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Timesizing News, March 2014
[Commentary] ©2014 Phil Hyde, Timesizing.com, Harvard Sq PO Box 117, Cambridge MA 02238 USA 617-623-8080

3/30-31/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. LHSC cutting working hours to reduce budget by $37.2M, 3/31 CTV News via london.ctvnews.ca
    LONDON, England - The London Health Sciences Centre [LHSC] says there will be no layoffs, but the [hours-]equivalent of 107 full-time positions are being cut to help slash the hospital's $1.1 billion budget by 3.4 per cent.
    Murray Glendining, acting president and CEO of LHSC, says "This will be achieved through attrition. It will all be achieved through planning these reductions over time, and we don't expect anyone to receive a layoff package."

    The $37.2 million in cuts are being made in the 2014-2015 budget to deal with a 0.5 per cent reduction in funding from the province, inflation costs and to focus on improvement priorities.
    All hospital departments and services were asked to cut their budget's by one per cent, but LHSC says the focus is on finding savings outside of direct patient care areas and by increasing efficiency.
    "We've looked at the changes and spoken with our quality and safety experts, spoken with health infection experts and we're comfortable, this round, we will not affect patient care," Glendinning adds.
    In total the working hours being eliminated are equivalent to 107 full-time positions, including 27 full-time nursing positions and about 41 full-time cleaning positions for non-patient care areas.
    The LHSC says the reduction will come through normal turnover and will not impact quality standards.
    Hospital officials say the health system must transform to be sustainable and they are in support of increasing primary care and community supports to help ease the pressure of a high volume of patients on hospitals.
    Glendining said in a statement “During the last fiscal year LHSC has, on average, operated at 103 per cent occupancy which is six per cent over our target of 97 per cent, making flow into, through and out of hospital a serious challenge for care providers and a frustration for many patients...It is clear that future population health needs will put even greater strain on system resources."

  2. Should the US adopt "work-sharing" like Germany? 3/31 PoliticalStew.com
    DRUMS, Penn., USA - ...korgy ...3:34 am
    i just learned of this recently --the economist Dean Baker for several years now has been touting Germany's "work sharing" policy, which has reduced it's unemployment rate drastically. basically, employers are given incentives to work shorter hours rather than getting rid of workers [and markets?]:
    The secret to Germany's better outcomes is that the country has an explicit policy of pushing employers toward shortening work hours rather than laying-off workers. A key part of this picture is the short work programme which is an alternative to unemployment insurance. With traditional unemployment insurance, when a worker gets laid off the government pays roughly half of the worker's wages.
    Under work sharing, if firms cut back a worker's hours by 20 percent, the government makes up roughly half of the lost wages (10 percent of the total wage in this case). That leaves the worker putting in 20 percent fewer hours and getting 10 percent less pay. This is likely a much better alternative to being unemployed.

    is this a policy the US should pursue? Baker's article from the Guardian suggested this two years ago:
    There is nothing natural about the length of the average work week or work year and there are, in fact, large variations across countries. The average worker in Germany and the Netherlands puts in 20% fewer hours in a year than the average worker in the United States. This means that if the US adopted Germany's work patterns tomorrow, it would immediately eliminate unemployment.
    is this something the US should consider? [Another quote -]
    Jobs in Germany fell more softly in the 2008 global economic crisis than they did here or in the rest of the European Union - and bounced back more quickly.
    While the U.S. and Europe still struggled at the end of 2013 to return unemployment to pre-recession 2007 levels, Germany already had pushed its unemployment 30 percent below that level.
    How did Deutschland do it? Recoveries are complicated, but a major factor appears to be Germany's policy of Kurzarbeit, what we Americans call "work-sharing." Instead of firing workers or laying them off in times of economic crisis, hard-pressed companies are encouraged to reduce all of their employees' hours and pay - and the government pays a portion of the workers' unemployment benefits to help make up the difference.
    For example, if hours and wages are reduced by 10 percent or more, the government makes up 60 percent of workers' lost salary, explains Kevin Hassett, economic policy director at the conservative American Enterprise Institute who has been studying Germany's work-sharing for several years.

    ...SeamusMcCool...12:58 pm [diff. timezone?]
    I think it's a great idea. Any kind of pay cut is unpleasant, but I'll take that and more time off over unemployment.
    Working parents in the US would probably be happier. Then they could worry less about the public opinions of wealthier working moms. :mrgreen: [smiley]
    ...polardude1 ...1:07 pm
    Seamus wrote: I think it's a great idea. Any kind of pay cut is unpleasant, but I'll take that and more time off over unemployment.
    Yeah, it can be kind of unpleasant while paying a mortgage of getting ready to send children to school. I mean, who wouldn't accept a pay cut?
    Jobs in Germany fell more softly in the 2008 global economic crisis than they did here or in the rest of the European Union - and bounced back more quickly.
    They did not have their housing bubble burst like experienced elsewhere.
    [Or have we been taken in by another fast attempt to distract from the more fundamental effects of workweek length on employment and income concentration (alias "inequality") on monetary circulation?]
    Also, my understanding is that Germans are less likely to be swimming in credit card debt than anyone else.
    [= another fast distraction, or the flip side of income overconcentration?]
    Given their past experience, I think there is an national fear of debt and what economic meltdowns can do to their society. The US did not suffer just a economic slowdown, it was an outright financial meltdown. The US economy was running on unsustainable personal debt.
    [Nevermind the pervasive culture of "synergistic" conflict of interest and fraud in the US financial sector.]
    ...korgy ...4:35 pm
    polardude1 wrote: Yeah, it can be kind of unpleasant while paying a mortgage of getting ready to send children to school. I mean, who wouldn't accept a pay cut?
    obviously, if one is only identifying with the people who work long hours to make a certain amount of money, they would complain. but you could have responded, "yeah, who wouldn't rather be unemployed than have a job?" if you were identifying with people who do not have jobs [huh??]. the point is to equalize the workload so that fewer people suffer.
    They did not have their housing bubble burst like experienced elsewhere. .
    the housing bubble and the economic meltdown in the US was the main caused of the economic collapse that spread around the world. evenso, from what i understand, Germany rebounded faster than other countries because of their policies -- including this one, Kurzarbeit.
    Given their past experience, I think there is an national fear of debt and what economic meltdowns can do to their society.
    which is certainly a good thing, isn't it? we all know what happens in Germany [or other places the pluto- oops demo!cratic Allies have ruined...] when the economy collapses. maybe the US could stand to be a little more sensitive to the affects of economic disparity upon society as a whole.
    ...polardude1 ...4:48 pm
    polardude1 wrote: Yeah, it can be kind of unpleasant while paying a mortgage of getting ready to send children to school. I mean, who wouldn't accept a pay cut?
    Korgy wrote: obviously, if one is only identifying with the people who work long hours to make a certain amount of money, they would complain. but you could have responded, "yeah, who wouldn't rather be unemployed than have a job?" if you were identifying with people who do not have jobs. the point is to equalize the workload so that fewer people suffer.

    I always thought that job growth from economic growth was the path to a well paying job and a good life. A s for job sharing, wel you might say it's already happening with the move to temp. agencies or contract work.
    the housing bubble and the economic meltdown in the US was the main caused of the economic collapse that spread around the world. evenso, from what i understand, Germany rebounded faster than other countries because of their policies -- including this one, Kurzarbeit.
    It did not hit Germany as hard. The UK , Spain and Ireland were slammed because of the own burst housing bubble.
    Korgy wrote: which is certainly a good thing, isn't it? we all know what happens in Germany when the economy collapses. maybe the US could stand to be a little more sensitive to the affects of economic disparity upon society as a whole.
    We could , but socially the US emerged from the 1930's Depression a bit differently than German[y]
    ...SeamusMcCool ...4:54 pm
    What [I] gather from your post Polar is [work sharing] could bring a welcome change to the culture of debt in the US [work sharing is adjusting the workweek; job sharing is only splitting a fixed-workweek job].
    It won't happen overnight as market corrections never do, but it'll get the country on the right track. [Here we bid a permanent goodbye to the orginal question -] High debt is never good for an individual in my opinion.
    ...polardude1 ...5:04 pm
    I don't understand where you are going with this, I am writing about earning potential and you're mentioning..living beyond ones means with unsustainable debt. But i[f] a responsible home buyer takes out a mortgage that is 25% of his income and it is reduced. then you are forcing him/her into a deep hole. That is uncomfortable
    ...Kilombo ...1:17 pm
    Bi Polar doesn´t like to take Germany as an example to follow. That´s all.
    ...SeamusMcCool ...2:05 pm
    I'm just responding to [Polar's] point that a 10% cut in salary is too much for Americans who typically have high debt. Total debt shouldn't exceed 40% of your salary, including your mortgage. So, if 10% puts the typical American into that much hardship due to debt, then things need to change. No matter what, it's a better scenario for your mortgage payments than zero income.
    ...polardude1 ...2:09 pm
    Are you accounting for inflation? I always thought the idea was to get ahead, not to go backwards

  3. Bacoor goes on 4-day workweek to save energy, By Maricar Cinco, 3/30 Inquirer Southern Luzon via Inquirer.net
    BACOOR, Cav., Philippines - Offices under the city government of Bacoor in Cavite will begin implementing a four-day workweek in April and in four other months of the year to reduce the city’s energy consumption.
    Under the new schedule, employees will report for only four days but two hours longer, or from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mondays through Fridays, to the new working hours of 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. from Mondays through Thursdays.
    The four-day workweek will, however, mean a shorter total number of working hours, from 45 hours to 44 hours per week.
    Although there would be a reduction of only an hour, it would already mean savings on the part of the city government, city information officer Khei Sanchez said.
    “Just imagine how much electricity we can save when air-conditioners and electric fans are turned off,” explained Sanchez in a phone interview on Sunday.
    City Mayor Strike Revilla, in an e-mailed statement on Saturday, said the four-day workweek would start in April and May and shift back to the original five-day workweek in June, July and August. It will again implement the reduced working hours in September, October and November.
    Sanchez said this was in anticipation of the rainy season during the “-ber” months when storms usually prevented some employees from going to work.
    “Aside from saving energy, [the four-day workweek] will also give the employees more time to spend with their families. They can also save a day’s fare,” she added.
    The new work schedule excludes the city police office, the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, the fire bureau, offices under the national government, government-owned and -controlled corporations, state universities, judicial courts and the office of Bacoor’s lone district representative.
    “The months of April and May will actually be a trial period so we can find out how much we can actually save and also evaluate the employees’ work output (under the new schedule),” Sanchez said.
    The city government employs about 2,000 people.

  4. Bankers' Union Worried Over Long Working Hours, by Mohammed Shosanya, allAfrica.com
    LAGOS, Nigeria — The Association of Senior Staff of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions (ASSIBIFI) has criticized the increasing working hours of workers of commercial banks in the country, saying the development amounts to slave labour.
    ASSIBIFI said Nigeria is a signatory to International Labour Convention on decent work, wondering why banks in the country contravene the rules in pursuit of profits.
    President of the union, Comrade OlusojiSalako, over the weekend in Accra, Ghana during the union's national executive council (NEC) meeting, said the association can no longer tolerate the poor work-life of its members.
    Salako disclosed that the union is considering meeting the management of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) so as to nip the development in the bud.
    The union appealed to the Senate Committee on Banking to fashion out laws specifying the number of hours bank workers must put in daily and also monitor its implementation.
    Lead presenter at the meeting, OlayideAtanda-Obalakun, blamed some bank workers for the scourge, saying of them have conditioned their minds to late work hours.
    However, he advised them to condemn the practice and voice it out through the union in order to promote a balance between work and good health.

3/29/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. School to resume on Tuesday after break, furlough day, by Queenie Wong, StatesmanJournal.com
    SALEM, Ore., USA - Spring break ended Friday, but Salem-Keizer schools will still be closed on Monday for a furlough day.
    District offices will also be closed,
    according to school district’s calendar. School resumes on Tuesday, April 1.
    [Better furlough than firing, timesizing than downsizing.]

