Timesizing® Associates - Homepage

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

12/31/2013 – 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. Manufacturing growth slows in Texas, by Sheryl Jean, (12/30 late pickup) Dallas Morning News via dallasnews.com
    DALLAS, Tex., USA - Texas manufacturing increased at a slower pace in December, according to a survey released Monday by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
    Production: The production index fell to 7.1 in December from 16.9 in November. Overall, the Texas production index has been positive for eight months.
    Other: Most other manufacturing measures showed slower growth or no growth in December. Demand for new orders and shipments was little changed after seven months of gains. The capacity utilization index declined 8 points to 8.6. Hiring was up, but workweeks were slightly shorter.
    [Corelation? Shorter workweeks, more hiring?]
    Upward pressure on prices picked up.
    Comments: Some of the slowdown appears to be seasonal. One primary metal manufacturer said December sales were lower because customers shut down for the holidays. Manufacturers are cautiously optimistic. A paper manufacturer said it expects increased sales to cover higher raw material, labor and benefits costs in 2014.
    General business: Perceptions of broader business conditions were more optimistic in December and six months beyond. The index of future general business activity jumped 16 points to its highest level in nearly three years, and the future company outlook index rose to a 21-month high.

  2. Borough responders' hours capped, by Andrew Wellner, Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman via frontiersman.com
    PALMER, Alaska, USA — Some pretty big changes are coming down the pike for emergency services in the Matanuska-Susitna [Mat-Su] Borough.
    As of the start of the year, the borough is going to have to keep a lid on the number of hours responders work.
    “We are trying to manage to keep the responders’ hours below 30 hours (per week) on an annual basis,” Borough Manager John Moosey said Monday.
    That move comes in response to an audit the Retirement and Benefits Division of the state’s Department of Administration conducted last year. That audit found that responders were regularly working more than the 30-hour threshold over which they would have to be offered participation in the state’s Public Employees Retirement System.
    The borough had been operating under definitions for who qualifies as part-time, full-time or on-call that had been hammered out with the unions that represent borough employees.
    Responders are paid on-call, meaning they are paid for the time they spend responding and training. Though the department is, second to the school district, the largest borough department, there are very few actually people classified as full-time employees in the emergency services.
    There are many that work it as a job with full-time hours, though, which was fine under the borough’s definitions. But the state objected and, after that audit, the state insisted the borough had to use state definitions instead.
    That lead to a resolution passed without discussion at the borough assembly’s Dec. 17 meeting, which pasted the state’s definitions over top of the previous definitions.
    And that led to the borough’s decision to limit emergency services responders to working no more than 30 hours.
    Back when the PERS discrepancy first popped up, Moosey had said that one of the options was to limit responders to 15 hours.
    That prompted an outcry from responders who worried that a limit on hours would reduce the effectiveness of borough fire departments and emergency medical crews.
    Moosey said that he is working on a plan to present to the borough assembly at budget time that would seek to address the hit the borough is going to take in staff hours.
    He said part of that will look at adding more full-time positions into the budgets of the various fire departments.
    “There’s no way we could afford to make the adjustment all in one step but we’re working on a proposal that I will be submitting to the assembly in moving that forward,” Moosey said.
    Contact Andrew Wellner at 352-2270 or andrew.wellner@frontiersman.com.

  3. BelToll contact points change working hours for New Year holidays, News of Belarus via Belarusian Telegraph Agency via BelTA.com
    MINSK, Belarus [White Russia] - Contact points [= toll plazas] of the digital road toll collection system BelToll have changed working hours in connection with New Year holidays, BelTA learnt from IOOO Kapsch Telematic Services.
    On 31 December contact points work from 9h00 to 17h00. Days off are 1-2 January and 6-7 January 2014. On 3, 4, 8 and 11 January contact points will be open from 9h00 to 18h00.
    [Sounds shorter? Anyway, this is our first story from White Russia = Bela-Rus. So was there originally another color too, or since /rus/ means red can we assume Russia was once Red Russ or Rus-Rus? And since Ukraine means "little" and was originally Ukrainski Rus or Little Russia, does that mean Rus-Rus was once Bolshaye Rus or Great Russia?]
    BelToll also said that the contact point in Mogilev has moved to another location. It is now situated in Yakubovskogo Street.
    BelToll is a digital road toll collection system built around a specialized short-range radio communication technology that allows collecting road toll without having to stop vehicles. It went commercial in Belarus on 1 August 2013. At present the system covers 815km of Belarusian motorways.
    The company IOOO Kapsch Telematic Services is in charge of operating the BelToll system in Belarus.

12/29-30/2013 – 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. Top Stories 2013 - No. 9: Local impact of sequestration - Shipyard, Air National Guard workers furloughed, by Deborah McDermott dmcdermott@seacoastonline.com, 12/29 Seacoastonline.com
    PORTSMOUTH, N.H., USA - It has been a roller coaster year for Portsmouth Naval Shipyard workers, who faced lost work days in 2013 due to congressional inaction in Washington.
    During a furlough period that began July 1 and again during the federal government shutdown in October, some of those who work at the shipyard were told not to report to work.
    [Better lost workdays than lost jobs, furloughs than firings.]
    In October, shipyard workers were also joined by hundreds of federal workers and contractors throughout the greater Seacoast.

    Last spring, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced that many civilian defense employees would face furloughs due to automatic budget cuts known as sequestration. The number was initially thought to be 21 days, which was then cut to 11 days over the remainder of the year. In May, most workers at the nation's public shipyards — including PNSY — were exempted. But some 1,200 who do not directly work in support of submarine maintenance were not.
    Hagel finally lifted the furloughs in October, just as the government shut down. Again, while most shipyard workers were exempted from furloughs that resulted, many were not.
    At Pease Air National Guard Base, 128 military technicians were also furloughed, federal parks and lands closed, the McIntyre Federal Building in downtown Portsmouth was a ghost town, and federal researchers at the University of New Hampshire went home.
    As shipyard workers streamed out the Gate 1 on Oct. 1, worker Andrew Ward of Wells, Maine, said, "We just don't spend any money. We don't know what's going to happen with my job and we don't know how long this is going to keep going."
    Paul O'Connor, president of the yard's Metal Trades Council, said the tension and stress from uncertainty gnawed at workers throughout the year.
    In the waning days of 2013, Congress passed a two-year budget that forestalls further sequestration cuts and provides some stability to federal agencies.
    [Another version -] \
    Year in review: Military leaders struggled to deal with sequestration, shutdown, by Steven Beardsley, 12/29 Stars and Stripes via stripes.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Among the conflicts that consumed Pentagon planners in 2013 were the budget wars in Washington, which raged throughout the year and claimed more than a few casualties across the military community.
    The defense budget caps known as “sequestration” went into effect in March, forcing military officials to carve $34 billion out of planning for the rest of the fiscal year. Commanders decried the impact of the cuts on unit readiness, with the Army canceling brigade-level training exercises and the Air Force slashing flying hours and grounding whole squadrons.
    The Navy cited sequestration when it delayed the deployment of the USS Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier in February, throwing military families as well as the many single sailors who had already moved out of apartments and stored vehicles, into a tailspin. Nearly 650,000 civilian defense employees were furloughed for six days in the summer, a change from initial plans that had called for 22 days of furloughs but were changed to 14 days and then 11.
    Educators at Department of Defense schools received a last-minute furlough reprieve before the school year began in August, reversing the department’s widely criticized plan to close nearly 200 schools across the world for five furlough days.
    Sequestration was only one of several budget conundrums facing the DOD in 2013.
    The government also ran on a continuing resolution until late March, which froze spending at levels from the previous fiscal year and forced many commands to tighten spending further.
    In light of sequestration and the continuing resolution, communities canceled festivities such as Fourth of July fireworks, and on-base services altered hours. DOD commands and entities put stricter travel rules into place, leading to canceled meetings and more video teleconferences.
    In Europe, The Edelweiss Lodge and Resort, a popular vacation spot and conference center for servicemembers and their families in the German Alps, reported a 15 percent drop in occupancy during the second quarter of 2013.
    With the new fiscal year came a new crisis.
    Congress failed to fund the government by Oct. 1, forcing the government to shut down, including many of its military components. Ordered to continue only mission-essential activities, commanders were forced to weigh which employees they needed and which could be sent home. Servicemembers, meanwhile, continued to work.
    Congress ended the shutdown on Oct. 17, and it agreed to repay those who lost money during more than two weeks of furloughs. Still, the deal to fund the government avoided the biggest issue on military commanders’ minds — sequestration, and the prospect of another round of more than $50 billion in lowered spending in January.
    Under a new, two-year budget deal announced in December, much of the funding lost under the budget caps for the next two fiscal years set in the 2011 Budget Control Act will be restored.
    Whether the deal can keep military commands from further cutting — and civilians and servicemember families happy — remains to be seen.
    Twitter: @sjbeardsley

  2. Healthcare workers to be paid overtime under act, by Alison Hsiao, 12/30 TaipeiTimes.com
    [Well that's a slight disincentive for employers to overwork employees if there's not too costly a benefit package per employee, but it's still an incentive for employees. Better design something that disincentivates both.]
    TAIPEI, Taiwan - With the exception of doctors all healthcare workers are to be paid overtime from tomorrow under the Labor Standards Act.
    The health workers were previously not protected by the working hours regulations of the act, instead conforming to an article within the act which states that these employees may “arrange their own working hours, regular days off and national holidays through other agreements with their employers.”
    A growing number of nurses and other healthcare workers have protested what they called the hospitals’ abuse of manpower.
    “Once the healthworkers adjust back to regular working hours, they are required to be paid overtime wages when working overtime,” Council of Labor Affairs official Huang Wei-chen said. “They will also be protected by the regulation on the maximum number of overtime hours, which is 46 hours a month.”
    Under the act, regular working hours are not to exceed eight hours a day and 48 hours every two weeks, and the combined regular hours and overtime in a day may not exceed 12 hours.
    The council said some healthcare workers, including technicians and medical personnel working in hemodialysis units, radiotherapy units, blood banks and respiratory therapy rooms have already been covered by the regulation since March last year.
    The rest, which include those working in emergency rooms, operation rooms and intensive care units, are to go onto regular working hours from tomorrow.
    The Taiwan Radical Nurses Union has played down the changes, citing a worrying drain on the numbers of nurses, the little hope of compensation for past grievances, such as the example of hospitals keeping nurses on call, counting the hours as “regular” rather than overtime.

12/28/2013 – 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. Ashtabula County Children Services to cut hours beginning Jan. 2, by Stacy Millberg smillberg@starbeacon.com, StarBeacon.com
    ASHTABULA TOWNSHIP, Ohio, USA — The Ashtabula County Children Services Board will start the new year with shorter hours.
    Beginning Thursday, Jan. 2, the offices, located at 3914 C Court, will be open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
    Executive Director Tania Burnett said the reduction is being made to keep the office in line with other Children Services offices across the state.
    Burnett said although the office is struggling financially, the reduction in hours is not being done as a cost savings measure.
    “It may help a little, but it’s basically to keep us in line with the other offices,” she said
    ["Other offices" that have done it as a costsaving measure? Anyway, better hours cuts than job cuts.]
    Burnett said the staff had an hour unpaid lunch and will now take a 30 minute lunch and leave 30 minutes earlier each day.
    Although the office will close 30 minutes earlier each day, it will not hinder the public’s ability to contact Children Services in an emergency.
    The office’s emergency child abuse hotline is available after hours. Hotline staff members can be reached by calling 440-998-1811 and following the menu prompts during the recording.
    Burnett said, while the reduction in hours is not directly financially motivated, the office is still struggling due to the increase in children in care.
    With the failure of an additional .5-mil levy back in November, Burnett said the board is looking at all of its options going forward in the new year. The levy would have generated about $800,000 for the office.
    “We are considering putting the levy back on,” she said. “We are trying to figure out the best way to get the message out that we’ve had such an increase in kids over the past three years. We hate to ask to voters because we know everyone is struggling. It’s a tough situation.”
    The office has made adjustments internally to cut costs, but it still is not enough. Burnett said there are some things in the works at the state level that could help increase the amount of child welfare funding.

  2. Better [=shorter?] working hours for women sought, ArabNews.com
    JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia - The government’s move to fully feminize shops selling women’s accessories by 2017 has been widely welcomed.
    [Huh?? seems to mean mainly shorter hours, so how about just "humanize"? The USA went through this around 1912 when Teddy Roosevelt was running for President and calling for a reduction to 40-hour workweeks for women and in continuous-production industries.]
    Commenting on one of the websites [what websites?], Saudi citizen Abu Ali said: “The numerous shops that extend along the streets of the Kingdom’s cities and villages badly need to define working hours. The move will allow everybody, retirees from both sexes, persons with or without degrees to work accordingly.”
    Abu Al-Masakeen said that the move would reduce women’s unemployment.
    He suggested stopping recruitment of foreign workers for these jobs in both wholesale and retail shops, or limiting the work visa period to only four years, and not allowing expatriates to return for work for three years after exit.
    Abdullah Al-Shahri said the correction campaign [meaning the recruitment of foreign workers etc?] did not bear positive results in Jeddah [where's his data?], as businesses run by expatriates [meaning foreign workers? expatriates are by definition outside the country and repatriates are irrelevant here] have prospered more than before.
    [i.e., more than businesses run by Saudi citizens? but we were talking about employees, not employers!]
    A draft statement by the Ministry of Labor said that all women’s shops in the Kingdom will be fully feminized by 2015, in the third stage of the program. All retail shops, shacks and open markets dealing in women's accessories will be 100 percent feminized.
    [Maybe this is an unremarkable concept in Arabic, but it's a bizarre expression and concept in standard English. Once again, we remind ourselves that the world is not just different geographic zones but different social-evolutionary time zones, and populations are scattered all the way back along the social-evolutionary meanderings of western Europe and its offspring. Want to raise the issue of political correctness or racism and stifle this discussion? Then you're looking around the world with a very partitioned mind doing completely ad-hoc and truncated thinking about:   stoning women to death for being rape victims, or amputating hands for misdemeanors, or total female coverup or even genital mutilation for population control, or zombification for adultery or family desertion...]
    The Ministry of Labor said that such shops should correct status of work in compliance with labor regulations in the upcoming three years.
    From early 2014, the decision will be applicable to shops selling perfume, maternity items, evening and wedding dresses, abaya and accessories.
    All other shops selling shoes, bags and socks, will follow, and by early 2016, ready-made garments for women, children and men (multi-department stores) will be covered. All these will be feminized in addition to hairdressing and textile shops. Waleed Al-Ammari, member of the textile committee at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI), said that the Ministry of Labor should study the markets first, and be familiarized with the results of the first and second phases of the program as a first step prior to the approval of the drafts, as this sector occupies a big share of the retail business. He added that the merchants agree with the decision of the ministry in this regard, and that they are ready and prepared to apply it. But they argue that the feminization process during the first and second phases still suffers from shortage of staff if one takes into consideration that such jobs in the retail business do not meet aspirations of graduates [maybe they would if wages rose in response to the shortage, instead of dragging-in desperate foreign labor], only those with a high school degree who face severe family situations, including divorced and widowed women.
    According to him, the shops that are still open have decreased the number of their branches because of labor shortage.
    [Oh baloney! Spoiled employers can't seem to think two moves ahead in chess and are always looking to pay employees less and thus weaken their own markets.]
    He wondered about the situation when the rest of the sector is feminized.
    [This is the type of shortsighted businessman for whom there's nothing in the world but robopathically counting his money, regardless of deterioration all around him.]

  3. The Depressing Japanese Work Week Song, by Adshap, (12/27 late pickup) JapaneseLevelUp.com
    SAN FRANCISCO?, Calif?, USA – Quick question! How many days in a week? Seven. Better question! How many work days in a week? Five. Yes, five. No more, sometimes less. When I think of the concept of weekend work, I recall *Office Space and doing anything humanly (and inhumanly) possible to avoid it. But Japan? Overtime and weekend work are a beautiful match made in hell.
    Lets go back in time a bit. Before weekend work existed in Japan? No. When weekend work was even stronger. So much that there was a popular expression for working every day.
    Get ready to see the most depressing Japanese phrase you will ever see [in] the most disgusting translation ever possible:
    Monday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Friday.
    Just to straighten the record for those who may not know, the typical calendar weeks looks like this:
    [Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday(?)]
    So they took the existing calendar and cleverly turned..Sunday \and\ Saturday..into an extra Monday and Friday. Well I guess that’s not so bad, as we’d all like to have an extra Friday… NO. This is madness. Madness! If I saw this calendar I would be done. Forget Mondays. Every day is Monday!
    This was an old phrase created in 1908 by the Japanese navy and spread to the rest of the country. The concept was eventually turned into a song which gained popularity in 1940 as it reached the radio waves.
    I know by now you are dying to see the lyrics of this song. Well, I’ll do you one better. How about the *promotional video with the actual song being sung, with lyrics attached [only in Japanese as of 12/28/13] for karaoke style.
    Now practice up this song, and sing it for your Japanese friends. Don’t worry, they won’t be your friends for long.
    Note: I actually often work weekends. Don’t tell anyone.
    [Well hopefully you love your job and would willingly over"work" for free, reinvesting your OT earnings in training & hiring in line with a couple of mottos from 22nd-century economies: "No overtime alone!" and "Hire your unemployed neighbor even 'part time'!" and "Share your love job!"]

12/27/2013 – 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. Nampa School District plans hearing on levy - The public will get a chance for input before the next tax measure, by Bill Roberts broberts@idahostatesman.com, IdahoStatesman.com
    NAMPA, Idaho, USA - The public meeting is tentatively set for 7 p.m. on Jan. 9 at the district office, 619 S. Canyon St.
    Nampa school officials are working their way out of a $5.3 million deficit, which should be repaid this year.
    They say they need a levy to help restore 10 of the 46 teachers the district cut to balance its budget. District officials also want to cut their 14 days of furlough in half, with an emphasis on restoring five days of instruction.

    Trustees agreed earlier this month to hold a levy election but have not set an amount or a date.
    At a board meeting on Dec. 17, education stakeholder groups, including the Nampa Education Association, parents groups and members of the district’s superintendent search committee, urged the board to seek a levy, even if it means increasing the property tax rate for homeowners.
    Pete Koehler, Nampa school superintendent, has suggested a $2.8 million levy that would include setting aside $700,000 for the district’s reserve fund, improving district computer equipment and purchasing materials for a curriculum based on Idaho Core Standards.
    A $1.6 million levy for school operations expires in June.
    Bill Roberts: 377-6408, Twitter: @IDS_BillRoberts

  2. Private Sector Greek Employees Say No to Work Hour Extensions, by Abed Alloush, Greek Reporter via greece.greekreporter.com
    ATHENS, Greece - Employ[ee] unions of the private sector have reacted after a recent decision was made by the Regional Council of Attica. In particular, the Regional council has decided to organize a series of festive celebrations on Saturday the 28th of December in Athens. In order for these celebrations to be carried out successfully, the council said that the shop working hours must be extended to 11 pm. As it was expected, the employees of the private sector are against this decision and claimed that the extension on their working hours is illegal and immoral.
    The private sector employee federation with an announcement underlined: “except from previous humiliating measures that we had to suffer, such as painful wage cuts, flexible working hours and irregular payment we now have to work like slaves [=without extra pay?] until midnight on Saturday at the altar of the show that the authorities want to perform, forgetting that the center of Athens has become a city filled with homeless, poor and unemployed people.”
    The federation also called the consumers to boycott the Saturday night events.
    On the contrary, the Traders Association of Athens welcomed the Council’s decision. They hope that the extension on the working hours will urge the customers to visit the shops as the seasonal offers attract more people to buy presents at a more reasonable price. Traders believe that this move will boost the market of Greece’s capital. Any store that wishes to stay open until 11pm on Saturday, must submit the appropriate forms and information at the “Ergani” website.
    The events that have been organized by the Municipality of Athens will begin on Saturday at 5pm in the afternoon at Syntagma Square [=Constitution Sq]. The Museum of Folk Art and Tradition, the Numismatic Museum and the Museum of Greek Folk Instruments will also be open until 11pm.

  3. California state worker retirements decline in 2013, by Jon Ortiz jortiz@sacbee.com, The State Worker via Sacramento Bee via sacbee.com
    [One demonizing mention of furloughs, but an interesting article on the CalPERS background and the Arnie-Jerry contrast.]
    SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - The number of California state workers entering retirement fell again in 2013, marking the third consecutive year that fewer employees took their pensions than the year before.
    New CalPERS data also show retirements among non-state employees, many of whom have faced similar cutbacks and outright layoffs the last few years, also declined slightly.
    About 10,000 employees filed retirement applications in 2013, down 13 percent from the record 11,500 state workers who took their pensions in 2010. Last year, about 10,600 state civil servants retired.
    Experts attribute the 2010 state retirements spike to furloughs, bitter contract battles with then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and talk at the time of reducing pensions for current employees.
    Many of those tensions have eased during the Brown administration. The state budget is in better shape, furloughs ended in June and a pension law that took effect this year left benefits untouched for employees hired before the measure took effect Jan. 1. (In October, a new ballot proposal that could reduce pensions for all state and local government workers has recently surfaced.)
    Several unions also bargained new contracts with Gov. Jerry Brown that provide deferred pay raises that would factor into state employees’ retirement packages – if they work a few more years.
    Meanwhile, retirements among local government, special district and non-teaching school district employees in CalPERS fell about 1 percent from last year to roughly 19,300. During the 2010 retirement stampede, 21,500 non-state employees took their pensions.

12/26/2013 – 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. Rural postal cuts get lukewarm reviews, by Mike Simonson, Wisconsin Public Radio via Ashland DAily Press via ashlandwi.com
    ASHLAND, Wisc., USA - Cutting hours at post offices in rural Wisconsin communities will continue for another year. So far, the postal service says people are grudgingly accepting it.
    The cuts began a year and a half ago, and included the small post office in Herbster along Lake Superior’s shore. Hours were cut in half, and the service window is only open in the morning now.
    Janine Hahn works at Pine Cone Ole’s Restaurant nearby. “We’ve adjusted. It doesn’t mean they like it. I know a lot of people complained about it and others just didn’t care. I did care. I felt bad for those who used it a lot,” said Hahn.
    Like older people who depend on deliveries of things like medicine.

    [Americans are prematurely shutting down another of their "outdated" technologies, and what a procession of the undead: passenger trains, downtown stations, second tracks, travel agents, Glass-Steagall Banking Act, graduated taxes, glass containers... All because Americans never really understood freedom (the most basic sine-qua-non form is free time), or progress (the most fundamental form is more freedom, i.e.: more free time) or the necessity of backup institutional systems across technological eras - like the next big sunspot storm will shut down all wifi on the planet. So all these "outdated" systems are being, or will have to be, restored at huge waste and expense.]
    U.S. Postal Service spokesman Pete Nowacki represents northwestern and western Wisconsin. He said more cuts are coming. They’re only two-thirds the way through the reductions. But he said given the choice between closing or reducing hours, people are accepting the reductions.
    “You know anytime you’re doing something like this, you’re going to have situations where it might not work best for an individual’s schedule and they’re going to have concerns. That’s fair. We understand that,” said Nowacki.
    Town Clerk Bruce Lindgren says the post office is more than mail in small towns like Herbster.
    “Well, it is. You know, it’s a gathering place for people too. They run into their neighbors and friends and acquaintances and they have brief chats about whatever happens to be on their mind,” said Lindgren.
    The reduction in hours may be a better solution than closing said Lindgren.
    The postal service hopes to be finished with reducing post office hours in a year.

  2. 'Creative' rules for work hours urged, Kyodo News via JapanTimes.co.jp
    [It would be nice to think this means shorter work hours, but...]
    TOKYO, Japan - A government panel called Thursday for rethinking regulations on working hours to boost industrial competitiveness.
    [= always a life-poisoning mistake = "let's get deeper into the international Race to the Bottom dressed up as inevitable Globalization!"]
    In an interim report, a subpanel of the government’s industrial competitiveness council urged the introduction of a new system that requires businesses to increase flexibility in the way employees work and pay only a certain amount of salary regardless of working hours.
    [Wouldn't really work if meant "only a certain amount of salary regardless of how few working hours" would it. It's got to mean "only a certain amount of salary regardless of how many working hours." So it's not really businesses' flexibility they're talking about. It's employees' flexibility because employees are the ones they're trying to manipulate into giving up free time without compensation. But that will just diminish Japan's domestic consumer spending and self-sufficiency - basically just make Japan weaker. Brilliant - not.]
    Members of the council are studying growth strategy in the fields of employment and human resources.
    In the 15-page report, the panel proposed establishing a flexible working hour system mainly for high-level specialists to help them increase creativity.
    [Since when does long hours increase creativity? And since when does "flexible" mean only "upwardly ratchetable"?]
    The panel also proposed studying fresh measures to maintain workers’ health by providing them with breaks during their working hours.
    [Oh how generous! You can have a 15-minute break every four hours in your new 50-60-70-80 hour workweeks.]
    The administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to reflect these proposals in the government’s growth strategy to be revised in mid-2014 after consulting with the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, government sources said.
    The report also proposed popularizing job cards that contain a person’s professional record, including job training, in an effort to support job seekers.
    [= a useless sop to the millions of additional job seekers there will be once the workweek is relengthened in the age of automation and robotics.]

