers than employees. Businessweek quotes a 2012 report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics that found 24 percent of employees use mobile technology to telecommute. Instead of helping people manage their time and reduce work-family conflicts, working from home seesm to have expanded work hours.
    Employees, however, are not always paid for those extra hours worked.
    The good news is that just as technology allows us to work from anywhere, it also gives us ways track those hours worked. There are apps that track everything from phone calls to mileage, allowing employees to create mobile timesheets which they can then submit to their bosses.
    There are also products that monitor internet activity, allowing managers the ability to keep track of what the employee is doing while working from home. For privacy, these programs should only be on when working.
    Technology has given the workforce convenience but is an added burden at the same time. When employees work from home or anywhere outside of the office, their rights to overtime pay do not become obsolete. If you find yourself in this situation, perhaps it's time for a friendly chat with your employer about what technology can do to help you account for your time.

  2. Commercial Facilities Company announces working hours during the holy month of Ramadan, Arab Middle East Information (press release) via AMEinfo.com
    KUWAIT CITY, Kuwait - Commercial Facilities Company (CFC) announced today its working hours during the holy month of Ramadan where CFC branches will be open from 10:00 am to 3.30 pm, Sundays to Thursdays to receive clients' applications, facilitate their transactions and installments while providing premium services.
    Nasser Ali Al Mannai, Assistant Managing Director Marketing, CFC, said, "We would like to express our warmest wishes during Ramadan to our clients, local residents of Kuwait and expats. We welcome our clients to our head office in Sharq, in addition to our other branches in Hawally, Fahaheel, and Jahra."
    "Clients can also reach CFC through its representative offices available at 21 car showrooms and agencies across Kuwait as per their morning and evening shifts as means to foster our communication channels with them."
    Customers can submit applications very easily at any of the company's branches across Kuwait and through sales employees who are available in all car agencies and suppliers. In addition they can also pay monthly installments, enquire about their account balance and next installment due date through the company's website and through smart devices which are compatible with systems "App Store" and "Google Play that are secure and flexible hence saving time.

7/05/2013 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from today will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. House GOP leadership lacks strong work ethic, (7/03 late pickup) letter to editor by Walter Hamilton of Portsmouth NH, Seacoastonline.com
    PORTSMOUTH, N.H., USA — Members of the U.S. House of Representatives are on another 10-day vacation.
    Our representative, Carol Shea-Porter, pointed out they left town while refusing to take up the student loan bill, thus doubling the rate for student loans. They are a year late on a farm bill, leaving farmers in the lurch. Their workweek is set by the Republican leadership in the House. While the Senate works five days a week, the House works four, when it works at all. The House takes longer vacations than the Senate.
    [And what's "sauce" for the House is "sauce" for the populace!]
    One can only conclude that Republicans hate their jobs and don't believe their constituents deserve a fair day's work for a fair day's pay.
    [Wouldn't it reduce taxes more to prorate their pay according to how little they work?]
    While our federal employees are enduring furloughs without pay, the Republican House members are paying themselves to host fund-raisers at the taxpayers' expense while ranting about deficits and the need to cut spending.
    The principal job of Congress is to provide the funds necessary to run the government and to designate where those funds go. The bills necessary to do this should be passed and signed by the president before Oct. 1, the beginning of the fiscal year. Those bills have not been passed and the House will take off the month of August and half of September, even if it hasn't done its job. Why would any person calling themselves conservative support such slovenly work ethics? If contacted by the Republican Party, tell them you won't give them a dime until the House provides a fair day's work for a fair day's pay.

  2. Why don't we do this every week? Arguments for the four-day workweek, by Alex Dalenberg, Upstart Business Journal via upstart.bizjournals.com
    The UpTake: Enjoying the shortened Fourth of July workweek? There's no reason it can't be like this all the time. Here are the arguments for a four- day workweek.
    BROOKLYN, N.Y., USA - It's not exactly Timothy Ferris and The 4-Hour Workweek but the advocates for the four-day workweek are lining up.
    In a guest column at CNN.com [scan down to 7/03/2013 #3, below first short article], Peggy Drexler, an assistant professor of psychology at Weill Medical College of Cornell University, cites a graphic design firm owner who temporarily cut her office's hours to four days a week after a knee surgery. She ended up making the change permanent.
    Drexler writes:
    From Monday through Thursday, her staff got in early to get their work done, and employees seemed genuinely excited to be there. Productivity increased dramatically. People still had fun, but even the office chitchat seemed more efficient. And when they were at work, they worked.
    Drexler also cites figures that not only are we working full 40-hour weeks, we're actually working much more. On average, nearly 86 percent of men and 67 percent of women in the U.S. work more than 40 hours per week.
    That may or may not be so. As productivity writer Laura Vanderkam writes in 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think (which I recommend), we tend to overestimate the amount of time that we actually spend working. But Vanderkam also writes that more work does not necessarily equal better work.
    Which is what Drexler's design firm found. And also software CEO Jason Fried of 37signals who penned this guest column about switching to a four-day workweek six months out of the year in The New York Times last year.
    The benefits of a six-month schedule with three-day weekends are obvious. But there’s one surprising effect of the changed schedule: better work gets done in four days than in five. When there’s less time to work, you waste less time. When you have a compressed workweek, you tend to focus on what’s important. Constraining time encourages quality time.
    Then there's the cost-savings on things like energy and commuting, which has made it attractive to budget-constrained governments, although taxpayers aren't always happy about four days of services instead of five.
    For those having trouble making the pitch: Here's a Lifehacker piece about how to convince your boss to let you try a four-day workweek.
    Alex Dalenberg is a Brooklyn-based freelance writer covering NYC startups and technology for the Upstart Business Journal.