  2. 35 hour work week? - Page 2, (3/28 late pickup) City-Data Forum via city-data.com
    RALEIGH-DURHAM-CHAPEL HILL [Research Triangle Area], N.C., USA - Page 2 of 3 < 1 2 3 >
    ..03-28-2014, 03:05PM Fyzbo Location: Cary, NC 161 posts, read 253,677 times Reputation: 115 Quote: Originally Posted by RedZin... Sounds pretty standard around RTP [Research Triangle Park] for salaried jobs... I think most of my colleagues work just 35 or so a week, really. I mean, the hours may vary slightly, but that's due to the flexibility (which is nice).
    Where do you work? I've never averaged less than 50 for a salary position. ...
    ..03:11PM WorkingMomof2 Location: Containment Area for Relocated Yankees 496 posts, read 608,531 times Reputation: 353 ..
    Seriously! Where the heck do you work Meh/Red? I've been working in a "salaried" position for over 20 years, and I think I only worked one place that "officially" had less than a 40 hour work week (it was 37.5), but we still all worked more than 40 hours a week. In my position now, if I'm in the office, I work from around 9a - 6p and don't take lunch (eat at my desk while working)... most of my colleagues (and I) also log back on in the evenings or at least check e-mail in the evenings after we get home..\.. When I work from home, I work from 8a - 6p and work through lunch. I think I need a new job! ...
    ..03:23PM lottamoxie 2,511 posts, read 3,209,498 times Reputation: 2648
    I reported to a do-nothing director at a huge pharma company who worked 1 or 2 days a week for a total of about 12 hrs. Of course he got paid a full-time salary & bonus, so he was probably making around $200K/year. Good job if you can get it--do nothing, dump all the work, take all the credit, and be a condescending arse who senior mgmt seems to protect for some odd reason. He's getting closer to retirement and will be on easy street. ..
    ..03:26PM TheBigKahunaNC 1,362 posts, read 929,553 times Reputation: 1079
    I took a salaried job one time that assured me a typical week would be 32-38 hours. Fridays were usually half days, I was promised. I worked 50+ for the first three weeks and told them I needed to be paid hourly. So they switched me to hourly, and I worked two 30 hour weeks! They won, I went back to salary and 45+ hour weeks. I lasted about 1 year. The real kicker was, I never got off early on Friday's like I had been assured. Instead, I usually got sent all over my territory on Friday, and got back to the office late...which meant I didn't get my check until Monday! ..
    ..03:28PM J.M.M 420 posts, read 162,157 times Reputation: 267 Quote: Originally Posted by liney59... It was a salaried position with an expectation of overtime about 4x a year......it was an 8 hour day with an hour lunch - and also a FLEX schedule - start when you want, leave 8 hours later......and my observation was most people seemed to work 8ish - 4ish with of course their hour lunch!
    Never heard of it being called an 35 hour week, but people working 8-4 [or] 9-5 with a half hour and even hour lunch is not at all unusual in many offices. Salary jobs are pretty lenient, although many of the people doing that will log on at home and catch up on some work
    ..03:31PM TheBigKahunaNC 1,362 posts, read 929,553 times Reputation: 1079
    I know people who work in hospitals who work 36 hour weeks. It usually consists of 3 [x] 12 hour shifts.
    ..03:33PM mjd07 Location: North Carolina 879 posts, read 469,350 times Reputation: 690
    I don't know if they still do it, but at one time Motorola used to offer a 3-4-4-3 schedule. It would be three days on, four days off, four days on, three days off. I also think fewer days, longer hours is common in hospitals and with EMTs but that may just be an individual employer thing versus an industry wide standard.
    ..03:39PM RedZin Moderator Location: Containment Area, NC 10,437 posts, read 5,867,255 times Reputation: 7948
    Quote: Originally Posted by Fyzbo... Where do you work? I've never averaged less than 50 for a salary position.
    Oh... I've worked 50 (and more). I would not say that that is the norm, however. I do make myself available in the evenings (not required except during certain key times... I don't think I've been REQUIRED to be available at night in about 2 years)... I find that answering certain emails at night makes it easier to deal with the next day because some problems can be nipped in the bud before 5 other people start scrambling around handing out incorrect responses to a simple situation. I stick pretty close to that 35-40 mark right now, but I have to because I'm also taking grad classes again and I need evenings and weekends for that... along with time for family and such.
    ..03:47PM RedZin Moderator Location: Containment Area, NC 10,437 posts, read 5,867,255 times Reputation: 7948
    Quote: Originally Posted by WorkingMomof2... ...most of my colleagues (and I) also log back on in the evenings or at least check e-mail in the evenings after we get home..\.. Seriously! Where the heck do you work Meh/Red?...
    I check email any time of the day that I'm awake. We live in a connected world... I love it... and at times, I wish it would go away. LOL.
    Where I work wouldn't matter because my work is fairly specialized and quite different from a position with a similar title at another company.
    [Everybody thinks they're unique.]
    I think that some people really are overworked and some create work for themselves. Truth is, sitting at your desk eating lunch every single day is a horrible way to exist. If I take lunch at my desk, I do take a break during that time and do something other than work. We have GOT to unplug some throughout the day or we all run on less than 100%. Why work 10 hours a day if 5 of them are at 50%? I mean, could we not just work 7.5 at 100% instead?
    [I've heard some of the wisest say, never give more than 85% - keep some for yourself, if only a 15% "tip".]
    That's just an example. I don't mean to imply that everyone is ON all day long. I work pretty much the same hours at home that I do in the office, though, admittedly, I tend to work later when I'm home because there's no drive to the office. I rarely start earlier than usual unless there's a meeting that day or some such. I used to pull the kind of hours you are describing, but I realized that I get just as much done without working 10 hours a day, so I stopped doing it. I do tend to work pretty close to my regular hours (timewise, not punching a clock type of a thing) so, if I work less during the regular workday, I tend to work more in the evening to make sure I'm keeping my projects on target. I think that American corporate culture glorifies this notion of being "busy." That's unfortunate. A balance really is better when possible.
    [But, but... busyness is Importance! (however trivial)]
    ETA [edited to add, at 04:37PM]: I'm not saying you aren't in a position where you have to pull long hours and work while inhaling lunch and sitting at your desk where you work now... I am just saying that I wish it wasn't so. Yanno what I mean?
    ..03:50PM RedZin Moderator Location: Containment Area, NC 10,437 posts, read 5,867,255 times Reputation: 7948
    Quote: Originally Posted by J.M.M... Never heard of it being called an 35 hour week, but people working 8-4/9-5 with a half hour and even hour lunch is not at all unusual in many offices. Salary jobs are pretty lenient, although many of the people doing that will log on at home and catch up on some work
    This [Is] Exactly what I'm talking about. I check email or catch up if there's a rush at work sometimes in the evenings, but this isn't a constant. I'm amazed that so many people are working such long hours ALL THE TIME. I do tend to focus very hard for sprints of time while working. Between those, I take breaks.... check my personal email, check reports here, read for a few minutes... get up, walk around... clear my head. That works best for me.
    ETA: The reality is that every ACTUAL hour you work over a standard week is you decreasing your rate of pay per hour. Why would anyone do that deliberately? I know that sometimes people get slammed with big projects (I have had this happen), but my experience being in the office (and why I prefer working from home) is that people spend more time socializing than they realize. And if they had fewer distractions, they would not need to work so many hours of the day all the time. Not saying this is always the case, but it does happen more often than it probably should.
    f Like - 10,887 people like this...
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3/28/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. 35 hour work week? City-Data Forum via city-data.com
    RALEIGH-DURHAM-CHAPEL HILL-CARY [Research (Quad or) Triangle Area], N.C., USA - ..Default [header] 35 hour work week? .\. Original Poster liney59 started this thread
    .\.11:37AM liney59..28 posts, read 15,803 times Reputation: 28
    Does anyone work somewhere in the triangle with a 35 hour work week? Was recently interviewed for a great job at a place with a wonderful work-life balance and a 35 hour week......unfortunately I was number two.... . I have not heard of many employers offering 35 hour work weeks - just wondering if there were some out there! ..
    ..11:47AM CHTransplant Location: Chapel Hill, NC 7,586 posts, read 10,027,233 times Reputation: 6573
    Doesn't SAS [Statistical Analysis System Institute, Cary, NC - click & search on SAS] have a somewhat reduced schedule [yes], or is that just rumor? [no]..
    ..11:50AM RedZin Moderator Location: Containment Area, NC 10,407 posts, read 5,852,188 times Reputation: 7938..
    I think that most of us who are on salary don't really know what they think we have as a work week (because we don't get paid by the hour), if that makes sense. Was this an hourly position?
    ..11:54AM scratchie 203 posts, read 43,284 times Reputation: 148
    I used to work a job that was 34 hours a week. 8 hours a day, including a lunch break, and they let us go an hour early on Fridays (presumably because they knew nobody would be working from 4-5pm on Friday). Unfortunately, that was 25 years ago... ..
    ..12:41PM liney59 liney59 started this thread 28 posts, read 15,803 times Reputation: 28
    It was a salaried position with an expectation of overtime about 4x a year......it was an 8 hour day with an hour lunch - and also a FLEX schedule - start when you want, leave 8 hours later......and my observation was most people seemed to work 8ish - 4ish with of course their hour lunch! ..
    ..12:42PM RedZin Moderator Location: Containment Area, NC 10,407 posts, read 5,852,188 times Reputation: 7938
    .. Sounds pretty standard around RTP [Research Triangle Park] for salaried jobs. ..
    ..01:31PM michgc Location: Chapel Hill, NC (formerly Vienna, VA) 5,318 posts, read 4,819,984 times Reputation: 3765
    Many years ago I worked in DC for a trade association that had a 35-hour work week. Even though most of us were salaried, there was hardly any overtime, so it truly was 35 hours. It was a cush[y] job, I admit. Now why did I leave there? ..
    ..01:48PM RedZin Moderator Location: Containment Area, NC 10,407 posts, read 5,852,188 times Reputation: 7938 .. I think most of my colleagues work just 35 or so a week, really. I mean, the hours may vary slightly, but that's due to the flexibility (which is nice). .. ..01:49PM mjd07 Location: North Carolina 850 posts, read 462,313 times Reputation: 672
    I am from Chicago and worked for the State of Illinois. I think all of their state positions are on the 35 hour week model. I don't think it matters for people on salary. It's more of an issue for payroll departments. ...
    ..02:02PM adams_aj Location: The Carolinas 506 posts, read 180,115 times Reputation: 1067
    I have a 35 hour work week. . . . . but the next week, it could be 70. . . followed by 50. . . followed by 60, repeat about 10 - 20 times, followed by a 35 hour week, etc. I've NEVER had the expectation of even AVERAGING 35 hours per week. I probably average 50. . . ...
    f Like - 10,884 people like this...
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  2. Flexi-work week bill before Parliament, by Edmund Campbell, Jamaica Gleaner via jamaica-gleaner.com
    KINGSTON, Jamaica - After extensive talks for nearly two decades, a bill to facilitate the implementation of flexible work arrangements in the Jamaican workplace has finally been tabled in Parliament.
    The bill, popularly known as the flexi-workweek law, will amend provisions in several pieces of statutes relating to hours and days of work in order to clear the way for the dispensation of flexible work arrangements locally.
    The Employment (Flexible Work Arrangements) (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2014 was tabled on Tuesday in the House of Representatives.
    The memorandum of objects and reasons of the bill state that flexi-workweek will consist of 40 hours.
    The proposed law also specifies that overtime becomes applicable after the stipulated 40-hour workweek.

    [We welcome Jamaica to the 20th-century - it was 1940 when the U.S. finally enacted the 40-hour workweek, after the 42-hour workweek in 1939 and the 44-hour workweek in 1938, all in the overtime section of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, and all five years after the US Senate, by a huge majority, passed a 30-hour workweek.]
    In addition, the flexi arrangement will increase the maximum number of hours in a work day from eight or 10 hours, as it now exist to a maximum of 12 hours.
    The bill also indicates that all seven days of the week should be considered as possible working days, a provision that had ignited intense debate among church leaders, who argued strongly for the preservation of special days of worship.
    Working at Nights
    After being observed in breach for years, the new flexi-workweek legislation will now make it lawful for women to work at night.
    The 1942 Women (Employment of) Act stipulates that women should not work at night, except under certain prescribed conditions.
    In an interview with Power 106 last week, Organisation Development Consultant Ilsa DuVerney applauded the move to introduce flexi-workweek arrangements.
    She argued that while the arrangements created opportunities for job creation and increase in productivity, they must be carefully considered before implementation.
    She also stressed that a cost-benefit analysis must be done by employers and employees before changes take place.
    DuVerney had expressed the view that flexi-workweek arrangements would allow employers to better assign duties to the best person fit for a particular job, especially as it relates to preferred work hours.

3/27/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. New Hampshire amends its Unemployment Insurance law on notices, work-sharing, and new hire reporting, Wolters Kluwer via CCH via hr.cch.com
    CONCORD, N.H., USA - New Hampshire has amended its Unemployment Compensation Law as follows;
    Notice. The law now allows the commissioner to send notices of withdrawal of appeals and decisions on requests to reopen appeal tribunal decisions by first class mail rather than exclusively by certified mail.
    Work-sharing. The law now conforms the work-sharing reporting requirements to the Federal Unemployment Tax Act.
    New hire reporting. The law now requires that employers report rehired employees where there has been a break in service of more than 60 days.

  2. Loco[motive engineers =] pilots demand better working hours to ensure safety of train passengers, by V. Ayyappan, TNN via TimesOfIndia.indiatimes.com
    CHENNAI, TamNad., India - Loco[motive] pilots [=engineers] who drive long distance express trains have warned that railways could be compromising on safety of passengers.
    In spite of repeated reminders, Southern Railway has not taken steps to lessen the burden of loco pilots who are overworked and stressed out, said representatives of the All India Loco Running Staff Association (AILRSA).
    More than 100 loco pilots staged a protest in front of Chennai Central railway station on Thursday demanding the zonal railway administration implement instructions from the railway board to streamline duty time of loco pilots.
    The association has been seeking a slew of measures to reduce stress of drivers to prevent accidents.
    "Loco pilots are made to work for more than 13hours and night duties are assigned to them continuously for six days. This should stop. Maximum duty hours should be limited to six hours for all loco pilots and night duties should not be assigned continuously. Driving an express train is a job that needs high level of concentration. Stress will lead to human error and can cause accidents," said a representative of the association.
    The association said, "Railway board has issued various directives like reduction of duty hours, avoiding continuous night duties, two hours calling time and other measures that would reduce stress but the zonal administration was not following the instructions."
    The zone does not have required crew strength and non-filling up of vacancies leads to denial of leave which adds to the stress.

3/26/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. America's under-valued workers - With the growth of freelancers and contract workers, the government needs to de-emphasize its focus on full-time jobs, by Sophie Wade, Fortune Magazine via management.fortune.cnn.com
    [Sophie apparently hasn't noticed the granting of full-time healthcare benefits to employees working 30 hours or more in companies of 50 or more employees under Obamacare, and the job-creating workweek-shrinking effect that is having.]
    NEW YORK, N.Y., USA -- Are you an independent contractor, a new entrepreneur, or doing consulting work as you reenter the labor force after a hiatus or having been laid off? The reality is, unless you have a "traditional" career with a standard 40-hour workweek, or work consistent and continuous weekly hours, your contributions are often not accurately reflected in the Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) monthly employment data.
    The only hours counted are those worked during a specific week of the month that BLS gathers for its survey. So, if you are a busy freelancer, but with irregular hours worked week to week, you might often be classified as a part-timer or, if caught between projects, unemployed. If you are relaunching your career, you likely figure in the footnotes as "marginally attached to the labor force."
    Why should this matter?
    The health of the U.S. economy is judged each month partially based on the much-anticipated employment statistics. Countless decisions are based upon this data -- not just short-term stock market transactions, but the numbers and forecasts can be key factors influencing important government policies. The problem is that critical decisions are focused on the full-time job statistics nationwide, when a significant and fast-growing pool of the nation's workforce is freelancers and independent contractors: Intuit's 2020 Report projects 40% of the U.S. workforce will fall into such a category by 2020. Already, the Freelancers Union estimates there are 42 million U.S. freelancers (approximately 30% of the labor force). And MBO Partners reports independent contractors generated 1.2 trillion in 2013 income, up 20% from 2012.
    The contributions and needs of this increasingly significant segment of the labor force must be included in development of important strategies and decisions about government policies. These span high-level goals, such as reaching "Full Employment," or having every eligible worker employed. It also includes labor laws, health care and pension plans, or Federal Reserve policies deciding on financial liquidity and small businesses' ability to get credit. To be sure, the Affordable Care Act did take an important step toward disconnecting health coverage from full-time jobs. However, much more needs to be done to create a framework to facilitate and support the independent workforce.
    So, let's focus on hours, not jobs.
    We should emphasize and monitor average hours worked per surveyed week (e.g. a trailing average of hours worked over the previous four weeks), not focusing on any cut-off definitions above or below a specific number of hours. Wouldn't this be a more encompassing way of monitoring and judging productive contributions to the economy?
    Might this challenge our work ethics as well as our metrics? It could appear to some as though the government were encouraging laziness by de-emphasizing full-time jobs. Some people will not work any less, their contributions will just be fully recognized. For others, we can focus on the decreased health care costs resulting from reduced stress and workloads.
    Plus, if some current labor hours were reduced to spend on other productive non-corporate activities, this approach could possibly facilitate a beneficial redistribution of hours bringing additional people (back) into the workforce to pick up the slack in project work.
    [AND to pick up the slack in consumer spending, considering all the excess productive capacity we now have from automation and robotization.]
    We can maximize our opportunities and potential when we start looking forward not back, and recognizing all the work contributions and profiles of this hardworking nation.
    Sophie Wade is founder and CEO of Flexcel Network, LLC, which provides flex-focused placement services focused on entrepreneurs and growth companies. She writes and speaks regularly about flexible work and employment issues. Sophie has an MA from Oxford University in Chinese and an MBA from INSEAD.

  2. Come to San Francisco for a Government-Mandated 35-Hour Workweek, by Kevin Dayton, (3/25 late pickup) UnionWatch.org
    SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., USA - Where in the United States can you get a government-mandated 35-hour workweek, like the French national government adopted in 2000 (but modified in 2008)?
    Go to San Francisco and become a construction worker in the following trades on public works projects:
    1. Electrician: Inside Wireman
    2. Electrician: Cable Splicer
    3. Plumber: Air Conditioning & Refrigeration/HVAC – Service Work
    4. Sheet Metal Worke
    5. Terrazzo Worker
    6. Terrazzo Finisher
    State law requires a 7-hour day and 35-hour work week for these trades in San Francisco on government projects or private construction projects receiving government financial assistance.
    How does this happen?
    Under California law, the state determines the government-mandated wage rate (“prevailing wage”) for construction trades based on the “modal” – that is, the most common – single wage rate. In practice, the California Department of Industrial Relations does not conduct surveys of contractors, contractor associations, or workers to determine the modal rate.
    Instead, it assumes that the modal rate – and therefore, the prevailing wage – is the cumulative total of employer payments required in the applicable union Master Labor Agreement for that trade in that region for each hour worked. When the state looks at a union Master Labor Agreement to determine the prevailing wage rate, it dutifully incorporates all of the work provisions indicated in the union agreement. Here are some examples:
    • Section 1 of Article IV of the Inside Agreement between Local Union 6 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the San Francisco Electrical Contractors Association states that “Seven (7) hours shall constitute a day’s work: from 8:00 A.M. to 12:00 Noon, and from 12:30 P.M. to 3:30 P.M. five (5) days from Monday to Friday inclusive shall constitute the workweek. All work performed before or after the times specified above and on Saturdays, Sundays and the following Holidays shall be paid for at the rate of double time.”
    • Article 9, Section 52 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the United Association (U.A.) Local Union No. 38 and the Northern California Mechanical Contractors Association (MCA), the Master Plumber’s Association of California, and Independent Contractors states that “The regular workday shall consist of seven (7) consecutive hours…and the regular work week shall consist of thirty-five (35) hours of work…”
    • Item 7, Section B of the Union Agreement between the Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association Local Union No. 104 and the Bay Area Association of SMACNA (Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors, National Association) states that “Commercial overtime in San Francisco shall be based on a seven (7)-hour day and not an eight (8)-hour day.”
    • Article XI, Section 51 of the Master Labor Agreement between the Terrazzo and Mosaic Association and the Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Local 3 states that “The regular workday shall be seven (7) continuous hours, except for one-half hour off for lunch…”
    And yes, the 35-hour work week for these trades applies to contractors on public works in San Francisco whose employees are not represented by a union. Occasionally a contractor is caught by the City and County of San Francisco’s Office of Labor Standards Enforcement (OLSE) for not recognizing the 7-hour work day or 35-hour work week as part of the prevailing wage rate.
    There are apparently some other American unions that have a 35-hour work week in their collective bargaining agreements. For example, the New York Times Company and its Newspaper Guild has maintained this shorter work week in their contract despite attempts by the newspaper in contract negotiations to change it to 40 hours. Employees at other New York City newspapers represented by various unions also have or had 35-hour work weeks. The New York City Housing Authority has a 35-hour work week for some positions.
    But where else besides California does the government establish a 35-hour work week as a matter of law, even for workers not in a union?
    Kevin Dayton is the President & CEO of Labor Issues Solutions, LLC, and is the author of frequent postings about generally unreported California state and local policy issues at www.laborissuessolutions.com. Follow him on Twitter at @DaytonPubPolicy.