12/25/2013 – 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. State's judicial branch looks at ways to handle budget shortfall, by Hurst Laviana, Wichita Eagle via Kansas.com
    This Sedgwick County courtroom will be empty on some upcoming days due to a state financial issue. Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Lawton Nuss says the judicial branch will furlough employees on five days as a result of a legislative impasse that blocked supplemental funding for courts. (photo caption)
    [Better furloughs than firings, but in this case, best tax the rich whose interests the courts are mainly protecting.]
    WICHITA, Kan., USA - Kansas court employees could face 10 days of unpaid furlough in fiscal year 2015 as the state’s judicial branch tries to deal with an $8.25 million budget shortfall, a committee appointed to study the finances has concluded.
    The furloughs would cut $2.5 million from the deficit, the committee said, while much of the rest would come from delayed judicial appointments, reduced training hours, the elimination of 19.5 court service officer positions and by leaving more than 100 court positions unfilled.
    “It will have a devastating impact,” said Kansas Court of Appeals Judge Karen Arnold-Burger, who chaired the committee. “If they do it in one fell swoop, it closes the courthouses for two weeks.”
    Sedgwick County Chief Judge James Fleetwood said the impact would be felt locally.
    “If something doesn’t happen, we’re going to have a very difficult situation,” he said.
    When the Kansas Legislature approved its two-year state budget this year, it allocated $132.2 million for the courts in fiscal 2014 and $135.2 million in fiscal 2015. Court officials said the shortfall was partly the result of other funds that will be available in 2014 but not in 2015.
    The Kansas Supreme Court in October appointed a committee to look for ways to deal with the expected shortfall, and the committee forwarded its recommendations to Chief Justice Lawton Nuss on Dec. 13. Among them:
    • Leave 120 non-judicial positions unfilled for a savings of $3.75 million. Since 2009, the committee report said, the judicial branch has maintained about 80 unfilled positions, which has saved about $2.5 million annually. Adding 40 more unfilled positions would increase the annual savings by $1.25 million. The positions include court reporters, court clerks, administrative assistants and court service officers.
    • Eliminating 19.5 full-time positions for court service officers who perform duties that are not mandated by law. That would save an estimated $1.08 million. The officers perform such duties as screening applicants for protection from abuse orders, supervising offenders placed on diversion and supervising children who are placed in state custody.
    • Delaying the filling of judge vacancies by leaving the positions open for four months before filling them. That would save $438,000 a year.
    The committee also recommended reducing by $250,000 a grant to Kansas Legal Services. Employees of that agency, which provides legal help for people who can’t afford to hire lawyers, could be forced to take nine furlough days to make up for the lost funding.
    Fleetwood said that unless the 2014 Legislature finds more funds for the courts, the shortfall could lead to delays in obtaining everything from marriage licenses to protection from abuse orders.
    And, he said, “we would be talking about speedy trials issues for criminal cases,” he said. “I would anticipate that it could take four or five months just to get the dockets back in shape.”
    Arnold-Burger said she had no way of knowing whether the 2014 Legislature will increase its funding after seeing the report. She said the judicial branch has little latitude when trying to cut its budget.
    “When 96 percent of the court budget is salary, there is no way to absorb the cost without cutting people or closing courts,” she said.
    [Except, of course, the eternally unmentioned, ssshhh, taxing the rich, who are the main ones the courts are protecting (I didn't say that! It's socialist communist sociopathic tho' functional sustainable M1-circulating economy-dynamizing and in line with the universal imperative to CONTINUE!).]
    Reach Hurst Laviana at 316-268-6499 or hlaviana@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @hlaviana.

  2. Havas Worldwide President Gives 10 Tips For Winning Talent From Competitors, Business Insider via Seattle Post Intelligencer via seattlepi.com
    CHICAGO, Illin., USA - Havas Worldwide president Andrew Benett studied the best ways to find and attract the right employees in his book, The Talent Mandate, released earlier this year. He shared with us 10 tips for winning talent from competitors:
    1. Hire the person, not the position: We hire for the future, not the past. Agility and relentless adaptation are vital, and so we’re typically not looking for someone to slot into a position shaped by the person who just vacated it. We give hires the freedom to meld each position to their own individual strengths and interests. And we help them keep adding on new skills and experiences so they—and their position—can grow along with the business.
    2. Mind your culture: Where other elements (including pay and benefits) are relatively equal, culture is increasingly often the distinguishing factor that sets one company above another. And it may well be the single greatest factor keeping talent in place and engaged. By culture, I’m not talking about poof pillows and sushi bars but about the values that hold a company together—knowing what does and does not fit. And I also mean the intangible way an organization feels when you walk through the door. It doesn’t surprise me at all that 97% of the senior business leaders we surveyed said a strong culture can be a company’s most valuable asset.
    3. Ban jerks: People, obviously, are the most critical component of any culture. We all know people who have left an employer, not because they didn’t like the company or their job responsibilities but because they couldn’t stand their manager or someone else in a position of power who made them dread Monday mornings. We have a no-tolerance policy for bullies and jerks. Even if someone is a superstar on paper, it’s not worth it to keep that person if his or her presence is a drain on the culture and is preventing the formation of other superstars.
    4. Operate from a place of trust: We’re not in the business of hiring brilliant thinkers and technical people just so we can micromanage them and second-guess everything they do. The best cultures are infused with transparency and trust. They give people the information they need (and more) and then get out of their way and let them do their jobs. 94% of senior business leaders we surveyed agreed: “The most successful companies trust their employees, giving them freedom to make decisions and act with a measure of independence.”
    5. Measure by results: For the most part, I don’t care where or when an employee gets the job done. What matters is that they deliver on assignments and find creative ways to add value to the company. If someone wants to compress his or her work into a four-day workweek or prefers working at home part-time or gets more done on weekends, then so be it. Provided client and agency needs are being satisfied, we want to offer all the flexibility we can. This helps with motivation and retention, and it also allows us to cast a wider net. There are lots of enormously talented people out there whose lives simply can’t accommodate the standard workweek. We want them. 97% of senior executives surveyed agree: “The most successful companies are flexible and open to meeting employees’ varied needs.”
    [How about not just four 10-hour days but four 9- or 8-hour days? Does their flexibility tolerance flex that far? = far enough to max their workforce and consumer spending and economic dynamism?]
    6. Say thank-you: Know why most people leave their jobs? According to the US Department of Labor, the #1 reason is because they don’t feel appreciated. As much as we pay out in salary, benefits, and various perks, we know that the best people we hire are giving us far more in return. And so we say thank-you. And not just during formal reviews. We’re paying more attention to softer, everyday rewards and motivators—whether it is public acknowledgment of a job well done, extra vacation time, or an invitation to a senior-level gathering.
    7. Acknowledge their personal brand: This sounds like complete marketing-speak, but the fact is that the people we hire aren’t just building our brand and our clients’ brands; they’re building their own brands, too. They have to be in this era of free-agency talent, when careers are built not within a single company, but very often across industries. What does this mean on a practical basis? It means we support skills acquisition, the accumulation of a broad base of experiences, and we encourage entrepreneurship and outside interests.
    8. Be age blind: Just because you were weaned on Han Solo’s Star Wars, not Jar Jar Binks’, doesn’t mean you can’t be a seriously creative digital innovator. In the same way, the fact that you’re a millennial doesn’t mean you’re not ready to lead a client meeting. The diversity of our company is one of our greatest strengths, and our people-centered approach means we’re not going to pigeonhole our talent according to their birth dates. If you’re ready to take on huge responsibilities, we’ll encourage you to do so. And we’re never going to assume the best digital person for a particular job has to be south of 40. Just show us what you can do.
    9. Support life-work integration: The digital age means it’s getting harder and harder to detach from work. If you work in an office, no matter what industry you’re in, you’re more likely than not taking work home with you, responding to texts on the weekends, and even checking email while on vacation. We try to balance that out by not creating a workspace that’s a personal-free zone. If you need to do some online shopping or post a Vine while at the office, fine. If your volunteer work would be made easier with our equipment, then by all means use it when it’s not needed for agency business. Our new digital tools mean life and work have been blended—and that shouldn’t be all one-way.
    10. Give them something to believe in: There are a number of components to job satisfaction: Being paid what you think you deserve is one. Enjoying what you do is another. And now, increasingly, we’re looking to feel good about what we do—to feel our jobs are tied into our personal values and are in some way contributing to the greater good. It’s no coincidence that Havas executives have produced two books in recent years that speak to the importance of businesses doing good (Who Cares Wins and Good for Business). We’re serious about the role we believe business in general—and communications groups in particular—should be playing in addressing some of society’s most pressing problems. When I interviewed Walt Freese for The Talent Mandate, he said that at Ben & Jerry’s he “strove to create a culture where people didn’t need to park any part of themselves at the door, especially not their hearts and souls.” Our company takes our societal obligations as a business entity—and as individuals—seriously, and we offer plenty of avenues for our talent to get involved, whether through our sustainability leadership efforts, One Young World, or our pro-bono work. 94% of the business leaders we surveyed said companies with clear values have an edge in recruiting top candidates. We think we have that edge.

12/24/2013 – 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. Worksharing: Averting layoffs, saving jobs - Work-sharing Resources, National Employment Law Project via nelp.org
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - 26 States and DC have Work-Sharing Laws. [*map caption]
    What Is Work-Sharing?
    Work-sharing is an innovative unemployment insurance (UI) program that has saved nearly half a million jobs over the past five years. By giving employers an alternative to layoffs when facing a financial downturn, work-sharing helps businesses retain skilled workers until economic conditions improve, and helps employees maintain financial stability until they return to full-time work.
    Under work-sharing, distressed employers reduce workers’ hours instead of laying people off, and the program helps the workers recoup some of their lost income through UI compensation.

    Twenty-four states still do not have work-sharing programs. They have until the end of 2014 to enact conforming legislation in order to qualify for their state’s share of $100 million in federal grants for both program implementation and promotion/enrollment..\..
    *Frequently Asked Questions
    A basic introduction to work-sharing
    *Report: A Breakthrough for Work-Sharing
    Summary of the Layoff Prevention Act of 2012, the federal work-sharing law
    *NELP Model Legislation
    With explanatory cover memo
    *Seizing the Moment: A Guide to Adopting State Work-Sharing Legislation
    Explains the 9 federal requirements for state legislation, plus optional federally-approved provisions ...
    More Resources for Advocates
    This resource page is for advocates who are promoting the adoption of UI work-sharing (a.k.a. “short-time compensation”) programs in their states. The materials, prepared by the National Employment Law Project and the Center for Law & Social Policy, can be used to educate members of the executive and legislative branches, businesses, worker advocates, and the general public about the value of work-sharing and the mechanics of enacting a state work-sharing law.
    In addition to the resource links above, the materials include:
    *Legislative Guidance from USDOL
    A primary technical resource used by state workforce agencies to develop and review state work-sharing proposals (from UI Program Letter 22-12, Change 1)
    *List of Federal Work-Sharing Grant Dollars Available by State
    *Newspaper Articles and Editorials
    Clips on work-sharing’s benefits for business, workers, and the economy
    State-Specific Fact Sheets [of the 24 states that don't yet have a work-sharing law]: *AL,   *AK,   *DE,   *GA,   *HI,   *ID,   *IL,   *IN,   *KY,   *LA,   *MS,   *MT,   *NE,   *NV,   *NM,   *NC,   *ND,   *SC,   *SD,   *TN,   *UT,   *VA,   *WV,   *WY,
    Estimates of potential jobs [that would have been] saved in 2009 if state had [had] an active work-sharing program; and analysis of benefits for manufacturing sector (for states with substantial manufacturing sector)
    Contact Us - If you have questions about work-sharing, please contact
    NELP Senior Staff Attorney George Wentworth (gwentworth@nelp.org / 860-257-8894),
    NELP Workforce Development Specialist Lynn Minick (lminick@nelp.org / 317-838-9220), or
    CLASP Senior Policy Analyst Neil Ridley (nridley@clasp.org / 202-906-8010).
    The site is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal advice

  2. 43% tax hike and 10 day furlough for Oswego City workers in new budget, CNYcentral.com
    OSWEGO, N.Y., USA -- The City of Oswego will pass its budget pain around to all city workers, as well as property owners. Monday evening, lawmakers voted to impose a 10 day furlough on city workers next year. That will mean 10 unpaid days off for city workers. La[w]makers have also decided on a property tax increase of 43-percent.
    An original proposal to raise property taxes by 81-percent made headlines earlier this month and caused an uproar in a community in which almost three-quarters of residents are home owners.
    A revised budget introduced last week proposed a more modest 43-percent increase in property taxes and called on the DPW Commissioner to cut 15 positions from the department.

    "It's simple math," said First Ward Councilor Francis Enwright. "You have to cut somewhere."
    The City Council eventually moved to furlough all city workers for 10 days in 2014 in order to save those jobs.
    "This isn't a budget we want," explained Fifth Ward Councilor Daniel Donovan. "This is a budget we have to have."

12/21-22-23/2013 – 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. Port Manatee to furlough employees to absorb shift in Mosaic shipments, by Mark Holan, 12/23 Tampa Bay Business Journal via bizjournals.com/tampabay
    PORT MANATEE, Fla., USA - Port Manatee will furlough 54 employees one day per month due to Mosaic Co. shifting fertilizer shipments from port docks to a company-owned terminal in the Big Bend area of south Hillsborough County.
    The furloughs start immediately and could last through September 2014, port spokeswoman Virginia Zimmermann said in a statement.

    She said Port Manatee is “not in a position to avert or even negotiate this, as Mosaic is not a direct customer of the port but rather a customer of a port tenant.”
    Kinder Morgan handled fertilizer export operations for Mosaic at Port Manatee and the Port of Tampa. Mosaic spokeswoman Jackie Barron said her company notified Kinder Morgan in June that it was terminating the contract.
    In October, Mosaic (NYSE: MOS) announced that it would acquire CF Industries’ Port of Tampa facility as part of a $1.4 billion deal expected to close in 2014. The deal also includes CF’s 22,000-acre phosphate mine and beneficiation plant in Hardee County, its phosphate plant in Plant City and terminal and warehouse facilities in Tampa. Mosaic's Big Bend facility is south of the Tampa CF property.
    Zimmermann said furloughs “have become an accepted practice to help offset the cyclical nature of the port business while helping to preclude the possibility of job losses.
    [Better than firings!]
    In our port’s case, the decision is anticipated to responsibly reduce fiscal year expenditures.”
    Mark Holan's beats include commercial real estate and residential real estate.

  2. Merced County offices close for final furlough, 12/21 (12/20 late pickup) Sacramento Bee via sacbee.com
    MERCED, Calif., USA - Some Merced County offices and departments will be closed for furloughs next week, but officials said these are the final furlough days for the county.
    “All the furloughs are expiring, so this is the last round of furloughs that we have,” said county management analyst Mike North. “While we’re still being careful, furloughs were only negotiated for the two years.”
    Departments will be closed Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday for furloughs, North said, and on Wednesday for Christmas. Critical and mandated services such as public safety and social services programs won’t be affected by the furloughs, he said.
    Departments that will be closed for furloughs next week include animal control, the district attorney’s office, parks and recreation and the public defender’s office.
    All county offices will reopen Dec. 30 but will close again on Jan. 1 for New Year’s Day.
    The Board of Supervisors approved labor agreements in November 2011 that implemented furloughs for noncritical county functions over a two-year period. The move saved the county about $2.5 million a year, according to county Chief Executive Officer Jim Brown.
    The furloughs resulted in a pay cut up to 5 percent for county employees, but most of those salaries will be restored on Jan. 1.
    “At this point, the county’s budget is looking a little better,” North said. “The economy is still a little uncertain and we are definitely being cautious over the next year or two.”
    For more information about the furloughs, visit the county’s website at www.co.merced.ca.us

  3. Trinidad council sets '14 budget, 12/22 The Pueblo Chieftain via chieftain.com
    TRINIDAD, Colo., USA — City Council on Tuesday gave final approval to a $36.5 million 2014 budget that will call for a furlough day for all city employees.
    City employees will take a furlough day each month and also will experience a 24.5 percent increase in health insurance premiums, according to The Chronicle News. During the meeting, a union official told the council he strongly objected to the employees bearing the burden of the city’s financial troubles.
    [Better furloughs than firings.]

  4. Home News Short work-week for Scugog firefighters not the best fit for fire department: Chief - Preference would be return to five-day week, says Richard Miller, by Chris Hall, 12/23 Port Perry Star via durhamregion.com
    [Pronounced variously /sgOOgog/ as in "a scooter" or /sgyOOgog/ as in "askew".]
    SCUGOG, Ont., Canada -- A four-day work week for Scugog’s full-time firefighters is not the best fit for the fire department, says Richard Miller.
    [But strangely, this was an unusual change to support a substantial raise - see below.]
    When quizzed on Monday night about the recent switch from a five- to four-day work week for the Township’s three full-time firefighters, Scugog’s fire chief was blunt.
    “It’s not the best system,” he said in response to a question from Ward 5 Councillor Howard Danson. “In my mind, it’s less efficient.”
    After Scugog and its full-time firefighters failed to come to an agreement on a contract, the first of its kind between the Township and the firefighters’ union, the matter went to arbitration.
    In a ruling that took the Township by surprise earlier this year, the arbitrator ruled that Scugog’s full-time firefighters were entitled to a 26.7-per cent pay increase over four years (2009 to 2012, the life of the contract) and must be switched to a four-day work week.
    Under that scenario, which was implemented in April, all three of Scugog’s full-time firefighters work Mondays and Wednesdays. They then each get a day off, meaning there are only two full-time firefighters on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.
    Complicating the matter in 2013, noted Chief Miller, was the fact each of the three firefighters were given an extra 13 days off due to the scheduling shift.
    “It’s been a struggle from the standpoint they got an extra 13 days off this year,” the fire chief told councillors. “There were a lot of times when there was only one person there and a couple of times when no one was there.”
    Days off, vacation and training were some of the reasons why the firefighters were absent, he explained.
    When Scugog switched to a four-day work week for its full-time firefighters, it also went to an all-call system, which sees Scugog’s volunteer firefighters paged to help out whenever the fire department responds to an emergency.
    When all three of the full-time firefighters worked a five-day week, that trio would respond alone to medical calls and carbon monoxide alarms, said the fire chief.
    Having four firefighters on the truck for all other calls is preferred, he added.
    The four-day work week and all-calls will continue in 2014, meaning the fire department will continue to operate inefficiently next year as well, said Chief Miller.
    “We have a schedule, there’s nothing I can do,” he said. “It’ll be just as difficult because three days of the week, there’ll only be two (full-time firefighters).”
    An operational and organizational review of the Scugog Fire Department was launched earlier this year and is expected to wrap up sometime early in 2014.

12/20/2013 – 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. San Rafael furloughs shutter city facilities, (12/19 late pickup) Marin Independent Journal via marinij.com
    SAN RAFAEL, Calif., USA - Furloughs will close the city's administrative offices at City Hall, the San Rafael Public Library, and the community centers, with the exception of private rentals, from Dec. 23 — Jan. 1.
    Childcare centers will remain open and 24-hour operations will remain in effect for the police and fire departments. The department of public works and parking services also will remain open.
    For more information, contact the city manager at 485-3070.

  2. City feels sentiment shift on junior banker hours – Investment banks are cutting loose – this time on working conditions, rather than headcount, Financial News via efinancialnews.com
    LONDON, England - JP Morgan this week followed rival Goldman Sachs in moving to lighten the load of its most junior staff, when it announced it was introducing “protected weekends” – one weekend a month when junior bankers get time off. Goldman Sachs had said in October that it would encourage its junior staff bankers to take Saturdays off.
    And there are signs that this sentiment could now be crossing the Atlantic. Deutsche Bank is looking at similar measures, according to a person familiar with the situation.
    In October, Goldman Sachs, accounting giant KPMG and the law firm Linklaters founded the City Mental Health Alliance, which aims to address anxiety and depression in the Square Mile.
    Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Lloyds Banking Group, Morgan Stanley and UBS, along with over a dozen law firms and consultants, have joined the movement.
    Peter Rodgers at KPMG, said: "In future months and years we expect to see City businesses increasingly adopt new and varied practices aimed at significantly reducing ‘burn out’."
    The elephant in the room is Moritz Erhardt, the intern at Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s London office, whose death in August caused the US bank to review working conditions.
    An inquest last month concluded that Erhardt died of natural causes.
    A Bank of America Merrill Lynch spokesman said in a statement at the time: "A senior working group has been convened to review the work environment for our junior employees. Our ultimate goal is to create better working patterns and improved work/life balance for future interns, graduate recruits and our broader junior banker community."
    It is understood the working group is still in progress and will make an announcement in the coming months. Speaking of restricting working hours, one senior banker at Bank of America Merrill Lynch said: “I would be surprised if it wasn’t an issue that is being looked at.”
    Edward Cooper, a senior employment lawyer at Slater & Gordon, said: “We are hearing from more people who are being forced out of workplaces because of exhaustion or mental illness brought on by working excessive hours.
    In light of this, we welcome the response of some employers to look again at workplace practices and introduce measures to safeguard the health and safety of their employees.”
    The chairman of European banking at one Wall Street said of such workplace reviews: “If it helps to attract and retain talent, it’s a good thing.”
    Unsurprisingly, those close to hard-pressed bankers are also encouraged by such plans to shorten working hours. The chairman asked his wife whether the move by Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan was the right thing to do. “It’s a bloody good idea,” she said.
    However, others are unsure about whether such initiatives among banks where part of a genuine change of attitude or, as one City of London headhunter called it: “Just window dressing”
    Logan Naidu, head of Dartmouth Partners, a recruitment firm that helps places analysts and associates, is unconvinced that enforcing time out will make a difference. He said: “Junior bankers are ambitious individuals. They are used to working and operating in ultra-competitive environments and sadly number of hours worked becomes another metric to measure themselves against.
    “It’s self-reinforcing. The debate around whether the banks force them to do it is often academic. It’s too often seen as a rite of passage.”
    Another capital markets banker at a UK bank, said: “People work hard here because they have pride in their work.” He added that people were often in the office at weekends, regardless of how busy markets may be.
    Some bankers, questioned about working conditions, said this year has been particularly tough, as younger bankers were often the first to depart as banks slimmed down over the past few years, leaving a skeleton crew to cope with large numbers of deals. A member of one UK syndicate desk said that everyone is “pretty burnt out” after a busy year.
    Now, these banks are beginning to hire back junior bankers, not only to replace those let go during the down years but also to cope with increased deal flow.
    JP Morgan itself wants to hire 10% more junior bankers across the globe by the third quarter of 2014, according to a person familiar with the situation. The person said the motivating factor for the hiring spree was to meet the demands of new business.
    In a rare twist of fate, the move from Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan also brings the US banks ever-so-slightly in line with European regulation.
    Introduced in its latest form in 2004, European regulation decreed that workers are not obliged to work more than 48 hours a week. While the Working Time Directive is compulsory across the European Union, the UK has long opposed any attempt to restrict working hours.
    Rejecting the Directive’s early incantation in 1993, then UK employment secretary David Hunt said it was “a ploy to smuggle through part of the Social Chapter by the back door”.
    According to Suzanne Horne, employment layer at Paul Hastings, most workers in the UK financial sector are asked by their potential employees to sign an opt-out agreement.
    Horne said: “These institutions are in effect announcing their compliance with the law whilst minimising the risk of an employment claim - and any reputational damage that can occur when things go wrong for individuals - and distinguishing themselves from their competitors when it comes to appealing to the top talent of Generation Y.”
    It remains to be seen whether banks swing to Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan’s point of view, but a shift of opinion along the streets of the City is clearly taking place.
    --write to gturner@efinancialnews.com and follow on Twitter @turnergs

  3. 300 Local Gov't Employers Cut Hours, Blame ObamaCare, by Jed Graham, Investor's Business Daily via news.investors.com
    NEW YORK, N.Y., USA - More than 300 public sector employers have systematically cut work hours for part-time employees to avoid liability under ObamaCare's employer insurance mandate.
    IBD's list of both public and private-sector employers cutting work hours or staffing levels as a result of the employer mandate now totals 388.
    Among the new additions to the list is Miami-Dade County Public Schools, which will limit part-time workers to 25 hours per week. Penn State University joins a large group of colleges cutting work hours for undergraduate and graduate students to avoid responsibility for paying for their health care.
    Penn State said ObamaCare penalties could total $23 million if no action were taken to mitigate the cost.