7/04/2013 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from today will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Health care rule redefines full-time work at 30 hours, U.S. Chamber of Commerce via OregonBusinessNews.com (press release)
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - It’s been one year since the Supreme Court upheld most of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). As the law continues to be implemented, employers have been scratching (or even banging) their heads in frustration over the perverse consequences of the rules delivered from Washington.
    One of those is the PPACA’s definition of full-time work as 30-hours-per-week. Under the health care law, employers with 50 or more full-time equivalent employees must offer health insurance to all full-time workers and their dependents or else potentially pay a penalty. The penalty would be likely be based on the number of full-time employees, again defined as those individuals working 30 hour per week; and part-time workers are not included in the penalty calculation. (This *dismissal*flowchart will help you figure out if your business qualifies.)
    This incentivizes cuts in workers’ hours. For example, a Pennsylvania school district will cut part-time cafeteria workers hours to 29.75 hours weekly, 15 minutes below the 30-hour line, and a North Carolina lawyer said employers “will have to monitor work hours like a hawk” to ensure they don’t cross the line.
    But workers and employers have never thought of a 30-hour work week as constituting full-time employment.
    [Except when the 30-hour workweek bill passed the US Senate by a vote of 53 to 30 on April 6, 1933 because they didn't have enough 40-hour workweek jobs for everybody, followed by a 30-hour workweek in the WPA and other government makework campaigns because they couldn't even dream up enough work that they could pay for to provide 40-hour workweeks. But now, of course, when the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is happy with upsizing automation and robotics and downsizing, not its workweek but workforce and consumer markets, and upsizing unemployment-welfare-disability-homelessness-prison-insecurity, now of course, we don't need a shorter workweek. In fact, let's not stop at just 40-hours a week. How about 48, or 54. Hell, why not all 168 for supreme Efficiency?]
    For them, it’s 40 hours as it has been for decades.
    [Except in the many industries where it's been 37.5 or 35, radical industries like Wall Stree and insurance.]
    A bill was introduced in the House of Representatives to restore the longstanding definition and restore historical workforce standards. The Save American Workers Act, H.R. 2575, would reinstate the traditional 40-hour-per-week definition to full-time work and remove an incentive to cut hours.
    [Save American Workers even more with a 168-hour workweek! Clinch that competition with China! Population control by karoshi! Eliminate the unemployment insurance program. Repeal welfare and disability! More million$ for the poor little rich members of the US Chambers of Commerce! Work harder to get ahead, do or die!]
    In a letter to Rep. Todd Young (R-IN) one of the bill’s co-sponsors, U.S. Chamber Executive Vice President for Government Affairs Bruce Josten supports the bill:
    [M]any businesses are having to restructure their workforce and reduce their employees’ hours to avoid costs that could potentially bankrupt their companies. The unfortunate and unintended result is that not only are employees not receiving health care coverage, they are now in many cases losing full-time wages.
    Returning to the widely-accepted 40-hour definition of a full-time employee would remove this barrier that is forcing employers to reduce hours, thereby limiting overall wages. By reverting back to the traditional definition, employees and employers would both be protected. Particularly during this time when our economy is extremely fragile, it is crucial we provide an atmosphere where employers can focus on strengthening their businesses, employing workers in traditional full-time positions, and revitalizing the economy.

    The number of Americans involuntarily working part-time hours is historically high. Eliminating this perverse incentive in the health care law will protect workers and employers.
    [With employers this blind to the mounting shortage of human employment in the robotics age they are creating by responding to robotics with downsizing while expecting growth alias upsizing, we can continue to enjoy our frontrow seats for the deterioration of America indefinitely.]

  2. 'Working hours in Spain are too long', George Mills (george.mills@thelocal.com), The Local.es
    MADRID, Spain - Spain moves to a different rhythm to the rest of Europe with people working, eating and going to bed later than anywhere else. In The Local's latest opinion piece, we ask whether its time for a change to the country's habits.
    The siesta was apparently banned in Spain in autumn 2012, and not for the first time either.
    At least that's according to an article published recently in Germany's weekly news magazine Der Spiegel.
    The article titled 'Vive la siesta: Should Southern Europe Really Be More German?" describes how Spain pulled the plug on afternoon naps in 2012.
    The move came in the wake of pressure from the so-called troika of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, said the piece.
    The prestigious German weekly news magazine then claimed Spain made the move because it "no longer thought it could 'lounge about' in the midst of national bankruptcy".
    The idea, according to the author of the Der Speigel piece was to get Spaniards sleeping less and shopping more to increase "consumption and tax revenues".
    The article made the claims about Spain's midday sleeping patterns to defend of southern European "Catholic savior vivre" against the northern European "Protestant work ethic".
    The author argued that Spain had lost an "idyllic" aspect of its culture when it surrendered its siesta to German expectations.
    Spanish media outlets were taken aback by the news that the country’s siesta had been banned, and many newspapers printed pieces mocking the assertions of Der Spiegel.
    But there is more to the article than meets first glance.
    Spain has actually seen official moves to change its work timetable, although these have little to do with the siesta issue.
    Ignacio Buqueras heads up ARHOE, a Spanish organization that fights for a charge to Spain's unique lifestyle which sees Spaniards working, eating and going to bed far later than their European neighbours.
    For the ARHOE boss, the problem isn't really about a divide between a hard-working northern and a lazy southern Europe.
    "Spaniards have very long working hours," Buqueras told The Local, citing a 2011 study from the UK's Office for National Statistics which showed Spaniards and Germans spending nearly the same amount of time on the job.
    For Germans this figure was 42 hours a week for full-time workers, while in Spain that number was 41.6 hours.
    "The real problem in Spain is this culture of 'presentismo', or just being in the office, even if you are not doing anything.
    "We want a culture where time is used well and where people also have time for their private life," the head of the non-profit organization said.