3/25/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Standard Working Hours Committee holds sixth meeting, 7thSpace Interactive (press release) via 7thspace.com
    HONG KONG, HKSAR, China - The following is issued on behalf of the Standard Working Hours Committee:
    The Standard Working Hours Committee (SWHC) held its sixth meeting today (March 25). The Committee was briefed by the Census and Statistics Department on the major findings of the 2013 Annual Earnings and Hours Survey and considered the progress reports of its two working groups (WGs) on Working Hours Consultation and Working Hours Study.
    The Chairperson of the Committee, Dr Leong Che-hung, said after the meeting, "The two WGs have already engaged consultants to assist with the public consultation campaign and dedicated working hours surveys. On public consultation, after meetings with major employers' associations and labour organisations during late January to mid-February, the Committee has since March 20 been holding a series of symposia for organisations of various occupations/professions, etc, to be followed by large-scale open consultation forums for the general public to widely listen to the views of the community on working hours.
    "On working hours study, the consultant is pressing ahead with preparatory work with a view to commencing the dedicated working hours surveys in the second quarter of this year.
    The surveys will collect comprehensive working hours statistics from employed persons, including those engaged in occupations/ professions with relatively longer working hours or distinctive working hours patterns."
    Dr Leong added, "To enhance public understanding of working hours issues, TV promotional programmes were screened in March and a series of roving exhibitions will continue to be staged in the coming months. Members of the public are also welcome to visit the Committee website (www.swhc.org.hk) to view the exhibition contents and the TV promotional programmes, which will be released online after the end of the broadcast."
    The SWHC comprises a Chairperson and 23 members, including 12 serving members (employer and employee representatives) of the Labour Advisory Board. Of the remaining 11 members, one each comes from the labour sector and the business field, and three each from academia, the community and the Government.
    [We're waiting and waiting to welcome Hong Kong to the 40-hour U.S. workweek of 1940 (where it has been stuck ever since). But Hong Kong seems to be turning this !dangerously! !radical! suggestion into a major makework campaign with eternal committeefication - shades of what happened to the 30-hour workweek that passed the US Senate in 1933 - it didn't emerge from committee till 1938 and then only as a 44-hour workweek, to be trimmed two hours a year for two years - and then frozen forever. Based on Hong Kong's pathetic example, it's going to take a lot more economic dysfunction till the cushioned power elite figure out that, as long as consumer spending is too low, unemployment is too high, and as long as unemployment is too high, the workweek is too high.]
    Source: HKSAR Government

  2. Dem. governor Quinn: Prosperous 40 hour work week 'as old as the Bible', by Richard Berkow, BizPacReview.com
    SPRINGFIELD, Illin., USA - Illinois Governor Pat Quinn hearkened back to the Bible for convincing his fellow lawmakers to raise the state’s minimum wage to $10.65 per hour.
    “It’s important to …educate the folks of Illinois on how important this is,” he told MSNBC last week. “There’s a principle as old as the Bible that if you work 40 hours a week you shouldn’t have to live in poverty.”
    [Quinn could have been referring loosely to Luke 10:7 - "The labourer is worthy of his hire", or to the negative version from 2Thess.3:10 - "If any would not work, neither shall he eat", rather than to the more specific Fourth Commandment from Exodus 20:9-10 - "Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work, but the seventh is the sabbath (=rest) of YHWH thy God; in it, thou shalt not do any work", which would only jive with a 40-hour week if the workday was 6&2/3 hours long, when actually it was more like the hours of daylight - had the sundial even been invented then?]
    The man who took the reins of state government from the imprisoned Rob Blagojevich continued. “This is a fundamental principle that we want to carry out across our state and indeed across our country.”
    Considering the 40-hr work week is a creation of recent historical vintage, the former tax attorney may need to brush up on the Good Book. Its focus was not particularly on salary negotiations.
    About Richard Berkow - Former political news reporter Richard Berkow lost his idealism in the Kennedy years, and his innocence in Vietnam, Lebanon, and the Soviet Union. He hasn’t mellowed since, and can be harassed at richard2429@hotmail.com

3/23-24/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. RIL readying new people practices; moves to 5-day work week from April, 3/24 FinancialExpress.com
    MUMBAI, India - Reliance Industries [Ltd.] will move to a five-day work week from the current six-day work week, according to a communication from the $48 bn dollar group’s chairman Mukesh Ambani on Friday.
    [Welcome to the U.S. workweek of 1940, where it has been stuck ever since.]
    “While we want to relentlessly raise our bar on performance, productivity and excellence, we are also equally committed to providing our people with enhanced flexibility at the work place to enable them to effectively balance their professional and family commitments. Two years ago, we implemented flexible work timings and I am now delighted to announce that effective April 1, 2014, we will adopt the concept of a 5-day work week,” said Ambani in an email communication to his employees on Friday.
    Ambani said this was just the start of the company's major focus to revisit all its people practices to make the company a world class “contemporary organisation.”
    Under the new initiative, the company will move most of its operations to a five-day week working pattern; some of the business which requires 24-hour monitoring, such as manufacturing and field operations, will take time.
    “Formal communication from the chairman has been made. However, certain sites or business operations have the flexibility to transition into this at a slightly later date, given business delivery deadlines they are working with,” said a senior company employee.
    This comes exactly a year after RIL initiated a massive information technology-based business transformation exercise to overhaul its business processes.
    However, some employees say that while it is was a long-standing demand of the staff and has finally being answered, of late RIL had seen its rate of attrition growing due to increasing options for employees in the Middle East and elsewhere, which offered not only flexible timing but also five-day working week.
    “It (six-day work week) affected the company mostly at entry and mid level management and engineering level, as more options were available at similar pay scale. Better talent hasn’t shown much interest in joining the company, except recruits from IIMs or senior management level, where the payscale is very high,” said an ex-employee
    of the company now settled in Qatar.
    A mail sent to RIL on its rate of attrition and the major reason for a revisit of its human resource practices did not yield a reply.
    Last year the company had embarked on a massive large scale business transformation exercise called Smart Transformation at Reliance, or STAR project as the company prefers to call it.
    The mandate of the project was to overhaul processes across three verticals — exploration and production, refining and marketing and petrochemicals and support functions such as manufacturing, projects, procurement and contracting, logistics, human resources, finance, shared services, IT, R&D and security.
    Also, it spent all of 2012-13 in strengthening its human resource team by bringing in talent from across the globe.
    One of the major among these was the movement of Prabir Jha, who was brought in as President HR from Tata Motors in December 2013, a post which was vacant since 2009.

  2. High court to Orleans: pay $17M for NOFD pensions, 3/23 AP via DailyComet.com
    NEW ORLEANS, La., USA — The Louisiana Supreme Court says the city of New Orleans must pay $17.5 million for its 2012 share of the fire department's retirement fund.
    The high court's 4-2 ruling Friday upheld decisions last year by Civil District Judge Robin Giarrusso and a state appeal court.
    City officials blame the New Orleans Firefighters Pension and Relief Fund problems on reckless investments by the Firefighters Pension Board.
    Mayor Mitch Landrieu's office says that, together with costs for fixing up the city jail, Friday's ruling could lead to service cuts and employee furloughs.
    [Better furloughs than firings, timesizings than downsizings!]
    Reasons for Friday's ruling were not available.
    Pension fund investments have included $15 million put into a hedge fund that went bankrupt.
    The firefighters argue that the Landrieu administration has shortchanged the fund since 2010.

3/22/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Mayor Bill Carpenter handles the phones with staff furloughed - Mayor Bill Carpenter was on desk duty Friday with almost his entire staff furloughed and out of the office due to a budget shortfall, The Brockton Enterprise via Chelmsford Independent via Wicked Local Chelmsford via chelmsford.wickedlocal.com
    Brockton mayor William Carpenter answered phones on Friday as five of his office's staff members will remain on furlough on Fridays until the end of the fiscal year in June. (photo caption)
    BROCKTON, Mass., USA – Mayor Bill Carpenter’s office was a lonely place on Friday. With most of his staff furloughed due budget shortfall of about $20,000, Carpenter was left to man the front desk and answer the phones himself.
    “We’re still operating,” said Carpenter. “Obviously, I’m not getting to some other stuff that I wanted to do, but I think we’re getting all the work done.”
    By early afternoon, Carpenter had already fielded calls ranging from residents reporting potholes to state Secretary of Education Matthew Malone seeking to discuss a proposed college campus that might be coming to downtown Brockton.
    Carpenter added that some callers were surprised to hear the mayor on the line after dialing into the office.
    “He didn’t believe it was actually me on the phone,” said Carpenter about one resident, who was calling to report a pothole.
    While the furloughs kept five members of the mayor’s staff out of the office on Friday, Carpenter said he enjoyed the opportunity to connect with residents that handling the phones afforded him.
    “I think it lets me know the complaints of the citizens and what issues they’re facing,” Carpenter said.
    Carpenter was assisted throughout the day by Office Manager Silvia Carvalho, who is the only member of the mayor’s staff who has not been furloughed.
    The Friday furloughs, which are scheduled to last until the end of the fiscal year in June, were implemented after the City Council voted against two measures earlier this month that would have transferred additional funding to mayor’s office.
    [Better furloughs than firings, timesizing than downsizing!]
    The first would have transferred $11,864 from the Finance Department to mayor’s office to replace the funding paid to the members of former Mayor Linda Balzotti’s staff as separation costs.
    The second would have transferred $23,004 from the Finance Department to provide funding for the mayor’s staff through the rest of fiscal 2014.
    “I was shocked that it didn’t go through,” said Carpenter on the funding requests.
    The council had previously voted down a different measure in February that would have transferred a total of $54,200 to the mayor’s office, $30,000 of which would have come from the Finance Department with the remainder coming from the Personnel Department.
    Since taking office, Carpenter has increased the size of the mayor’s staff by two positions, bringing the office to a total of seven employees.
    “They (the city councilors) are trying to send me some type of message, but the people they are hurting are honest, hardworking people,” Carpenter said,

  2. Augusta Commission can't find enough four leaf clovers to balance the budget, by Sylvia Cooper, The Augusta Chronicle via m.chronicle.augusta.com
    AUGUSTA, Ga., USA - Monday was St. Patrick’s Day, and on Tuesday the Augusta Commission found no pot of gold or enough four-leaf clovers to balance the budget or keep the city from going broke in a few years.
    And there were no lucky charms to be found when the subject of exempting the sheriff’s office from the 2.4 percent across-the-board budget cuts came up.
    At the previous meeting, commissioners had directed interim Administrator Tameka Allen and Finance Director Donna Williams to find money to keep the budget balanced as required by law and exempt the sheriff’s office from the 2.4 percent cut, which would be about $900,000 in real money.
    All departments had been asked to identify how they’d make the cuts. Most had responded. Tax Commissioner Steven Kendrick plans to furlough employees and close tax offices for six days.
    [Furloughs not firings, timesizing not downsizing!]
    The Richmond County Correctional Institution agreed to eliminate two full-time positions. Recreation would eliminate eight full-time employees, two part-time employees and count on the Patch golf course being privatized by midyear.
    Sheriff Richard Roundtree sent a letter stating Georgia courts have ruled that commissions can’t cut a sheriff’s budget to the point where he can’t do his job, an opinion the sheriff delivered in person Tuesday.
    OPTION 1: The first option Allen and Williams presented was to implement the 1 percent excise tax on energy that industries use in manufacturing beginning Oct. 1, which was projected to bring in $625,000 by year’s end. That money would have been dedicated to the sheriff, leaving him with $265,000 to cut.
    Had commissioners implemented the tax earlier in the year, when then-Administrator Fred Russell advised them to and Commissioner Donnie Smith begged them to, it would have raised as much as $2.5 million this year.
    OPTION 2: The second option was also to implement the excise tax, with proceeds to go the sheriff’s office, and furlough other city employees for five days to save $1.1 million. If the sheriff’s office was exempted from the furlough days, the rest of the employees would be furloughed 10 to 11 days.
    Smith pleaded with his colleagues to pass the excise tax, which would raise $4 million, equivalent to 1 tax mill, when fully implemented next year. He reminded them that the state has already given the industries a 4 percent tax break, along with the city’s 1 percent that municipalities have to vote to re-impose as though it were a new tax, which it isn’t. He asked them to look long-term, an impossible task for those who can’t see beyond the end of their noses.
    Smith painted a dire picture showing commissioners using $4.5 million of the fund to balance this year’s budget and $4 million more to make up for the lost excise tax revenue.
    “We’re going to work on next year’s budget in July with a $7 million deficit,” he said. “We’re in the position we have to do something with this budget. … This government is looking at being totally broke in three years. Those aren’t made-up numbers.”
    Damn the torpedos! Full speed ahead!
    At that, Commissioner Marion Williams said they should raise property taxes and made a motion to exempt the sheriff from the cut.
    Smith recommended they start the procedure to implement the excise tax.
    “Sheriff, would you be willing to work with us (on cutting $265,000)?” he asked.
    “Absolutely I would if in fact we are going to try to solve this issue and not just postpone it,” Roundtree replied, adding that he’d be willing to “discuss” the $265,000 throughout the summer.
    Roundtree then informed them that he was not a department head but an elected official.
    “I’m more than willing, but not at a risk of jeopardizing public safety,” he said.
    Commissioners Bill Fennoy and Bill Lockett argued for raising property taxes.
    “What we need to do is what Commissioner Williams is talking about,” Lockett said. “Get some revenue.”
    But they can’t get enough, even with a 2 mill property tax increase, to plug all the holes in Augusta’s leaky ship of state.
    Commissioner Alvin Mason said the sheriff should be exempt from budget cuts permanently.
    But wouldn’t that be like writing him a blank check? And with all the drastic decrease in crime he’s been bragging about this year, shouldn’t he be able to accommodate the less than 1 percent cut to his total budget?
    Commissioners eventually voted against the excise tax, with only Lockett, Donnie Smith and Joe Jackson voting for it. Then they were back to the motion to exempt the sheriff’s office.
    But wait! Nor so fast!
    Allen insisted they say where the money was coming from because by law they must have a balanced budget.
    “Does it come from other departments?” she asked. “The other option is to go into the general fund – which we do not recommend – cuts to other departments or potential layoffs.”
    Mayor Deke Copenhaver proposed a special called meeting to discuss the matter, at which point he got into the first of three verbal duels with Marion Williams over Williams’ attempt to dominate the conversation.
    Laying down the law:
    Before leaving, Roundtree told commissioners that by law they can reduce his budget if it doesn’t interfere with public safety, but case law in Georgia says they can’t arbitrarily cut his budget.
    “There have been two case laws on that,” he said. “That is not the direction we want to go, but it is something that is going to have to be addressed.”
    The boy king gets tough:
    Still angry because he couldn’t get what he wanted from Russell’s hard drive and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation saying it found no crime had been committed, Marion Williams put the subject back on the agenda with an item to discuss city records security.
    After Williams had badgered Allen, who’s also the IT director, Copenhaver said, “I think she’s answered your question.”
    He then said his executive assistant, Al Dallas, had spent three hours last week with the garrison commander at Fort Gordon, who specifically said the Pentagon has expressed concerns with the city, one being the commission, particularly the hard drive issue and the school system.
    “They’re looking at us every day,” Copenhaver said. “That comes directly from the Pentagon.”
    “I understand that, but I’m not going to sit here and allow somebody to break the law because somebody is looking at us,” Williams said. “They ought to be looking at us.”
    The final confrontation between the two came while the regional vice president of First Vehicle Services, which maintains the city’s vehicles, was speaking. Williams started to interrupt, and the mayor said, “I have not recognized you. I have not recognized you, Com­mis­sion­er Wil­liams!”
    “He was addressing my question about the motorcycle mechanic,” Williams said.
    “He was not finished. Back off!” Copenhaver shouted.
    “You back off!” said Williams, determined to have the last word.
    I couldn’t help thinking that some of the city employees Williams regularly berates would love to see him back off, especially if he was standing on the edge of a cliff.