    The education sector dominates IBD's list, which now includes more than 120 school districts and nearly 100 colleges and universities.
    The relatively small number of private employers on the list doesn't signify much except that businesses tend to be much less transparent about their workforce policies than government bodies.
    IBD has included on the list only those private employers which have openly acknowledged systematically cutting work hours, with the exception of a few cases where employees provided documents verifying the shift.
    Yet, the evidence suggests ObamaCare is having an impact on the workweek in low-wage industries, where the ranks of the uninsured are high.
    Among industry groups where pay averages about $14.50 an hour or less, and which employ 29 million non-supervisors, the workweek sank to a record low of 27.4 hours in July, matching the level seen in July 2009. Meanwhile, the workweek in the rest of the private sector had fully recovered back to its pre-recession level — about an hour longer than in mid-2009.
    Although the Obama administration put the employer mandate penalties on hold for a year in July, work hours for low-wage earners have yet to stage any recovery. That's not a surprise, given that penalties owed in 2015 will be based on employment levels and hours worked starting in mid-2014 at the latest.
    The latest available industry data through October show that average work hours have fallen in several of the same industries where companies have admitted cutting hours.
    While the White House has dismissed such anecdotal reports,their correlation with the industry hours data suggests they shouldn't be.
    Hours have even been falling in some big industries where the workweek is already well below the 30-hour-per-week threshold at which ObamaCare's penalties apply.

12/19/2013 – 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. Finally - A five day work week in Saudi Arabia, Al-Bawaba via albawaba.com [any relation to Ali Baba, or the forty thieves?]

    JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia - Saudi Minister of Labor Adel Fakieh said that 40-hour work and a two-day off in a week for private sector employees will come into force within three months.
    [The USA cut to the 40-hour workweek on Oct. 24, 1940, after passing a 30-hour workweek through the Senate on Apr.6, 1933 but blocking it in the House and so continuing the depression another seven years. There were, I believe, some other countries (New Zealand?) that already had the 40-hour workweek and many followed thereafter including Canada. But from this article we are reminded that the world is not primarily different geographic zones but different social-evolutionary timezones, and there are populations scattered all the way back down the winding path of social evolution. Some are catching up and some aren't. It takes a deep breath or three on the part of nervous, control-freaky ruling elites to relax their populations into more of that most basic freedom, free time.]
    This was among some 50 amendments proposed to the Labor Law, he told businessmen and media persons at the headquarters of the Eastern Province Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Wednesday.
    The Shoura Council on Monday adopted a number of these amendments, including reduction of total weekly working hours from 45 to 40 according to an article in the Saudi Gazette. There are also amendments to make the working contract unlimited if it is renewed three times and if the total employment period had touched four years.
    The proposals will become law once the Council of Ministers approves them.
    “The financial support extended by the government so as to enable the private sector to give attractive salaries to Saudi employees would cover 58 sectors, in addition to the private school sector.
    “An additional government support scheme will be implemented within two months to cover all other sectors,” he said, adding that a total of 44,000 private school teachers will benefit from the support.
    Fakieh announced that domestic helpers will be hired from nine new countries. As part of this, an agreement with India will be signed within a week. Other markets include Nepal and Vietnam.
    “This move would result in reducing the recruitment expense. The ministry is also checking the cost of hiring domestic workers in other Gulf states and similar countries so as to ensure whether any changes are to be made in the Kingdom,” he said.
    The minister noted that there has been a 25 percent fall in the issuance of employment visas during the last two years compared to the previous years.

  2. Mountwest CTC goes to 4-day work week, by Jim Ross, StateJournal.com
    HUNTINGTON, W.Va., USA - Mountwest Community and Technical College will go to a four-day workweek for its employees beginning Jan. 4, a change college officials will save the school more than $76,000 a year.
    Offices will be open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Wednesday [3x10=30hrs] and 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Thursdays [1x9.5=9.5hrs = total 39.5 hrs minus, for employees, 4 howlong lunches?].
    Student Services, located inside the main campus, will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday. The hours of the Inland Waterways Academy may vary depending upon operational needs.
    The Academic Skills Center, the Learning Resource Center and computer labs on the first floor of the main campus building will be open on Fridays from 8 a.m. to noon. Additional student labs may be available for use based upon faculty making arrangements through Public Safety.
    Dan Figler, Mountwest's chief financial officer, said expected cost savings are $27,380 on utilities, $22,992 on security and public safety and $26,380 on plant operations and maintenance, for total savings of $76,752.
    He said employees could save $5 to $28 per day on commuting costs, depending on distance.

  3. Kifowit Sponsors Measure Cutting Pay for Legislators, posted by State Rep. Stephanie Kifowit, TribLocal Aurora via ChicagoTribune.com
    SPRINGFIELD, Illin., USA - As part of her ongoing effort to cut wasteful state spending, state Rep. Stephanie Kifowit, D-Oswego, is sponsoring a measure to cut lawmakers’ pay by requiring them to take unpaid furlough days, for the second time since she’s been in office.
    “My goal has always been to give working families a voice in the decisions made in Springfield, and when I have talked to hundreds of families at their doors, they have repeatedly told me that they want state spending restrained,” Kifowit said. “It is important that legislators lead by example when finding ways to reduce state spending while preserving funding for critical services.”
    Kifowit is a chief sponsor of House Bill 3766 to require members of the General Assembly to take 12 unpaid furlough days next fiscal year, beginning July 1, and to freeze salaries and reimbursement rates for representatives, senators, state’s attorneys, statewide officials, and members of state departments, boards and commissions.
    During the spring legislative session, Kifowit introduced and supported several cost-cutting measures. Specifically, she introduced and passed House Bill 2767 to eliminate pension benefits for members on state boards or commissions because they are not full-time state workers.
    “We must continue to fight to ensure that state tax dollars are being used properly, efficiently, and for necessary programs,” Kifowit said. “I remain committed to advocating on behalf of taxpayers and will continue to look for ways to eliminate wasteful spending.”
    For more information, please contact Rep. Kifowit’s constituent service office at 630-585-1308 or email Stephanie.Kifowit@att.net.

12/18/2013 – 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. Speaker Belmonte backs fixed salary, working hours for bus drivers, InterAksyon.com
    MANILA, Philippines -- Proposals to give public utility bus drivers fixed salary and working hours on Wednesday got a boost after Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said he was in favor of it.
    "I am in favor of giving them fixed salary. ...I think that only Congress can do," he said at a press conference.
    Three partylist lawmakers earlier filed a bill to require bus operators to pay their drivers fixed monthly salary, which they said could improve their working condition.
    "Poor working conditions and unfair boundary or commission-based systems are at the root of these accidents. Drivers and Conductors are pushed to compete with other buses to get more passengers. They are often forced to man graveyard shifts, with some driving for almost 20 hours a day," the bill of Bayan Muna partylist Representatives Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate, and Anakpawis partylist Fernando Hicap said.
    "With the assurance of the fixed salaries on a regular basis, PUB drivers and conductors will no longer be pressured to compete or be forced to work beyond humane working hours. Serious accidents and traffic problems involving these buses will therefore be significantly lessened," the said.
    On Monday,a Don Mariano bus fell off the Skyway in Taguig City killing 18 people. Reports have said the driver had been working for 19 hours.
    In a majority of Metro Manila bus lines, drivers get a commission of 9 percent from the gross collection while conductors receive 7 percent, the partylist lawmakers said.
    "The bus owners or operators are the ones who set the commission rate for drivers and conductors. Not meeting the quota for the day would deprive them of the coveted bonus or worse, half of the cost of the gasoline will be deductive from their collections and their commission would be computed based on the remaining amount," they said.
    "At present, most bus drivers and conductors work three to five days a week, eight hours or more a day, while relievers work less than three days a week. They work less than five days a week but almost without rest to the detriment of the passengers," they added.
    Belmonte, who once sat as head of the jeepney wage board, said the boundary system has not been proven effective, and instead has forced the drivers to work for long hours.
    "At that time, we already found out that unless you change the boundary system, theres' no way you could prevent people from working for 13 to 15 hours, can you imagine that?" he said.
    In working for a new law to fix the pay of public utility bus drivers, Belmonte said Congress could examine the number of working hours and the pay scale of the drivers.
    But at the same time, he said there should be strict enforcement of existing laws on road safety.
    "I think we have enough laws here and really, the area of enforcement is not the job of Congress. Congress could not anticipate that some driver would be driving that fast on top of the skyway, that's defying common sense," the Speaker said.

  2. Fayette teachers get 2-day pay bump, The Citizen.com
    FAYETTEVILLE, Ga., USA - The Fayette County Board of Education Monday night by unanimous vote restored two furlough days for more than 2,200 school system employees beginning in February. The two furlough days were the last remaining of the five days instituted during the recession.
    That means a pay increase of two days’ salary for those employees.
    The move by the school board affects employees working more than 180 days per year. Those include teachers, paraprofessionals, administrators and employees in multiple departments and programs.
    The furloughs did not affect any employee that normally works 180 days or less, said Assistant Superintendent of Business Services and Personnel Management Tom Gray.
    The school board considered two options. Option 1 restored one furlough day at a cost of $616,995 while Option 2 restored both furlough days at a cost of $1,233,900.
    Though the second option was selected, Superintendent Jody Barrow prior to the vote recommended the more conservative approach of restoring one furlough day now and considering restoring the second day after the 2014 session of the Ga. General Assembly ends in the spring.
    Barrow as an example of his position on the matter cited the potential for legislators to approve a 3 percent pay increase for teachers. While in favor of the increase, Barrow said the local share of that increase would total $1.4 million.
    “I think we’re out of the fiscal hole, but I’m concerned that some issues may (have an) impact,” Barrow said before the vote. “I think we can (restore both days) if all things stay equal, but I don’t know what else might happen.”
    After a brief discussion, the board voted unanimously to restore both furlough days this school year.
    Gray in a detailed report to board members said the FY 2014 fund balance projection for November shows approximately $4.0 million available above the amount committed for technology and a “budgetary reserve” of $16.2 million which is 10 percent of the budgeted expenditures.
    “We are seeing minimal budgetary savings in salaries compared to the prior year since we are filling vacancies as they occur to maintain quality instruction in the classroom and operational effectiveness in support of instruction,” Gray said.
    This projection reflects a reduction in health insurance costs for the remainder of the year due to 46 fewer employees participating in the health insurance plan since the most recent open enrollment period, said Gray.
    Gray said revenues for FY2014 are continuing to trend higher than budgeted. The major area of additional revenue is in automotive ad valorem tax and the title ad valorem tax (when combined).
    “We are still expecting a potential downturn in this area as vehicles fall off of the tax digest and the transition to a purely sales tax based revenue stream reaches a stabilized trend,” Gray said.
    Referencing the expectations for FY 2015 that begins in July, Gray said he anticipates reduced funding in state (QBE) dollars of $2.95 million. The funding projection also includes 200 fewer certified staff participating in the state health insurance plan and Teachers Retirement System (TRS) matching dollars increasing from 12.28 percent to 13.15 percent.
    Gray said a preliminary review of revenues shows a potential increase of $3.6 million or more assuming a flat tax digest.
    “Recent increases in economic activity in Fayetteville and the county suggest a potential increase in local revenues. Each 1 percent in the gross tax digest represents about $700,000 in additional property taxes,” Gray said.
    On the expenditures side for FY 2015, Gray said the required step increases for certified positions such as teachers will cost approximately $916,000 while the rate increase for the employer-matched TRS is estimated at $1.4 million. The increase in health insurance for classified staff such as parapros will increase by $909,000, Gray said. Those increased expenses total $3.73 million.
    “The analysis indicates that the FY2015 budget without staffing or operational changes would be a deficit budget of $3.1 million. This would leave the General Fund with a budgetary reserve between $15 and $17 million depending on other changes to the budget,” said Gray.
    Barrow has proven to be more fiscally responsible than his recent predecessors. While some school system employees have long called for restoring the remaining furlough days, Barrow took a more conservative approach, maintaining that the school system should be on firm fiscal ground.
    To the chagrin of some, Barrow continues to be adamant that the school system maintain a 10 percent reserve equal to approximately $16 million.
    “We will live within our means,” Barrow said Monday.
    Barrow in an October open letter to school system employees noted the priority of eliminating the two remaining furlough days of the five that were removed a few years ago during the recession.

  3. Will workers get the gift of time off? - Midweek holiday challenges policies, by Mary Beth Marklein, USA Today, 2B.
    NEW YORK, N.Y., USA – Christmas falls on a Wednesday this year. And for anyone who works a Monday-Friday schedule, a Wednesday Christmas is a challenge.
    When Christmas happens on any other day of the workweek, you're either guaranteed a three-day weekend or "you're nestled up to a Monday or a Friday," justification enough to take an extra day off, says Sandy Adams, who runs traffic safety programs in Glendale, Ariz.
    But when Christmas is "plunked in the middle of the week," she says, "it just feels uncomfortable trying to figure out what you're going to do."
    For companies with end-of-year deadlines to meet, the problem with Christmas on Wednesday is Tuesday. Surveys by temporary staffing agency Accountemps show company executives consistently rank Tuesday as the day their employees are most productive.
    But for the last two weeks of 2013, all bets are off.
    "We're talking the day before Christmas," says Kimberly Stiener-Murphy, branch manager of Accountemps in Sacramento. "People aren't thinking about what they can accomplish at work. They're thinking, 'How can I get out of work?' "
    Then, she says, it happens all over again "in literally less than a week" on New Year's Eve.
    For schools and colleges, the Wednesday problem occurs not in December but in November, on the day before Thanksgiving.
    "Teachers have had to learn that whatever they did on that Wednesday they have to do again because most kids weren't going to be there anyway," says Michael Redburn, executive director of the American Association of School Personnel Administrators.
    Whether President Obama will grant more than 2 million federal workers extra time off next Tuesday is uncertain, especially because many federal workers weren't at their desks for 16 days in October because of the government shutdown.
    Regardless, "the precedent has not been good," says Ralph Smith, a retiree who blogs on federal workforce issues at FedSmith.com. "Wednesday is the worst day for Christmas as far as getting off an extra day."
    Presidents Truman in 1946 and Eisenhower in 1957 granted half-days off on Christmas Eve when the holiday fell on Wednesday during their tenures. But six times between 1960 and 2000 no president formally excused workers from work on Dec. 24 before a Wednesday holiday.
    Christmas came early for Adams, who works for the city of Glendale. In October, Glendale's city council approved a plan to close administrative offices from Monday through Friday of Christmas week, giving about 1,600 city employees five days of paid time off.
    It's a one-time deal -- a thank-you for having given up more than $8.5 million in wages in recent years because of salary freezes and furloughs, says Jim Brown, the city's head of human resources. He valued the extra time off at about $1.3 million.

12/17/2013 – 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. Private sector lauds Shoura decision for shorter work week, ArabNews.com
    JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia - Private sector employees have hailed Shoura Council’s decision on Tuesday to reduce working hours from 45 to 40 per week with a two-day weekend.
    “I would be very happy if my company implements this rule,” said Fahd Aziz, a management professional in the private sector. He currently gets only a day off during the week and is expected to work up to 10 hours a day.
    He said the decision to reduce the working hours sounds great but is concerned that employers may not agree to it.
    “The decision to shorten the working hours and have a two-day weekend is being made to attract more Saudis, especially women, to join the private sector,” said Dr. Amal Sheera, human resources director at Schindler and deputy chairperson of the Human Resources Committee at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI). “However, some companies in the private sector are already following the rule regardless of the Shoura Council’s decision,” she said.
    Sheera believes it is up to the companies in the private sector to decide if they wish to follow the rule or not. “The Shoura Council can impose it on the public sector but not on private companies,” she said.
    “It’s going to be just an added value to the company if they approve it,” said Sheera. “I think it was a waste of time for the Shoura Council to discuss such an issue because it is not up to them to force such a decision on the companies in the private sector.”
    “Granting a two-day weekend and reducing the working hours will be of major benefit to the private sector employees,” said Masnad Sheikh, a private sector employee.
    “I think companies in the private sector feel deprived because of the one-day weekend and employees also want to switch their jobs to those companies which offer two-day weekends. This will definitely increase the productivity and motivation in employees.

  2. House bill seeks to set bus drivers' work hours, regular pay, by Kristine Angeli Sabillo, Inquirer.net
    MANILA, Philippines – One way to minimize traffic accidents is to regulate work hours and salaries of bus drivers, lawmakers said Tuesday.
    The proposal came a day after a Don Mariano Transit bus fell off Skyway and onto a service road below, killing at least 18 people, mostly passengers.
    House Bill 3611, filed by Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate and Anakpawis Representative Fernando Hicap, seeks to grant regular salary and working hours for bus drivers and conductors.
    “With the assurance of fixed salaries on a regular basis, PUB (public utility bus) drivers and conductors will no longer be pressured to compete or be forced to work beyond humane working hours. Serious accidents and traffic problems involving these buses will therefore be significantly lessened,” the authors said in a statement.
    The two said many accidents involved competing buses “trying to outdo each other in getting more passengers” or sleepy drivers who work more than 16 hours a day.
    “Poor working conditions and unfair boundary or commission-based systems are at the root of these accidents…They are often forced to man graveyard shifts, with some driving for almost 20 hours a day,” they said.
    Among those killed in the Don Mariano Transit accident was the bus conductor. His partner, in a television interview, said it was possible that the driver fell asleep. She explained that the driver’s shift the day before ended at midnight but he, together with the conductor, decided to go on another shift immediately after. The woman said the two wanted to earn additional income for their families.
    Under House Bill 3611, bus operators will be required schedule eight-hour shifts and pay their employees a fixed monthly salary, at least equivalent to the minimum wage.
    This is opposed to the boundary- or commission-based systems still being implemented by a number of bus operators, according to the lawmakers.
    “A sample computation will show that drivers currently earning P900 a day and working more than 12 hours a day for three days a week will receive almost the same income based on the minimum wage for working eight hours a day for six days a week. The difference is that under this proposed act, drivers will get enough rest while operators spend almost the same amount for salaries,” the proposal said.
    Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Chairman Winston Ginez earlier revealed that the Don Mariano Transit had not renewed its labor compliance certificate that is given to companies implementing a “two-tier” payment system.
    Ginez said that under the system, bus drivers and conductors were paid a minimum wage and an additional commission, based on their performance. It was envisioned to discourage drivers from competing with each other to get more passengers on the road.
    The Department of Labor and Employment issued Department Order 118-12 two years ago after a series of traffic accidents involving buses.

  3. Members of Congress Get Paid Well for 28-Hour Work Week, by Noel Brinkerhof, AllGov.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - It sounds like the ultimate dream job: Get paid nearly $175,000 to work less than 30 hours a week, while getting about two-thirds of the year off.
    That’s the life members of Congress lived this year, during what’s been described as one of the least productive sessions ever for lawmakers.
    For 2013, representatives in the U.S. House were in session for only 942 hours. That comes out to about a 28-hour work week in Washington.
    Regardless of how many hours they worked, or how few bills they adopted, lawmakers received $174,000 in salary.
    It wasn’t always this cushy for congressional members. Six years ago, the House logged 1,700 hours in session, nearly double the amount of this year’s total.
    Meanwhile, the Senate also spent little time in session during 2013: only 99 days. That’s four more days than its record low of 95 days, set back in 1991.
    By the time this year’s session ends, Congress will have piled up a substantial list of key measures that never went anywhere, including reforming the National Security Agency, immigration policies and the U.S tax code.
    The House often appeared busy, but it was usually due to Republicans generating bills to satisfy its base—from restricting government oversight and abortion to its four dozen attempts to undercut President Obama’s health care law, finally leading to October’s infamous government shutdown.
    “This was a huge waste of time, this Congress,” Representative Henry A. Waxman (D-California) told The New York Times.
    Likewise, said Representative Tom Cole (R-Oklahoma): “We owe the American people more than we’ve been giving.”

  4. Education Dept Taking Furlough Days Over Break, Bernews.com
    ST. DAVID'S ISLAND, Bermuda - The Department of Education has announced that staff at the Department’s headquarters will take their collective furlough days at the same time public schools are closed for the Christmas Break.
    Therefore, the Department of Education’s office at 14 Wallers Point Road in St. David’s will be closed Monday, 23 December, 2013 through Friday, 3 January 2014. The Department will reopen on Monday, 6 January, 2014.
    In July 2013 the Unions agreed to what amounted to a 4.6% deduction in their overall package, with employees to receive one unpaid and un-worked day per month. Government said this is estimated to save $21 million in the first year.
  5. The surprising reason we have a 40-hour work week (and why we should rethink it), by Mikael Cho & (posted by?) Cengiz Gören, cengizgoren.com
    This post originally appeared on the ooomf blog.
    TOKYO,Japan - “As long as you get your eight hours in.”
    I used to hear this phrase a lot.
    The thinking is that as long as you put in a set amount of time working (usually at least eight hours or more) you will do well at your job and be successful.
    We learned that eight hours of work a day is what we’re supposed to do almost as soon as we step foot into a classroom. School days are eight hours long and classes are usually structured by slots of time rather than what is accomplished in that time.
    When you get a job, usually part or all of your pay is based on hours worked.
    Since starting ooomf, I’ve made huge strides in how I approach my day to be more productive, but sometimes, I still catch myself looking at the clock, calculating how much time I should be working rather than focusing on what I’m getting done in that time.
    On days where I put in less than eight or ten hours of work, I feel a bit guilty, like I’m not pushing hard enough. But, this is the wrong way to think.
    At ooomf, we don’t work set hours.
    Two of my co-founders prefer to work late into the night while I enjoy starting work early in the day.
    Because we have different energy levels at different times, it would be counterproductive for my co-founders to work at 9AM (just like it would be inefficient for me to be working at 2AM).
    Granted, there are times when scheduling a time to meet during the day to discuss important matters is needed (and there are many days when we all work through the night), but the importance is our work schedules are rarely managed by a set number of hours; rather, they are guided by our energy levels.
    Most importantly, we’ve seen the results of working without a set schedule in the quality of our work, our productivity, and our health.
    But, working set hours is typically the norm for full-time professionals, so I wondered where this 40-hour work schedule came from and if there’s any scientific backing as to why we’ve been working this way for almost a century.
    How the 40-hour work week came to be
    During the Industrial Revolution, factories needed to be running around the clock so employees during this era frequently worked between 10-16 hour days.
    In the 1920s however, it was Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motor Company, that established the 5-day, 40-hour work week.
    Surprisingly, Ford didn’t do it for scientific reasons (or solely for the health of his employees). Rather, one of the main reasons he came up with the idea to reduce the working hours of his staff was so employees would have enough free time to go out and realize they needed to buy stuff.
    In an interview published in World’s Work magazine in 1926, Ford explains why he switched his workers from a 6-day, 48-hour workweek to a 5-day, 40-hour workweek but still paid employees the same wages:
    Leisure is an indispensable ingredient in a growing consumer market because working people need to have enough free time to find uses for consumer products, including automobiles.
    — Henry Ford
    So the 8-hour work day, 5-day workweek wasn’t chosen as the way to work for scientific reasons; instead, it was partly driven by the goal of increasing consumption.
    Night owls vs. early birds
    Your body keeps track of time in a section in your brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus (or SCN).
    This part of the brain is located behind your eye, where the optic nerve fibers cross, which allows your brain to use cues from light in your environment to help you keep track of time:
    Light and genetics are the two main factors that help your body tell time, establishing a natural a cycle of energy levels (a circadian rhythm) throughout your day.
    Here’s a few of the main events that happen in your body as part of a typical 24-hour biological clock:
    The length of your 24-hour cycle may be longer or shorter due to genetics.
    If your cycle is a bit longer, you would be considered a night owl but if yours is a bit shorter, you’re most likely an early riser, says Katherine Sharkey, MD, PhD, associate director of the Sleep for Science Research Lab.
    Researchers have even pinpointed that the length of a particular gene called Period 3 or “clock gene,” could be largely responsible for your sleep-wake cycle.
    Night owls outlast early birds
    A typical workday for most of us usually starts at 7AM and ends around 5PM. This lifestyle design really only works well for one type of person. The early riser.
    If you prefer working nights (like 44% of women and 37% of men do), then you’re often stuck slugging away at a time when your energy levels are low and your work ultimately suffers.
    Because night owls wake up later, they sometimes get a reputation for being lazy because they’re asleep while the rest of the world is hustling.
    But, recent research from the University of Brussels suggests that night owls may beat out early birds in the length of time they can stay awake and alert without becoming mentally fatigued.
    Researchers conducted a study with “extreme” early or late risers. Early risers awoke between 5AM-6AM while late risers awoke at noon.
    The participants spent two nights in a sleep lab where the researchers measured their brain activity, looking at alertness and ability to concentrate.
    After ten hours of being awake, the early risers showed reduced activity in areas of the brain associated with attention span and completed tasks more slowly than late risers.
    “It’s the late risers who have the advantage, and can outperform the early birds,” said Philippe Peigneux, one of the publishers of the study.
    Forcing someone to work early (or late) doesn’t necessarily lead to better results.
    A night owl can be just as productive (if not more) than an early riser, they’re simply more productive at a different time.
    The importance of taking a breather
    Because our bodies were designed to work in rhythms, not for endless hours on end, breaks are often just as important as the work we do.
    Research discussed in the landmark book Creativity and the Mind showed that regular breaks significantly enhance problem-solving skills, partly by making it easier for you to go through your memories to find clues.
    Focusing only on your work for four or five hours straight limits your chances to make new, insightful neural connections, which won’t help you when you need to be creative.
    A few companies have embraced this need to remove work to improve production and creativity.
    In his TED talk, graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister explains the importance of time off and why he shuts down his design studio for a year. Sagmeister says this removal of work allows him and his colleagues to gain new perspectives and refresh, ultimately producing better work.
    Quirky, a web company is working on an experiment to shut down operations for four weeks every year. Here’s an excerpt from an email Quirky CEO, Ben Kaufman sent to Quirky staff (full email here):
    We are going to shut down the entire machine for 4 weeks next year. Instead of running for 52, it will run for 48.
    This is a full, mandatory shutdown of all internal activities. Lights out. Deep breath…
    Our thesis is centered around the fact that this will lead to better work, more beautiful products, and an emotionally balanced team.