    "This will improve productivity in Spain, and it will make us more effective. It will also improve quality of life so that people can be with their family and friends."
    ARHOE was set up in 2003 and now boasts the support of several government ministries and a wide range of organizations across the country.
    Buqueras recognizes that while there have been positive development, there still remains a lot of work to do.
    The mention of a so-called siesta ban in Der Spiegel actually refers to a resolution put forward by the ruling Popular Party in late 2012.
    That resolution, published in the official state bulletin tries to give public sector workers flexibility while also limiting the length of the working day.
    It required those people to be in the office from 9am to 2.30 pm from Monday to Friday.
    The rest of the working week, meanwhile, is to be made up in between 7.30am and 9am, or between 2.30pm and 6pm on Monday to Thursday and 2.30pm and 3.30pm on Friday.
    "We support this resolution, but people aren't complying" said Buqueras.
    A similar proposal from 2005 — also mentioned in the Der Spiegel article — had the same lack of success.
    "Part of Spain's strange working hours has to do with our strange time zone," Buqueras explained to The Local.
    "In 1940, Spain moved away from Greenwich Mean Time to be on the same time zone as other European countries (including allies Germany and Italy).
    "After the war, though, we never went back".
    This means that sunset in Spain's La Coruña is a full hour and a half later than in Vienna in early July.
    The other historical reason for Spain's long working day has to do with period after Spain's civil war, Buqueras explained.
    "In that 1940s, the country was a terrible state with widespread destruction. Women continued to work at home, but men were forced to do multiple jobs.
    "They would go out in the morning and work as a builder, say, and then in the afternoon they would work for a few hours as a carpenter. Their days could be 10 -hours long."
    "But this is not a healthy way to live."
    In terms of the humble siesta, Buqueras has no problem at all.
    "But we recommend the siesta-lite, or just 15 minutes, which is what doctors say is healthy."
    "When it comes to working hours, the key thing is a rational and flexible schedule," said the ARHOE boss.