  3. Contact centre hours cuts to make savings, Lancashire Evening Post via lep.co.uk
    PRESTON, Lancs., UK - Budget slashes have been blamed for steps to cut the opening times at Preston City Council’s contact centre.
    Its opening hours are being changed [from ??] to 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday from March 31, with more emphasis on customers using the council website.
    [Hourscuts, not jobcuts!]
    The council says the change has come as part of the budget saving cuts for 2014-15.
    Leader of Preston City Council, Coun Peter Rankin, said: “Our face to face and telephone contact hours are being cut but this does not mean we are closing our doors to the public. I urge people to use other more cost effective means to contact the council such as the website.
    “We have looked at what the most popular tasks are at the contact centre and made sure that they can be solved via our website, and they can."

3/21/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Policewomen wish for better work hours, restrooms, not saris, by Tarini Puri, TNN via TimesOfIndia.indiatimes.com
    PUNE, Maharashtra State, India - Mumbai police commissioner Rakesh Maria has decided to allow policewomen, especially those above 40, to wear saris instead of trousers and shirt. The decision came after most policewomen in Mumbai said that they, especially those above 40, be allowed to wear saris.
    In contrast to the view of their counterparts in Mumbai, policewomen in Pune said they were very happy with the trousers-shirt uniform as it gave them a sense of empowerment. Besides, the option of wearing a sari is also available to them on request, on grounds of medical complications or pregnancy, which worked in their favour. And while they wouldn't want to trade one for the other, they definitely wish there were more toilets and basic hygiene facilities built for them.
    Women-only changing rooms and restrooms at police stations and some adjustment in numbers of hours of duty was definitely welcome, the policewomen said. Policewomen from Mumbai too have expressed the need for such facilities.
    "I wouldn't want to wear a sari while on duty as the trousers-shirt uniform lends more impact and effectiveness to our jobs, not to mention comfort and convenience. Saris are difficult to manage and actually end up becoming hindrances. However, I wish they would consider some respite in terms of hours of duty. We have to manage our home and children's needs while simultaneously working a 12-hour shift everyday," said an assistant police inspector who did not wish to be named.
    [How many 12-hour shifts per week?]
    Varsha Anthony, assistant sub-inspector posted at Lashkar police station in Camp, said the option of wearing saris could be offered to elderly women [40s are elderly in India?]. "I am more comfortable in the trousers-shirt uniform, but those above 45 years of age can be given the sari benefit," [she said.] Talking about other facilities [useful] to her, she said that she avails a drop-home facility in case working hours get stretched.
    According to Ashwini Jagtap, assistant police inspector (API) posted in crime branch's social security cell[=division - presumably they don't post inspectors in jailcells], physical and mental toughness were traits they had to develop if they had to survive in the police force [or maybe they do!]. "Being tough is an attitude that we inculcate right from the start. We are expected to find our own solutions, even regarding issues like visiting restrooms while on duty. But I wish there were some toilets for women constables on duty," she said.
    Abdur Rehman, additional commissioner of police (administration) spoke of the additional measures being worked on. "We have never come across any major complaint from the policewomen, but we are already working on ways of providing changing rooms and restrooms for women at all police stations. Sari as a dress-code is an option for pregnant policewomen, or those who have some other health issues," he said.
    What women want
    * Women-only changing rooms and restrooms at police stations, or near their place of duty.
    * Relaxation in duty hours.
    What's on offer
    * No night duty.
    * Six-month maternity leave.
    * Option of wearing sari during pregnancy or other health condition.
    * Exemption from very strenuous duty.
    Pune's women force
    * 129 officers (above PSI)
    * 1,364 constables (ASI and below)
    Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad have 33 police stations and 107 police chowkies [substations].

  2. Karnataka HC stays Labour Dept notification to fix working hours for medical representatives, pharmabiz.com
    BENGALURU (BANGALORE), Karnataka State, SW India - Karnataka High Court has stayed the State Labour Department notification on fixing of working hours for medical representatives or sales personnel working in the pharmaceutical companies in the State.
    [How come Bengaluru or Bangalore, which seems to stem from "Bengal," is on the opposite side (southwest) of India from Bengal alias Bangladesh in the northeast?]
    The court has now stayed the notification issued by the Labour Department in Karnataka to fix the working hours for sales promotion employees which is related to the medical representatives.
    Justice Ram Mohan Reddy passed the interim order on the petition filed by Indian Drug Manufacturers Association and other several pharmaceutical companies.
    The commissioner for Labour Department has issued the notification under Section 6(3) of the Sales Promotion Employees (Condition of Services) Act, 1976 and Section 13 (1) of the Minimum Wages Act, 1948. According to the notice, the Karnataka Labour Department has fixed eight hours of every day [as] duty time for sales promotion employees either between 9 am and 5 pm or 10 am and 6 pm in most districts in the State. The working hours for Mangalore was [sic] fixed between 11 am and 7 pm and for Davangere between 8 am and 4 pm.
    [What were the previous hours?]
    However, the petitioners have said that the Department acted beyond the powers vested in it as the Section 13 (1) of the Minimum Wages Act did not apply to medical representatives. Moreover, the notification was issued without publishing a draft of it and inviting objections and hence violated the principles of the natural justice, they stated.
    The petition had highlighted the details that the job of the medical representatives is specifically customer oriented as they have to meet medical practitioners, retail chemists and pharma wholesale dealers at a time convenient to them and not at a time preferred by the medical representatives. Many medical practitioners will not be available for sales promotion during the time fixed for working issued by the State Labour Department, stated the petitioner counsel.
    The petitioners refuted the contention that medical representatives were exploited by their employers forcing them to work for 12-14 hours a day.

  3. Teachers demand raise - Educators haven’t seen pay bump since 2008, by Rick Hazeltine hazeltine@theacorn.com, TheCamarilloAcorn.com
    CAMARILLO, Calif., USA (NW of L.A.) - An overflow crowd of about 150 teachers and other employees of the Oxnard Union High School District [OUHSD] packed the board room for the trustees’ meeting March 12, asking for something they haven’t received in six years: a raise.
    [So who has? Oh yeah, WallStreeters.]
    OUHSD and district personnel are negotiating a contract for the 2014-15 school year and are at odds over what constitutes a raise.
    For the district, removing furlough days is a de facto raise.
    [Is that like ketchup was described as a second school-lunch 'vegetable' (after French fries) for Reagan, or like Medicaid and food stamps are described as Walmart 'job benefits' in a Bennett cartoon from the Chattanooga Times Free Press on p.11 of April's Funny Times?]
    For teachers, it’s nothing more than restoration.
    Teachers voted to take eight furlough days in 2008 when state money for schools began to plummet.
    “We were voting to save jobs,” said Heidi Resnik, a teacher at Adolfo Camarillo High School.
    Now that districts are receiving more funding through ballot initiatives and a dramatically healthier state budget, district personnel don’t want to be forgotten.
    “I know the amount of commitment level you have,” OUHSD Superintendent Gabe Soumakian told the audience of mostly teachers. “Those were six difficult, difficult years . . . finally, we’re starting to see positive income coming into the district.
    “We want to restore (furlough days) to the level of ’08-’09. That is something we’re working on.”
    Two furlough days—unpaid days that district personnel take off from work—have been restored.
    Steve Dickinson, assistant superintendent for administrative services, said the district is committed to removing five furlough days next year, which would leave employees with one. That day will be returned the following year by state mandate.
    Although furlough days amounted to about a 5 percent pay cut for district personnel, the lack of a pay raise has been an even greater hardship, according to a stream of teachers and staff who spoke to the board.
    Inflation from 2008 to 2014 ranged from 11 to 13 percent, depending on the index used. Teachers would like to see a 4 to 6 percent raise in addition to getting back the five furlough days.
    Teachers said it’s time for OUHSD to relieve the financial burden they took on to save the district from reducing staff over the past six years.
    Resnik said all district personnel have felt the financial stress at home.
    “But we have not let that pressure affect our unwavering dedication to the children in our community,” she said.
    Dickinson said during the meeting that removing furlough days is a pay increase because teachers considered the unpaid days pay cuts when they were made.
    “The concept that the district is not even putting a wage increase on the bargaining table is a slap in the face to every employee in the district,” said Michael Hoffman, a teacher at Pacifica High School.
    “Returning furlough days is not an increase. It’s a return to 2008.”
    Dickinson later presented the board with the district’s updated budget and projections for the next two school years.
    He said this school year will be the last in which the district will have deficit spending. The district expects to spend over $3.5 million more than it took in for 2013-14.
    The budget picture looks brighter for 2014-15, according to Dickinson, when the district estimates it will have nearly $5.5 million to spend. Where that money is spent is part of the debate between the district and the teachers.
    “We’re arguing over having more money and not less,” Dickinson said. “It’s a great thing."
    [Then stop worshipping and start taxing superwealth.]

3/20/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. More hours cut due to ObamaCare at government agencies and schools, by John Hayward, HumanEvents.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Democrats made a game effort to pretend that ObamaCare wasn’t cutting hours and killing jobs. There was a rash of malarkey-infused “academic studies” last year, purporting to “prove” there wouldn’t be major losses to hours worked by employers seeking to evade the mandates.
    [Losses to hours worked is different from losses to jobs worked. If the work hours being lost by existing employees are really demanded by The Market and not mere featherbedding, they have to be filled by other people, and that means hiring = creating jobs, not killing jobs. And this is what Republicans had the sense to back right up to when President Hoover created hundreds of thousands of jobs in the Great Depression by cutting the Post Office's hours from 44 to 40 in the summer of 1932. Even Nixon in 1956 in Pueblo CO proposed a four-day, 32-hour workweek. But Hayward and his ilk are so blinded by fury that they are ignorant of real conservatism and their own history. See Ben Hunnicutt's mind-opening 1988 history of the Great Depression, "Work Without End," but then know-it-all's like Hayward have no respect for academic studies - "Don't confuse him with facts - his mind's made up." And this attitude has debased the once-valued category of "conservative."]
    We’re past all that now. Yesterday’s Democrat spin is dead and gone, a pile of dessicated lies we’re supposed to forget they told. Reality crashes down upon us in waves, from blockbuster Congressional Budget Office estimates to news items about state agencies announcing that they’ll take “hard looks” at people who work more than 30 hours per week, to universities, such as the Colorado Mountain College, likewise announcing they’ll be holding part-time hours down to evade the crushing burden of the Affordable Care Act. From CampusReform.org:
    Colorado Mountain College (CMC) is prohibiting adjunct professors from working over 30 hours per week to minimize the large financial impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
    The ACA, often-called Obamacare, requires that large employers offer insurance to all employees who work more than 30 hours a week — but CMC will just cut hours to avoid having to pay for the insurance.
    CMC public information officer Debbie Crawford toldCampus Reform that the college relies heavily on adjunct instructors — it employs approximately 600 of them — because they give the school the flexibility to “change with student needs each semester.”
    “We are open enrollment, so that means students can enter at whatever level they need, so our student body changes greatly from semester to semester,” Crawford said in an interview on Tuesday. “It wouldn’t be financially prudent to just add more full-time faculty without considering all of the expenses.”

    Campus Reform mentions that “the practice of cutting employee hours to avoid buying them health insurance has angered unions and other advocacy groups.” You can say that again. 300,000-strong labor union UNITE HERE just published a report on ObamaCare that says it will create even more inequality in the workforce by, among other things, giving employers incentives to cut hours below 30 per week… the very same phenomenon Democrats were decrying as a figment of Republican imaginations not long ago.

  2. Day in History: Clinic approves five-day work week in 1964, Post-Bulletin via postbulletin.com
    ROCHESTER, Minn., USA - ...1964 – 50 years ago
    • A five-day work week schedule at Mayo Clinic has been approved by the Clinic's Board of Governors, and will go into effect in July. At present, and in past years, the Clinic has been on a 5 ½ day work week schedule. The revised schedule was developed during nine months of intensive study. The clinic has about 2,100 non-medical employees, 400 staff physicians and 625 fellows.
    [Ironically, the American doctors are among the biggest retards in work-life balance ("physician, heal thyself!") with a recent cut in intern hours to 80(!) a week, while Obamacare is drawing everyone else down to where we should have been with 1933's level of technology.]
    • The Chicago and North Western Railway Co. will seek abandonment of several southeast Minnesota stations. The company is asking to discontinue stations at Dover, Utica, Elgin and Minnesota City. Depots would be torn down in these locations if permission is granted. ...

  3. Korean Working Hours Still Less Flexible Than Elsewhere, The Chosun Ilbo via english.chosun.com
    SEOUL, S.Korea - Korean companies have more rigid working hours than other countries. In a survey of 1,000 companies in Korea with at least five employees by the Korean Women's Development Institute in July and August last year, only 125 or 12.5 percent said they use a flexible schedule that allows staff to work part-time.
    Some 8.8 percent operate flexi-time that allows staff to work longer hours in peak season and fewer in low season.
    A mere 7.6 percent let staff adjust the time they come to work and leave. And one or two percent operate other types of flexible schedules that cater for four-day work weeks, working from home, and discretionary work systems.
    The difference with the EU is pronounced. Eighty percent of companies studied in Sweden have part-time staff, six times more than Korea’s 12.5 percent, and in Germany and the U.K. the proportions were 79 and 75 percent.
    Sixty-five percent of companies in the U.K. employ alternative work schedules, allowing staff to choose when they come to work and leave as long as they stick to the daily working hours. The figures were 62 percent for Swedish firms and 51 percent for German firms.
    The smaller the firm, the less likely it is to permit any flexibility, even though job satisfaction and efficiency tend to increase when some flexibility is possible.
    Among the companies that employ some flexibility, 94.3 percent said they are happy with their human resources management, and 96.6 percent replied that it increases work efficiency.

3/19/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Algarve Councils agree 35-hour week for all staff, Algarve News via algarvedailynews.com
    ALGARVE, Portugal - The Algarve’s 16 councils unanimously have agreed with local unions to adopt a 35-hour working week and today signed a document to reduce the working week from the statutory 40 hours.
    Nobre dos Santos of the Trade Union Federation of Public Administration (FESAP) commented, "For us the deal is irreversible and does not need any more discussion," adding a veiled threat that there are further actions his members can taken if the agreement is not cleared by the Secretary of State and the Attorney General's Advisory Board.
    The legislation that increased working hours for Portugal’s civil servants from 35 to 40 hours came into force on September 28, 2013. With this unpopular move Pedro Passos Coelho was able to demonstrate his iron rule to the Troika but omitted to explain the huge and deliberate loophole in the legislation that has been used by most councils and trade unionists, namely if there is a current or future collective agreement for a 35-hour week then that of course is fine and the legal 40-hour week will not apply.
    "The agreement we signed today for 35 hours is valid because it is approved in council meetings but this is one of 130 agreements that must be transferred to the Office of the Secretary State in order to be approved," explained Jorge Botelho, the president of the Algarve councils group AMAL.
    If the opinion of the Attorney General's Advisory Board is negative, and it has 60 days to opine, Nobre dos Santos will swing into action with as yet un-named ‘other remedies, both national and international.'
    The Algarve’s councils are happy for workers to work for 35 hours a week rather than 40 despite this being on the low side, in fact way below the European average, yet had no hesitation in signing this agreement that inevitably will further reduce council services.
    The President of the National Union of Local and Regional Government (STAL), Braz Francisco also said the agreement signed with the councils is "irreversible."
    Joining in the general desire to work less, the National Association of Professional Firefighters and the National Union of Fire Professionals also signed the collective agreement with AMAL. This means that the firefighters across the region from now on will be working 35 hours a week.