    Take a breather not just for creativity (but for your health)
    Giving yourself a break not only can benefit your creative juices but also your health.
    Dan Buettner, a writer for National Geographic recently assembled a team of researchers to look at three communities around the world that have the longest, healthiest lives on the planet.
    In his TED talk, How to live to be 100+, Buettner showcases one of these communities, the Seventh-Day Adventists in California.
    The members of the Seventh-Day Adventists must take one day off a week from work completely, no matter how busy they may be.
    Buettner points out this opportunity to reconnect with people and the world around them relieves stress and is likely part of the equation for why the Seventh-Day Adventists have five times the number of people who live to be over a hundred than the rest of the country.
    4 steps to work-life bliss
    I’ve experimented a lot with different techniques to improve the way I work. A couple weeks ago, I tried to not look at a clock for a day and instead, just rely on my energy levels to tell me what I should do (I found it nearly impossible and failed within the first couple hours).
    Through trial and failure however, I’ve found a system that has worked wonders for me.
    I will continue to try more things to constantly improve the way I work and report my findings, but here’s what I’ve figured out so far that has produced the best work of my career.
    1. Write a realistic to-do list
    Make a to-do list for the day that has 3-4 major tasks that you want to get done.
    Because your days will naturally fill up with other things, David Heinemeier Hansson of 37signals, recommends,
    “Plan for 4-5 hours of real work per day.”
    Laying out your daily tasks knowing this, helps you create a to-do list that you can consistently complete, rather than one that has too many items and leaves you feeling bad, like you’re constantly falling behind.
    2. Create cycles with your work
    You probably have lots of different types of tasks to worry about.
    To accomplish more of the important things while maintaing balance in your energy levels so you don’t burnout, try breaking your day up like this:
    • A creative task. Starting with your most creative or important task before that urgent email pops up will help you feel accomplished. For me, I usually wake up and work a 90-minute session on my most creative task before I feel my brain and concentration start to fatigue.
    • An un-timed break. Your break could be 20-minute run, a nap, lunch,or simply doing nothing for a few minutes. This gives you a chance to refresh and regain mental power before starting your next task. By keeping it un-timed, you’re using your energy levels as a guide to when you should start work again, rather than a rigid set amount of time.
    • A mundane task. By bulking your mundane tasks together and doing them all at once, you’ll save time. Check all your emails or try to schedule multiple phone calls in a row. This way, when you switch back to a creative task, you won’t have the cloud of a hundred emails hovering over your head.
    • Another un-timed break.
    • Repeat. Try going through this cycle three to four times in a day.
    3. One day with no work
    Steve Blank, the pioneer of the Lean Startup Movement uses a Date Night every week to remove from work completely. My fiance and I do this same thing.
    One night a week, we have a planned time where we spend time not talking about any work (no checking of iThings allowed).
    Try removing work completely for a day.
    When you return to work the next day, you’ll probably feel inspired and driven, helping to keep distractions at bay.
    4. Find a true metric to measure your tasks
    It’s easy to count hours but not so easy to figure out another way to measure the work you do that encompasses the true goal of what you’re producing.
    For example, it’s easy to measure how many hours you wrote today but what is the goal of your writing?
    Is it to simply get your thoughts down? Then maybe you should be measuring how many days in a row you are writing.
    Is it to grow your audience so people purchase what you’re selling? Then maybe you should track the sales that result from each blog post you write rather than the number of posts you write.
    Track your progress using one of these metrics and your mindset may shift from “I worked x hours to do this thing” to “I did this thing and it produced x results.”
    This system is hard to maintain because a lot of things in the world are designed to steal your attention and I’ve found myself falling into the busy trap once in a while.
    But, if you give it a shot (even just for a day or a few hours), you may uncover one of the most productive ways you’ve ever worked, like I did.
    If you work at a company that requires you to be there for a set number of hours I’m not saying you should quit or that it’s a bad gig.
    The important thing to remember is it’s not about the amount of hours you work, but what you do in those hours that counts.

  6. Should we move to a six-hour workday? io9.com
    BERKELEY, Calif., USA - Would moving to a shorter work week increase productivity? The argument for the rise of the six-hour workday has begun.
    Quartz has a look at the argument for moving to a shorter working-day, a move that about a century ago looked like it was on its way up. John Maynard Keynes, an early fan of the six-hour workday, predicted that by 2030 only "extreme workaholics" would be putting in more than 15 hours a week. "It was around the same time," notes Quartz, "that Ford cemented the 40-hour workweek as a labor norm, but in 1930, Kellogg's introduced the six-hour workday, which proved to be immensely popular with staff members and lasted until 1985."
    So, what's the argument for moving to a shorter workday? It has a lot to do with how sleep and awareness cycles work:
    Your consciousness kicks in almost immediately after waking up, but it can take up to four hours for your mind to crank itself up to full awareness and alertness—and in that time, you won't make good decisions . . . Unlike machines, humans operate on a cyclical basis, which means our energy and motivation fluctuate in peaks and troughs. Cognitive workers tend to be more focused in the late morning, getting another energy boost in the late afternoon when lung efficiency peaks.
    So, tell us what you think. Should we be moving towards a shorter working week or holding the status quo? Do you think working hours will increase or decrease in the future? And how do your working hours at your own job compare?

12/15-16/2013 – 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. Local history: When Scranton twinkled with cheer, by Erin L. Nissley, 12/15 TheTimes-Tribune.com
    SCRANTON, Pa., USA - Dozens of twinkling, blinking scenes throughout Nay Aug Park, poinsettias outlined in red lights hanging on the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce building and The Scranton Times building radio tower lit with 500 red, blue, yellow and green Christmas lights - it's all part of Scranton's holiday tradition.
    Decking Scranton's streets has a long-standing history. The Times-Tribune's archives have stories about the city's Christmas decoration plans stretching back to Nov. 21, 1946, when an article notes that a $7,000 display of "holiday street illumination in Central City" was planned. It was the first time Christmas decorations were put up since wartime restrictions were placed on the use of electricity.
    A year later, the region's Christmas spirit was threatened by the ongoing national soft-coal strike. While the strike didn't affect anthracite miners locally, it curtailed train service at regional railroads. More than 1,000 Lackawanna Railroad employees were bracing for furloughs in early December 1946. About 250 Erie Railroad workers in Dunmore and Avoca and about 60 New York, Ontario and Western Railroad workers in Childs were furloughed briefly.
    Thankfully, the strike ended on Dec. 9, 1946. A newspaper article published that day reported that "Scranton's Christmas lights were on again" and U.S. Postal Service restrictions on parcel shipping were lifted. More importantly, local shop owners were hopeful that business would pick up since the uncertainty over the furloughs had disappeared.
    In 1947, a Christmas light controversy brewed when the Scranton Commercial Association threatened to skip decorations for merchants who failed to pay their "allocations toward the cost." Ted Lonstein, chairman of the association's Christmas decorations committee, explained in a Nov. 3, 1947, article that past practice was to install holiday lights and decorations even if the business owner did not pay his or her share. But with the association underwriting a "substantial deficit" for the decorations, the committee was cracking down on scofflaws.
    While there was no word on whether they were successful at collecting, the committee did put up 12,000 yards of pine decorations and Christmas street lights switched on by Mayor James T. Hanlon on Thanksgiving.
    The Commercial Association handled holiday decorations in downtown Scranton for decades, usually focusing on parts of Lackawanna, Adams, North Washington, Wyoming and Penn avenues and Spruce Street.
    Additionally, the city and the county decorated buildings they owned, and shop owners also often created special window displays for the holidays. The Times tower has been lit for Christmas for 53 years; Nay Aug's light show began 12 years ago.
    Erin L. Nissley is an assistant metro editor at The Times-Tribune and has lived in the area for nearly seven years. Contact the writer: localhistory@timesshamrock.com.

  2. Saudi Arabia to reduce working hours, by Courtney Trenwith, 12/16 (12/15 late pickup) ArabianBusiness.com
    JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia - Saudi Arabia will decide on Monday whether to reduce the number of working hours in the private sector to 40, bringing it into line with other Gulf states including the UAE [United Arab Emirates].
    The Shoura Council has proposed reducing the hours from 45 per week and insisting on a two-day weekend that must include Friday, Arab News reported.
    Employees will be entitled to a minimum 30-minute break after each five hours of working and cannot work more than 12 hours per day, under the proposed amendments.
    During the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, Muslims would be allowed to work only seven hours a day, or a maximum of 35 hours per week.
    "A final decision on the matter will be taken on Monday after the Shoura Council listens to the views of administrative and manpower committee members,” an official statement said.

  3. Domestic workers seek cap on working hours, by Mom Kunthear, 12/16 PhnomPenhPost.com
    PHNOM PENH, Cambodia/Kampuchea - In a letter to three government ministries, a local domestic worker rights group last week demanded wage increases and limitations on work hours.
    Von Samphous, president of the fledgling Cambodian Domestic Worker Network (CDWN), sent the letter to the Ministry of Labour, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and the Ministry of Interior, urging government officials to guarantee labour rights for maids.
    “I think that domestic workers should receive at least $150 per month, work an eight-hour day, get two days off per week,” Samphous told the Post. “We are waiting for a response, and if they do nothing, we will protest in front of the Labour Ministry.”
    [And if maximum hours are cut enough to create an employer-perceived labor shortage, market forces take care of pay and no minimum-pay legislation is necessary.]
    [And if maximum hours are cut enough to create an employer-perceived labor shortage, market forces take care of pay and no minimum-pay legislation is necessary.]
    Domestic workers in Cambodia, often uneducated women from the countryside, typically receive a monthly salary of between $50 and $120, Samphous said.
    The letter appeals for the Cambodian government to implement a 2011 International Labour Organization convention outlining protections to which domestic workers should be entitled, including basic human rights, occupational safety and decent living standards for live-in maids.
    Many of the points Samphous demanded in the letter are enjoyed by domestic workers in other Asian territories including Hong Kong and the Philippines, but are withheld from the approximately 240,000 domestic workers employed in Cambodia.
    A woman who has been employed as a domestic worker in Phnom Penh’s Toul Kork for the past three years, identifying herself only as Pheap, told the Post that her work hours are not kept track of and her day is only complete when all tasks are finished.
    “I never knew my rights as a domestic worker, because I cannot read and I am not aware of the laws associated with my job,” Pheap said. “I have to get up at 4am or 5am every day, and I work until midnight. I receive $80 per month, but sometimes I get a bonus from my boss when we have a major holiday such as New Year or Pchum Ben."

  4. Apple supplier Foxconn still struggles to limit working hours, labour group says, by Michael Kan, 12/15 (12/16 over dateline) IDG News Service via Australian Macworld via macworld.com.au
    ["Struggles to limit working hours"? Stop procrastinating!]
    SHENZHEN, China - Foxconn Technology Group has come up short in trying to limit the overtime hours of its workers in China, but still made progress in improving the working conditions at three of its factories that make products for Apple, a labour group said last week.
    The iPhone manufacturer has completed nearly all the goals in its plan to improve conditions at the three factories, according to a recent audit from the Fair Labor Association (FLA). But the manufacturing giant is struggling to cap workers’ overtime to the Chinese legal limit of 49 hours per week.
    Workers at the three factories located in Shenzhen and Chengdu are instead generally working fewer than 60 hours per week, meeting the FLA’s own code on labour standards.
    Only for a seven-week period at one facility did working hours exceed 60 hours.
    The plan to meet the 49 hours per week limit was an ambitious goal Foxconn set out to achieve, starting last year. Both Foxconn and its major client Apple had just faced harsh criticism from the public after The New York Times published a report describing poor working conditions at the factories.
    In response, Apple invited the FLA to audit three of Foxconn’s factories in China, resulting in a long list of ‘action items’ to improve working conditions at the facilities. The three factories employed about 180,000 workers at the time.
    Changes made at the factories include introducing more frequent breaks for workers, updating equipment and safety policies, and creating channels so that employees can anonymously voice grievances to management.
    But the move to cap working hours was seen as a difficult measure to implement, according to labour experts. Foxconn relies on overtime to complete large orders for its clients, especially during peak manufacturing seasons. In addition, the workers themselves often wish to log longer hours in order to earn more wages.
    FLA’s most recent audit is its final report on the three Foxconn factories after starting the investigations over a year ago. The group said Foxconn’s compliance with the FLA’s own standard on working hours was a “significant step in the right direction”.
    In response to the FLA’s audit, Foxconn said last week the report demonstrates the “substantial overall progress” the company has made in its plan to improve the working conditions. “However, we recognise that there is more to be done, and that we must continue to sustain this progress and further enhance our operations,” the company added.
    Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
    FLA’s audits only cover one part of Foxconn’s work force in China. The company employs over one million workers at several different factories in country, and also manufactures products for Sony, Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard.

12/14/2013 – 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. Bid to resurrect school hours cut - Cut in school day back on the agenda, Inverness-Courier.co.uk
    INVERNESS, Scotland - Highly controversial plans to cut the school day are back on the agenda as Highland Council faces up to £80 million of budget cuts.
    The ruling coalition suggested reducing timetables by 30 minutes per day in 2011 in a bid to save an annual £3.2 million but scrapped the idea after uproar from parents.
    Senior council officials have now held talks about resurrecting the proposal, plus merging more schools, as the authority tries to fill a £80 million hole in its budget between 2015 and 2019.

    A teachers union has pledged to fight the plan and warned pupils’ education will suffer if it comes to fruition.
    No cuts are needed by the SNP/Liberal-Democrat/Labour administration for its 2014/15 budget. It hopes to meet a £3.6 million shortfall from savings and is hopeful of getting the £563 million budget approved at the full council meeting on Thursday.
    The coalition will freeze Council Tax, plugging the gap by redirecting almost £700,000 it had expected to spend on an increase in teachers’ pensions which did not materialise and £250,000 in savings made on street lighting bills.
    However, the local authority’s finance manager Brian Porter warns the financial outlook for 2015 up to 2019 is "very challenging".
    In a report, Mr Porter states senior managers have already held several budget strategy meetings and the length of the school day and school amalgamations are among the areas identified.
    The council previously proposed cutting teaching time for P4 to P7 pupils by two-and-a-half hours per week but there was an outcry from parents alarmed at the loss of class time and the teachers’ union Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), which warned about job losses.
    Last night Andrew Stewart, EIS’s Highland secretary, vowed to oppose any attempt to resurrect the policy.

  2. 40-hour week for private sector backed, ArabNews.com
    JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia - The Shoura Council has proposed a 40-hour week with a two-day weekend for private sector employees. The proposal will be put for voting on Monday.
    “A final decision on the matter will be taken on Monday after the Shoura Council listens to the views of administrative and manpower committee members,” an official statement said.
    The committee has brought down the total number of working hours per week to 40 instead of 45. The proposal allows employees to have a two-day weekend upon condition that one of the days off should be Friday.
    Working hours for Muslims are proposed to be brought down to seven hours a day, or a maximum of 35 hours per week, during Ramadan to help Muslims fulfill their fasting duties with ease.
    The amended bill emphasizes that an employee should not work for more than five hours continuously without a minimum 30-minute break for prayer and food. In addition, the amended bill stipulates that an employee should not work for more than 12 hours a day.
    The bill also states that a female employee should have the right to five days’ paid leave if her husband, mother, father or offspring dies or in the event that she gets married.
    Female employees should also be entitled to 30 days’ paid leave if tasked with caring for sick or handicapped children and be allowed to take an additional month of unpaid leave if needed.
    A Muslim woman is entitled to four months and 10 days of paid ‘edda’ leave in the event her husband dies as prescribed in the Qur’an, while non-Muslim women will be allowed 15 days paid leave.
    Labor law violators will be fined a maximum of SR100,000 and firms found harboring illegals will be shut down for a maximum period of one month.

  3. Courts funding shortfall: Group suggests furloughs, unfilled vacancies, Topeka Capital Journal via m.cjonline.com
    TOPEKA, Kan., USA - An advisory council tasked with helping the Kansas court system deal with a projected $8.25 million budget deficit in the upcoming fiscal year has recommended furloughs and not filling non-judicial vacancies as ways of closing the funding gap.
    The Court Budget Advisory Council delivered to the Kansas Supreme Court on Friday seven recommendations for dealing with the judicial branch funding shortfall expected in the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2014.
    The 10-member advisory group, chaired by Court of Appeals Judge Karen Arnold-Burger, said the biggest savings of $3.75 million could be achieved by leaving open a total of 120 vacancies — 80 current vacancies with an additional 40 to be added — throughout the state. Another $2.5 million in reduction could be realized through 10 days of furlough involving non-judicial employees.
    The group pointed to another possible $1 million in savings by eliminating 19.5 full time-equivalent court services officer positions that are currently performing discretionary duties.
    The council considered 11 cost-cutting options before presenting seven in its report given Friday to Lawton Nuss, Chief Justice of the Kansas Supreme Court.
    The advisory council that met over a six-week period was comprised of representatives from legislative, judicial and executive branches of Kansas government, as well as Kansas business.
    “The recommendations in this report reflect the gravity of the council’s task given the potential for court closures, staffing cuts and resulting delays if additional appropriations are not added to the court system,” Arnold-Burger said in a news release. “To the extent that we could, we tried to minimize the effect the proposed strategies would have on the people and businesses of Kansas.”
    Other recommendations included a delay in filling judicial openings, which would require changes to Kansas statute, and reducing a grant awarded to Kansas Legal Services to promote judicial access to people with limited financial resources.
    Nuss said he would continue to lobby the Legislature for more funding in fiscal year 2015.
    “Their report makes it abundantly clear that if the Legislature does not appropriate more money, tough decisions — including closing Kansas courts — will need to be made,” Nuss said in a news release.