7/03/2013 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from today will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Work Sharing, posted by martinkich, Academe Blog via academeblog.org
    DAYTON, Ohio, USA - In the 1990s, the concept of “job sharing” was introduced to allow employees, an especially women with small children, to “share” the equivalent of a full-time position [leaving the 35-40 hour workweek untouched]. Each of the employees receives a proportionate share of the salaries and benefits normally allocated for the position. On the plus side, studies have shown that the employees sharing a position are typically more productive than a single employee in the position would have been. The downsides to this sort of arrangement have become very evident, however, when there has been a lack of sufficient coordination between the employees sharing the position or between those employees and others with whom they have needed to collaborate on projects.
    Early on, “work sharing” was simply synonymous with “job sharing.” But since the recession of the early 2000s, it has come to have a very distinct meaning [that puts downward pressure on the 35-40 hour concept of "full time"]. Federal legislation was passed that allowed the states to provide unemployment compensation to employees whose hours are being cut as a consequence of a downturn across the general economy or within a particular economic sector. So, if a company expects a 25% reduction in its operating revenues during a recession, instead of reducing its payroll by 25%, it can reduce the hours of all employees or those of especially affected groups of employees by enough to offset that loss of revenue. There are floors for the numbers of employees involved and ceilings for the reductions of hours and compensation that are allowed. Employees can apply for unemployment compensation to cover the lost hours of work. So, an employee whose hours have been cut by 25% from 40 to 30 hours per week can collect 25% of the unemployment compensation for which he or she would be eligible if he or she had been laid off. The advantages for employees are that they keep their positions, their loss of salary is somewhat mitigated, and the company agrees to fully maintain their benefits. The employees whose hours have been reduced are also eligible for grants that will allow them to pursue additional education while their work hours have been reduced. The advantages to employers are that they can maintain continuity during times of turmoil and reduce much of the added turmoil in trying to reassign responsibilities among a reduced workforce. They also do not need to train or retrain employees when their business rebounds from the downturn and their payroll expands again. For the participating states, the programs have actually produced billions of dollars in savings in unemployment compensation.
    To this point, 23 states [more like 26 states now] and the District of Columbia have adopted “work sharing” programs. Only seven of the 24 right-to-work states have such programs in place, whereas 16 of the 26 pro-union states have them in place.
    States with Work Sharing Programs
    *This map [scan down 1/3 page] is taken from the cited report from the Center for Economic Policy and Research.
    Earlier this year, a “work sharing” bill was introduced in the North Carolina legislature but it has found insufficient support to move it forward, repeating a situation that has recently recurred in many of the other states that currently do not have “work sharing” programs in place. This lack of political support is surprising because these programs are among the very few things that business associations and labor unions agree on, that are seen as economically sound policies by both groups.
    Although not quite half of the states have adopted “work sharing” programs, I would like to suggest that the program might be adapted to address three troubling trends in the American labor force.
    First, the number of underemployed workers—that is, workers whose current positions require less training or education than that which they have already acquired—rose dramatically during the Great Recession and has been declining only incrementally during the extended recovery. Forbes recently reported on a study by McKinsey which indicted that 48% of recent college graduates may be underemployed [https://www.numbersusa.com/content/news/may-29-2013/over-half-all-american-college-graduates-are-underemployed.html 1/]. More specifically, “Six times as many graduates are working in retail or hospitality as had originally planned. In 2013, there will be 1.7 million grads getting bachelor’s degrees, meaning 120,000 of these grads will be working as waiters, retail salespeople, and baristas because it is the only work they can find.”
    Second, a sub-category of the underemployed are those who have been able to find only part-time employment, either within the fields for which they have been educated or elsewhere. The bureau of Labor Statistics has calculated that in May 2013, 28.37% of part-time workers in the United States, or more than 7,500,000 workers were employed part-time because they could not find full-time employment.
    Third, among those will full-time employment, roughly 30% are now “contingent” workers—or employees provided through a staffing agency to a company to fill “temporary” needs. In 2005, these workers constituted 10% to 15% of the workforce, and by 2020, they are expected to constitute 40% of the workforce.
    Several aspects of contingent staffing deserve special note. First, companies have increasingly made a practice of hiring contingent workers to fill positions for which they have an ongoing, rather than temporary, need: that is, contingent staffing is not primarily providing, as claimed, needed “flexibility” but, instead, is being used as a way to suppress labor costs and to avoid providing benefits to workers who are not, after all, even categorized as the company’s employees. Second, contingent workers and independent contractors have long been very distinct categories, but corporations have blurred those distinctions in order to gain the wage (no minimum-wage and overtime rules apply) and the tax advantages of hiring independent contractors while still asserting the greater control over work practices that they have with contingent workers. Some corporations have even taken to designating workers as “franchisees,” which represents an entirely different abuse of the tax code.
    Unemployed and Underemployed [including] Marginally Attached [&] Involuntary Part-time
    All of these categories of workers are paid considerably less than they would be if they were employed in conventional full-time positions by the companies whose needs they meet. All of these categories of workers receive minimal if any of the benefits commonly associated with full-time employment—such as unemployment insurance, medical insurance, disability insurance, and pension plans. Indeed, these “working poor” now account for more of the federal “safety net” spending—specifically, Medicaid and food-stamp spending—than the chronically or permanently unemployed. For instance, it has been estimated that underpaid Walmart workers now receive more than $1 billion in federal assistance each year. This represents a very under-reported element of de facto “corporate welfare” in our current economy.
    And these workplace realities are increasingly commonplace for white-collar as well as blue-collar workers. Certainly, the ever-increasing reliance on adjunct and full-time, non-tenure-track faculty in higher education reflects these trends. In fact, to the great shame of our institutions, one can easily produce evidence that higher education has been ahead of these trends, for the percentage of college and university faculty who have been contingent has been higher than the percentage of contingent workers in the overall economy for at least the last three decades.
    Although these trends have, in the short term, been very good for corporate profits, stock prices, and dividends to shareholders, almost everyone seems to agree that they are not sustainable in the long-term because they are reducing the size and eroding the economic stability of the middle-class. Indeed, if much of the American working-class entered the middle-class during the 1950s and the 1960s, over the last three decades, the distinctions between the two classes have been dramatically reinforced. So if the middle-class’s sense of economic confidence has been undermined, the working class’s sense of financial security has been devastated.
    So, if “work sharing” mitigates the effects of economic downturns and, as the Center for Economic and Policy Research claims, provides a “quick route back to full employment” [http://www.cepr.net/index.php/publications/reports/work-sharing-the-quick-route-back-to-full-employment], perhaps the concept might be adapted to begin gradually to address the broader reduction of employment security.
    Given the number of workers who are currently underemployed or contingently employed, and given that many of these workers already require substantial public subsidies to sustain themselves at the most basic levels, it would seem to make sense that “work sharing” programs be adapted to provide unemployment and health benefits to workers who are trying to cobble together a full-time income from several part-time positions.
    One of the complaints about the Affordable Care Act is that employers will be required to provide health insurance to all employees working more than a certain number of hours. And so now, as they reduce the hours of employees to something below that threshold, they are attracting all sorts of bad publicity simply for doing what they believe is either an economic necessity or simply in their economic best interest. Perhaps the seeming onerousness of the requirement to provide employees with health care would be perceived as more manageable if the costs of providing health care were simply distributed proportionately according to an employee’s average hours per week.
    The same sort of arrangement could be made for unemployment compensation.
    Before computers made such calculations much easier, attempting to adapt “work sharing” in these ways would have tremendously and perhaps impossibly complicated the bookkeeping required to track these arrangements. But if computers can track millions upon millions of stock trades each day, they can certainly be used to track efficiently and accurately the benefits available to millions of workers.
    Corporations will gradually be encouraged to move more work to full-time employees, or more employees to full-time work, and the economic impact of this transition will be mitigated by its being gradual.
    In northeastern Ohio, where there is perhaps the greatest density of colleges and universities of any region of the state, institutions have moved not only to limit the hours tauight by individual adjunct faculty but seem to be pooling information on their adjunct faculty to insure that the institutions do not face shortfalls in adjunct faculty. The institutions involved have, of course, declined to make any comment on this situation, but I have heard administrators elsewhere rationalize this practice as insuring that the adjuncts continue to get as much work as they want or need. That’s a slick justification of what amounts to trying to have it both ways: specifically, maximizing the exploitation of this group of employees is framed as minimizing the impact of that exploitation on them.
    I will close by suggesting why it is in the corporations’ best long-term interests to slow and then to start to reverse the current trends. The American Psychological Association recently released their annual study of workplace attitudes [http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/phwa/workplace-survey.pdf]. The survey shows that all of the factors that combine to determine the degree to which employees feel valued—from salary and benefits to workload to the clarity and reasonableness of employer expectations to recognition and opportunities for advancement—reinforce to underemployed and contingent workers just how little they are valued. [See the chart on “Work Stress and Feeling Valued at Work.”] Little wonder then that a recent survey by Right Management shows that 65% of American workers are dissatisfied with their current jobs and 32% plan to seek other employment in the near future [http://www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2012/05/18/new-survey-majority-of-employees-dissatisfied/]. These figures suggest a tremendous deterioration in employees’ loyalty and commitment to their employers. Worse, one suspects that these percentages are markedly higher among the young, among whom there are much higher levels of underemployment and contingent employment. In effect, the workforce of the immediate future is at risk of becoming permanently disenchanted with the workplace.
    We are already seeing this disenchantment in higher education, where adjunct faculty have been becoming much more militant in response to their deepening exploitation. If their concerns continue to go unaddressed, at some point—probably in the not-too-distant future—the bottom is suddenly going to drop out of what now seems to be a bottomless pool of available adjunct faculty. The failure to anticipate and adjust forthis inevitable consequence of their extended economic exploitation—to institutionally mitigate that exploitation—will have serious repercussions for many of our institutions.