  2. Deal reached that could save jobs in Southern Berkshire Regional Schools, by John Sakata, BerkshireEagle.com
    This article has been corrected to reflect that some -- and not all -- of the nine positions proposed for elimination in the fiscal 2015 budget could be spared following an agreement between the Southern Berkshire Regional School District and teacher's union.
    SHEFFIELD, Mass., USA -- The Southern Berkshire Regional School District's teachers' union and the district have reached an agreement that could free up to $90,000 that could prevent the loss of staffing positions in the proposed fiscal 2015 budget.
    The union voted to accept a furlough day next year, which could save up to $30,000, while the district is searching for funding in the range of $60,000.
    The School Committee will vote on the budget at tonight's 6:30 p.m. meeting at the Mount Everett Regional High School library. The adjustment is not expected to increase the assessment to towns.
    "Any staff member that has contact with kids is a potential mentor or teacher that kids can go to when they are having a tough time," union President Andrew Rapport said. "In those nine faces, there are some very powerful faces." The union on Friday voted 58-11 to accept a furlough day, which won't affect three retiring teachers, according to Rapport. The furlough day was also embraced by school site and district administrators who are not part of the union.
    Nine positions have been recommended for elimination in the current proposed SBRSD budget, with more than half not planning to retire. These employees include two part-time teachers who teach a daily single class, an aide, a district technology support employee, and a Mount Everett Regional teacher.
    The cuts were OK'd by schoolsite administrators as not affecting the district's educational core. The district's enrollment has decreased from 776 students last year to about 762 this year.
    Superintendent David Hastings will need to approve what positions are spared, although the union will provide a recommendation, which isn't expected until after the School Committee vote.
    Prior to tonight's meeting, the district's finance subcommittee will further discuss possible areas for savings. Finance Chairman Vito Valentini said the cost savings could come from line-item adjustments, re-evaluation of income sources related to conservative estimates on choice-in students, and possibly reserves.
    "This is a real sacrifice from our teachers," Valentini said.
    [But not as real as if the eliminated jobs had not been reduced by an eliminated workday for all!]
    "We didn't suddenly find a new pool of money, but we're changing up things here and there."
    "We want to take this money and use it toward finding the best educationally sound positions to keep," Rapport said.
    The district has about 100 professionals in the teacher bargaining unit, Rapport said. The teachers work 180 days a year -- along with four professional development days. The teachers agreed not to be paid for a professional development day.
    "We've had wonderful cooperation from Andrew and union for the last year," Hastings said. "The partnership has been tremendous."
    The budget proposes a 1.6 percent increase, likely leaving the total fiscal 2015 budget at $14.86 million.
    The budget includes an overall increase to towns of 2.79 percent. The towns facing the highest increased assessment would be New Marlborough at 4.3 percent and Sheffield at 3.5 percent, while Egremont and Alford would see an increase of less than 1.75 percent and 0.6 percent, respectively. The assessment in Monterey would decrease 0.7 percent.
    To reach John Sakata: jsakata@berkshireeagle.com, or (413) 496-6240.
    On Twitter: @jsakata

  3. Working Weekends: Survey Shows for Majority of Creative Execs, Workweek Doesn't End on Friday, The Creative Group via PRNewswire via DigitalJournal.com
    MENLO PARK, Calif., USA -- While some employees are working [to make money] for the weekend, many executives are working on the weekend, a new survey by The Creative Group suggests. Sixty-two percent of advertising and marketing executives interviewed said they bring work home at least one weekend per month, with 12 percent reporting they do it every weekend.
    [Well, advertising and marketing executives are crazy anyway.]
    When asked how many hours they work each week, the average response was 47 hours. More than four in 10 (41 percent) executives are putting in 50-plus hour workweeks.
    The national survey was developed by The Creative Group, a specialized staffing service for interactive, design, marketing, advertising and public relations professionals. It was conducted by an independent research firm.
    Advertising and marketing executives were asked, "How many weekends each month, on average, do you bring work home with you?" Their responses:
    Once a month   23%
    Twice a month   18%
    Three times a month   9%
    Every weekend   12%
    Never   37%
    Don't know   1%
    Executives also were asked, "How many hours, on average, do you work for your company each week?" Their responses are listed below. The average response was 47 hours.
    60 hours or more   18%
    50-59 hours   23%
    40-49 hours   48%
    Less than 40 hours   6%
    Don't know   5%
                      100% ...
    "Working weekends is not exclusive to senior leaders, but it may be more common," said Diane Domeyer, executive director of The Creative Group. "Creative executives manage teams that are spread out across the globe and working on numerous initiatives. They also must keep pace with a field that's evolving rapidly. These responsibilities can require putting in longer hours."
    Domeyer cautioned that regularly working 10- or 12-hour days is a recipe for burnout. "Everyone needs time to disconnect from the job, unwind and recharge their creative battery. Delegating tasks and keeping a check on employees' workloads can help managers and their teams achieve better work-life balance."
    The Creative Group offers five tips to avoid working weekends:
    [Uh, let us know when you make up your minds whether weekend work is good or bad!]
    Prioritize. Take 10 minutes at the start of each day to assign a one-to-three "urgency rating" for each item on your to-do list. Tackle top-rated tasks as soon as possible and postpone or delegate items with less urgency.
    Empower employees. Performing certain tasks yourself may initially be quicker than explaining them to someone else. But time spent training staff now can reduce your workload later and improve the overall skill set of your team.
    Rethink meetings. Take a close look at any standing or upcoming meetings and ask yourself if there are enough agenda items to merit a gathering.
    Schedule personal time. Block time on your calendar to relax or pursue outside interests on weekends. Hobbies can feed your creativity, increase your happiness and provide extra motivation when you're back in the office.
    Seek help. If overtime is constant, consider bringing in freelancers to help ease the workload for you and your team.
    About the Survey -- The national study was developed by The Creative Group and conducted by an independent research firm. It is based on 400 telephone interviews -- 200 with marketing executives randomly selected from companies with 100 or more employees and 200 with advertising executives randomly selected from agencies with 20 or more employees.
    About The Creative Group -- The Creative Group (TCG) specializes in placing a range of highly skilled interactive, design, marketing, advertising and public relations professionals with a variety of firms on a project and full-time basis. More information, including online job-hunting services, candidate portfolios and TCG's blog, can be found at creativegroup.com.

3/18/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Czech state spends CZK 15m [$753,640] on "kurzarbeit" system in 16 months, CTK via Prague Daily Monitor via praguemonitor.com
    [Time to unleash the multiplier effect on your domestic consumption and move on from bandaid worksharing to sustainable Timesizing!]
    PRAGUE, Czech Republic - The Czech state provided Kc14.9m subsidies to firms in a difficult situation within a short-time work (kurzarbeit) scheme over the past 16 months, according to a report on active employment policies for unions and employers.
    Under the scheme, firms may get money for education of employees who lack work over falling demand as well as wage contributions. Forty-one employers signed contracts from September 2012 until the end of last year under which they might have received Kc26.78m but gained only Kc14.85m. The amount of money supported 795 employees of firms in a difficult economic situation, the report said.
    The state has allocated Kc400m for short-time working until the end of 2015.

    Confederation of Industry head Jaroslav Hanak said earlier that firms do not want to concede they are in trouble and so for now they do not pay much attention to the system.
    As many as 13,269 job seekers under 30 years found a job by the end of last year. A firm may get up to Kc24,000 a month for a period of one year, if it employs such worker.
    Another 2,363 unemployed people got a short-work contract. A firm may receive up to Kc12,000 from an employment office to create such job. The support aims to boost employment of parents with small children and people before retirement.
    Investment incentives gave rise to the creation of 230 jobs, and 969 employees attended retraining courses last year. Subsidies targeted areas with unemployment 50 percent higher than the Czech average.
    The state distributed Kc30.77m among 18 firms.
    "In view of the unfavourable economic situation in the country, investors failed to meet their targets for the creation of new jobs last year ...," the report said.
    An investment incentive per employee was Kc50,000. As of February it is Kc200,000 if the job is maintained for a minimum of five years.
    The sum was raised by the caretaker cabinet of former prime minister Jiri Rusnok early this year in an effort to help solve the situation in the Moravskoslezsky region over the planned closure of mines.
    Active employment policy tools were aimed at people seeking a job for more than five months, disabled people, graduates, people with small children and those aged above 55 years, said the report.

  2. Is Obama's overtime pay move just work sharing in disguise? by Evan Soltas, Bloomberg News via Financial Post via business.financialpost.com
    [Certainly hope so! It's the most constructive, long-term-sustainable & growth-oriented thing he's done. Inthebox thinkers at FinPost probably want to keep downsizing to get upsizing alias growth.]
    President Barack Obama's overtime reform could end up being better news to people without a job than those with one. (photo caption)
    [But that will absorb the flood of desperate resumes and get employers competing for good help, meaning better news for people with a job as their straight-time pay feels upward pressure for a change.]
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - President Barack Obama wants to make more workers eligible for overtime pay. “If you have to work more, you should get paid more,” he says. But the policy change might not have exactly the effect he suggests.
    The increase in pay will probably be modest for existing workers. Yet there’s a benefit he hasn’t talked about: It could actually spur hiring.
    At issue is how the Labor Department interprets a part of the Fair Labor Standards Act, passed in 1938, that exempts employers from paying white-collar employees — such as supervisors and executives — one and a half times their hourly wage after they pass 40 hours a week. The way the law decides whether employees get overtime is by their pay and their duties. If you make more than $455 a week and your role is “professional,” “executive” or “administrative,” you’re ineligible.
    A decade ago, President George W. Bush loosened the rules that set who employers could declare exempt from overtime. Bush’s revisions to those duties made them so broad that employers could make workers who look nothing like white-collar executives ineligible for overtime. And, because the weekly-earnings cutoff isn’t indexed for inflation, its real value has dropped by more than half since 1975.
    A shift manager at a convenience store earning $25,000 a year, for example, meets the law’s view of an “executive.” Office secretaries, so long as their work can be said to include the “exercise of discretion and independent judgment with respect to matters of significance” — a vague standard if I’ve ever heard one — can count as “administrators.”
    That hardly seems right. If overtime does not exist for these workers, then for whom, exactly, is it supposed to exist? There’s no question, then, that overtime isn’t protecting the workers it should. But how much will Obama’s changes help?
    The impact of similar policy changes in the past suggests that while the benefits won’t be huge or exactly as advertised, the economic costs are negligible. Overtime is, ultimately, the policy Obama says it is: one that makes some workers slightly better off at the expense of business profits.
    Emphasis is required on “slightly.” That’s because economists think that, when government changes overtime rules, businesses respond by cutting the hourly wage that workers earn in their normal hours, so as to neutralize most of the effect on actual weekly earnings.
    For example, suppose you earn $10 an hour for 40 hours a week, but your job routinely has you work 50 hours a week. You might hope that, if Obama’s policy change made you newly eligible for overtime, that your pay would rise $5 an hour for the extra ten hours, leaving you with an extra $50 a week.

3/16-17/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Bank unions seek five-day workweek, by N. Anand, 3/16 TheHindu.com
    DELHI, India - Apart from seeking early settlement of wage revision, the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) has renewed its appeal for introduction of five-day workweek and regulated working hours for officers.
    The issue was discussed in detail at a recent meeting with the Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) in Mumbai. On its part, the UFBU said working hours could be increased by 45 minutes a day as most of the branches function for four hours on the weekend.
    “While appreciating our viewpoints, the IBA wanted further inputs from the Unions in order to examine the issues and to take up the matter with higher authorities,” said UFBU Convenor M.V. Murali.
    Talking to The Hindu, a UFBU representative said they would also seek suggestions from the government and bank customers as the latter should not feel that five-day banking would lead to reduction in services.

  2. The Hidden Rot in the Jobs Numbers, by Edward P. Lazear, 3/16 Wall Street Journal via online.wsj.com
    New York, N.Y., USA - Most commentators viewed the February jobs report released on March 7 as good news, indicating that the labor market is on a favorable growth path. A more careful reading shows that employment actually fell—as it has in four out of the past six months and in more than one-third of the months during the past two years.
    Although it is often overlooked, a key statistic for understanding the labor market is the length of the average workweek. Small changes in the average workweek imply large changes in total hours worked. The average workweek in the U.S. has fallen to 34.2 hours in February from 34.5 hours in September 2013, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That decline, coupled with mediocre job creation, implies that the total hours of employment have decreased over the period.
    [And that is why it is an urgent overdue system requirement to adjust our concept of full-time employment downward and cut the workweek, as we did for all of American history until 1940, downward to levels appropriate for our rising levels of worksaving technology. Otherwise we'll get a worse and worse case of what we've got = a widening production-consumption gap, where we have more and more productive capability and less and less market for it, and filling the gap? Government and business makework, dependency, crime and suicide. It ain't pretty and it's getting worse and worse.]
    Job creation rose from an initial 113,000 in January (later revised to 129,000) to 175,000 in February. The January number frightened many, while the February number was cheered—even though it was below the prior 12-month average of 189,000.
    The labor market's strength and economic activity are better measured by the number of total hours worked than by the number of people employed. An employer who replaces 100 40-hour-per-week workers with 120 20-hour-per-week workers is contracting, not expanding operations. The same is true at the national level.
    The total hours worked per week is obtained by multiplying the reported average workweek hours by the number of workers employed. The decline in the average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls by 3/10ths of an hour—offset partially by the increase in the number of people working—means that real labor usage on net, taking into account hours worked, fell by the equivalent of 100,000 jobs since September.
    Here's a fuller explanation. The job-equivalence number is computed simply by taking the total decline in hours and dividing by the average workweek. For example, if the average worker was employed for 34.4 hours and total hours worked declined by 344 hours, the 344 hours would be the equivalent of losing 10 workers' worth of labor. Thus, although the U.S. economy added about 900,000 jobs since September, the shortened workweek is equivalent to losing about one million jobs during this same period. The difference between the loss of the equivalent of one million jobs and the gain of 900,000 new jobs yields a net effect of the equivalent of 100,000 lost jobs.
    The decline of 1/10th of an hour in the average workweek—say, to 34.2 from 34.3, as occurred between January and February—is like losing about 340,000 private nonfarm jobs, which is approximately 80% greater than the average monthly job gain during the past year. The reverse is also true. In months when the average workweek rises, the jobs numbers understate the amount of labor growth. That did occur earlier in the recovery, with a general upward trend in the average workweek between October 2009 and February 2012.
    [But at generally lower wages, and consequent lowering of consumer spending and all dependent markets.]
    What accounts for the declining average workweek? In some instances—but not this one—a minor drop could be the result of a statistical fluke caused by rounding. Because the Bureau of Labor Statistics only reports hours to the nearest 1/10th, a small movement, say, to 34.449 hours from 34.450 hours, would be reported as a reduction in hours worked to 34.4 from 34.5, vastly overstating the loss in worked time. But the six-month decline in the workweek, to 34.2 from 34.5 hours, cannot be the consequence of a rounding error.
    Was it the harsh winter in much of the United States? One problem with that explanation is that the numbers are already seasonally adjusted.
    Imperfections in the adjustment method can result in weather effects, but the magnitude is far from clear, especially given that parts of the West, Midwest and South experienced milder-than-normal weather, with fewer business-reducing storms. Also, the shortening of the workweek began before the winter set in, with declines in hours from September to October.
    Another possibility for the declining average workweek is the Affordable Care Act. That law induces businesses with fewer than 50 full-time employees—full-time defined as 30 hours per week—to keep the number of hours low to avoid having to provide health insurance. The jury is still out on this explanation, but research by Luis Garicano, Claire LeLarge and John Van Reenen (National Bureau of Economic Research, February 2013) has shown that laws that can be evaded by keeping firms small or hours low can have significant effects on employment.
    The improvement in average weekly hours worked was reason for celebration after the recovery began. The recent decline is cause for concern. It gives us a more accurate but dismal picture of the past two quarters.
    Mr. Lazear, who was chairman of the president's Council of Economic Advisers from 2006-09, is a professor at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business and a fellow at the Hoover Institution.

  3. Has tech killed the 40-hour work week? *AirTalk with Larry Mantle, 89.3 KPCC Southern Cal. Public Radio via scpr.org
    [And not in the good sense by replacing it with a shorter one...]
    PASADENA, Calif., USA - Work emails can be sent at all hours from smartphones and presentations prepared on laptops in coffee shops. But with an increase in flexible work schedules, are we still tied to working a traditional 40 hour week?
    Americans now spend more hours working than those in Britain, Germany, France and Sweden. Plus, the number of hours spent on free time hasn’t increased in the United States since the Great Depression.
    [True if you date the end of the Depression as 1941, or even Oct.24, 1940 when the 40-hour workweek took effect.]
    Would ditching the Monday to Friday ‘nine to five’ grind increase leisure time? Can working fewer hours make employees more productive?
    [According to Juliet Schor's research in The Overworked American, small decrements in the workweek actually do result in higher productivity, presumably because more employees prioritize more.]
    Or if you’re an employer, could a shorter work week lead to a decline in the amount of work completed?
    Jacob Morgan, co-founder of the managing consultancy, Chess Media Group, and author of the upcoming book ‘The Future of Work’ (Sept. 2014)
    Anna Coote, head of social policy at the New Economics Foundation, a London-based think tank promoting social, economic and environmental justice.