12/13/2013 – 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. Employment measures to tackle the economic downturn: Short time working arrangements/partial activity schemes - Full report (2010), ec.europa.eu/
    PARIS, France - Mutual Learning Programme 2010: Summary of the peer review on 'employment measures to tackle the economic downturn:
    Short time working arrangements/partial activity schemes'
    France, 27-28 September 2010
    1. Introduction
    The Peer Review on ‘‘Employment measures to tackle the economic downturn: Short time working arrangements/partial activity schemes’ was held on 26-27 September in Paris (France) and hosted by the General Delegation for Economy, Industry and Employment of the French Ministry for Economy, Industry and Employment. The host country presented the changes made to the pre-existing scheme of short-term working arrangement in the context of the crisis and the recent new scheme for long lasting partial activity (Activite partielle de longue duree) introduced in 2009. The meeting brought together Ministry representatives and independent experts from France, as the host country, and from 13 peer countries (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Serbia and Slovenia) as well as representatives from DG Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities of the European Commission.
    This summary draws on the contributions from national independent experts and government officials during the meeting. The papers prepared by independent experts from the host and peer countries in advance of the meeting and a note prepared by the European Commission provide a more detailed elaboration of the issues mentioned in this summary and can be found on the website of the Mutual Learning Programme, http://www.mutual-learning-employment.net/. A table summarising the assessment of the host country example by the independent experts from the Peer Countries is also available on the website.
    2. European policy context
    Short-time working arrangements (STWA, also referred to in some countries as „partial unemployment", „partial activity" or „temporary lay-offs") consist of a temporary reduction in working time caused by reduced economic activity, leading to partial reduction in a normal working week, or a temporary lay-off while the employment contract remains in force. The reduced wages due to the reduced working hours are replaced, partially or in full, by public subsidies paid either directly to the worker or to the firm. In some countries, public subsidies are supplemented by payments from employers or joint social partner funds, usually on the basis of sectoral collective or company level agreements.
    Since the autumn of 2008, STWA have been among the most significant measures put in place by EU/EEA/candidate countries to respond to the economic downturn and preserve jobs by increasing internal flexibility in companies. A comparison of measures across the EU shows that a majority of Member States have implemented new arrangements or have modified existing arrangements, by extending the number of hours authorised or the duration of subsidies, by covering workers, firms and sectors previously not eligible, by increasing the replacement rate or by strengthening the role played by training within the overall package of measures.
    The development of STWA has also been supported at the EU level, for instance as one of the priorities put forward by the Shared Commitment for Employment, presented in June 2009 as a follow-up to the European Employment Summit. The European Commission Communication „A Shared Commitment for Employment. proposed that the use of efficient
    STWA should be a priority „to maintain viable employment and optimise the impact of temporary short-time working arrangements and training.1.
    National developments have also been monitored at the EU level through discussions in the EU Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs (EPSCO) Council and in the Employment Committee (EMCO).
    Regarding the impact and benefits of STWA, it has been recognised at EU level that they have contributed significantly to cushioning the impact of the crisis on the labour market and have had a positive impact on social cohesion by maintaining people in employment during the crisis and preventing lay-offs. They have also contributed to minimising the social and psychological costs of job loss for workers. STWA are also considered to have had a positive impact for future competitiveness as they allow companies to maintain their human capital, so that when the economy recovers, companies can move back to their previous production levels and avoid costly (re)hiring procedures. In addition, a combination of STWA with (re)training schemes has been found useful for maintaining or upgrading workers' skills throughout the crisis, with a view to protecting their employability and thus responding to long-term challenges.
    However, EU support to the development of STWA has been conditional upon the avoidance of dead-weight and other adverse effects and upon improvements in efficiency and fairness of the implementation of the measures. Recommendations formulated to Member States by the Employment Committee and the European Commission since 20092 can be summarised as follows:
    • Review regularly eligibility criteria for firms, ensuring that this type of measure is well targeted and used for cyclical purposes in sustainable firms and sectors only, and not on a very large scale.
    • Limit the timeframe of the use of such measures to ensure sustainability.
    • Extension of the coverage to temporary and fixed-term workers and complement STWA with labour market policies focusing on labour market „outsiders..
    • Facilitate the combination of STWA with (relevant) training, which is known to be difficult to implement in practice, through improved targeting and guidance for such measures.
    • Explore the potential role of social partners in the design and implementation of such measures.
    1 http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?langId=en&catId=89&newsId=514
    2 See in particular:
    The Employment Committee's contribution to the informal Employment Summit - Analysis carried out by the EMCO on short-time working arrangements (26 May 2009)
    The 2009 Cambridge Review of the National Reform Programmes - Annual Report (23 November 09)
    Joint EMCO-COM Paper, The employment crisis: policy responses, their effectiveness and the way ahead (31 May 2010) prepared for the EPSCO meeting of June 2010
    3. The host country experience
    The experience of France in the field of STWA can be characterised by the „revival. of a relatively old policy tool which was almost no longer used by the beginning of the 2000s, but which became more relevant in the context of the economic crisis. However, a certain number of adaptations to the pre-existing scheme have proved necessary to better respond to the current needs of economic actors. Since the autumn of 2008, the French government has taken various measures, in agreement with the social partners, to widen the STWA schemes in terms of coverage, and have also increased the levels of compensation as well as introducing a new scheme for long-lasting partial activity.
    In quantitative terms, the use of STWA has remained limited in France in comparison with countries such as Germany or Belgium. However, there are some signs that the perception of STWA has changed in a positive way. In the past STWA used to be considered as a last-resort measure in sectors facing structural difficulties, not actively sought by companies but also feared by employees as the last step before unemployment. During the crisis, STWA have been actively promoted as a „fair. measure to avoid dismissals and their social and human costs and the level of replacement rates has increased. This change is also a semantic one: what was called „partial unemployment. in France is now referred to as „partial activity.. However, it is still envisaged as a temporary measure linked to the recession and France has now entered into a phasing-out period.
    a) The adaptation of the existing schemes of STWA
    The formal criteria to apply for STWA in France are enshrined in labour law and cover the following situations: economic hardship, difficulty in the supply of energy or raw materials, a natural disaster or exceptionally bad weather, restructuring, any other exceptional circumstances. The compensation to employees is based on different levels: a flat rate allowance paid by the Government to the employer, a contractual level paid by the employer but partially reimbursed by the Government and an additional allowance paid by the employer (which can be partly funded by the Government).3 Allowances are exempt from social contributions.
    In the context of the crisis, the Government, in agreement with the social partners, developed new policy measures to make STWA schemes more flexible and ensure better coverage to improve the support to workers and enterprises:
    • The use of STWA which was limited to the car and textile industry was extended to all sectors in September 2009. Temporary agency workers can now apply for STWA in situations where the user enterprise has itself applied for partial activity for its own workers.
    • The maximum duration of short time working has been extended temporarily (prolonged up to the end of 2010) from 600 hours to 1,000 hours per year (about seven months not worked).
    • The level of replacement wage paid to employees by employers has been raised from 50% to 60% of the previous gross wage (85% net wage).
    Training is encouraged but not mandatory within partial unemployment schemes. However, in the context of the economic crisis the National Training Fund (providing funding for both generic and job-specific training) was reactivated. This fund can be used by companies on the condition that they had already fulfilled their training obligations.
    3 For a more detailed presentation of the French model of STWA, see the Host Country paper prepared by the independent expert, Odile Chagny.
    b) The introduction of a new scheme “Long Lasting Partial Activity”
    A new scheme for “Long Lasting Partial Activity” (Activité partielle de longue durée, APLD) was introduced in May 2009, to continue until 31 December 2010. It is based on the introduction in each participating company of a specific agreement (convention) in cases where the reduction of activity is planned for a minimum period of three months and can be renewed within a time limit of 12 months. APLD agreements are more generous than other schemes regarding the allowances paid to the workers concerned (75% of previous gross wage).
    As a counterpart, dismissals are not allowed during the total validity of the scheme. The enterprise strictly needs to justify economic losses to apply for the scheme, and its use can represent a significant cost for companies4.
    Another priority of the APLD was to strengthen the combination with training. Each worker in partial activity has an interview with management to evaluate their competences and needs for further training. However, on the basis of past experiences, the delivery of training itself was not made a mandatory part of the scheme. An initial attempt to introduce a different type of convention at the end of 2009 including mandatory training, but offering higher levels of compensation, was not very well received by employers.
    c) Use of the measure and impact
    It is acknowledged that STWA have brought useful support to companies affected by the downturn. The number of non-worked hours effectively subsidised reached its peak in the first quarter of 2009 while since the beginning of 2010 a very significant reduction in the number of hours subsidised has been observed.
    However, in comparison with countries such as Germany or Belgium, the use of the scheme in France has remained modest: in 2009, the number of non-worked hours effectively subsidised corresponded to 50,000 full time equivalent jobs. The reduction in hours worked had not been the main solution chosen by French employers to reduce their production levels and adjust their cost during the downturn. Instead, the main variable of adjustment used by companies was the non-renewal of fixed-term contracts and a sharp decrease in the use of temporary agency work.
    Similar to the situation in other European countries, beneficiaries of STWA measures (including APLD) in France are mostly large companies in the manufacturing sector (the automobile sector represents about one half of the applications), which were already familiar with the use of these schemes before the current crisis. Only few SMEs benefitted from these schemes.
    Overall, only a minority of companies have systematically organised training in combination with STWA. However, some companies, in particular those with a strong tradition of social dialogue and internal resources for training, did put in place exemplary training programmes to boost their long-term competitiveness. One of the reasons explaining the low-take-up of training measures that has been identified is the recurrent concern of employers of investing in training in a period of tight budgets and running the risk of losing valuable skills when the economy booms again. In addition, it has to be noted that in the manufacturing sector, where most of the use of STWA was concentrated, the motivation of low-skilled workers to undertake training can be relatively low. Social partners may not have highlighted training as a key priority in the context of the crisis, compared to the avoidance of dismissals.
    4 The cost is neutral for the company in the case of employees whose salary is lower than 1.4 the times the minimum wage - Salaire Minimum Interprofessionnel de croissance, SMIC – but increases significantly for higher salaries.
    d) The employer’s perspective
    The presentation of the host country example included a round table discussion with representatives from two large companies in the manufacturing sector (Bosch and Dassault Aviation), as well as an SME (Les Impressions Carcy), that have implemented the APLD. According to the company representatives, the impact of the APLD has been very positive as it helped to reduce labour costs in the short-term without resorting to layoffs; preserving jobs within their firms and retaining skilled staff – for example, in the case of the SME; the APLD was used as an alternative to the dismissal of almost one third of the workforce.
    Representatives from the large companies emphasised that the scheme, despite its apparent complexity, was not too difficult to put into practice. In both cases, the success of the scheme was largely based on a consensus at company level obtained via a strong culture of social dialogue and the negotiation of internal agreements. In comparison, the SME found the implementation of partial activity more challenging because of the limited information received from public authorities, the administrative requirements of the procedure and delays in payments of the subsidy.
    Company representatives agreed on the fact that the general high level of acceptance of partial activity among employees has been linked to generous compensation rates guaranteed by the scheme (above 90% or even virtually no reduction in salary, despite significant reductions in working time). However, the implementation of the APLD presented some challenges which are sometimes difficult to anticipate or correct. For some workers the use of APLD led to significant reductions in income as the replacement rate covered gross basic income but did not take into account other income previously accrued through overtime hours. In addition, the reorganisation of work under the reduced working hours raised other challenges, especially when partial activity was combined with training; for practical reasons, training could not always be provided during non-worked hours.
    Regarding the implementation of training, the representatives of the large companies reported that they have managed to maintain or even increase their efforts. Dassault concentrated training efforts on workers on partial activity by mobilising resources from other production sites not affected by partial activity. Bosch increased training provision in 2009 by 50% in comparison with the previous year but they had difficulties in identifying training providers. Dassault opted mainly for in-house training whenever possible, in some cases, making use of intergenerational training, bringing together the younger and older generations.
    4. Discussion and learning
    The discussion between the Host Country and the Peer Review Countries helped to identify a number of basic characteristics for STWA. When combined, they can explain the majority of differences observed between national STWA schemes:
    • Conditions of eligibility for the scheme (e.g. need for the company to justify economic losses or not) and coverage in terms of sectors and types of workers (blue-collar/white-collar workers, temporary agency workers, etc.)
    • Actual levels of working time reduction (limited or up to 100% working time in the case of temporary lays-off).
    • Maximum duration of the scheme and possibility of renewal.
    • Type of funding, level of compensation and type of compensation (flat-rate or percentage of previous wages) and means of payment (subsidies to employers or amount paid to employees via unemployment insurance schemes).
    • Extent to which training is combined with STWA and the type of training provided
    The heterogeneity of the systems across Europe limits the possibility of comparing measures or results and identifying transferability between practices. However, in terms of trends and evolution of the schemes, new tools or reforms of existing instruments put in place by Member States in the context of the economic crisis did not follow strongly diverging paths. In order to make the most of this type of instrument, changes introduced tend to extend the coverage of the measures, increase compensation levels, extend the duration of the scheme as well as better link STWA with training measures (in some cases by making training compulsory).
    In Belgium, Germany, Italy, Austria, France and Portugal, employees receive STW payments through the employer (partly or fully subsidised by the government). In these countries employees do not need to have any specific unemployment benefit rights to be eligible for STW benefits; they only need a contract linking them to their employer. Employees generally retain seniority and other employment-related benefits as well as their entitlement to regular unemployment insurance benefits after receipt of short-time compensation. It is clear that the continuation of certain benefits as well as any top-up payments made available to employers relating from collective or company level agreements are an added cost for employers, which is often not taken into account and may limit the take up of STWA.
    Specific short-time support schemes have been temporarily implemented during the economic crisis in Bulgaria, Czech Republic and Slovenia, where such schemes did not exist before the transition to a market economy. These new schemes are characterised by a wide coverage of companies and employees, strong conditionality on employers and a clear link with the provision of training.
    No such schemes exist, either before or during the crisis, in Cyprus and Greece. In these countries, working time reductions are usually decided either unilaterally by the employer or in agreement with trade unions at company or sector level, and generally provide for wage cuts in proportion to working time reductions. European evidence shows that in many countries without publicly funded STWA (and even in countries with such arrangements); company level social dialogue and agreements have played an important role in supporting internal flexibility and preventing lay-offs.
    In Serbia, some companies resorted to „discontinuation of work. and paid leave. According to government figures, the extension of paid leave has proved more efficient in mitigating layoffs than increasing part time employment.
    In Norway employers may resort to temporary layoffs on a full-time or part-time basis. This allows the employer to reduce the workforce for a limited period of time without effecting dismissals. A temporarily laid-off employee is defined as unemployed, and is entitled to unemployment benefits if the reduction in working hours amounts to 40 percent or more, and the employee otherwise qualifies for unemployment benefits.
    The main points emerging from the discussions are summarised below:
    a) Eligibility criteria and overall accessibility of procedures
    Most STWA public programmes cover companies of any size and all sectors of economic activity. Differences within the private sector exist in Italy, where the Wage Guarantee Fund (Cassa Integrazione Guadagni, CIG) is limited to specific areas of activity and company size.
    The coverage of STWA is normally limited to workers with open-ended employment contracts in those countries where relatively strict employment protection legislation for regular contracts can make work-sharing a more attractive option than dismissal. In Belgium, temporary agency workers and workers with a fixed-term employment contract were not included in the scheme until 2009. In France, part-time workers under 18 hours per week, temporary agency workers and project workers were not eligible for part-time unemployment support until 2009. This has raised some concerns about the further exclusion individuals on non-standard employment contracts, particularly as evidence appears to indicate that the first response of most companies as a result of the crisis was not to renew fixed-term contracts and to limit their use of agency workers.
    Challenges associated with the measures such as deadweight or long-term sustainability were generally analysed in a similar way across European countries. Countries are trying to reduce this 'deadweight' by using different criteria that firms and/or workers must meet in order to take part in the scheme. Such criteria include, for example, the minimum reduction in production and/or business activity (Czech Republic, Austria, Germany, Belgium) and obtaining an agreement from social partners at the firm or sectoral level (Austria, Slovenia, Netherlands, France). In the latter case, the „agreement. varies from a consultation (France) to an explicit formal agreement in Austria and the Netherlands.
    Other criteria used include the condition that no firing is allowed during or directly after participation in short-time work schemes (Netherlands), that the number of employees cannot be decreased during participation in the scheme (Austria), and in some countries restrictions are applied on bonus payments to management during the use of STWA (Slovenia). It was recognised that it is important that employers, who are very responsive to incentives, bear some of the cost associated to STWA to prevent deadweight effects. The need to limit the risks of focussing support on jobs which will not survive in the long-term (for example on declining sectors or those with recognised overcapacity) was acknowledged. This consideration is linked to a perceived risk of labour hording in such sectors, thus tying workers “artificially” to such sectors instead of freeing up labour to be recruited by companies with a greater potential of sustainable job creation. It was also agreed that recommendations in this regard cannot be dissociated from a necessary and thorough evaluation of the impact of STWA, as there was considered to be insufficient assessment of such effects.
    b) Type and generosity of financial support
    State support may refer to financial contributions towards employee's income and/or to refunding other employer's costs (notably social security contributions). A few countries, such as Germany, Portugal and Austria provide financial incentives to the employer for training during short-time arrangements.
    The financial assistance to employees can be either directly paid to the affected employees through a state agency (Belgium) or transferred to them through the employer (e.g. in Austria, Germany, France and Italy).
    During STWA periods employers and employees continue to pay social security contributions for unemployment, pensions and health insurance pro-rata for the hours worked (or indeed in some cases on a full time basis to preserve entitlements). The resources of STWA public support schemes are generally taken from the main unemployment benefit funds, and are therefore financed through usual contributions to the unemployment insurance system by insured persons, employers and the state (general taxation).
    c) Combination with training
    The Host Country and Peer Countries have acknowledged the strong interest of combining training with STWA with a view to promote workers. employability and strengthen the competitiveness of companies in the context of the downturn, but noted significant obstacles to the implementation of training measures in practice. Overall, only few countries have made training a compulsory aspect of STWA (Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Portugal, Cyprus and Slovenia). While training is not compulsory, it is publicly-subsidised for short-time workers in many countries. In general, however, few short-time workers have participated in training during the current crisis where it is not compulsory: In Czech Republic, the allocation of subsidies was conditional to the delivery of training. In contrast to other schemes put in place in other countries, this initiative was project-based and financed by ESF monies. Training was provided at no cost for employers which implied a risk of dead weight: while it is not clear how many companies would have made such training available in any case, a survey did however show that the training provided focused on general skills and knowledge to increase employability rather than delivering more employer specific knowledge and training. In the Netherlands, training was compulsory, but this raised a number of challenges, including: relatively high cost (instead of achieving economies of scale, training became more expensive new capacities had to be created for more tailored supply, which was difficult to achieve in the short term), therefore in-house, specific training delivered by experienced employees was also allowed. From the Austrian experience it seems that incentives were too low. Additionally, the organisation of training (during short and flexibly arranged phases of short time working) was considered difficult to operationalise. In Slovenia, employers are obliged to organise training for temporarily laid-off workers in which they are financially supported by the government. However, few companies in the scheme applied for funding for employee training. Where such programmes were provided, it was mainly through internal education programmes led by internal mentors. In Belgium, the average training periods were relatively short, about two to three days per employee.
    Other countries have also developed other incentives and facilitated the access to training of workers on STWA. For example in Belgium, workers on STWA are granted access to training delivered by regional Public Employment Services. It is, however, estimated that this relatively easy access to STWA generates some risks of dead-weight as employers can be tempted to externalise training costs in the context of the crisis instead of fulfilling their obligations in the field of training. The Portuguese government created a temporary programme to articulate the working time reduction with vocational education and training (VET). The “Programa Qualificação-Emprego. or PQE (Programme Qualification-Employment) increased the level of benefits for employees and employers, thus stimulating the use of the lay-off for the provision of VET in companies. The programme was time-limited (applications started in February 2009 and ended in June 2010), followed tighter criteria of eligibility and focussed on competitive companies that produce material goods, although it did not exclude other sectors. Under the PQE, the government.s share in the compensation for the worker is quite generous, 85% or more (70% in the general regime) and the compensation itself may reach 100% of the wage (two-thirds normal lay off compensation plus a Qualification Incentive of up to one-third).
    Some of the difficulties identified at national level in providing training in combination with STWA are inherently linked to the temporary character of these measures. In an emergency situation, companies are struggling to identify training solutions tailored to the needs of their employees. Some companies are hesitant to utilise such schemes if the training on offer does not address the company.s needs, demonstrating that it is difficult to strike the balance between the underlying idea that accompanying training should focus on employability rather than employer specific requirements (with the risk of employers fearing that employees may wish to use such skills elsewhere in an upturn). In the case of Greece, it was acknowledged that the high reliance on ESF funding to organise training creates difficulties in the context of the crisis, as it is not easy to adapt and deliver training measures financed by ESF in a flexible manner.
    One of the obstacles often mentioned by companies to justify the limited use of training in good economic conditions is the lack of time for employees to undertake training courses. In the context of the crisis, one might have expected that implementation of training measures would therefore have been made easier. However, it has not been the case; as practical difficulties appeared regarding the delivery of training during non-worked hours. There are also some legal aspects linked to the use of temporary lay-off schemes, for example in Norway, temporarily laid-off employees have the status of unemployed people and as such must be available for work and cannot engage in training activities.
    It was emphasised that all the efforts made in the field of improving skills and qualifications and enhancing the employability of the workforce should also take into account the future needs of the labour market. In this context systems available for future skills anticipation can be insufficiently developed in a number of countries.
    d) Temporary Vs Permanent character of the measure
    Some countries such as the Czech Republic have implemented STWA as a strictly temporary measure and as such it is not expected to be renewed.
    In contrast, in some countries such tools have been available for a long time and were also used before the economic crisis, although to a much lesser extent (to cope with cyclical or seasonal employment or restructuring, for example). In France, the extensions of coverage, duration, etc., introduced since 2008 were temporary, but it is envisaged that STWA could continue to support restructuring in a limited number of companies or sectors in the future. In this regard, a reform of the financing system could be envisaged. In Italy, the exceptions introduced in reaction to the crisis (creation of exceptional and special funds in addition to the regular wage guarantee fund) could possibly be maintained, but raise the issue of long-term sustainability of these measures. In Germany, it is estimated that a phasing-out and reform of the eligibility criteria is now timely and necessary, although STWA will remain an essential component of the range of employment policies at national level. The maximum duration of the scheme (which had been temporarily extended to 18 months) is expected to be reduced to 12 months again, still a long period compared to the schemes implemented in other countries. In Belgium the scheme has a permanent nature and was also quite widely used before the downturn. During the crisis, its use was further expanded to white collar workers. The Dutch government started to restrict and “roll back” the STWA when signs of economic recovery emerged. This underlines the more restrictive Dutch approach requiring that no company should be supported that is either not economically viable or can be considered to be self-supportive (so-called dead weight effect).
    The participating countries recognised that the first and immediate priority was to cushion the effect of the crisis on employment and constrain, as far as possible, further mass job losses by supporting companies in maintaining workers in the job, but it is important to focus at the same time on supporting a sustainable economic growth. Most countries consider STWA only as a temporary tool using in combination with other economic stimulus measures.
    Most countries favoured a gradual phasing-out of STWA. However, an early withdrawal may undermine confidence among workers and thus depress domestic demand with consequent knock-on effects on companies. But the risk of a delayed withdrawal of measures is substantial cost in terms of locking-in labour to declining activities, preventing the necessary reallocation of resources and damaging future growth prospects. Participating countries agreed with the conclusions of the 2009 Spring Council that short-time arrangements need to be supplemented by measures that support employability and ease transitions to new jobs.
    e) The role of the social partners
    In countries such as Austria, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands, provisions on the implementation of STWA have been established in a number of sectoral collective agreements. In other countries – mostly those in which collective bargaining is predominantly carried out at the enterprise level – STWA provisions are implemented primarily through company agreements.
    The involvement of social partners in the design and implementation of the schemes varies in the participating countries, ranging from consultation to formal agreements. Obtaining an explicit agreement from social partners at the firm or sectoral level is a requirement included in the application for STWA in Austria and Netherlands. In Austria, this social partnership agreement covers the duration of STW, number of workers affected, number of working hours, the amount of compensation paid during the STW and, in the case of subsidies for skills training during STW, the training plan. This support from social partners is seen as particularly positive as it ensures internal buy-in as social partners are closely involved in the decision to participate and take advantage of the internal knowledge. The use of STWA indicates that specific jobs are deemed in need of support and thus potentially 'at risk' and are seen as being „at risk. from possible future restructuring, therefore support from company-level social partners is essential in finding tailor-made responses to deal with the decline in demand.
    f) Measuring the impact of STWA: methodological issues
    It was unanimously recognised that the estimation of the impact of STWA on labour markets is much more complex than the conversion of the number of hours not worked, supported by the scheme, into full-time equivalent jobs. State-of-the-art methods are still to be developed. It was also acknowledged that it is still too early to draw lessons from the use of STWA so far; previous experience has shown that employment losses are often delayed in time but not avoided in the mid- and long-term. This calls for a need for a detailed longitudinal analysis incorporating flow data. In France, plans for evaluation of the measures taken during the crisis include longitudinal studies, but this quantitative approach will also be complemented by employer surveys.
    Indeed, many of the expected positive effects or STWA are very difficult to measure and go beyond the number of jobs „saved.. A number of participants highlighted that in their country (for example Belgium and Germany) the rationale for STWA was not only to contribute to maintaining jobs in the long-term, but also or mainly to generate trust and avoid „panic effects. and social unrest in the short-term, while maintaining purchasing power. In France as well, even if some workers only benefited from a temporary extension of their jobs, it is accepted that their transition to a new job will be easier when the labour market recovers, than it would have been during the peak of the economic crisis, when there was even greater competition for fewer job opportunities.
    It is clear that good monitoring and evaluation processes are required to inform investment in this type of measure, through evidence of their effectiveness. It was acknowledged that considerable amounts of public funding have been used to support these measures and only tentative results are available on general effectiveness. Clearly more needs to be known about the impact of STWA not only in securing jobs, but also about its impact on different groups in the labour markets.
    g) The role of the EU in the development of STWA at national level
    The EU has provided partial or total funding (e.g. in the Czech Republic) for a certain number of the STWA schemes, which has facilitated the implementation of these measures.
    In Italy, it was felt that the policy recommendations from the EU have stressed the necessity to better link income support measures with ALMP, a traditional weakness of the Italian system.
    Country representatives also called for a greater role of the EU in providing appropriate guidance and recommendations to Member States linked to the design and use of STWA both adapted to the context of the downturn and coherent with the broader framework of the European Employment Strategy.
    While recognising that there is no one-size-fits-all solution, recommendations could cover optimal criteria and characteristics for each national situation. It was also recognised that STWA should not be seen in isolation, and must be better articulated with the common principles of flexicurity established at EU level, which are all about protecting the employability of persons and facilitating adaptations and transitions in fluid labour markets. Flexicurity also encompasses the notion of internal flexibility supported by STWA. However, STWA can also be considered as a protection for existing jobs which contributed to „freeze. sectors and companies at their pre-crisis levels but does not necessarily improve the long-term employability of individuals (if not combined, for instance, with training). Guidance produced at the EU level should therefore cover the right balance between STWA and other employment measures focusing on labour market „outsiders. such as the (long-term) unemployed, precarious groups and vulnerable groups excluded from employment. The EU can also play a role in the evaluation of such measures in the medium and long-term.
    5. Conclusions The main conclusions of the Peer Review discussions can be summarised as follows: Responding to the recession, the majority of Member States have temporarily introduced new STWAs or broadened the level, coverage or duration of existing schemes and, in some cases, have simplified them. Different methodologies are being used to assess the use and impact of STWAs, both by the countries participating in the Peer Review and more widely across the EU/EEA (e.g. by OECD and the European Commission). This raises issues regarding the comparability of data. The design and application of STWAs varies across Europe. The main differences concern the coverage, the level of wage compensation and contributions paid by the state. An important distinction refers to the use of short-time work either as a form of unemployment benefit or to increase internal flexibility, especially in those cases where employment protection is tight and firing costs are high. Participants identified STWAs as effective in a number of ways: workers keep their jobs; employers retain their human capital; and reduce the personal and social costs incurred by long term unemployment. This is seen not only as helping individuals and companies manage through the recession, but also as helping to reduce the loss of skills and experience that comes about through job losses and prolonged unemployment, preserving the skills and employment base for the economy when the recovery comes. Some countries also reflect on the social solidarity aspects allied with the use of STWAs, i.e. with the costs of the crisis being distributed more evenly amongst a greater number of employees. Empirical analysis shows that STWAs seem to have been effective in reducing the vulnerability of employment during the recession. However, even with improved methodologies, Peer Review participants considered that it is now too early to assess fully the effectiveness and efficiency of STWAs. More studies and evaluations are needed to provide the evidence to underpin the necessary investment in this type of measure. It is important to understand the potential deadweight effects, the number of jobs saved, what it means for the affected workers and for the viability of the companies involved. This needs to be followed up at different points in time. In a number of countries incentives to training for workers on STWAs were included; for instance, in the Netherlands and the Czech Republic taking part in training was made compulsory in order to be eligible for subsidies or income support. However, it was observed that, despite financial incentives for both employers and employees during STWA, the actual take-up of training has been fairly low. This could be explained partly by the challenges of organising appropriate training for the relatively short and limited duration of a STWA, or simply investing in training in a time of economic difficulty. However investing in upskilling and reskilling was considered important to ensure employability in uncertain economic times. More emphasis should also be given on how to fit this effort within an overall approach to lifelong learning. When it comes to the type of training provided, there is variation, from that which is focused on the development of and maintenance of the existing job (i.e. specific training) through to more general upskilling. However, since partial activity does not fully protect from redundancies, it would be advisable to also focus on developing transferable skills. The involvement of social partners in the design and implementation of the schemes varies in the participating countries, ranging from consultation to formal agreements. This may add some complexity to the implementation of STWA, but it was also seen as a way of ensuring transparency, buy-in and minimising misuse. The schemes are not currently reaching people who are outside of the labour market (i.e. people not employed in the companies applying the STWA measures) or addressing the needs of unemployed people. Cost-sharing arrangements may ensure better engagement from the employer and contribute to shortening the periods of inactivity. The simplification of funding and procedures is an important factor in attracting companies, especially SMEs, to the schemes. When it comes to the implementation, the accessibility, conditions, methods and requirements should be adapted to the reality of small firms. Looking to the future, there is some interest in the countries participating in the Peer Review in continuing with some type of STWAs once their economies have moved out of recession. This could take the form of support to companies for their restructuring activities. Participants in the Peer Review acknowledged also the value of an EU-wide position on the role that STWAs can play in the future.
    Mutual Learning Programme 2010 Peer Reviews (Autumn)

  2. Gov't prepares White Paper on flexi work week for public consideration, Go-Jamaica.com
    KINGSTON, Jamaica - Minister of Finance and Planning Dr Peter Phillips says the Government has prepared a White Paper on Flexible Work Arrangements as it intensifies its thrust to boost the country’s productivity levels.
    Phillips says the document will be made available for public consideration.
    A flexible work arrangement or flexi-week is characterised by a variable work schedule which allows the worker and employer the opportunity to arrange the traditional 40-hour work week as it best suits their needs.
    The finance minister says workers and employers stand to benefit greatly from the introduction of flexi-week as it will boost productivity and promote cost effectiveness within companies.
    Phillips was speaking at a Labour Market Forum at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston recently.