  2. Portugal's Civil Servants Keep Their Jobs as Economy Struggles, by Henrique Almeida & Rodney Jefferson, Businessweek.com
    LISBON, Portugal - On June 27, Portugal’s labor unions flexed their muscles. To protect benefits, including the 35-hour workweek in the public sector, the unions shut down Lisbon’s commuter train and metro system.
    [A 35-hour workweek a "benefit" in the AGE OF ROBOTICS? What is this fatal fixation with the arbitrary Forty-hour Workweek?]
    Many Portuguese were not sympathetic. “It’s unfair for the public sector to have certain benefits that don’t exist in the private sector,” says Francisco Rodrigues, who runs a clothing store opposite the Parliament building. Portugal’s government employs 600,000.
    Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho, whose government is at risk of falling, is trying to curb popular resentment over what opponents say is a widening gulf between private employees and public workers who have mostly stayed immune to mass job cuts.
    State employees respond that they did not bring about the financial crisis that started five years ago, has driven unemployment to 18 percent, and caused the economy to shrink. Says Anibal Moreira, an official at a public workers’ union: “There is an ongoing campaign that blames civil servants for the country’s situation.”
    Some civil servants, including judges and politicians, have avoided the drastic drop in living standards and retirement benefits that has harmed so many other Portuguese. The resulting anger is intense. “Today there isn’t a single member of the government who speaks in public without having to face protests,” says Pedro Magalhães, a politics researcher at the University of Lisbon.
    In 2011 officials said they planned to cut the number of state employees by 2 percent a year from 2012 to 2014. That’s a fraction of private-sector job cuts. Former civil servants made up only 1.9 percent of the 700,000 unemployed workers in February, says Paulo Trigo Pereira, a professor at the ISEG School of Economics and Management in Lisbon.
    In January the International Monetary Fund urged Prime Minister Coelho to trim spending on state workers’ wages and pensions, which together account for more than half of government expenditures that aren’t earmarked for interest payments. “It would seem impossible to generate the government’s spending reduction goals without changes in these two areas,” the IMF says in its report. The government is considering deep job cuts and a salary review for public workers. The cuts and other measures will affect about 30,000 state employees, Coelho said in a May 3 speech. One hurdle for the government is that labor law protects a large number of state workers from being terminated without disciplinary action or mutual consent, says Nuno Morgado, a lawyer in Lisbon.
    For many politicians and constitutional court judges, the benefits that come from working for the state look set to remain intact. Some are eligible to retire after only 12 years of contributing to the state pension fund, compared with 40 years for the majority of the population, according to the websites of the Parliament and constitutional court. “There may be some careers in the state that have no parallel in the private sector and thus require specific treatment,” Luís Marques Guedes, the minister for parliamentary affairs, told reporters in May following a Cabinet meeting. “The principle of equality means one has to treat as equal what is equal and as unequal what is unequal.”
    The same group of judges on April 5 blocked the government from suspending the payment of a month’s salary to state workers this year as it violated “the principle of equality” between those in the private and public sector, they said. “What’s really unfair is to have judges and politicians who are immune to the austerity measures imposed upon the majority of the population,” says António Marinho Pinto, chairman of the bar association, most of whose members are self-employed. “This is a scandal. Portugal cannot have first-class and second-class citizens.”
    The bottom line: Civil servants make up a small fraction of Portugal’s 700,000 unemployed workers, despite the nation’s fiscal crisis.
    Almeida is a reporter for Bloomberg News in Lisbon. Jefferson is a reporter for Bloomberg News in Edinburgh.