3/15/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. EconoSpeak: The Long and Short of Kurzarbeit, posted by Prof. Peter Dorman of Evergreen State College Economics, blogspot.com
    OLYMPIA, Wash., USA - An op-ed in this morning’s New York Times [see "Work Like a German" below] extolls the virtues of Kurzarbeit, the German system for promoting shared work rather than unemployment. This isn’t the first time we’ve heard of this program; it’s a common theme among labor-oriented economists and pundits, who want for the US what Germany has achieved, a low unemployment rate despite the downdraft from 2008.
    First, what’s Kurzarbeit? It means “short work”, and it’s a public program to subsidize shorter work hours at the discretion of employers [under government guidelines]. Rather than lay off workers altogether, a firm can offer them part-time work, and the government will subsidize a portion of the cost. The exact amount of the subsidy varies depending on how long the part-time work continues, whether retraining is provided and other details, but a common figure for the average contribution is two-thirds.
    The fact that the cost of keeping workers on the payroll is split between the employer and the government is important, and it explains why Kurzarbeit works better in Germany than it would in the US. The bottom line is that businesses have to want to retain their workers and be willing to pay a price to keep them in order for the system to be taken up. This is true in Germany because of the entire economic model: the skill and involvement of the workforce is seen as the central asset on which business depends, and workers are key to the identity of firms—they are part of what the firm is, not outsiders who happen to do business with it.
    [Can Dorman really be unaware of the many, mostly mid- and small-sized businesses in the US that have the same view as German businesses? Is he of the Declare-Premature-Defeat School, prevalent on the Overlooked-Due-To-Inflexible-Vocabulary Left?]
    The list of elements that make up this model is long. It includes the apprenticeship system, which is paid for jointly by the government and business associations. It includes works councils and co-determination, the representation of workers on the supervisory boards of firms. It includes the public provision of credit to small and medium-size enterprises, which reduces labor market segmentation and promotes a “social” perspective on economic development. And it also rests on longstanding cultural assumptions about work and livelihood that go back to the guild system of centuries past. (Kurzarbeit itself is almost a hundred years old.) German firms support Kurzarbeit because they want to keep their workforce through thick and thin—and the “they” includes worker representatives themselves.
    I’m all for trying to introduce some replica of Kurzarbeit in the US, but how effective would it be? How much of the extra cost of keeping redundant workers on the books would have to be paid by the government in order to convince firms to play along? The increasing trend in this country is for firms to regard workers as interchangeable, offered minimal job security, training or career ladders. It’s telling that the calls for an American Kurzarbeit come primarily from the left, not from the business community, which is not at all the case in Germany.
    [Can Dorman really be ignorant of the fact that for years now, Kevin Hassett of the conservative American Enterprise Institute has been an ally of Dean Baker of the liberal Center for Economic Policy & Research in advocating Kurzarbeit-inspired worksharing? You're the economist, Dorman, with an entire college's resources available to you - it's your job to come up with whatever Kurzarbeit "replica" ideas and metaphors would make it effective in the US instead of merely asking the question. It's your job to come up with ideas for minimizing the cost of keeping redundant workers on the books and for retraining and crosstraining to minimize the duration of their redundancy. Have you looked into Lincoln Electric, for example, which has practiced worksharing since 1959 and has employees out painting the parking lot during downturns just to keep them useful?]
    Don’t take this post as a criticism of work-sharing; that’s not my point at all.
    [If you have to clarify something so basic in your last paragraph (and you do), you need to need to drop some of your bizarre, self-defeating, earlier ambivalence, like that strange self-contradicting sentence, "I’m all for trying to introduce some replica of Kurzarbeit in the US, but how effective would it be?" Make up your mind and let us know when you get your story straight. Right now you're "damning with faint praise." And if you're really an advocate of worksharing, you're your own worst enemy.]
    Rather, to make the pieces of a better employment policy program work we need to address the whole anti-labor framework.
    [Sounds like a classic cop-out. Death by "need to address the whole" thing at once. What about a strategy, a PERT chart that prioritizes the pieces of that framework, that labels them peripheral or central, like the gross and growing labor surplus in the age of automation and robotization with a workweek that's been frozen at the pre-automation level of 1940? While the Dorman is waiting to address some "whole framework" at once, his own state of Washington has long since bypassed him with one of the most effective worksharing/Kurzarbeit programs of all 28 states that have them! Funny he doesn't mention it. Can he really be unaware of it? Anyway, here's the NYT article he has usefully flagged -]

  2. Work like a German - If only we, too, had cut people's hours instead of jobs in the recession, by Glenn Hutchins, New York Times, A19.
    NEW YORK, N.Y., USA - Some of our workplace programs, like Unemployment Insurance and Disability Insurance, parts of which date from the 1930s, desperately need updating. The original designers did not envisage such large numbers of people unemployed for long periods of time or living on disability benefits [oh yes they did! it was the Great Depression fergawdsake]. If we could convert these programs into ladders of upward mobility, they would disproportionately benefit the disadvantaged, as well as [put first next time] strengthen the economy. We need to focus on enabling workers to stay in work — rather than having to compensate them after they have lost their jobs.
    [Hear, hear!]
    We need only turn to Germany to see how much more effective such an approach can be. In 2009, Germany suffered a more precipitous drop in gross domestic product than the United States, but it experienced almost no change in unemployment. Here, it doubled. Today, unemployment in Germany is actually lower than it was pre-crisis, and long-term unemployment is negligible. With America’s unemployment rate stuck above 6.5 percent, the contrast is stark.

    In the German job-share model (known as “Kurzarbeit”), if an employer cuts an employee’s hours so that income is reduced by more than 10 percent, the government compensates workers for a large portion of wages lost. This enables companies to cut costs during downturns without having to lay workers off. And then they’re better placed for a recovery because they’ve been able to preserve their pool of skilled labor. America should have a similar program to enable people to share jobs and to give employers an incentive to cut hours rather than staff.
    [Uh, Is Glenn aware that 28 states DO have worksharing programs? But many of them are still "best-kept secrets," of like Canada's federal worksharing program, trammeled with red tape.]
    When people lose their jobs but find work at lower wages, the new program could plug the gap by supplementing their income. For the long-term unemployed who take significantly lower-paying jobs (typically, at minimum-wage levels), the unemployment benefits could offer stop-loss insurance to put a floor under their losses. The new program should also subsidize employers to provide paid sick days, family leave and child care support — measures that are especially important for disadvantaged women in the work force.
    Today, the unemployed are required only to look for work, but not to do anything to improve their qualifications. At the same time, the proportion of the unemployed who risk exhausting their benefits and facing severe hardship — as opposed to those who need temporary income support while between jobs — has grown markedly in recent years. The new program would focus training resources on the group that most needs it, those without skills. Taking another page from the German system — this time, its apprenticeship program — training should include both internships and postgraduate job placements.
    Turning to Disability Insurance, the unprecedented rise in claims is clearly linked to the weakness of the job market. With the chronically unemployed forced to seek other sources of income, nearly 5 percent of the working-age population, or nine million working-age Americans, are covered by disability benefits.
    Once workers go on the Disability Insurance rolls, it has proved very hard to get them off; all the while, their skills and contacts in the workplace atrophy. In the fiscal year 2013, the program is estimated to have cost a record $144 billion.
    Given weak labor markets, employers have no incentive to hire disabled workers, so without reform, the number of people on Disability Insurance will stay stubbornly high [no, it will continue to rise, possibly exponentially]. We need to intervene before people enter the program — and give those in it a better reason to exit. We should also introduce a new category of the partially disabled, so that the program can act as a wage supplement for those who are still able to work, rather than forcing them to make an either-or choice. [Amen!] Disability Insurance should also subsidize the employer’s cost of accommodating and training disabled people. We can fund this through the savings made when people come off disability benefits as they go back to work.
    Of course, everything proposed here is made easier if we achieve higher economic growth.
    [Not possible with ongoing downsizing instead of timesizing and unlimited percentages of the national income and money supply defaulting to an unlimitedly small percentage of the population in the topmost brackets, who spend a smaller percentage of their money than any other bracket.]
    Many of these reforms would involve new ways to spend existing funds, and others would be self-financing, but there’s no denying that the additional funds needed would be hard to wring out of already stressed public budgets.
    [How about acceding to Warren Buffett's and Mass. Millionaires for Higher Taxes' request for higher taxes on the richest?!]
    And there is no substitute for the critically important investments in infrastructure, education and research our country needs.
    [Yes, there is. Consumer spending and monetary circulation.]
    There is a consensus to be won here: Liberals should get behind reforms that incentivize work, and conservatives should back the required government spending. After all, the welfare reform of the 1990s, while not flawless, has been a success [reference?], and that was achieved under a divided government. We can get this done, too.
    Glenn Hutchins is a co-founder of the technology investment firm Silver Lake Partners and the vice chairman of the Brookings Institution.

  3. The Jackson Five: Elected officials cap own work hours, United Way exceeds goal, bridge out, by Lisa Satayut Lsatayut@mlive.com, The Jackson Citizen Patriot via mlive.com/news/jackson
    JACKSON, Mich., USA – Welcome to the Jackson Five, your weekly peek at five Jackson-area government and school stories you may have missed, and a look ahead at what to expect next.
    Capped: With no case law on whether an elected official is an employee under the Affordable Care Act and no specific definition in the act itself, Jackson officials are playing it safe. Under a new resolution, City Council members and the mayor will sign a legal statement declaring they will not work more than 29 hours per week.
    Over The Top: For the first time in three years, the United Way of Jackson County not only met, but exceeded its $2 million fundraising goal by 5 percent.
    The nonprofit raised exactly $2,029,486 in the 2013 campaign. The total was announced Wednesday, March 12, at the 78th annual meeting at the Commonwealth Commerce Center downtown Jackson.
    In Memory: Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation officially designating the new bridge on West Avenue the “Officer James Bonneau Memorial Bridge.”
    A ceremony took place Tuesday, March 12, in Lansing attended by Bonneau’s parents, Marc and Amy Bonneau, as well as James Bonneau’s former fiancée, Rachael Maloney.
    State Rep. Earl Poleski, R-Spring Arbor Township, introduced the bill in January 2013 to honor Bonneau, who was shot and killed in 2010 while on duty.
    Honored: Two Jackson residents who have played instrumental roles in the evolution of Jackson College will be honored by that institution during its commencement ceremonies on Saturday, April 26.
    George Potter, who was on the college’s founding board in 1962 and remained a trustee for 44 years, is this year’s recipient of the Dr. Ethelene Jones Crockett Award. Former Jackson Mayor Karen Dunigan also will receive the college’s Distinguished Service Award for what trustees said is her role in the organization of the Jackson Preparatory and Early College charter school, which expects to open on the college campus in September 2014.
    Bridge Out: Crews began preparing the U.S. 127 Bridge over I-94 for much needed extensive repairs early Monday, March 10. It is now closed.
    The bridge, which is exit 142 off I-94, will reopen in August and a detour route will be posted.
    Looking Ahead: A public walk-through tour of East Jackson Middle School, 4340 Walz Road, begins at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 25. Those attending can see plans for the possible reopening of the building, which is part of a $14 million bond issue on the May 6 ballot.
    The Jackson County Board of Commissioners will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 18, on the fifth floor of the Jackson County Tower Building, 120 W. Michigan Ave.

3/14/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. News Roundup: Shorter Work Weeks, Marijuana for Anxiety, and More, by Elise Curtin, GoodTherapy.org (blog)
    ANCHORAGE, Alsk., USA - Had enough of the 40-hour (or more) work week? So have many other people. Earlier this week [see 3/09-10 below], The New York Times selected a handful of editorial-style articles on the subject for an online spread in “The Opinion Pages” that explores the issue of long hours on the job and how this impacts quality of life.
    In an essay titled “An American Dream Deferred,” one woman details how the current work expectations of U.S. companies contradict the visions and hopes of our country’s founders and thought leaders, such as John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. As she writes, Adams envisioned a society that allowed his children and grandchildren the time and space to read poetry and enjoy music—not be stuck in an office cubicle or service job for hours on end. Jefferson wrote extensively on the pursuit of personal happiness, and how all Americans should be afforded this right.
    To counter the trend toward an increasingly industrialized, mechanized experience of life in the United States, some are pushing for more flexible hours or to reduce the work week to 30 hours; in her essay on the subject, Anna Coote, head of social policy at the New Economics Foundation in London, argues that fewer hours spent on the job means better health and more time to enjoy other things in life, like time at home bonding with family and doing hobbies. She proposes higher wages to account for the decrease in hours paid.
    Others, like Dharmesh Shah, the co-founder and chief technology officer at a marketing software company in Massachusetts, claim a rigidly defined work schedule actually decreases productivity and overall business success. People don’t want to feel as though they are chained to their desks, unable to move through life in a way that feels natural and healthy; and when their needs aren’t being met, employees tend to slack and produce shoddier work in general.
    In other mental health news…
    Self-Acceptance Could Be the Key to a Happier Life, Yet It’s the Happy Habit Many People Practice the Least
    Studies show that accepting ourselves just as we are—flaws and imperfections as well as the good stuff—is a practice that breeds personal happiness, but apparently the call to ‘love thyself’ is easier said than done, as many people still do not focus their time and energy on cultivating it.
    Discovery Sheds New Light on Marijuana’s Anxiety Relief Effects
    New research from Vanderbilt University identified cannabinoid receptors in the central nucleus of the amygdala, which is largely responsible for processing emotions and regulating anxiety levels, in studies involving mice. This explains the cannabis plant’s anxiety-relieving effects, and reveals the reason why some might find the habit of using marijuana to be addictive; since there is a naturally occurring endocannabinoid system in place to regulate anxiety levels, over time, using a substance to activate this system decreases the functionality of these receptors, thereby making a person dependent on the plant to remain calm.
    Prison Meditation Becoming More Popular as Inmates Report Better Impulse Control, Improved Calm
    Meditation among prisoners is having profoundly positive effects, particularly transcendental meditation. Through the help of organizations like the Prison Mindfulness Institute and the David Lynch Foundation, meditative practice is being introduced and explored in a number of prisons across the country.
    Fight to Let Transgender Soldiers Serve
    For decades, there has been a ban on allowing transgender individuals to serve in the military; however, it has been determined recently that there is no medically based justification for this ban, and there is now a push for President Obama to issue an executive order to lift it.
    Body-Image Pressure Increasingly Affects Boys
    " The pressure to look a certain way and maintain a certain size and shape has long been focused on women, and young girls, especially. A new study reveals, however, that adolescent boys are feeling increasingly aware of and obsessed with their body image, as well.
    Report Says Medication Use Is Rising for Adults with Attention Disorder
    Along with increased diagnoses of conditions like attention deficit hyperactivity (ADHD), the use of psychotropic medications is also on the rise in the United States, particularly among children, adolescents, and young adults. Adam Lanza’s Father in 1st Interview: He Would Have Killed Me ‘In a Heartbeat’
    In December 2012, Adam Lanza, a 20-year-old who had been diagnosed with Asperger’s, killed his mother and then fatally shot 20 children, six staff members, and took his own life at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Now, his father speaks out about his son’s instability in an interview with CNN. Feel-Good Story of the Week: Autistic Kids Soar in Unique Partnership with Theater
    An alternative school in Seattle, Washington, is making a huge difference in the lives of children who have been diagnosed with autism, which now affects 1 in 88 children. After noticing that the autistic students were naturally drawn to music, “Broadway Bound,” a children’s theater group that shares building space with the school, decided to allow them to audition for and participate in musicals.