  3. Is The 40-hour Workweek Too Long?by Claire Robinson, Business2Community.com
    PARIS, France - In his 1930 essay Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, the British economist John Maynard Keynes predicted that technological advancements would mean that future generations would work no more than 15 hours a week. While technological progress has indeed occurred at a level and pace that Keynes himself would scarce be able to fathom, this has not led to a reduction in the working week. Indeed, many of us work more than 40 hours from Monday to Sunday, often depending on a mix of culture and public policy.
    In my home country of the United States, the average workweek is 38 hours, after factoring in for part-time jobs. I know what you’re thinking: “I work way more than 38 hours a week!” Believe me, I did too when I lived in New York. The most standard U.S. workweek is 40 hours, which is fairly average compared to other countries around the world. European countries generally work shorter weeks, with France (where I now live and work) famously defending a 35-hour week. Side note: as I have discovered since working in Paris, most French employees actually work much longer weeks, they just get extra vacation days to balance things out at the end of the month. On the other hand, Asian countries work much longer weeks.
    Choosing the number of hours in a workweek is all about efficiency.
    [No, it isn't. It's all about maximizing consumer spending (and all the other markets that depend on that = ALL other markets: business, financial and even trade) by maximizing employment, and in all sustainable economies throughout all the future, this will be done simply by adjusting the workweek to whatever lower level it takes to guarantee full employment (and maximum sustainable consumer spending = not dependent on consumer debt).]
    Studies and common sense show that productivity is lost if an employee works too few hours but also if an employee works too many hours and ‘burns out’. Though many employees, myself (too) often included, work weeks closer to 50 hours and feel we could keep going, longer weeks have repeatedly been shown to not only fail to increase efficiency but to actually decrease productivity. A 2008 study comparing the respective effects of 40 and 55-hour weeks on productivity showed that those who worked the longer hours scored worse on vocabulary and reasoning tests over a period of years.
    Tom Walker, of the Work Less Institute agrees, stating, “that output does not rise or fall in direct proportion to the number of hours worked is a lesson that seemingly has to be relearned each generation.” In the early 1990s, the famous industrialist Henry Ford decreased the lengths of working weeks from 45 to 40 hours, to the surprise and mockery of his competitors. Over the next decade, Ford’s business boomed and, in 1937, the 40-hour workweek was enshrined in Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. As stated above, not only do only do longer working weeks fail to bring proportionate gains in productivity, they also engender negative consequences such as workplace accidents and the inevitable lawsuits that follow. This argument is perhaps best outlined in a 2012 Salon article entitled ‘Bring back the 40-hour workweek’.
    However, data from other countries suggests that perhaps even a 40-hour workweek is too long and that the optimum number of hours lies in the 30s. The French, with their legally enshrined 35-hour week and lengthy holiday period (the entire country more or less shuts down every August), work the least amount of hours per year in the world. For the hours the French do work though, they are much more productive than workers almost anywhere else. France’s total economic output divided by the number of hours worked is among the highest in the world, even higher than in Germany. Quality over quantity seems to be the French philosophy, working less but working better.
    In Germany, the average workweek is also only 35 hours and the notoriously efficient German economy is the fourth largest in the world. Working fewer hours could also be one of the reasons that Germany has maintained such a low unemployment rate (currently sitting at 5.2%) compared to the United States (7.3%). Of course there are obvious limits to these theories. France works few hours and has an appalling unemployment rate (11.1%) and dividing total economic output by the number of hours worked does not take into account the resources and infrastructure a country is endowed with.
    Nevertheless, many still believe that the 40-hour week is too long. According to researchers at the British New Economics Foundation, the optimum number of hours in a workweek would be 30. In their book Time On Our Side, they argue that the 30-hour week would safeguard natural resources, reduce greenhouse gases, undercut unemployment by creating new jobs and benefit workers’ general health. Like Pandora’s box, policy initiatives that include shortening the workweek open a whole new series of difficult questions. Should the state mandate how much or little an individual is allowed to work in a given week? Can the same number of work hours be sufficient for every kind of job, from banking to software development to babysitting? These are questions that will have to be addressed if voices demanding a shorter workweek are taken seriously by policymakers.
    Claire Robinson is an entrepreneur and aspiring business guru currently working in Paris, France.

12/12/2013 – 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. Monterey Park to End Furloughs In Spring 2014, EGPnews.com
    Monterey Park City Hall is located at 320 W. Newmark Ave. (photo caption)
    MONTEREY PARK, Calif., USA - On a unanimous vote, the Monterey Park council approved the end of furloughs for city hall employees and reinstated a five-day workweek that will begin next year.
    City council members voted to again open city hall five days a week beginning April 1, 2014, ending employee furloughs nine months earlier than scheduled.
    During the Nov. 19 council meeting, Mayor Teresa Real Sebastian thanked residents and employees for being patient during challenging fiscal times.
    “The City Council recognizes the sacrifice the General Employees made these past three years assisting the city with the difficult but necessary steps to ensure the city’s future financial health,” Real Sebastian said. “Ending furloughs early is our way of saying “thank you.”
    Since October 2012, Monterey Park employees have experienced a 10% cut in their hours and city hall has been closed on Fridays.
    The three unions representing workers classified as “general employees,” SEIU, the Mid-Management Association (MMA) and the Confidential Employees’ Association (CEA), approved the furlough plan as an alternative to layoffs.
    According to the approved policy, the agreed upon 10% cut in worker’s hours was to be reduced to 5% between April 2014 and January 2015.
    Monterey Park’s improved financial outlook is being credited for the earlier than anticipated end of furloughs and reopening city hall for business five days a week starting in the spring.
    Union representatives told the council they are “much encouraged” by their decision and proud of the role city employees played in helping Monterey Park improve its financial footing.
    “We, as a group, strive to consistently strengthen and continually build upon, our commitment to serve all of the Monterey Park residents,” SEIU President Chris Reyes said.
    Currently, City Hall is only open Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. When the furloughs end next year it will open Monday through Thursday 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Fridays from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
    The 33-month furlough saved Monterey Park over $1 million a year, according to city staff.
    “This [decision recognizes] that when the city hit their troubles three years ago that miscellaneous employees stepped up to the plate and accepted furloughs,” said Director of Human Resources and Risk Management Thomas J. Cody.

  2. FLA Says Foxconn Still Exceeds Working Hours, by Lorraine Luk, Wall Street Journal (blog) via blogs.wsj.com
    Demonstrators protest against working conditions at Apple suppliers in China, in front of an Apple store in Hong Kong on February 26, 2013. (photo caption)
    CHENGDU, China - Apple Inc.’s major supplier Foxconn hasn’t reduced overtime hours at some of its factories to meet the legal requirement in China, the Fair Labor Association said in a report.
    The investigation of Foxconn, officially known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., began in 2012 after mounting criticism about working conditions at Apple suppliers’ factories that churn out iPhones and iPads. By joining the FLA, Apple agreed to audits by the group.
    The audit was conducted between Oct. 28 and Nov. 8 at Foxconn’s three manufacturing facilities in Longhua, Chengdu and Guanlan in China.
    The non-profit labor rights group said in a statement Thursday Foxconn has completed 356 of the 360 action items that the Taiwan-based manufacturer agreed to, to improve its labor practice.
    Among those items included fair compensation for overtime, protection from excessive heat and building more fire escapes and toilets.
    “The assessment found that while Foxconn is largely complying with the FLA 60-hour/week code standard, it did not meet its target of full compliance with the Chinese legal limit of 36 hours of overtime per month by July 1, 2013,” the labor rights group said.
    The assessment found that between March and October 2013 more than half of the work force had worked beyond the Chinese legal limit of 36 overtime hours a month in all three facilities.
    [So the EU allows up to 48 hours a week including overtime and China allows up to 76 hours a week including overtime. Where would you prefer to live? Or maybe the question is, would you prefer to live in Europe or subsist in China, which would easily outdo U.S. GDP with fuller employment via shorter workweeks and overtime-to-jobs conversion.]
    FLA also said it found that no interns working at any of the three facilities since the January 2013 verification visits.
    Foxconn, with more than 1 million workers in China, said Thursday it welcomes the audit report.
    “The results of that report demonstrate substantial overall progress by our company in carrying out the 15-month remedial program in many areas. However, we recognize that there is more to be done, and that we must continue to sustain this progress and further enhance our operations,” the company said. “Over the past two years, Foxconn has provided FLA auditors with unrestricted access to their Apple manufacturing lines and employment documents. We have already addressed 99% of the FLA’s recommendations and we continue to make progress through our own supplier responsibility program,” Apple said in a statement.
    Apple said Foxconn and other suppliers reduced the average workweek to 53 hours, well below industry norms and the 60-hour limit established by its code of conduct.
    “We will continue to provide transparency by reporting working-hours compliance each month on our website, and we are committed to reducing excessive overtime even further as we continue this journey with our supplier partners,” Apple said.
    Foxconn isn’t alone in facing labor challenges. The recent deaths of a 15-year-old and three other workers at Pegatron Corp.’s iPhone plant in Shanghai also highlight the challenges that Apple and its suppliers face to maintain worker safety and keep underage people out of factories.
    Foxconn has tried to install robotic arms at its factories dotted across China to boost efficiency and address labor unrest. But its bid to automate swaths of the production process in the coming decade faces obstacles including high costs and rapid changes in technology.

12/11/2013 – 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. U.S. Sen. Reed gives a mixed review to congressional budget agreement, ProvidenceJournal.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA -- U.S. Sen. Jack Reed issued a statement on the budget agreement reached Tuesday, which he said "reduces economic uncertainty and blunts the impact of the sequester. It will help save jobs, reduce unnecessary furloughs, protect vital programs like education from deep cuts, and should prevent another costly and wasteful government shutdown.
    "However, I would have preferred closing corporate tax loopholes to restore investments in defense and education. And I am most disturbed that negotiators refused to include help for the unemployed as part of their package.
    "Congress needs to act fast to preserve unemployment insurance or 1.3 million American job seekers will suddenly be without a financial safety net in the new year. Budgets are about priorities, and helping vulnerable families should be a bipartisan priority. ...
    "While this agreement doesn't solve every issue facing the country and it could certainly do more for the unemployed and the middle class, it's at least a reversal of the governing by crisis method that some on the other side of the aisle have embraced in the past few years."

  2. Comment: Clock off, switch off: tips to stress less outside work hours, by Univ. of South Australia's Natalie Skinner, The Conversation via SBS.com.au (blog)
    Don’t dwell on it – it’s time to get efficient. (photo caption)
    ADELAIDE, S.A., Australia - Australians are busy at work. We report very high levels of intensive working compared to other industrialised countries.
    And while it’s difficult to fully disconnect from work as we head home for the day, a paper published today in the journal PLOS ONE provides some insight into how our personal thinking styles and values can affect how well we manage the stress of work interruptions, and think about work during leisure time.
    Most of us work with other people – colleagues, supervisors, clients, customers – and this means that we are often interrupted when doing our work. Email, for example, is a major cause of work interruptions.
    With high pressure and demanding work becoming the typical daily experience of many workers, there is a clear need for research on how individuals can survive and thrive in such demanding work environments.
    Today’s PLOS ONE study suggests that by training ourselves to change the way we view and respond to work interruptions, we may be able to reduce our levels of stress and fatigue both at work and in our personal or leisure time.
    The study says …
    The study involved 300 white-collar full-time employees from the private business sector, including managers, executives and other professionals. They found complex relationships among a range of beliefs, values and styles of thinking about work.
    Workers who prioritised efficient use of time while at work, and were able to view work interruptions as positive and constructive (such as providing a welcome break or reducing boredom), were less likely to spend their leisure time thinking about work-related problems, and were able to “switch off” from work.
    [Prioritization, the secret to marketable productivity in fewer hours.]
    Recognising and valuing the importance of leisure time also helped workers to “switch off” when not at work. This capacity to detach or “switch off” has been shown in other studies to be important for rest and recovery, which is crucial for sustaining health and well-being in the long-term.
    So how do I stress less?
    The researchers suggest a number of strategies that individuals and organisations could use to better support workers’ capacity to deal positively with work interruptions, and to improve rest and recovery after work.
    Organisations could provide training in time and task management, including assertiveness training with regard to managing interruptions.
    Organisations can also play a role in reducing work intensification and the spillover of work tasks and communication into leisure time. The authors of the study suggest that organisations establish periods of employee unavailability. Email communications could be limited to daytime hours (not evenings!) and weekdays.
    Managerial and executive roles present more challenges with regard to managing the boundary between work and non-work time. One strategy worth trying is to set periods of time when particular individuals are unavailable and not expected to respond to work communications or engage in work tasks (such as rostered evenings and weekends of non-availability).
    Finally, the authors recommend that individuals recognise the value of leisure and relaxation for their mental and physical health, and general well-being. They suggest individuals proactively organise some leisure activities that give them satisfaction and enjoyment, to ensure a good balance between work and non-work life activities.
    In general, the research on rest and recovery reminds us that working life, and life in general, is a marathon, not a sprint.
    We need to pace ourselves, and look after our health and well-being, to sustain our capacity to work well in jobs that are often demanding of our time and energy.
    This means both building our skills in coping with work demands, but also recognising and valuing the quality of our family and leisure time away from work.
    Natalie Skinner receives funding from the Australian Research Council, SafeWork SA and FairWork Australia.

12/10/2013 – 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. Redundancy, Lay Off and Short Time Working Course, Alcumus Academy via Findcourses.co.uk
    AYLESBURY, Bucks., U.K. - Alcumus Academy Course summary
    Length: 0.5 days
    Training Provider: Alcumus - ISOQAR & Compliance plus
    Location: Nationwide
    Training Method: Company-Specific / In-house
    Start Date: Please enquire for dates ...
    Redundancy, Lay Off and Short Time Working Course - in-house training
    This Redundancy, Lay Off and Short Time Working Course is ideal for supervisors and managers needing to develop their understanding of the Human Resources (HR) issues surrounding redundancies, lay offs and arrangements for short time working.
    The half-day programme, delivered in-house, covers the key contractual, statutory and practical aspects of these HR areas, addressing:
    • redundancy - preparation, duty to consult, identifying employees at risk, seeking volunteers, documentation, entitlements to pay, fair selection, right of appeal;
    • short time working & lay off - notification, statutory entitlements, right to request redundancy.
    Delegates also cover the issues of reduced pay, reduced hours and changes to contractual benefits. The goal is to provide them with a solid understanding of how these matters should be handled, as well the risks the organisation faces when they are not dealt with effectively.
    Give your managers and supervisors the skills to protect your organisation - request more information here
    Suitability - Who should attend?
    This Redundancy, Lay Off and Short Time Working Course is suitable for professionals with supervisory or managerial responsibilities in the workplace. ...
    Training Course Content
    This course covers the following topics:
    • Redundancy
    • Short time working
    • Lay off
    • Other/temporary suspension from work
    Contractual obligations
    • Understanding what the employee handbook says
    • Duty to consult
    • Preparation
    • Identifying the correct pool of those potentially at risk
    • Seeking volunteers
    • Documentation, notes of meetings and letters
    • Right to be accompanied
    • Statutory entitlements to pay
    • Undertaking a fair selection process
    • Right to appeal
    Short time working and lay off
    • Notification
    • Statutory entitlements
    • Right to request redundancy
    • Reduced hours
    • Reduced pay
    • Changes to other contractual benefits
    • Documentation
    The risks of getting it wrong
    • Time limits for tribunal claims
    • Unfair dismissal, failure to consult etc
    • Potential discrimination claims against the company
    • The financial risk to the business ...
    The cost of this Redundancy, Lay Off and Short Time Working Course will depend on your exact requirements in terms of number of participants, location and degree of customisation.
    Request an in-house quote or free training needs analysis from Alcumus here
    Provider: Alcumus - ISOQAR & Compliance
    Enhancing learning in compliance and certification
    Alcumus is a leading provider of health & safety, risk management, HR management and certification training services, with a primary focus on giving staff the skills to perform effective management system audits and helping businesses meet their compliance management challenges.... ...
    Contact information: ...
    Alcumus - ISOQAR & Compliance
    Smeaton Close
    HP19 8HL Aylesbury, Bucks [UK]
    Phone no: +441296678497

  2. Department heads trying to sink Wyatt Weekends: Councillor, by Joyanne Pursaga joyanne.pursaga@sunmedia.ca, WinnipegSun.com
    WINNIPEG, Man., Canada - The city's finance chair lashed out at department heads for questioning a proposed holiday furlough, alleging the managers are more concerned with their own pensions than service reductions.
    "That's why we've received the most opposition from the most senior management of the city because their pensions are being impacted," said Coun. Russ Wyatt (Transcona).
    Wyatt said that's because the managers themselves could be deemed non-essential, thus reducing their working days and, ultimately, their pension payouts. He made the remark Tuesday when asked about comments from the city's community services director Clive Wightman and public works director Brad Sacher. Wightman and Sacher have told city committees that they don't know exactly which of their staff would be deemed non-essential and, therefore, be subjected to the mandatory 3.5 unpaid days off between Christmas Eve and New Year's Day [every year starting next year].
    On Monday, Sacher told the city's public works committee that his department had such limited resources it only allowed staff furloughs in "extenuating circumstances" for fear doing so on a general basis would decrease service levels.
    And last Thursday, Wightman told the city's community services committee that his department cancelled a voluntary furlough program in 2012 because all staff are needed every day.
    Wyatt challenged those claims.
    "I believe that if there's a will, there's a way. And the savings are there," he said.
    The city's preliminary operating budget proposes to save $1.5 million per year through the festive furlough[s], beginning in the 2014 holiday season.
    [Better furlough than firing, timesizing than downsizing.]
    But critics question how the city can estimate the savings without clear confirmation of how many staff would be included.
    "I think it's ludicrous. I think we should have an appendix with a list of positions attached to this budget. And, if we can't, then how can you support such an idea?" said Coun. Paula Havixbeck (Charleswood-Tuxedo).
    Havixbeck said she suspects a voluntary furlough program not limited to the Christmas gift-giving season would likely result in more savings.
    "Making something mandatory at a time when people have the most bills is really unfair ... We have a program, it should be voluntary, people should come forward and say when they can make it work," said Havixbeck.
    The councillor also challenged Wyatt's impression of city managers' opposition to the furlough, noting bureaucratic leaders work hard to represent their employees and supervisors while coping with political pressures from council.
    City council will vote on the budget Dec. 17.

12/08-09/2013 – 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. Revisions to Pa. teacher furlough system under review, 12/08 Newsworks.org
    HARRISBURG, Pa., USA - Spurred by a down economy and a regard for teacher seniority as "arbitrary," state lawmakers are sizing up another attempt at removing some of the constraints on furloughing teachers in Pennsylvania.
    Right now, school districts can furlough employees for any one of four reasons. Economic difficulty isn't one of them, and some state House lawmakers think it should be.

    The secretary of education supports such a change, and says it will give school districts another tool to deal with tight budgets.
    But the move could make furloughs inevitable, said Rep. Mike Carroll.
    "It just seems to me that school boards, in particular, have been dealt a hand now that's almost an unplayable hand," said Carroll, D-Luzerne. "Or a different metaphor may be they have an unsolvable mathematical problem and that is that they have a financial foundation upon which they can't operate the school district."
    The same legislation also aims to get rid of teacher seniority considerations during furloughs.
    Supporters say it will help schools retain the best educators.
    But representatives of the state's largest teachers union say the move will just lead to furloughing teachers with the most seniority, because they're the most expensive employees.

  2. SixDay Work Week May Soon Be A Thing Of The Past: Staffing Experts, 12/09 Siliconindia.com
    BANGALORE, India - Six day work weeks may soon be flushed out of the system, says staffing experts. They claim that such arrangements which do not necessarily promote work-life balance are keeping managerial level employees away from companies that operate six days a week, reports Namrata Singh of TNN [(India)Times News Network].
    As per the revelation made by Executive Access, which is an executive search firm, the number of candidates who seek for five-day work week has increased by a staggering 30 percent in the last five to seven years.
    These trends are a clear indication of the demand for greater work-life balance among top management executives that cuts across industries. In the words of Ronesh Puri, MD, Executive Access, "Earlier, 15 percent of candidates would decline to work for a company that offers them a six-day work week. Today, that percentage has increased to 30-40 percent," reports the Economic Times. He further added that, "Candidates do not mind working longer hours from Monday to Friday, but they don't like being called to work on weekends. And bosses who ask employees to work on weekends usually see higher attrition."

  3. Local firms aim to boost output - 4-day week works for Fort Wayne company, by Paul Wyche pwyche@jg.net, 12/09 Fort Wayne Journal Gazette via journalgazette.net
    FORT WAYNE, Ind., USA - CEO Fred Merritt doesn’t have a crystal ball – he just pays attention.
    So a decade ago, Riverside Manufacturing, 14510 Lima Road, began a four-day workweek that includes production coming to a halt.
    The business makes vehicle components for defense, fire and emergency agencies, delivery firms and other industries.
    Just not on Fridays.
    “We were very proactive,” Merritt said of the company’s 10-hour days. “The four-day workweek results in a much more relaxed environment. Employees in administration are able to tie up loose ends prior to the weekend without the pressure of production.”
    [Not strictly timesizing but hey, if they find four 10-hour days productively relaxed, think how much they'd get out of four 9- or 8-hour days!]
    Merritt said the 300-person company has experienced improved attendance and morale.
    “Workers are able to tend to personal matters like doctor or dentist appointments that they may have had to deal with during the work week,” he said. “We’ve also had minimal turnover, and there is less stress on Monday because workers were able to look after matters without the hustle and bustle of production.”
    The company recently touted an agreement with the Allen County Highway Department. Riverside installed modules in a number of dump trucks that allow drivers of the vehicles to maintain greater control over electrical system functions, such as activating the salt spreader.
    Such contracts are, in part, the result of administrative staff being free to concentrate on other products and contracts on Fridays, Merritt said.
    “It is working out well,” he said.
    Executives also worry whether technology overload interferes with business.
    Mark Becker is the newly appointed CEO of Greater Fort Wayne Inc. The organization is the merger of the Greater Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce and the Fort Wayne-Allen County Economic Development Alliance. The group’s goal is to create a common vision when discussing investments and job creation.
    Becker said one of the things he is monitoring is the use of technology as he blends the two staffs.
    “Everything moves so fast nowadays,” he said. “We want to make sure that we use smartphones, tablets and other (devices) effectively and that they don’t detract from productivity.”