  3. Arguing the four-day workweek, by JJ Feinauer, DeseretNews.com
    When Utah introduced four-day workweeks for many of its state employees in 2008, it boosted productivity and worker satisfaction. (photo caption)
    Summary: Peggy Drexler of CNN thinks employers — and employees — should take the four-day work week more seriously.
    SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, USA - By cutting the work week to four days instead of five, employers can expect less requested vacation time, practically non-existent sick days and even more productivity, according to CNN’s Peggy Drexler.
    “When Utah introduced four-day workweeks for many of its state employees in 2008, it boosted productivity and worker satisfaction,” Drexler writes. “They reverted to the standard five-day week only three years later, because residents complained about not having access to services on Fridays.”
    Drexler cites an op-ed in the New York Times by software CEO Jason Fried that claimed his four-day work week improved his company’s productivity, increased recruiting and made it easier to keep valuable employees.
    “When there's less time to work, there's less time to waste,” Drexler continued. “And when you have a compressed workweek, you tend to focus on what's important.”
    [And arguments for the compressed four 10-hour day workweek apply even more strongly to the uncompressed four 8-hour day workweek - with 8 more hours a week of FREEDOM. Here's the original article -]
    Why four-day workweeks are best, by Peggy Drexler, (6/24) CNN.com
    We're programmed to believe that working longer and harder begets great achievement. But what if working less is the real key to success? Peggy Drexler (blowout quote)
    Story Highlights - Employers find a four-day workweek increases productivity and job satisfaction
    - She says 86% of American men, 67% of women work more than 40 hours a week
    - Drexler: It helps retain all talented workers, not just the women who want to be with kids
    - To make it work, employers should put the whole staff on the four-day week, she says

    NEW YORK, N.Y., USA -- Gina, the owner of a busy graphic design firm, started giving herself -- and her employees -- four-day workweeks after she had knee surgery and found it tough to get around. It was meant to be temporary, and Gina only made the change because she felt guilty staying home while the others toiled. But she quickly realized the shorter week was less a burden than a surprise boon.
    From Monday through Thursday, her staff got in early to get their work done, and employees seemed genuinely excited to be there. Productivity increased dramatically. People still had fun, but even the office chitchat seemed more efficient. And when they were at work, they worked.
    "They were using the extra day off to spend time with their families, do errands and take long weekends away, but also to schedule appointments they might otherwise have taken an afternoon off to attend," Gina said. People ended up taking fewer vacations days, and sick days disappeared almost entirely.
    The notion of the four-day work week was introduced in the 1950s by American labor union leader Walter Reuther, but workers -- or, more specifically, bosses -- have been slow to buy in. By most accounts, the American workweek is now at its most saturated: Nearly 86% of American men and 67% of women work more than 40 hours in any given week, in the name of productivity, financial necessity and, according to at least one study, happiness.
    In her book "White Collar Sweatshop," author Jill Andresky Fraser writes about a culture of American workers being on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, even as salaries and benefits decrease. That's because, despite the evidence, we're programmed to believe that working longer and harder begets great achievement. But what if working less is the real key to success?
    Earlier this year, when Facebook exec Nicola Mendelsohn was hired as a company vice president, she reportedly negotiated a four-day workweek so she could spend more time with her family. Much was made of the rumor, which Facebook would neither confirm nor deny, despite the fact that many working mothers around the country routinely, and increasingly, negotiate four-day workweeks. In fact, 44% of female doctors now work four or fewer days a week, up from 29% in 2005.
    And yet Mendelsohn's four-day imperative sparked big debate: Critics called the move entitled and questioned its fairness, while working mothers hailed it a victory, naming her a poster child for work-life balance.
    Many have argued for the four-day workweek, or flexible hours in general, as a way to retain talented female workers who might otherwise quit altogether in order to have children.
    But a four-day workweek isn't beneficial to mothers alone -- and it is beneficial. When Utah introduced four-day workweeks for many of its state employees in 2008, it boosted productivity and worker satisfaction. They reverted to the standard five-day week only three years later, because residents complained about not having access to services on Fridays.
    In a 2012 op-ed in the New York Times, software CEO Jason Fried reported that the 32-hour, four-day workweek his company follows from May through October has resulted in an increase in productivity. "Better work gets done in four days than in five," he wrote. It makes sense: When there's less time to work, there's less time to waste. And when you have a compressed workweek, you tend to focus on what's important. (Like sleep, quality work happens best when uninterrupted.)
    Fried also reported that the four-day workweek had made it easier to recruit new talent and retain valuable staff -- male and female.
    There's one caveat. Though unlikely to affect higher-ups like Mendelsohn, the four-day week tends to work best when the entire office is involved. One reason many employees may feel reluctant to take on a four-day week is because of the fear of "missing out" on access to the boss or to the flow of ideas and information.
    Ten weeks after her first daughter was born, Mary, an environmental attorney in Denver, returned to work, taking the firm up on its offer to let her come in four days a week while everyone else remained at five. A month later, Mary found herself exhausted, constantly irritable, and nursing a persistent cough.
    "I was happy they wanted to keep me enough to be flexible," she said. "But I always felt that the most important decisions were made when I was home relieving the nanny."
    Instead of providing some relief, the flexible hours that were Mary's, and Mary's alone, only made her that much more anxious.
    "I became convinced that once out of sight, I was out of mind." Putting everyone on the same schedule helps reduce that fear.
    There's also the simple economics of the four-day week, as seen in Utah. When the lights are on four days instead of five, and employees need to make the commute two fewer times, costs are lowered.
    For all these reasons, many employers who go the four-day route never go back. Three years later, Gina's knee is healed but the four-day workweek remains. Her firm has grown by 20%.
    Was it the change in schedule? "I'm sure that can't account for all the growth," Gina said. "But it played a role for sure. Now I joke that blowing out my knee was the best career move I ever made."
    Peggy Drexler is the author of "Our Fathers, Ourselves: Daughters, Fathers, and the Changing American Family" and "Raising Boys Without Men." She is an assistant professor of psychology at Weill Medical College of Cornell University and a former gender scholar at Stanford University. Join her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @drpeggydrexler.