  2. Mine tour workers' hours cut; season-opening delay possible, by David Singleton, Scranton Times-Tribune via thetimes-tribune.com
    SCRANTON, PA., USA - A cutback in the hours of seasonal employees at the Lackawanna Coal Mine Tour may delay the popular attraction's scheduled April 1 opening and could jeopardize the 2014 season, workers said Thursday.
    The Lackawanna County official who oversees the mine tour insists it will open on time and be open through November.
    "We have state inspectors who come in and inspect the place, and they are the ones who have the final say, but I don't have any reason to believe that we won't be able to open," said Bill Davis, deputy director of the Department of Parks and Recreation.
    The county last month notified three employees who are classified as part-time tour guides but perform maintenance work underground during the off-season that their hours were being capped at 15 a week.
    Two of the workers, who said they would normally be working up to 40 hours a week to get the mine tour ready for a new season of tourists, said the cutback will string the required maintenance out for at least weeks.
    "There is no way we could do it by April. I think it's going to be sometime around May 6 if we go this way," said Carl Orechovsky, who is the tour's hoist operator.
    Coworker Anthony Wilson said the money to pay the workers for the extra hours is already in the budget.
    "We are not asking to be full-time employees. We are not asking for a benefits package. We are asking if they would give us our hours back so we can do the work at the mine," he said.
    Mr. Davis said the workers' complaint boils down to a personnel issue. As seasonal part-time employees, they can work no more than 1,000 hours annually, and the county is trying to comply with those rules with the 15-hour-a-week limit, he said.
    "Other times, have they worked more hours? Absolutely. But is it something we want to make a standard practice? No," Mr. Davis said. "It really has nothing to do with the mine. It has to do basically with county and state policy regarding part-timers."
    Every year around this time, there is a list of maintenance tasks at the mine that the county would like to get done and another list "of what absolutely has to be done," Mr. Davis said.
    "The main things that need to be done will be done," he said, adding it is not usual for maintenance work to continue past the mine tour's official April 1 opening date.
    Although Mr. Davis discounted the possibility, Mr. Orechovsky and Mr. Wilson both said the mine tour may not open at all this year, pointing out - as Mr. Davis did - that the attraction will have to pass muster with the state Bureau of Mine Safety.
    "They are under the illusion this mine is going open no matter what," Mr. Wilson said. "That may not be the case."
    He pointed out he and his coworkers aren't getting rich - they earn only $8.85 an hour - but do the work because they love their jobs and they love the mine. He thinks county administrators see the mine as a nuisance.
    "There is a whole lot that goes with this that I don't think they understand, and it's really a shame," he said.
    Contact the writer: dsingleton@timesshamrock.com

3/13/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. CCH® Unemployment Insurance — Maine amends its UI law regarding work-sharing benefits, Walters Kluwer via CCH via hr.cch.com
    AUGUSTA, Maine, USA - Maine’s Employment Security Law has been amended as follows:
    Work-sharing benefits.
    The provisions of the law that were enacted to comply with the requirements of the federal Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 regarding work-sharing programs have been continued and will not be [=>have not been] repealed on February 28, 2014.
    In addition, the term “work-sharing plan” no longer applies solely to temporary layoffs. All layoffs may now be considered for the plan.
    Also, new criteria for plan approval have been added, including the continuation of benefits if they had been previously provided and allowing eligible employees to participate in training to enhance their job skills if such training has been approved by the commissioner.

  2. Busting the myth of France’s 35-hour workweek, by Richard Venturi, BBC Capital via BBC.com
    Few French business people have time to stop for a cafe lunch these days. (photo caption)
    PARIS, France - In the collective imagination, there are two Europes: the industrious north, with relatively low unemployment and dynamic economies, and the sluggish south, where people would just as soon kick back, sip an espresso and watch the world go by.
    Many people would lump France, the land of the 35-hour workweek, long lunches and even longer vacations, with the south. But anyone who has worked as a professional in the country knows otherwise.
    Olivier, a senior counsel in a large French multinational in the construction industry in Paris (he requested his surname not be used), described his workweek one recent evening in his office. “I work about 45 to 50 hours a week, from roughly 09:00 till 19:30,” he said.
    So what about the infamous 35-hour workweek, which is the envy of much of the rest of the professional world? Is it merely a myth?
    Contrary to many stereotypes, 35-hours is “simply a threshold above which overtime or rest days start to kick in”, according to French economist Jean-Marie Perbost.

    [But in the U.S., it's still 40-hours although now you can get Obamacare with a 30-hour workweek. The fact that French underemployment is still not designed to regularly adjust the threshold downward - AND there's no smooth overtime-to-training&hiring conversion over the threshold - AND there are virtually no population controls (on imports, outsourcings, immigrants, births) means that France (and everyone else) still has unnecessarily high unemployment and low consumer spending = sluggish monetary circulation.]
    Blue-collar workers are expected to work precisely 35 hours, but the hours white-collar workers (cadres in French) amass each week are not clocked. Like professionals in, say, the United States, most cadres work until the tasks at hand are done. But unlike in the US, French professionals are compensated for the hours they work beyond 35 with rest days, which are negotiated on a company-by-company basis (there were nine rest days, on average, given by companies in 2013).
    Even blue-collar workers work more than 35 hours. According to French government statistics, 50% of full-time workers put in paid overtime in 2010. That percentage was likely to be higher in 2013, said Perbost. Of course, compared to the hours certain professions tally on a weekly basis, the average worker in Europe doesn’t have it so bad. Take lawyers. According to France’s national bar association (CNB), 44% of lawyers in the country logged more than 55 hours on a weekly basis in 2008. In the United States, surveys show that many attorneys work about 55 to 60 hours per week in order to meet the billable hours requirements most firms maintain.
    Not just France
    It’s not just France where the laid-back workweek is more myth than reality. Professional hours in Spain also contrast with the country’s popular image. Pablo Martinez, a senior sales and engineering manager at a German multinational in Madrid, said he starts at 08:00 and rarely leaves before 18:30.
    “Things have changed in Spain to keep pace with international markets,” he said. “It’s not uncommon for people to grab some lunch and eat it in front of their computers, which was rare 20 years ago when I started working .”
    In fact, the number of full-time working hours per week across Europe is strikingly similar. According to Eurostat, in 2008, the Eurozone average was just under 41 hours per week, with France slightly under 40. The range was also slim, with a low of 39 hours in Norway and a high of 43 hours in Austria.
    “It’s really the 35 hours that have created this false idea that the French don’t work a lot,” said Olivier. “The idea sticks in people’s minds. But it’s not a reality.”
    Another factor that may have fed the short workweek legend: most people only consider full-time staff when they take a look at the average work week, but in much of Europe, more people are working part time. This has been a growing trend for at least 15 years and it was exacerbated by the global financial crisis that began in 2008.
    “What countries with low unemployment like the Netherlands, the UK, Denmark, Sweden and Germany have done is, in effect, put one worker out of four in a part-time job,” said Perbost, the author of a study on work for the European Green Foundation, a Brussels-based political organisation funded by the EU Parliament. He added that 2012 statistics from Eurostat echo this idea.
    Northern European countries, where Perbost said part-time jobs are much more common, have the lowest hours per week worked, for all workers, both full-time and part-time: the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, the UK and Germany all average around 35 hours per week, according to Eurostat’s 2012 figures. Meanwhile, Greece’s workers logged an average of 38 hours, followed closely by Spain, Portugal and Italy. French workers, collectively, clocked in at about 35 hours on average.
    Take a close look at part-time working hours across Europe and a startling trend emerges. The French even work longer part-time hours than their peers.
    The part-time workweek in France averages 23.3 hours, compared with 20.1 for most of the other European Union countries, according to a 2013 survey by the French employment ministry’s research group Dares.
    That might help explain a few things to engineering manager Martinez. “When I call Germany after around 16:30 I’m always surprised at how few people are in the office,” said Martinez. “Maybe it’s us in Spain who’ve got it backwards."
    World of Work
    Average annual hours worked by full-time employees in 2011 around the world…
    Germany: 1,406 hours
    Norway: 1,421 hours
    France: 1,476 hours
    United Kingdom: 1,650 hours
    Spain: 1,685 hours
    United States: 1,704 hours
    Japan: 1,706 hours
    Canada: 1,708 hours
    Brazil: 1,841 hours
    Korea: 2,193 hours
    Singapore: 2,287 hours
    Source: Federal Reserve Economic Data

  3. How would you fare with one of these 7 alternatives to the 40-hour work week? by Alex Dalenberg, Upstart via upstart.bizjournals.com
    The UpTake: The 40-hour work week is a goner for many of us, but it could be a good thing. Here are 7 alternative work schedules along with some of the upstarts who have tried them.
    BROOKLYN, N.Y., USA - There's probably no such thing as a "normal schedule" here in the upstart economy, but that doesn't stop the idea of the five day, 40-hour work week from dominating the cultural conversation about work schedules.
    Indeed, the vast majority of U.S. men and women say they work much longer than the "traditional " 40-hour schedule. Business leaders such as Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer can top 100 hours per week.
    In a "Room for Debate" discussion this week, The New York Times asked six experts, "Is it time to rethink what full-time work means?"
    You can read the full discussion here.
    What are the alternatives? The entrepreneurs and business leaders we cover are natural schedule hackers. Here are seven experiments and proposals for re-working the work week.
    1. The 4-day work week
    This is the most commonly suggested alternative (we wrote about it after a four-day work week last year).
    Six months out of the year, Jason Fried, CEO of 37Signals, puts his company on a four-day, 32-hours-per-week, schedule.
    "When there's less time to work, you waste less time," Fried wrote in a 2012 column for The New York Times. "When you have a compressed workweek, you tend to focus on what's important. Constraining time encourages quality time."
    Treehouse CEO Ryan Carson feels the same.
    2. The 3-day work week
    In 2010, London-based New Economics Foundation published a study recommending a "normal" working week of 21 hours as a way of addressing multiple societal ills.
    "Moving towards much shorter hours of paid work offers a new route out of the multiple crises we face today," the report says. "Many of us are consuming well beyond our economic means and well beyond the limits of the natural environment, yet in ways that fail to improve our well-being – and meanwhile many others suffer poverty and hunger. Continuing economic growth in high-income countries will make it impossible to achieve urgent carbon reduction targets. Widening inequalities, a failing global economy, critically depleted natural resources and accelerating climate change pose grave threats to the future of human civilisation.
    3. The 30-hour work week
    In 1930, breakfast cereal company Kellogg's began experimenting with the six-hour workday. In exchange, workers took a slight pay cut, but the company was able to boost hiring during the depths of the Great Depression. The company also found that workers were happier, more efficient and less likely to be injured on the job. The policy lasted until 1985.
    4. The 1-day (or less!) work week
    You've probably heard of extreme lifehackers like Tim Ferriss author of The 4-Hour Workweek who automate their lives and salaries using virtual assistants and searching for as many ways possible to make a passive income. One Reddit user gained some notoriety when he alleged that he'd been able to automate his repetitive job at a payments processor using a computer program, effectively cutting down his actual work time to eight hours per week (unbeknownst to his employer).
    5. The 6-day work week
    Maybe you really love what you do. Business Insider executive editor Joe Weisenthal takes the counter-intuitive stance that two days off is too many. That is, knowledge workers like journalists, academics and others are gearing back up for the week by Sunday afternoon, or otherwise doing informal work.
    "For many professionals it seems, Sunday is less a 'day off' than it is to do similar things as you might do while 'at work' but without the infrastructure and bureaucracy of being 'on the job,'" Weisenthal wrote in November.
    Buffer founder Joel Gascoigne went even further, attempting to work a regimented seven-day schedule with work everyday, but plenty of leisurely breaks scheduled in-between. As he writes on Lifehacker, it didn't work. Without dedicated off-time, he burned out.
    That being said, Gascoigne ended up settling on a six-day work week.
    6. The irregular work week
    In the New York Times forum, Dharmesh Shah, co-founder and chief technology officer at HubSpot, writes that the number of hours isn't important. It's what actually gets done.
    "Exceptional employees count their successes in code shipped, projects completed, people inspired and impact, not the minutes they've spent at their desks," Shah writes. "Companies should hire and manage accordingly. Don't watch the clock; watch your business."
    7. Unlimited vacation
    Similarly, Netflix doesn't limit vacation time for employees, with the idea being that productive employees know how to best manage their time. The Motley Fool does the same.
    "We have a no-policy vacation policy," Matthew Trogdon at The Motley Fool, a financial services company, told CNN. "We just want you to get your work done, however you're going to do it best."
    Alex Dalenberg - Alex is a Brooklyn-based freelance journalist. He writes about media entrepreneurs and creatives for Upstart Business Journal.

3/12/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Obama Will Seek Broad Expansion of Overtime Pay - Plan affects millions - Executive action set to limit exception for white-collar jobs, New York Times, A1.
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — President Obama this week will seek to force American businesses to pay more overtime to millions of workers, the latest move by his administration to confront corporations that have had soaring profits even as wages have stagnated.
    On Thursday, the president will direct the Labor Department to revamp its regulations to require overtime pay for several million additional fast-food managers, loan officers, computer technicians and others whom many businesses currently classify as “executive or professional” employees to avoid paying them overtime, according to White House officials briefed on the announcement.
    Mr. Obama’s decision to use his executive authority to change the nation’s overtime rules is likely to be seen as a challenge to Republicans in Congress, who have already blocked most of the president’s economic agenda and have said they intend to fight his proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour from $7.25.
    Mr. Obama’s action is certain to anger the business lobby in Washington, which has long fought for maximum flexibility for companies in paying overtime.
    In 2004, business groups persuaded President George W. Bush’s administration to allow them greater latitude on exempting salaried white-collar workers from overtime pay, even as organized labor objected.
    Conservatives criticized Mr. Obama’s impending action. “There’s no such thing as a free lunch,” said Daniel Mitchell, a senior fellow with the Cato Institute, who warned that employers might cut pay or use fewer workers. “If they push through something to make a certain class of workers more expensive, something will happen to adjust.”
    Marc Freedman, the executive director of labor law policy for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said the nation’s overtime regulations “affect a very wide cross section of employers and our members.”
    “I expect this is an area we will be very much engaged in,” Mr. Freedman said.
    Mr. Obama’s authority to act comes from his ability as president to revise the rules that carry out the Fair Labor Standards Act, which Congress originally passed in 1938. Mr. Bush and previous presidents used similar tactics at times to work around opponents in Congress.
    The proposed new regulations would increase the number of people who qualify for overtime and continue Mr. Obama’s fight against what he says is a crisis of economic inequality in the country. Changes to the regulations will be subject to public comment before final approval by the Labor Department, and it is possible that strong opposition could cause Mr. Obama to scale back his proposal.
    Cecilia Muñoz, the director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, said the effort was part of Mr. Obama’s pledge to help workers thrive. “We need to fix the system so folks working hard are getting compensated fairly,” she said on Tuesday evening. “That’s why we are jump-starting this effort.”
    The overtime action by Mr. Obama is part of a broader election-year effort by the White House to try to convince voters that Democrats are looking out for the middle class. White House officials hope the focus on lifting workers’ pay will translate into support for Democratic congressional candidates this fall.
    Since the mid-1980s, corporate profits have soared, reaching a post-World War II record as a share of economic output. The profits of the companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 have doubled since the recession ended in June 2009, but wages have stagnated for a vast majority of workers in the same period. Recently, workers’ wages fell close to an all-time low as a share of the economy.
    In 2012, the share of the gross domestic income that went to workers fell to 42.6 percent, the lowest on record.
    Under current federal regulations, workers who are deemed executive, administrative or professional employees can be denied overtime pay under a so-called white-collar exemption.
    Under the new rules that Mr. Obama is seeking, fewer salaried employees could be blocked from receiving overtime, a move that would potentially shift billions of dollars’ worth of corporate income into the pockets of workers. Currently, employers are prohibited from denying time-and-a-half overtime pay to any salaried worker who makes less than $455 per week. Mr. Obama’s directive would significantly increase that salary level.
    In addition, Mr. Obama will try to change rules that allow employers to define which workers are exempt from receiving overtime based on the kind of work they perform. Under current rules, if an employer declares that an employee’s primary responsibility is executive, such as overseeing a cleanup crew, then that worker can be exempted from overtime.
    White House officials said those rules were sometimes abused by employers in an attempt to avoid paying overtime. The new rules could require that employees perform a minimum percentage of “executive” work before they can be exempted from qualifying for overtime pay.
    “Under current rules, it literally means that you can spend 95 percent of the time sweeping floors and stocking shelves, and if you’re responsible for supervising people 5 percent of the time, you can then be considered executive and be exempt,” said Ross Eisenbrey, a vice president of the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal research organization in Washington.
    Jared Bernstein, the former chief economic adviser to Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., and the former executive director of the White House Task Force on the Middle Class, embraced Mr. Obama’s move.
    “I think the intent of the rule change is to make sure that people working overtime are fairly treated,” he said. “I think a potential side effect is that you may see more hiring in order to avoid overtime costs, which would be an awfully good thing right about now.”
    [It's time to focus on an overtime design that takes the "potential" out of this "side" effect that you "may" see more hiring and make damn sure that more hiring is the whole point of our overtime design and a guaranteed sure thing, as accomplished by, for example, the two-phase overtime design in the Timesizing program (Phase 2 and Phase 3). The weakness of the present design is that it still incentivates employees to "consume" more than their fair share of vanishing human employment in the robotics age for freely spendable money, instead of requiring any overtime to be motivated purely by non-inflationary=non-monetary incentives such as job satisfaction or pride. But the good "inch forward" of this move by Obama is that it begins the end of the often-abused "exempt from overtime" category. The present design money-motivates employees toward overtime and money-demotivate employers less and less as more and more benefits like health insurance are piled on.]
    Mr. Bernstein, now a senior fellow at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal research group, and Mr. Eisenbrey wrote a paper last year urging the administration to raise the salary threshold for overtime to $984 a week. Their study estimated that in any given week, five million workers earning more than the current threshold of $455 a week and less than $1,000 a week are likely to be exempted from overtime. President Bush raised the threshold to $455 in 2004.
    Mr. Bernstein said, “Remember, inflation has eroded this threshold a great deal over the years, so it’s hard to see why it’s unfair to make that adjustment.”
    White House officials said that in California an employer cannot deny overtime pay to a salaried worker who makes less than $640 a week. In New York, the threshold is $600 a week. Under recently passed laws, the California threshold is set to rise to $800 per week in 2016, and the New York threshold to $675.
    If the changes to the overtime regulations are made, it will fall to the Labor Department’s wage and hour administrator to put them into effect. That position has been vacant since Mr. Obama took office. David Weil, a professor at the Boston University School of Management, is the latest nominee for the post. He is awaiting confirmation.