12/07/2013 – 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. Pomona Police Officers’ Association calls for an end to furloughs - ...Says lifting furloughs could help.., by Monica Rodriguez, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin via dailybulletin.com
    POMONA, Calif., USA - Members of the Pomona Police Officers’ Association are suggesting that a way to deal with this year’s increase in crime would be by lifting the furloughs affecting the Police Department.
    Employees in all city departments have had furloughs in place for several years. By the time the current labor agreements end in June 2014, the furloughs will have been in place for more than four years.
    If the 5 percent furloughs were lifted, the Police Department would have the equivalent of seven to eight more officers available to address crime problems the city has experienced this year.
    “Everybody agrees we need more officers,” said Jaime Gutierrez, president of the Pomona Police Officers’ Association.
    But until that can happen, lifting the furloughs can help by giving officers extra time to do their work, he said.
    “I think it’s an immediate fix,” Gutierrez said.
    Money to cover the costs associated with lifting furloughs could come from the city’s reserves, he said.
    Officers’ Association vice president Brad Paulson said the association’s membership understands the city must build up its reserves for a rainy day but the violent crime the city has experienced must be addressed.
    This year, the city has had 27 homicides so far. Last year, the city had 17.
    “If 27 homicides isn’t a rainy day I don’t know what is,” Paulson said.
    Being able to address the crime problems is critical.
    “The perception is Pomona is not safe right now,” he said.
    Such an impression of the city hurts it on many levels particularly when it comes to trying to attract much needed businesses, Paulson said.
    With the help of money budgeted for overtime, the police department has been able to have additional personnel on the streets but those funds aren’t unlimited, Gutierrez said.
    Assistant Chief of Police Paul Capraro said the department is using asset forfeiture funds to pay for costs associated with addressing the increase in violent crime this year.
    Earlier in the year, the department used federal grant funds to offset those costs.
    Some grant dollars are still left but the plans have always called for shifting to the use of asset forfeiture funds, Capraro said.
    The department has overtime funds but those are allocated to different programs for use within them, he said.
    If the furloughs were lifted for the rest of the current fiscal year through June 2014 it would cost the city about $450,000, Gutierrez said. But he and Paulson suggested the city lift the furloughs for two or three months to see what kind of effect that would have.
    Finance Director Paula Chamberlain said lifting the furloughs for all sworn personnel would cost about $83,000 a month bringing the total cost from January to June of the 2013-2014 fiscal year to about $500,000.
    Through one-time revenues and the generation of revenue that exceeded expenditures, the city was able to add $5.2 million to the city’s reserve fund bringing it to a total of $7.3 million but that is still about $6.1 million short of what the fund should be.
    Fiscal projections call for the city to have higher than initially expected revenue coming to its coffers this year and next year but various expenses, including retirement costs, are expected to increase making the city’s budget projections far less favorable for the 2015-2016 budget year.
    “We’re not out of the woods yet,” Chamberlain said.
    City reserves are meant to be used for unexpected fiscal situations, said Douglas Johnson, a fellow with the Rose Institute of State and Local Government at Claremont McKenna College.
    “It’s awfully early in the fiscal year to be using reserves,” he said.
    Many cities in the state are focusing on the short-term and not looking at their long-term needs, he said.
    “I can understand the feelings of desperation in Pomona,” Johnson said, but the city should be looking at the long term rather than beginning to consider using reserves.
    Gutierrez said if the furloughs were lifted, investigators would have additional time to work on cases and officers on patrol would have more chances to work areas with problems.
    Capraro said if the furloughs were lifted “it would definitely help us make an adjustment,” but it wouldn’t give the department huge amounts of officers’ time.
    In the case of personnel who work four 10-hour days a week, their schedule would increase by about 30 minutes each day.
    Larry Gaines, chairman of the criminal justice department at Cal State San Bernardino, said cities must take an important element in addressing crime.
    “How many cops you have on the street is not as important as what they are doing,” he said.
    How much time is spent doing police work and completing tasks is important, Gaines said.
    Councilwoman Debra Martin said she would like to do away with furloughs.
    “I personally believe we need to lift the furloughs,” she said. “We need to have more police presence on the street.”
    “We need to make sure our community feels safe,” Martin said.
    Realizing the city has limited financial resources, members of the City Council need to sit down with the city manager, the police chief and the city’s finance director to see how to best use those funds, she said.
    Mayor Elliott Rothman said he must research the association’s concept, its costs and its benefits.
    He added the concept could be something the association may be interested in discussing as part of future labor negotiations.
    Monica Rodriguez covers the city of Pomona. Reach the author at Monica.Rodriguez@inlandnewspapers.com or follow Monica on Twitter: @PomonaNow.

  2. Comments...- 35 hours to be cut, Walgreens Forum via Topix Walgreens via topix.com/forum
    [Now for some comic relief, nine posts by some "rude mechanicals" that mostly work for Walgreens (we are not making this up - but maybe someone dreamt it up one midsummer's night (Will Shakespeare lives!?) -]
    MOBILE, Ala., USA - ...Showing posts 1 - 9 of9
    #1 sickntwisted Mobile, AL 21 hrs ago
    I am an sba [sales business associate?] I was told by my sm [sales manager?] that whan [when] the big guys had there [their] meeting they want to cut our hours by 35   has anyone heard this one yet.
    #2 hii Denver, NC 21 hrs ago
    Good guess   they can do tags,truck,and resets   hello. Fine with me I dnt [don't(/doesn't)] gives a damn really.
    #3 waggie Ashburn, VA 21 hrs ago
    Full time is 30 hours so why woukd [would] they not cut your hours to 30-35 and still make you do all the same work and sales goals. Walgreens is just like WAL-MART so get used to it. Soon u [you] will be cut to 29 hours and have your benefits cut
    [= Sideways progress if 30-hour full-time has penetrated to the grassroots, and if we did it right, first converting chronic overtime into training&jobs, we'd cut the flood of desperate jobseekers and maintain or raise wages&spending.]
    #4 hii United States 20 hrs ago
    Waggie u [you] dnt know   it isn't like walmart at walmart   u dnt have do all the bs [bullshit] u have do at wag [Walgreens]. At walmart ur [you are] not a slave so get ur [your] facts right.
    #5 livinginavan Since: Jul 13 Location hidden 19 hrs ago
    sickntwisted asked about cutting hours by 35 not cutting hours to 35. maybe the reference was to cut front end hours by 35...
    ["front end hours" meaning what? hours for the store overall?]
    #6 Briefcase full of guts Since: Dec 13 Location hidden 18 hrs ago
    I briefly saw the email. I think it was to cut hours for the store overall. When my SM saw that I was looking at the screen, he exited out of his email.
    #7 ThinkUpbeat Since: Oct 13 Location hidden 18 hrs ago
    Flexible scheduling occurs in every store. I'm guessing that nearly all stores will be losing hours directly after Christmas. Happens every year.
    #8 Ahwalgreens Raleigh, NC 8 hrs ago
    Just in time to pad that eoy [end of year] bottomline to make the people-shareholder-that really count [people=shareholders-that really-count] happy. I guess we should have been listening ang [and] getting proactive when they said their numero uno goal is to increase shareholder's value. If I ever work for another company and they say anything about increasing shareholder's value, I will take it as my cue to get the hell out.
    #9 hii Jefferson City, TN 7 hrs ago
    Walmart is a big company like wag   wonder why wag can't have people do just truck,just tags,just resets. What I hate is when u look around people doing nothin and ur working ur ass off. Seems like wag loves the lazy ones. The ones [that] work ass off ain't nothin seems like. What is wrong with picture? I know as a assistant @ walmart u dnt do what u do @ wag. I know as a cashier @ walmart that is all u do for the same money.

12/06/2013 – 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. Budget negotiators look to federal workers for benefit concessions, by Jacqueline Klimas, WashingtonTimes.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA – Negotiators are once again looking to tap federal workers’ benefits to help make ends meet elsewhere in the budget, saying government employees may have to pay more into their retirement plans.
    Labor unions balked at the proposal Thursday, saying federal employees have already suffered through pay freezes and unpaid furloughs. Some Democrats on Capitol Hill vowed to try to halt any further pain.
    But negotiators said the hit to pensions is better for workers than the furloughs that could result if no budget deal is reached, and the next round of sequesters hits in full in January, which would keep total discretionary spending well below $1 trillion.
    “If we don’t arrive at some sort of agreement, then we’re going to be at $967 [billion] and that’s not good news for federal workers. There will be a lot more unpaid furlough days,” said Rep. Tom Cole, Oklahoma Republican and one of the 29 members of the panel trying to negotiate a 2014 budget.
    Federal employees aren’t the only group being targeted by the budget conference committee, which has just one week to come up a deal to keep the government running past mid-January. The negotiators are also considering raising airport security fees on travelers and cutting into subsidies for farmers.
    Time is running out to get a deal before the House ends business for the year, and Speaker John A. Boehner said Thursday that he is looking at stopgap measures for both spending and a farm bill.
    Mr. Cole said budget negotiators likely have until Wednesday to make a deal, and if one hasn’t been reached, the House will move ahead with a stopgap “continuing resolution” to fund the government through January.
    Federal employees say they’ve already done enough to help balance the budget over the last few years, when they’ve faced pay freezes, an increased workload and a morale-crushing 16-day shutdown earlier this year.
    “Federal employees have had more than enough,” said J. David Cox Sr., president of the American Federation of Government Employees. “No other group has sacrificed anywhere close to the $114B in cuts forced on federal employees and their families, and that doesn’t even count losses all employees had this summer with sequestration furloughs.”
    While the government already requires higher pension payments for new hires, the plan being discussed in the budget negotiations would require all workers to pay more into their pension without receiving more pay in retirement, essentially cutting an employee’s take-home pay.
    “Let me be crystal clear on this: federal employees earned their retirement. This is not something Congress can negotiate away,” Mr. Cox said.
    Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, said Thursday that he “vehemently opposes” any budget hardship placed on the federal workforce.
    “We should be recognizing and thanking our federal employees for their hard work and important contributions to our economy and our security — not making them into a scapegoat for our nation’s challenges,” he said in a statement.
    The poor working conditions for federal employees could make recruiting and retention difficult — though it may not matter since the government will likely not be able to do much hiring in these tough economic times, said Colleen M. Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union. Being unable to backfill those who leave will only create a heavier workload for those who choose to keep their jobs, she added.
    “There were employees who during 16-day shutdown were so discouraged that they went out and found other jobs, they came back from shutdown and left,” she said. “Other employees in large numbers are retiring right now. They had no plans to retire, but they’re tired. They just told me that they’re done, they don’t want to do this anymore, and they would not recommend federal employment to anyone they know or care about."
    [Still, better furloughs than firings, timesizing than downsizing. But next a story, not from Albany N.Y. but Albany Ga.! (where the heck is that from Atlanta?) -]

  2. DCSS in good financial place, by Courtney Highfield, WFXL FOX 31 via mysouthwestga.com
    [So, southwest of Atlanta? (Google gurgling is heard (plus oddly, youtube strains of Where'er you walk by Kevin McKellar} ) No, actually almost directly south and a little east! - in the middle of the triangle formed by Atlanta, Savannah eastward & Tallahassee to the south. (But soft, did Tallulah {Bankhead} hail from Tallahassee Fla. {or even Tallulah La. or Tupelo Miss.)? Nay, alas! allassee! the lassie hailed from Huntsville, Ala-bamn-it!)]
    ALBANY, GA -- It’s almost six months into the Dougherty County School System’s [DCSS's] fiscal year and FOX 31 wanted to check in with their finance director to see where things stand.
    Kenneth Dyer said compared to last year, finances are looking much better and he says DCSS is on an upward trend.
    Dyer said they have a comfortable enough amount of money to be able to take back one furlough day from employees. He also said they have about $12 million in their reserves which puts them in a very good place.
    As far as where the extra money will be spent, Dyer said they’re keeping it in their reserves and they’ll spend it strategically.
    [And the next one's not strictly relevant but how often do we hear direct from the Land of the Dodo? -]

  3. Emerging economies strike off standard work hours [=business opening hours] : Mauritius still blushing uncertainty (sic), by Tasleemah Joomun, News On Sunday via LeDéfiMediaGroup via defimedia.info
    [Nevermind Hong Kong is pushing toward a standard workweek but then, employee workweeks are different from business hours thanks to shifts.]
    PORT LOUIS, Mauritius - The myth of bigger is better is getting obsolete with relatively small size countries turning into powerful economies.
    [But apparently the reverse is true of business hours -]
    Today the race is about discernment, discipline and determination and going for the dare. After a lot of fuss and fury about 24/7, Mauritius is still limping the race of round- the -clock economies. Have we run out of ideas? Do we close our eyes to the wherewithal?
    Mauritius innovates or copy-pastes but at least for goodness’ sake it has to act. This is what the general feeling is amongst professionals. Some stakeholders in the business scenery believe a fully-fledged 24/7 economy could make a major turning point while others question its viability in a small island country with people still used to the 9-5 work mentality.
    [Oops, he's confusing business hours with employee workweeks here, as if employees are supposed to also be 24/7 - he's confusing humans with robots, or rather, organic robots (self-repairing with daily and weekly downtime) with metallic or plastic robots (can last for decades with yearly non-self maintenance & repair).]
    But hopefully some of us will have a peek at some potentially inspiring economies.
    [Gee, ya mean that is better than Jolt for going without sleep?!]
    Dubai’s economy, initially built on revenues from the oil industry, went for the dare, despite of its size and extremely hot climate, to be a reference in tourism industry, real estate, habour and airlines. The Singaporean economy is known as one of the freest and most innovative. New Zealand is on Grant Thornton’s 2013 Global Dynamism Index (GDI) on the list of most dynamic business climate. Australia has a lot to offer potential investors: twenty two years of uninterrupted economic growth; strong institutions; a skilled, productive labor force and a strong culture of investment in research and development.
    The demand from the Mauritian population for professional life, entertainment, leisure and social activities is there. The means for such a high wired economy are already taking shape, with the improved sectors, security, stability, road network facilities, investor-friendly policies, educated and trained workforce.
    Director Human Resource Development Council says that Mauritius is still struggling to meet the target. “ The 9 am to 4 pm syndrome is well known and was a serious threat for the labour market. Call centres and BPO units were finding it increasingly difficult to recruit workers who could work during the so called unsocial hours. People trained for such sectors preferred to take up employment in other sectors which operated on a 9 am to 4 pm basis. Firms had to rely increasingly on foreign labour for night shifts while the country had a high unemployment rate,” he explains.
    Two-fifths of all employed Americans work mostly during evenings, nights, weekends, or on rotating shifts outside the traditional 9-to-5 work day. “The United States is moving steadily toward a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week economy,” said Harriet B. Presser, professor of sociology and director of the Center on Population, Gender and Social Inequality at the University of Maryland in College Park. The round-the-clock economy is characterised by the adoption of alternative work practices such as flexi time and flexi schedule, shift system, compressed work week (working four 10-hour days per week), work from home, telecommuting etc.
    Javed Vayid : “Mauritius is a step ahead in the region”
    Nightclubbing is among one of the rare late night activities that has carved a place under the sun. Director Professional Unit for Radical Entertainment (PURE) and Les Enfants Terribles, Javed Vayid tells us the latenight story.
    Nightlife industry in Mauritius obviously has a long way to go before even being comparable to other parts of the world. What do you think may boost nightlife in Mauritius?
    It depends on which part of the world you are referring to, to be able to make a judgemental comparison. I am pretty sure that the nightlife scene in Mauritius is a step ahead on our neighbours in the region and some of the African countries for example.
    Trying to compare the local scene to Ibiza, Las Vegas or New York is the same as comparing a local company to a multinational corporation. In my opinion the challenge is not to boost the nightlife industry, which is already driven by passionate people with innovative concepts, but rather to make more people go out and share our passion.
    Nightlife in Mauritius is mostly associated with nightclubs that any other activities. Is the nightclub getting more competitive?
    Well, the nightlife is also associated with pubs to which we have to share the market today when they go beyond their legal operating hours. Unfortunately most of them are still open at 3-4am with a much lower investment and lower costs to bear than the nightclub operators. In this particular position, yes, the competition is being run unfairly.
    Which is the biggest nightlife experience you’ve had? who are the famous DJs you’ve known? What a difficult question…
    On the local scene my favourite parties by far are the ones held at Ile aux Benitiers and Ile d’Ambre. It is a very unique atmosphere once a year at the sea. I went as well to some other good events held by Social Buzz, Electric Dodo and Ile aux Cerfs party. With my previous team we accomplished some memorable socials at the C Beach Club. My last biggest experience was a few days ago with David Vendetta, for the anniversary of PURE at Les Enfants Terribles, he literally set the club on fire!
    Globally speaking, I enjoyed so many clubs so much that I cannot think of a sole greatest experience. In my bucket list I still have to party on the Greek islands…
    My job provides me the opportunity to entertain great contacts like many talented DJs and artists, where some of them famous. I will not disclose the surprise by giving out names, nevertheless expect only the best for 2014.
    What is the proportion of local clubbers to tourists visiting nightclubs according to you?
    The tourists visiting the club represent 10% to 30% from low to peak season.
    Security issues are major concerns for nightclubs. How do you cope?
    We work with a professional team, trained and polite. It is important to make the clients feel safe in the club. Our team is trained to tackle issues in a diplomatic way. We also have cameras everywhere. The strict selection at the door is a must to avoid dealing with drunk or aggressive people inside the club.
    What are the new concepts you are developing?
    For the past year that PURE has been managing the club, we brought a few innovative ideas like our champagne maison, the VIP biometric access, the party bus etc and for the next year we are working on new concepts for positioning LET as the leading entertaining venue of the island.
    Size does matter?
    Yet another ambitious provision from the budget which should prove highly beneficial to over-all economy: the creation of petroleum hub & liberalization of bunker trade in Mauritius. Nevertheless, stakeholders in the sector believe a full-fledged 24/7 enterprise may not make business sense in a small country such as Mauritius.
    Since the year 2009, Port-Louis bunker volume export has increased by 28%, reaching today an approximate annual volume of 330,000 KL. For the purpose, IndianOil (Mauritius) Ltd has invested massively in the bunkering sector. Regarding other fuels, it has been the leading supplier of Aviation Fuel. It has been meeting the requirements of most of the major airlines operating Mauritius.
    With its network of 19 retail stations, strategically located across the Island and expected to rise in the near future. IndianOil has been continuously endeavouring to provide quality fuel & quality services. IOML was in fact the first fuel company in Mauritius to offer a 24/7 service with two stations, namely Calebasses and Grand RiviereNorth West.
    Managing Director IOML, R.K Mohapatra says, “Managing a 24/7 service is a daunting and challenging task at the same time. Indeed, we have lots of factors to take into consideration while going on a 24/7 service. In the first place, investment needs to be made for human resources and other facilities. You would agree with me that running a 24/7 service station entails the recruitment of more staff and Mauritius being a small country with limited activities at night, I must confess that many owners will not risk such an enterprise since, this type of service may affect your bottom line.”
    Besides, the security aspect must be carefully analysed. “We have seen in the past cases of thefts with violence in some filling stations across the island and the risk factor must be carefully sought after before going 24/7. I must compliment the operators at both our filling stations, who have been sustaining the 24/7 operation and thus earning the goodwill of the customers,” he adds.
    Air Mauritius sighs as it wishes for stimulated air travel
    A group of annoyed passengers emptying their bags through the check in, some hurly burly at the lounge as flights are delayed, pinch of last minute rush when the final call to board echoes, and kids screaming round and about the plane. Enough scenery to handle during the day. But it also a view of the night [sic].
    Air Mauritius is not a novice when it comes to the 24/7 concept. Winning World Travel Awards-Indian Ocean’s Leading Airline for the 9th consecutive year is a lot of hard work.
    Fooad Nooraully, executive vice president, legal & corporate communications, Air Mauritius points out, “ Today the travel and trade industry as well as the airline industry are facing a number of challenges. Destination competition is getting tougher. Mauritius is situated far away from its main markets. The price of fuel has soared since the turn of the century. Today fuel represents more than 40% of our total operating costs.”
    24/7 place and system
    He further explains: We achieved efficiency gains following a number of measures to review our business model. Today our company is on track towards recovery. We have started to develop the Chinese market which is now delivering on its potential. Tourist arrivals from China has registered triple digit growth during certain months of 2013. Our policy to rebalance growth on emerging markets has compensated for the downturn in European markets.
    To ensure smooth operations requires trained personnel manning highly specialized functions across our network of 20 destinations. Apart from support staff holding office positions a majority of our personnel work in operations covering a 24/7 schedule.
    Operations are clearly an area that requires round the clock monitoring. Operations department keep track of all our aircraft and passengers at all times. A specialised function under Flight Operations takes care of irregular operations and contingencies. It is in permanent contact with relevant facilitators in order to ensure that quick decisions are taken and that the required support is made available as soon as required.
    For example in case of a technical incident resulting in a flight delay, it will contact relevant resource persons to trigger repairs and arrange for the dissemination of information to passengers and the public as required. It also coordinates arrangements for hotel accommodation at all time. Arrangements to reroute passengers and the rescheduling of passengers are also taken care of. The Air Mauritius contact centre is another service that operates on a 24/7 basis. Passengers can make bookings and obtain service from around the world.

12/05/2013 – 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. Planners recount efforts to keep DLA employees at work during shutdown, by Beth Reese, Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System (DVIDS) via dvidshub.net
    Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of articles on efforts taken by DLA leaders and employees to help the agency weather the October government shutdown and continue providing world-class support to the U.S. military and other agency customers.
    FORT BELVOIR, Va., USA - Most Defense Logistics Agency [DLA] employees were spared from the government shutdown that sent thousands of government workers home for two weeks in October. But more than 50 experts from fields including human resources, finance, legal and public affairs worked daily in the weeks prior to and during the shutdown to determine how to lessen the impact of a DLA-wide furlough and make it as fair to all employees as possible should such action be necessary.
    “Every day we would meet with all the brains in one room to try and figure out plan A and plan B because the guidance we got from the Department of Defense [DOD] was changing daily. There were so many ‘what if’s’ that we had to have multiple plans,” said Lisa St. Peter, director of financial support operations for DLA Finance.
    In the end, fewer than 200 DLA employees, all paid with appropriated funds, were furloughed.
    [Better furloughs than firings, timesizing not downsizing! And mayhap the impact was D-frayed ifnot D-LA'd.]
    Because the shutdown began toward the middle of the pay period and furloughed employees were not allowed to work, DLA Finance’s payroll teams recorded time in the payroll system on their behalf. Then less than a week into the shutdown, furloughed DOD civilians whose jobs directly support warfighters were called back to work under the Pay Our Military Act.
    “We were here on the weekend, reversing some of the actions we’d done previously. When it was all said and done, retroactive pay authorized by Congress for the days our employees were furloughed was delayed by just one pay period,” she said.
    The relationship between the payroll teams and the DLA Human Resources Services staff made it possible for employees to be paid with little delay and for corrections to be made for those whose leave accrual was impacted, St. Peter added.
    “We work very well together, and we were in constant contact making sure the actions were processed and not hung up,” she said.
    Before the signing of the Pay Our Military Act, DLA planners were working to determine which civilian employees would be “excepted” from the furlough and required to work should DLA run out of working capital funds. While a list had been created when it appeared as if the government might be shut down in early 2011, it wasn’t current.
    “Every time this happens, you have to look anew. We had to get guidance out to primary-level field commanders and directorates so they could apply new criteria and come back to us with the number of people they needed to support the mission,” said Stacey Salo, director of policy for DLA Human Resources.
    Signing of the Pay Our Military Act gave agency leaders and planners broader criteria for who could work during the shutdown.
    “We applied DOD’s guidance as advantageously as we reasonably could and primarily limited ourselves to only the positions that DoD specifically identified as those that absolutely had to be furloughed,” said Paul Wolstenholme, a human resources specialist.
    Another challenge of planning for a possible DLA shutdown was explaining to employees the difference between the administrative furlough they’d already endured during the summer and a government shutdown. While DOD enforced the previous furloughs because of budget shortfalls affecting the entire department, the shutdown furlough occurred because of a lapse in appropriated funds. Processes and legal requirements differ for each.
    “For an administrative furlough there’s a planning process because you know in advance that you’re going to take certain steps to save money. That triggers labor relations obligations and due-process requirements, which is a huge planning effort,” Salo said.
    There is no advance notice for a government-wide shutdown other than employees’ observations of what’s occurring in the political arena, she added. However, DLA was partially prepared for a shutdown in October because agency personnel and legal experts had already worked with the American Federation of Government Employees to create a memorandum of agreement for emergency furloughs when preparing for a possible shutdown in 2011.
    “Because we did a lot of work and planning two years ago, we already had a concept of operations developed and a lot of documents that we were able to regenerate and make small changes to,” said Pam Molloy, director of labor and employee relations policy.
    DLA Director Navy Vice Adm. Mark Harnitchek made it an agency-wide goal to keep employees informed throughout the process whether the news was good or bad. Harnitchek, DLA Human Resources Director Brad Bunn and DLA Finance Director Tony Poleo answered employees’ questions via DLA’s online Ask a Leader forum. They also sent periodic emails to employees explaining new developments.
    Human resource specialists at DLA sites around the world were also there for employees concerned about how they might be affected by a shutdown, particularly when it came to benefits.
    “Our customer account managers were answering customers’ questions daily. They were on the front line, relaying the decisions we made as a collective group to the people in their areas,” Molloy said.
    Planners said they were as relieved as their fellow workers when the government reopened.
    “We had to prepare for the worst; thankfully it never came to that. But throughout the entire process we worked to take care of our people and ensure they were as minimally impacted as possible,” Molloy said.
    St. Peter also credited agency leaders for being proactive in planning and enforcing rules such as the curtailment of TDY to conserve funds.
    “We could not have asked for better advisers than Tony [Poleo] and Brad [Bunn]. They helped us make those decisions that standard practice don’t normally allow us to make, and when they did go outside standard practice it was all for the sake of taking care of our people,” she added.
    The political deal that ended the government shutdown expires Jan. 15, which means DLA officials may find themselves huddling over unused plans again as early as mid-December.
    “We’re ready if it comes to that,” St. Peter said. “My [books] are all right here, it’s just a matter of updating the details."

    [Good Lord, it's not often that we get a story straight from St. Peter! and about updating the Books!]