  4. PRC Labour Law - Bitesize, by Mayer Brown LLP, Lexology.com (registration)
    [Here's the closest China comes to worksharing or timesizing -]
    BEIJING, People's Republic of China (PRC) - Wages, Overtime and Compensation (Cont'd)
    This week, we continue our discussion on overtime.
    What can I do to reduce the amount of overtime salary I have to pay to employees?
    With respect to employees who are covered by the Standard Working Hours Scheme (please refer to our Bitesize article of 19 June 2013), one option is to put in place an appropriate overtime policy to make sure that working hours are correctly recorded and any overtime work is properly approved.
    You may also apply to the local labour authority to have as many positions as possible covered by the Comprehensive Calculation Working Hours Scheme or the Flexible Working Hours Scheme. If such application is approved, you may avoid paying overtime salary to the relevant employees in most cases. (Please refer to our Bitesize article of 19 June 2013.)
    Is it possible for all employees to be covered by the Comprehensive Calculation Working Hours Scheme and/or the Flexible Working Hours Scheme?
    Generally no. The labour authorities are reluctant to grant any such approvals.
    While the PRC law is not entirely clear on this matter and the local practice may vary, it would appear that:
    • Employees in select positions engaged in the communications, railway, telecommunications, water transport, aviation, fishing, geological exploration for oil or other resources, construction, salt or sugar manufacturing, or tourism industries may be able to obtain approval from the labour authority to implement the Comprehensive Working Hours Scheme.
    • Senior management, sales staff, field staff, forwarders, loader stevedores, long-distance truck drivers, taxi drivers, railway transportation escorts, port staff, warehouse staff, staff on duty for non-productive business (e.g., in order to fight fires or to provide any other types of emergency service) may be granted approval to implement the Flexible Working Hours Scheme.
    An employer must convince the labour authority of its need to implement the said scheme by submitting the required supporting documents. The employer may also confer with the trade union, employee representative congress, or the employees affected.
    Please note that in accordance with Beijing local rules, those holding a senior management position automatically qualify for the Flexible Working Hours Scheme without needing to go through the approval procedure. However, the rule offers no guidance as to what constitutes "senior management". In practice, the description may apply to those at the level of CEO, deputy CEO, CFO (or deputy CFO) and other high-level senior positions, especially where such is stipulated in the company's Articles of Association or internal employee handbook. In normal cases, a department manager is not considered to be "senior management staff".
    In what circumstances would I still have to pay overtime to employees who are covered by the Comprehensive Calculation Working Hours Scheme or the Flexible Working Hours Scheme?
    The relevant employee's working hours under the Comprehensive Calculation Working Hours Scheme may be comprehensively calculated in terms of per week, per month, per quarter, or per year (the "Calculated Period"), as approved by the labour authority. However, the employee's average working hours per day and per month within the relevant Calculated Period shall be similar to those under the Standard Working Hours Scheme. If the employee's total working hours during the Calculated Period exceed the maximum working hours under the Standard Working Hours Scheme, you are required to pay 150 percent of the employee's normal rate as overtime pay for the excess working hours. If the employee works on any public holiday, you are required to pay 300 percent of the normal rate as overtime pay.
    With respect to an approved Flexible Working Hours Scheme, generally speaking, you are not required pay overtime salary to the relevant employees. However, according to some local rules (e.g., in Shanghai), you are still obliged to pay an additional 300 percent of the normal rate to an employee who is subject to the Flexible Working Hours Scheme if such employee works on a public holiday.
    If the relevant labour authority approves my application to introduce the Comprehensive Working Hours Scheme and the Irregular Working Hours Scheme, could such approval be applied retroactively to release me from past breaches?
    No. Such approval only applies in respect of work carried out following the time at which approval was granted. It cannot, therefore, be applied retroactively. The term of the said approval is generally 1-3 years, which means the employer needs to apply again upon expiry of the approval. During the term of the approval, consent from any newly-hired employee is not required.
    If you are interested in submitting an article to Lexology, please contact Andrew Teague at ateague@lexology.com.f you are interested in submitting an article to Lexology, please contact Andrew Teague at ateague@lexology.com.

7/02/2013 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from today will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Corbett Administration abandoning [expansion to] 40-hour workweek for non-union employees, by Jan Murphy jmurphy@pennlive.com, Patriot-News via pennlive.com
    The current 37.5-hour workweek for non-unionized state employees will stay. Gov. Tom Corbett administration is notifying employees it is dropping its consideration of a 40-hour workweek. (photo caption)
    HARRISBURG, Pa., USA - State employees started getting word this morning that the idea of moving the non-unionized workers to a 40-hour workweek as soon as August has been abandoned for financial reasons.
    They will remain on a 37.5-hour workweek like their union counterparts.
    The move would have cost the state an estimated $21 million more this year to compensate those 13,000 employees for the additional time they spent at work.