  2. Can Congress cope with sequester? Doomsday fears fade, as round 2 nears, FoxNews.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA – Remember the dire warnings about deep cuts to departments, agencies and programs if Congress triggered the sequester?
    [Timesizing is ne'er so dire as downsizing.]
    They included hours-long wait times at the airport, compromised border security and the inability to pay military personnel.
    In other scenarios, the chaos extended to the hungry and homeless. More than a half-million low-income women and children would lose federal food aid, according to one prediction. Another, more recent, out-of-this-world scenario came after the Air Force said it would no longer be able to scan the sky for extraterrestrial threats – all because Washington wouldn’t free up money.
    In the nine months since sequestration kicked in, these end-of-days predictions ended up being far worse than the reality. Military members have been paid, wildfires in California have been fought and emergency authority was granted to move resources to offset the across-the-board cuts. In April, for instance, Congress gave the Federal Aviation Administration the flexibility to move money around and end air traffic controller furloughs.
    Even the highly publicized White House tours, canceled in the wake of the cuts, were eventually reopened on a limited basis.
    As the year comes to a close, Congress remains divided on how to handle a new round of across-the-board cuts. Facing a Jan. 15 deadline to pass a new budget bill -- or risk another partial government shutdown -- lawmakers are bickering over what the spending levels should be in the new year.
    But the warnings are not quite as shrill as they were in February.
    Leaders in both parties are open to changing the sequester, yet many Republicans are willing to keep it in place, at least for the short-term, if no deal is reached. As the budget deadline approaches, a number of conservatives are pressing leadership to preserve the sequester and hold down discretionary spending to $967 billion -- which, for the federal government, is relatively low. And as much as Democrats loathe the sequester, the desire by both parties to avoid another partial shutdown might be stronger than the desire by one party to overhaul it.
    Lawmakers are still trying to figure out how to cope with, and possibly tweak, the cuts.
    Among the loudest critics of the sequester have been top brass at the Pentagon, who say the cuts are damaging national security and making it difficult to plan. A new GOP proposal by Reps. Jim Bridenstine, R-Okla., and Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., is aimed at cushioning the blow at the Defense Department.
    The bill would generate other savings in part by using a tweaked formula for inflation -- known as the chained Consumer Price Index -- to calculate cost-of-living adjustments for federal retirees and Social Security beneficiaries. The legislation also would increase over three years federal employees’ contributions toward their retirement accounts from 0.8 percent of their salaries to 2 percent. Additionally, Bridenstine and Lamborn would eliminate the Federal Employees Retirement System annuity supplement, which provides extra benefits to certain employees who retire before they are eligible to collect Social Security.
    Blocking additional budget cuts to the Defense Department is a stance many Republicans are likely to take as Congress tries to crank out a spending bill.
    While some departments have been able to weather the storm, others still say they won’t be able to keep up with the cuts.
    A new report published by the Center for American Progress called “How Sequestration Gets Worse in 2014,” paints an even dimmer portrait of what’s to come.
    The liberal-leaning think tank says sequester demonstrates “Washington dysfunction” and how government leaders “relinquished their responsibility to govern a blunt instrument.” It also says the sequestration effects of 2013 will be nowhere near the hardship that awaits in 2014 and says all areas will feel the heat.
    “Sequestration will cut $24 billion more in 2014 than it did in 2013,” report author Harry Stein wrote. “That is because Congress partially repealed the 2013 sequester in the American Taxpayer Relief Act, which was passed to address the ‘fiscal cliff’ at the beginning on 2013.”
    Stein says that in 2013, Congress shifted funds from nondefense to defense programs.
    “That special treatment for defense does not continue in 2014 under the sequestration law, which means that defense will be funded at an even lower level next year,” he said. “While the nominal spending level for nondefense under sequestration hardly changes from 2013 to 2014 – because nondefense programs already took extra cuts in 2013 – both defense and nondefense programs will shrink as a share of the overall economy.”
    The report also faults the government for approaching the cuts like a short-term goal and says its one-time fixes for sequestration, like the one at the FAA, have been used up.
    “The most high-profile quick fix for sequestration was the Federal Aviation Administration, where air traffic controller furloughs were delaying travelers across the country,” Stein said. “To stop the furloughs, Congress cut investments in airport improvements to pay the salaries of the air traffic controllers. That makes sense for now, but airport infrastructure needs are piling up, and Congress will eventually have to pay the bill."

12/04/2013 – 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. Russian Railways Puts Workers on Short Time - Analysts See the Move as Yet Another Sign Russia's Economy is Stagnating, by Andrey Ostroukh, Wall Street Journal via online.wsj.com
    [But big deal! - the global economy is "stagnating" in the sense of converting from compulsive expansion to steady-state. And there's No Problemo when the same number of consumers are kept employed and funded.]
    MOSCOW, Russia — In the latest sign of Russia's deepening economic slowdown, the country's largest employer, state-owned Russian Railways, said Wednesday it has put nearly a third of its employees on shortened workweeks as slack demand and a government-imposed cap on freight rates bit into revenues.
    The move, which affects nearly 300,000 workers, is the latest example of employment cutbacks in Russia as the economy settles into what officials admit is likely to be a prolonged period of stagnation.

    [Hey, if the same number of consumers are employed and funded, and they are, this is not an employment cutback, merely an hours cutback. And it's happening all over the world in the age of automation and robotics. But some economies are better at hiding it than others because they think it's a bad thing like downsizing since they're doing it in a wage&spending-bashing piecemeal way. But it's a good thing. It's the whole purpose of technology = to make life easier for everybody. And if done systematically, it maintains wages and spending and prevents the kind of Black Hole of income inequality that the downsizing economies are getting.]
    Unemployment, which for years had been sliding steadily, has begun creeping up, according to official statistics, and officials have warned that the situation is likely to get worse.
    Average workweeks have been shrinking for some time across the economy, said Vladimir Kolychev, chief economist at VTB Capital, an investment arm of Russia's No. 2 lender VTB. According to his estimates, the overall number of working hours slipped by 2.5% in the last two quarters compared with a year ago.
    After enjoying a decade of oil-fueled growth, Russia is now facing a so-called cyclical slowdown amid low investment and withering domestic demand as growth in both consumer lending and households income decelerates.
    The Ministry of Economic Development cut its 2013 economic growth forecast this week to 1.4%, the slowest pace since Vladimir Putin became president in May 2000.
    The HSBC Purchasing Managers' Index study showed earlier Wednesday that Russia's services sector employment declined for the fourth time in five months in November, while manufacturing sector jobless rate rose for the 12th time in the past 13 months.
    The economy ministry believes unemployment in 2014 may exceed its forecast of 5.9%, picking up from levels of around 5% earlier this year. VTB Capital sees the jobless rate reaching 6.3% by the end of the year, provided that there is no further slowing of economic growth.
    Economists note that the rate would be even higher, but the Russian workforce is declining as the population ages, which holds down the unemployment rate.
    Railways head Vladimir Yakunin announced the cuts in a meeting with some of the vast company's nearly 1 million employees, which was also broadcast on the company's in-house television network.
    Mr. Yakunin said that the railway operator had to trim to economic headwinds by either cutting jobs or by introducing a shorter working week.
    He said the company agreed with the labor union to opt for short-time working and 27% of employees, who aren't directly involved in transportation or security services, are now working less than a full week.
    Adding to the pressure is the government's plan to freeze rail freight rates for one year in 2014. The move is part of a broader plan affecting state monopolies from transport to energy, aimed at controlling inflation and forcing the huge companies to be more efficient.
    Mr. Yakunin said earlier this year that job cuts at Russian Railways could reach 60,000 people if the government holds rates.
    A spokesman for OAO Gazprom, GAZP.RS -4.38% Russia's second largest employer, with a workforce of around 400,000 people, said Wednesday that the company has no plans to shorten its working week the company had no plans to shorten its working week because production and exports are still rising.
    The economy ministry said Russian companies on average saw a double-digit drop in profitability in the first nine months of 2013 because of weaker economic growth. This has prompted many firms to optimize expenditure by cutting costs where possible.
    Write to Andrey Ostroukh at andrey.ostroukh@dowjones.com

  2. State agency opposes limited unemployment plan - Business, labor coalition back 'work-share' legislation, by Maureen Hayden of CNHI (Community Newspaper Holdings Inc.) Statehouse Bureau via HeraldBulletin.com
    INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., USA – A coalition of business and labor groups want Indiana legislators to expand unemployment benefits to partially furloughed workers, but the proposal faces opposition from the state agency that would implement it.
    [Can you believe it? = the very people who should be its main supporters - but maybe THEY're afraid for their jobs if for them, no unemployment, no job.]
    So-called “work-sharing” programs [eeew, so-called "work-sharing" programs! quick, where's the trashcan?!], now in place in 26 states, allow employers facing financial problems to cut labor costs while sparing workers’ jobs. During a downturn, employers could cut back employees’ wages and hours, and those workers would be eligible for partial unemployment benefits until the company regains its footing and returns them to full employment.
    “As a state, our No. 1 focus is on jobs,” said Kevin Brinegar, president of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. “Here’s a piece of legislation that would keep people from becoming unemployed and let them keep their jobs.”
    [Then you better get rid of your current state Dept. of so-called "Workforce Development."]
    Establishing a work-share program is on the chamber’s Top 10 list of priorities for the 2014 legislative session, which starts Jan. 6. Other supporters include the AFL-CIO of Indiana, the chamber’s traditional opponent on labor bills, and the liberal-leaning Indiana Institute for Working Families.
    “We’re coalescing with organizations that we don’t normally do,” Brinegar said.
    Similar legislation has been introduced over the past two years but failed to gain traction in the Republican-controlled Legislature. In 2012, the state’s Department of Workforce Development turned down a $2 million grant from the U.S. Labor Department to start a work-share program.
    Under a typical work-share program, employers avoid mass layoffs by reducing their workers’ weekly pay and hours by 20 to 40 percent. In turn the state makes up some of the lost wages out of unemployment funds. A number of states adopted work-share programs after the 2008 recession to blunt the impact of stubbornly high unemployment rates.
    In the states that have adopted work-sharing programs, the partial unemployment benefits last from 13 weeks up to a year.
    Gov. Mike Pence’s administration doesn’t see work-share programs as a panacea but rather a source of potential problems.
    Joe Frank, a spokesman for state Department of Workforce Development, said work-share programs are difficult to administer, subject to fraud, and create disincentives for affected workers to find other employment.
    “It opens up a lot of difficult questions including, who’s going to be watchdog on this? And who’s really eligible?” said Frank.
    [Damn right! Who gives a dang about them lazy goodfernuthin unemployed bums anyway! They CHOSE unemployment! right? RIGHT??]
    Cost is a major concern, Frank said.
    [Nevermind the cost of un- and under-employment, right Frank? Gotta keep thet underclass!]
    Indiana already owes the federal government roughly $1.7 billion it borrowed for its unemployment trust fund during the economic downturn, to pay benefits to unemployed workers under the traditional benefits system.
    Brinegar noted that the federal government has created a grant program to help states launch work-sharing programs. When Pence was in Congress, he was part of a bipartisan group that supported the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 that incorporated a provision on work-sharing. Federal grants under the law provide 100 percent reimbursement rates to the unemployment insurance trust fund for up to three years once a work-sharing law is passed. Estimates are that Indiana could receive $50 million in federal funds over that period.
    But Frank said that incentive is temporary, and the state would eventually have to pick up the costs of a work-sharing program once the federal money runs out.
    There’s some disagreement over how much that cost would be. Nationally, only a fraction of employers and workers – about 17,000, according to Frank – have opted into the states’ programs.
    A study by the Congressional Research Service concluded that the impact on states’ unemployment trusts funds would result in minimal impact beyond the current level of obligations. The study said the cost of partial jobless benefits for work-sharing employees is roughly equivalent to the cost of full benefits for those who would otherwise be laid off.
    The study also found that businesses, which pay into the unemployment insurance trust fund through state and federal taxes, would be charged higher rates when they entered a work-sharing program, but no higher rates than they would pay if they laid off employees.
    One thing both Brinegar and Frank agree on is that designing the details of a work-sharing program wouldn’t be easy. In past years, work-sharing legislation has been carried by Democrats in the GOP-dominated Legislature but has found some Republican support. Brinegar is hopeful that the measure pushed in the 2014 session will find support on both sides of the aisle.
    “This is an entirely new concept for Indiana,” Brinegar said. “It takes time to build awareness and understanding of the issue.”
    Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers in Indiana. Reach her at maureen.hayden@indianamediagroup.com or follow her on Twitter, @MaureenHayden.

  3. Employer: Work-sharing program won't help seasonal layoffs, by Traci Moyer, HeraldBulletin.com
    [But who said it would? Besides, seasonal layoffs where the employer hires the same people again next year are really just bunched-up or periodic part time.]
    ANDERSON, Ind., USA — The creation of a work-sharing program by the state would assist employers experiencing fluctuations in workloads that create layoffs, but at least one Anderson employer says the program would not help their seasonal workforce.
    Rebecca Webb, manager of S&H Trucking, 5411 Layton Road, said 35 dump truck drivers who are laid off between December and April could not be retained by such a program.
    “They drive dump trucks so when the work isn’t available there is nothing for them to do,” she said
    [What about putting snow plows on the front of those dumptrucks?]
    Webb said that layoffs are done in increments over a four-week period by seniority, but by Jan. 1, there are no drivers working.
    “I don’t think it would be helpful for us,” she said. “When we have work the same guys are called back so we do not spend any money recruiting or hiring.”
    [Well, here's hoping they spend lotsa money on unemployment insurance (UI) if these guys make UI claims, and don't pass the costs of their seasonality along to other industries and employees and taxpayers.]

  4. Apple updates figure on work week labor compliance - The company says 95% of its supply chain partners are compliant with a work week that is less than 60 hours, by Richard Nieva, C/NET via news.cnet.com
    [And Apple users used to feel sooo superior to IBM-Microsoft users! Just like Catholics before the child abuse news.]
    CUPERTINO, Calif., USA - Apple on Wednesday updated its tracking of labor compliance, saying that 95 percent of its supply chain partners now comply with a work week that is less than 60 hours. The company also said the average hours of work per week was under 50.
    The company initially released its Supplier Responsibility Report (PDF) in January, detailing external audits made in 2012 at factories where its parts and products are assembled. In that report, the figure was at 92 percent. Since then, it has updated that figure every month.
    The January report came from almost 400 audits performed at all levels of the supply chain -- a 72 percent increase from Apple's audits in 2011, the company said.
    Apple has been under the microscope for its labor practices for a while now. Last year, The New York Times printed a scathing account of some of the working conditions at the factories of some of its suppliers, which ultimately won the paper a Pulitzer Prize. Later that year, Apple became the first tech company to open its supply chain to the Fair Labor Association.
    Correction, 11:21 a.m. PT: This story incorrectly reported the release date of Apple's Supplier Responsibility Report. The report initially was released in January. On Wednesday, the company updated the figure on work week compliance. [Huh?]
    Richard Nieva is a staff writer for CNET. He previously worked for PandoDaily and Fortune Magazine, and his writing has appeared in the New York Times and on CJR.org.

12/03/2013 – 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. Can Connecticut Companies Track Short Work Weeks With Dynamics GP Human Resources Tools? by Anya Ciecierski, CAL Business Solutions via ERPsoftwareblog.com
    HARTFORD, Conn., USA - Decades ago, some economists predicted that the 21st century would be an era when people would no longer need to work 40 hours a week, and that people would actually work so little that they would not know how to fill all of their free time.
    [No worries - the leisure industries have that covered. There are a lot more important unknowns for us to worry about in the age of global warming.]
    According to an article in the Hartford Business Journal, a Connecticut-based publication, experts once predicted that Americans would eventually only work 14 or 15 hours per week. For most, however, that day never arrived, and many work 40 hours a week or even more.
    Some countries have tried shorter work weeks with varying amounts of success. In the Netherlands, a four-day work week is common, and in France, 35-hour work weeks were attempted for a few years. German workers put almost 10 fewer weeks of work than Americans, yet their economy is still very competitive.
    For Americans, a shorter work week would mean more time with family, save on child care costs and possibly even healthier employees. A shorter work week could actually create more jobs, but it would also mean companies would have to pay and insure more people.
    [BUT those people would mean more customers for those companies and less money coagulating in CEOs' portfolios.]

    Moreover, someone has to be responsible for tracking the flow of part-time workers and calculating their vacation and sick leave.
    A company that decides to run with this strategy would need a reliable way to manage and track all these schedule and benefit changes. The Human Resources department would need a reliable software system, like Microsoft Dynamics GP.
    Microsoft Dynamics GP 2013 now includes a Human Resources module that supports unlimited employees, includes a PTO manager to handle vacation and sick-day policies automatically and reduce overhead costs by cutting paperwork and preparation time for payroll record keeping. (Dynamics GP 2013 module list)
    And we recommend Integrity Data for more products and services to enhance Microsoft Dynamics GP payroll and human resources.
    If you are a Connecticut company that wants to create shorter work weeks – we applaud you! And we would be happy to tell you more about how Microsoft Dynamics GP Human Resources can help. Contact sales@calszone.com or 860-485-0910 x4.

  2. Work Sharing: A Win for Both Employees and Employers, by Nicole Woo, CEPR.net (Blog)
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - In their new book [title?? - Nicole seems a little woozy], Jared Bernstein and CEPR's Dean Baker feature work sharing (a.k.a. short-time compensation) as a way to have more jobs in this economy. They highlight the program's striking success in Germany, where "its unemployment rate has actually fallen by more than 2.0 percentage points from its pre-crisis level, in spite of the fact that its economic growth has been no better than that of the United States."
    Since last year, the federal government's been offering funding to the states for work sharing, but "the response has been limited, and short-work programs continue to be little known, even in the states that offer them, and [state] governments have done little to publicize their existence."
    To try to turn this around, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has started a push to promote work sharing in the states. Last month, DOL launched a new user-friendly *website, chock full of helpful resources, including best practices, model legislation, an implementation guide, a business outreach toolkit, and success stories
    On Dec. 6th, DOL is sponsoring a *webinar [we hope readers have better luck with their complicated password policy than we had!] on the incentives currently being offered for states to operate and promote work sharing, the benefits of the policy, and information needed to start or improve state programs. It will also review the key features of the new website and include state experts talking about their experience with work sharing.

  3. PA lawmakers push to amend tight teacher furlough policies, by Maura Pennington of Watchdog.org, Pennsylvania Independent via PAindependent.com or if you prefer, PAINdependent.com
    PHILADELPHIA, Pa., USA — With school districts like Philadelphia facing critical budget deficits, Pennsylvania lawmakers could make an effort to loosen teacher furlough policies.
    Current regulations allow furloughs based on student population drops, school consolidation or program elimination, but districts are limited in their ability to suspend employees due to economic necessity.
    “School districts are asking for flexibility in making furlough decisions,” said Rep. Ryan Aument, R-Lancaster.
    Aument is the author of H.B. 1735, one of three bills introduced in the state House of Representatives during the current legislative session. All three will be the subject of a House Education Committee hearing Tuesday. The main sponsors of the individual bills are in the unique position of co-sponsoring each other’s legislation, creating a uniform push on the issue.
    Rep. Seth Grove, R-York, took up the matter after learning the Teacher of the Year in New Jersey was furloughed because state law there requires furloughs to be based on seniority, meaning even the state’s best teachers could be lost if they are younger than some of their colleagues.
    “I looked at the Pennsylvania law and saw that it could just as easily happen here,” Grove said.
    His bill, H.B. 779, modifies the protocol for furloughs, tying the decision to teacher effectiveness instead of seniority.
    Grove said the implementation of a statewide series of educator effectiveness guidelines in 2012 has provided an opportunity to revisit the Public School Code’s furlough policy, which has proven problematic for districts weighed down by personnel costs.
    Data from the new educator evaluation criteria will simplify furlough decisions by making it clearer who is having the greatest positive results in the classroom.
    “It takes away the argument that it’s arbitrary,” Grove said.
    “We should be focusing education policy on students and achievement,” Aument said. “If there needs to be an economic furlough, we can all agree that it is in the best interest of students to protect our most effective educators.”
    The Pennsylvania State Education Association declined to comment, but will be testifying at the hearing and has opposed previous efforts to allow furloughs based on anything but seniority.
    By contrast, the Pennsylvania School Board Association supports the move to permit school districts to furlough for economic reasons.
    “Allowing economic furlough gives a better management tool for districts to handle their budgets,” said Steve Robinson, senior director of communications at PSBA.
    Contact Maura Pennington at mpennington@watchdog.org and follow her on Twitter @whatsthefracas.

12/01-02/2013 – 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. Working families group sets legislative agenda with focus on work sharing, education issues, by Jesse Wilson, 12/02 TheStatehouseFile.com
    INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., USA – The Indiana Institute for Working Family will push lawmakers next year to create a work sharing program meant to help companies avoid layoffs.
    The group – a program of the Indiana Community Action Association – will also back workforce development and education proposals for the 2014 session of the General Assembly.
    Work sharing is an unemployment insurance benefit that targets job preservation and allows businesses to retain their skilled workforce during times of temporary decreased demand. It gives employers an option to reduce the hours and wages of all employees or a particular group of workers instead of laying off a portion of the workforce to cut costs.
    Workers with reduced hours and wages are then eligible for partial unemployment benefits to supplement their paycheck.
    “Because work sharing is voluntary, employers can make decisions about participation in the program based on their unique circumstances,” the institute said Monday.
    The institute said it will also focus on these areas:
    - Addressing the “cliff effect,” which occurs when families suddenly lose benefits become their household income increased slightly.
    - Providing more assistance to adult and part-time college students.
    - Shifting some basic education services and language education to adult- and community-based agencies.
    - Providing academic credit to adult students for significant work experience.
    - Maximizing on-the-job training opportunities.
    For more information on these topics go to www.incap.org.
    TheStatehouseFile.com is an online news site, powered by Franklin College journalism students.

  2. Dental clinic to cut hours - Foundation says it is struggling to meet its expenses, 12/01 MartinsvilleBulletin.com
    MARTINSVILLE, Va., USA - The Community Dental Clinic will reduce its operations to continue to provide services to the indigent in the Martinsville area.
    Dr. Mark Crabtree, president of the Piedmont Virginia Dental Health Foundation, which operates the clinic, stated in a release Friday that funds are insufficient for the clinic to continue its current operations for much longer.
    Dr. Risa Odum, the clinic dentist since 2009, will become part time next year. Over the next 18 months, operating hours will be reduced to meet available funds. The clinic has 4.5 positions.
    There is a waiting list of two years for appointments for comprehensive dental services, Crabtree said.
    “It is unfortunate that the waiting period will be lengthened because of the downsizing, but we will try to see emergencies as soon as possible,” he said.

    “Our priority is to maintain the dental student program,” said Crabtree.
    Currently, each fourth-year student at the School of Dentistry at Virginia Commonwealth University spends at least a week in Martinsville treating patients under the supervision of Odum and volunteer dentists from the community.
    Crabtree said Millennia Consulting had not identified any long-term grants for the clinic.
    “Funding community dental clinics is difficult,” wrote David Rappoport, the consultant. “The unmet need for dental services in some areas is dramatic, and public and private funding and reimbursement sources are limited.”
    Meanwhile, the foundation’s community fundraising campaign will continue through the end of the year.
    “We hope residents of the Martinsville area will support the clinic as they consider their gifts for the holidays,” said Crabtree.
    The money raised will be used to treat patients within the dental student program.
    “We must have the VCU students and the continuing volunteer services of dentists in the area to fulfill our core mission of meeting the dental needs of the indigent in the community,” said Crabtree.
    Since only 44 percent of the clinic’s expenses are covered by fees and reimbursements, it must have support from foundations, businesses and individuals, he said.
    “Our financial condition is in a reasonable condition today,” said Dr. Edward “Chopper” Snyder, vice president of the foundation, “but the time is approaching when expenses will be more than income if we do not receive significant grants and donations.”
    To donate to the foundation, call 632-7727. The foundation is a tax-exempt organization.

Click here for spontaneous cases of primitive timesizing in -
July 2-31, 2013
June/2013 +Jul.1
April 2-30/2013
March/2013 +Apr.1
August 2-31/2011
July/2011 + 8/01
March 2-31/2011
February 2-28/2011 +3/01
January 2-31 +2/01/2011
December/2010 + 1/1/11
10/31+ November/2010
October 1-30/2010
July 2-31/2010
June 2-30/2010 +Jul.1
May 2-31/2010 +Jun.1
April 2-30/2010 +May 1
March 3-31/2010 +Apr.1
February 2-28/2010 +Mar.1-2
January/2010 +Feb.1
Nov.27-30 (& Dec.)/2004
Oct.27-31/2004 + Nov.1
(July 31+) Aug.1-10/2004
July 20-30/2004
July 17-19/2004
July 13-16/2004
July 1-12/2004
June 16-30/2004
June 1-15/2004
May 15-31/2004
May 1-14/2004
Feb.21-29/2004 + Mar.1
Jan.31 + Feb.1-10/2004
1998 and previous years.

For more details, see our laypersons' guide Timesizing, Not Downsizing on Amazon.com.

Questions, comments, feedback? Phone 617-623-8080 (Boston, Mass., USA) or email us.

Top |Homepage