    Although Gov. Tom Corbett just signed the 2013-14 budget bill, his staff is already looking ahead to the next fiscal year and foresees the need to start curbing spending now, according to a memo employees received.
    Dan Egan, a spokesman for the Office of Administration, said, "The 40-hour work week was always a proposal and there were never any guarantees that it would be part of the final budget."
    The memo indicates the proposed move, announced in February, would have begun to narrow the pay discrepancy that was created between union and nonunion workers when managerial employees pay was frozen in 2008 at the height of the Great Recession and union workers' pay wasn't.
    The union workers continued to receive their contractually provided raises over four years bumping their pay by 14 percent, while non-union employees' pay remained stagnant.
    This has created situations where union workers are making more than their supervisors, making it harder to convince qualified individuals to move into management positions. It also has impacted employee morale in agencies throughout state government.
    "Once again state managers get screwed," said one non-union employee.
    After learning that the move to the 40-hour week was being dropped, another said, "I wish they'd research the viability of these projects before making the announcements. As if management employee morale wasn't low enough."
    Yet another employee, who asked to remain anonymous for job security reasons, said, "The 40-hr week wasn't even a real solution. But at least it gave us the opportunity to make up some ground in what we bring home to our families after four years of being frozen. Instead they just waved it under our noses then snatched it away again. They need a lesson on workforce morale"
    Corbett also said in an interview with the PennLive editorial board that the move was intended to pay employees who he said were putting in extra hours anyway. And it would have moved government workers to a 40-hour workweek typical in the private sector.
    The following is the memo state employees received:
    It said: "As you know the Governor’s February budget included providing for a 40-hour work week for management employees to help address some of the structural pay discrepancies that exist between the management and unionized workforce. Unfortunately, we are not able to move forward with the 40-hour work week proposal for managers due to the continued pressure on the commonwealth’s budget this year and next. While we are just finalizing this year’s budget, we expect to have considerable difficulty balancing the 2014-15 budget. Because of that, we must restrain any activity that increases spending, including eliminating the 40-hour work week concept.
    "The Governor has been and continues to be committed to not exacerbating the pay inequities that exist by continuing to match the pay increases that have been negotiated for the unionized workforce. We will also continue to work diligently to find opportunities to appropriately address the pay inequities as our fiscal situation improves. Thank you for your continued commitment and understanding."
    * This post has been updated to include Dan Egan's comment as well as those from another management employee.

  2. Private Sector opposes paying overtime for new work-week, (6/24 late pickup) caribnewsdesk.com
    GEORGETOWN, Guyana - Guyana’s business community is opposed to paying overtime for Saturdays and instead wants government to stagger the 40 hour work-week over six days.
    [The only business of government is enforcing the weekly total, not meddling in the details of its disposition.]
    Although the Private Sector Commission (PSC) has welcomed the GUY$35,000 minimum wage, it wants its introduction to be postponed from July 1 and for Saturdays to be part of normal workers [sic] to avoid paying overtime. Government has so far not given in to any of its demands.
    [On the other hand, minimum wages are dysfunctional and create a gap at the bottom of the wage ladder for new entrants to the job market. Adequate general wage levels should be engineered solely by the workweek-reduction creation of a sufficient employer-perceived labor shortage to achieve them by market forces = employers bidding against one another for good help, as during the wartime prosperity of World Wars I and II.]
    PSC Vice Chairman, Clinton Urling says paying overtime for Saturdays will push up the cost of doing business and can fuel inflation which can in turn result in an economic downturn.
    “Cost is a major issue in private sector companies and this will represent another cost which I am not saying will have a negative effect overall but it certainly puts pressure on the economy and on businesses to perform and it could increase inflationary pressures and possibly contribute to reduced economic growth coming in at the end of the year,” he said.
    Urling said the PSC preferred to see the minimum wage increase by GUY$1,000 or GUY$2,000 to cater for persons working 40 hours over a six day period.
    He also argued that the 40-hour formula would remove a productive day, adding to the long list of national holidays.
    Labour Minister Dr. Nankishore Gopaul, however, maintains that the 40-hour work-week can be staggered to include any of the five days except Sunday. “I told them that once they have more than a certain number of employees they can spread it because there’ll be bad days in business when you don’t require (all the staff),” he said.
    Gopaul, who met representatives of the business community on Monday under the umbrella of the PSC on Tuesday to discuss the issue, emphasised that the 40 hours could be worked over any five days. Sundays, he said, would be covered under the Factories Act because workers are entitled to the premium rate.
    But the PSC Vice Chairman countered saying that formula was not feasible for entities like mining companies and hospitality entities. “Currently, it is a six-day work week. Workers can come in on Saturdays and work. With this new arrangement, we have to ask workers to come in and work. It’s not statutory. We have to ask them to come in and it’s treated as overtime,” he said.
    The PSC intends to conduct a national study to determine the impact of the five-day work week on businesses before returning to government to make a stronger case on the issue.
    The Labour Minister says a five-day 40 hour work week is in keeping with global expectations of the International Labour Organisation (ILO). Guyana is not among the 15 countries that have ratified the Forty-Hour Work Week Convention of 1935, according to the ILO website.

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