  2. Work hours, speed limit set for taxi drivers - Centre For Regulation of Transport by Hire Cars issues guidelines for taxi drivers and operators in an effort to reduce accidents at the Gulf Traffic Week, Emirates 24/7 News via emirates247.com
    DUBAI, U.A.E. - A new initiative launched at the ongoing Traffic Week holds taxi operators accountable for installing parking assistance/reverse sensors in taxis and sets maximum working hours of taxi drivers.
    ‘Traffic Safety and Security’ initiative for 2014, launched at the ongoing ‘Gulf Traffic Week’ in an effort to reduce accidents on roads, also sets an alert per day for exceeding speed limits.
    The initiative launched by the Centre For Regulation of Transport by Hire Cars comprises a set of additional laws and regulations to be observed by all taxi operators and drivers in the city.
    In line with the collaborative efforts between the Centre and Abu Dhabi Police General Headquarters, several rules and regulations have been issued to reduce traffic accidents involving taxi drivers, including the administrative decision No. 64 for the year 2013, which states that taxi operators must terminate the service of taxi drivers who cause traffic accidents and exceed their black points limit according to the traffic and licensing system. Other violations which result in the termination of the driving license include jumping a red light, driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs or similar substances, not stopping after causing an accident, in addition to reckless driving.
    Furthermore, the Centre is also holding taxi operators accountable for installing parking assistance/reverse sensors in all taxis; this is based on the fact that 10 per cent of taxi traffic accidents were caused while reversing.
    Also, the maximum working hours of taxi drivers will be electronically set as to not exceed eight hours per day as ‘hired’ status. When exceeding the speed limit, there will only be one warning/alert per day to the driver before being fined. If a driver exceeds the speed limit by 20 kmph, the meter shuts down immediately and the driver gets a ‘call for investigation’.
    The Centre has set numerous strategies geared towards encouraging and supporting taxi operators and drivers, whereby the Centre honours distinguished drivers from the various operating companies on a monthly and yearly basis, according to a set of criteria, on top of which is traffic safety.
    The Centre will also be setting a special index for traffic accidents which will now be included in the performance matrix of taxi operators in addition to launching campaigns to encourage customers to pre-book taxis so that the mileage traveled as well as potential traffic accidents by taxis are reduced.
    The Centre is committed to conducting studies and research that will help achieve excellence and sustainability. In addition the Centre will coordinate with all relevant entities in Abu Dhabi to improve the quality of services offered.

  3. Two Courts Of Appeals To Consider Legality Of Paying Incentive Compensation To Fluctuating Workweek Employees, by Robert W. Pritchard, Littler Mendelson via Mondaq News Alerts (registration) via mondaq.com
    NEW YORK, N.Y., USA - In a pair of appeals that will have significant implications for employers that utilize the fluctuating workweek (FWW) method of calculating overtime compensation, the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Second and Sixth Circuits are considering whether the payment of incentive compensation (in addition to fixed weekly salary) is incompatible with the FWW method. Nothing says "no good deed goes unpunished" quite like a claim that the payment of additional compensation invalidates an otherwise lawful compensation plan.
    By way of background, the Department of Labor (DOL) historically recognized that the payment of incentive compensation did not undermine the "fixed salary" component of a valid FWW plan under 29 C.F.R. § 778.114. In 2008, the DOL even issued a notice of proposed rulemaking to amend § 778.114 to clarify and confirm its position that bonus or premium payments do not invalidate the FWW method. 73 Fed. Reg. 43654. In 2011, however, the DOL abruptly rescinded the proposed amendment and changed its position, announcing (in a preamble to a Final Rule) that the payment of bonus and premium payments is "incompatible" with the FWW method. 76 Fed. Reg. 18832. As expected, plaintiffs' attorneys seized on the DOL's about-face on the issue to allege that the payment of incentive compensation was incompatible with the FWW method. The results of this litigation have been mixed.
    In Sisson v. RadioShack Corp., No. 1:12-cv-958, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 40135 (N.D. Ohio Mar. 11, 2013), the court granted Chevron deference to the DOL's 2011 announcement even though it did not result in any change to the relevant text of § 778.114. The court concluded that while bonus payments to FWW employees were lawful prior to 2011, the language in the preamble to the 2011 Final Rule changed the law and rendered subsequent bonuses incompatible with the FWW method. Later, acknowledging its "struggles with this issue and with the deference to be afforded the DOL's Final Rule," the court certified its order for interlocutory appeal to the Sixth Circuit.
    In November 2013, the Southern District of New York issued a thoughtful and well-reasoned decision rejecting the holding in Sisson. In Wills v. RadioShack Corp., No. 13 Civ. 2733, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 159727 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 7, 2013), the court concluded that the 2011 Final Rule left in place a distinction between hours-based bonuses (which it held were incompatible with the "fixed salary" requirement) and performance-based bonuses (which are not). The plaintiff appealed to the Second Circuit.
    Recent developments in the Sisson and Wills appeals suggest that the debate over the legitimacy of paying incentive compensation to FWW employees is heating up.
    On March 5, 2014, the Sixth Circuit granted RadioShack's petition for permission to appeal. The Court of Appeals noted that the question of whether the payment of performance-based bonuses is inconsistent with the FWW method "is a difficult, novel issue of first impression" and that the "only other case directly on point [Wills] reached a conclusion contrary to that of the district court" in Sisson.
    In Wills, the DOL recently indicated that it is considering whether to file an amicus curiae brief in support of the plaintiff/appellant. In a filing with the Second Circuit, the DOL characterized this as a "very important" issue. On March 6, 2014, the DOL asked the Second Circuit for additional time to consider "how the Sisson case will affect the Department's position" in Wills.
    Employers who pay incentive compensation to FWW employees should closely monitor developments in these two appeals. The DOL has come under fire in recent years for attempting to reverse course on previously well-established principles without engaging in formal notice-and-comment rulemaking. We may soon find out if the DOL's latest reversal, announced in a preamble to a Final Rule and (perhaps) soon to be backed up with an amicus brief, will withstand the scrutiny of two Courts of Appeals.
    The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

3/11/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Hospital specialists want fewer hours, by Nicola Garrett, GastroenterologyUpdate.com.au
    SYDNEY, Australia - Half of all hospital-based specialists would like to reduce their working hours but very few are successful at reaching this goal, research shows.
    Specialists and specialist registrars were the most keen to reduce their hours, with hospital-based non-specialists appearing the most satisfied with their working hours, the survey of over 6,000 doctors found.
    Doctors in their mid-fifties and female doctors had the greatest desire to reduce their hours, with those who reported good health or high job satisfaction less likely to want to hang up their stethoscope.
    Of 2,226 doctors who expressed a desire to reduce their hours just under a third managed to do so the following year, the researchers from Centre for Health Economics Research and Evaluation at the UTS...
    [article truncated due to subscription requirement]

  2. Should employees get guaranteed minimum work hours? by Aimee Picchi, MoneyWatch via CBS Interactive via CBSnews.com
    NEW YORK, N.Y., USA - Bad pay isn't the only issue facing low-wage workers -- another is the rise of so-called "scheduling to demand" strategies.
    [There are thousands of bad things that spoiled employers do to vulnerable and optionless employees during a labor surplus. Trying to address them all individually without changing the labor surplus into a labor shortage, where employees can discipline employers by switching to better employers, is a wildgoose chase. The simplest way to engineer a labor shortage without war or plague is workweek reduction and overtime-to-training&hiring conversion.]
    The practice gives retailers, restaurants and other industries the flexibility to schedule workers' hours at the last minute, based on how much business companies expect.
    If the weather forecast predicts snow, for instance, a smoothie store might cut back some employees' hours, given that fewer customers are likely to stop by.
    While that benefits employers by saving on labor costs during slow periods, the impact on employees can be corrosive, leading to unpredictable earnings and hours, according to a new report from the Center for Law and Social Policy, the Retail Action Project and Women Employed. With the rise in part-time workers, more Americans are now finding themselves subject to seemingly whimsical work patterns.
    "These practices disproportionately affect low-income workers who are already vulnerable financially," the report notes. "Just-in-time scheduling contributes to workers' income instability, making it difficult to make ends meet."
    The shift to last-minute scheduling has been accelerated by technology. Software companies such as Dayforce and Kronos offer products that allow managers to schedule workers in smaller time increments, the groups notes.
    "Many employers now schedule shifts as short as two or three hours, while historically they may have scheduled eight-hour shifts," Dayforce founder David Ossip told The New York Times in 2012.
    "Flexible" scheduling also makes it hard for workers to maximize their wages, given that those employees are required to be available to work at any hour, or on weekends or holidays. While that's great for employers, workers are left to cope with lower wages, unpredictable schedules and stress.
    The remedy? Public policy solutions, worker organization and consumer advocacy may be required since "voluntary employer action is unlikely," the report notes.
    Still, not every work place is a bleak landscape of random hourly patterns. Some companies commit to providing their employees with a basic number of work hours. Take Costco (COST), which has won kudos not only for its stocked warehouses but for its employee relations.
    Costco employees receive their hours at least two weeks in advance and are guaranteed 24 "core hours" each week, the report notes.
    "We want people to work for us who consider us a career," Costco assistant vice president of human resources Mike Brosius told low-income advocacy group CLASP, according to the report. "Long-term employees are more productive and serve the needs of our customers better. So we give our employees what's fair and what they need to make a living."

3/09-10/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Bring It Back [down to the 40-hour workweek], by Jefferson R. Cowie, 3/09 New York TImes via nytimes.com
    We have trashed collective bargaining, run roughshod over the Fair Labor Standards Act, and exchanged our desire for freedom for the cult of overwork. (blowout quote)
    CORNELL, N.Y., USA - “Eight hours for work, eight hours for rest, eight hours for what we will!” was once the workers’ demand. Cried out across the 19th century to express the desire to enjoy the division of the day into tidy thirds, it united the diversity of working and professional classes in ways few things could.
    As a result, the workday ticked steadily downward — from often more than 12 down to eight.
    Owning one’s time contained a sense of self-worth and freedom, and it registered as collective betterment. “The progress toward a shorter work-day and shorter work week,” explained the A.F.L.-C.I.O. president George Meany in the 1950s, “is a history of the labor movement itself.”
    Then it stopped. While shorter hours defined much of labor history, the struggle hit a successful[?] plateau during the New Deal when the Fair Labor Standards Act (1938) established the eight-hour day and 40-hour week as the official law of the land [effective on Oct.24, 1940]. Although many people continued to try to decrease the work week to 35 hours in order to share work and increase leisure, the fight seemed to end.
    Then it reversed. Slowly we trashed collective bargaining, ran roughshod over the Fair Labor Standards Act, and exchanged our desire for freedom for the cult of overwork. Now we respond to every ping of technology, looking longingly at those who still work just eight-hour days. “I’m busy” is our boring mantra; “so much to do” is our futile Greek chorus.
    Now we live with a terrible irony. Although we believe we live in a work world defined by the eight-hour day and other progressive occupational victories, we actually don’t. We have only relics and illusions of those victories, which may be more harmful than not having them at all. It would take 20 years of struggle to get back to where we once were. Overwork is a public problem that should be part of a public conversation.
    “Is it time to rethink the 40 hour week?” Yes, it’s time to think about bringing it back.
    [Bringing it back isn't enough. In fact, sticking with it too long into the age of automation is what surplused and disempowered labor and relengthened the workweek in the first place. The US Senate actually passed a 30-hour workweek way back in 1933, and Anna Coote's article below picks up that figure (though of course it needs to stay adjustable in the context of ever-increasing worksaving technology).]
    Jefferson R. Cowie, a professor of labor history, holds the ILR Dean's Professor Chair at Cornell University. He is the author of "Stayin' Alive: The 1970s and the Last Days of the Working Class."

  2. Reduce the workweek to 30 hours, by Anna Coote, 3/09 New York TImes via nytimes.com
    [And despite her name, she's "crazy as a fox," not a coote!]
    Workers on shorter hours are under less stress, get sick less often and are more loyal. Plus a shorter workweek is better for the environment. (blowout quote)
    LONDON, U.K. - We used to send children down mines, sack women when they got married and expect workers to put in 12-hour day, six days a week. For more than 200 years, we have associated better working conditions and shorter hours with human progress. An average workweek of 40 hours nowadays looks old fashioned and backward.
    We need a slow but steady move toward a 30-hour week for all workers. This will help solve a lot of connected problems: overwork, unemployment, overconsumption, high carbon emissions, low well-being, entrenched inequalities and the lack of time to live sustainably, to care for each other and simply to enjoy life.
    People working shorter hours generally have a smaller ecological footprint. If you are tied to the workplace for 40-plus hours, you don’t have much time for the rest of your life. So things have to speed up. You travel by plane or car instead of train, foot or bike. Convenience-driven consumption takes a heavy toll on the environment.
    Some say it can’t be done because wages are too low. So let’s raise wages. No one should have to work long hours just to get by. Some say it’s uncompetitive. But there’s no match between average working hours and the strength of a country’s economy. The Netherlands and Germany have a shorter workweek than the United States and Britain. But the Dutch and German economies are stronger, not weaker. Workers on shorter hours tend to be more productive hour-for-hour. They are under less stress, they get sick less often and they make a more loyal and committed workforce.
    We ended slavery, built the railways and won votes for women. All these once seemed impossible. We can do the same for working hours. It’s only a matter of time.
    Anna Coote is head of social policy at the New Economics Foundation in London. She is a co-editor of "Time on Our Side" and co-author of "21 Hours."

3/08/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. What women want in 2014 revealed: Family friendly working hours, ANI via Daily News & Analysis via DNAindia.com
    AHMEDABAD, Guj., India - Topping the list of what women want, the fairer sex wants most of all family friendly working hours, a new study suggests.
    A 10-year study by the Heat Group, commissioned for International Women's Day, tracked key changes in attitudes and lifestyle choices over a decade and found females want the freedom to focus on what matters to them.
    For almost half of respondents, that involves working fewer hours, while 40 percent of women want more flexible working arrangements, News.com.au reported.
    While 10 years ago women sought career success and fulfillment above all else, women now rank lifestyle (62 percent) and travel (43 percent) as their top priorities, according to the poll of 1000 women aged from 16 to 70.
    Half of the sample group were mothers, 86 percent were in the workforce and the average income of respondents was 60,000 dollars.
    The survey found that a third of women were desperate for tax deductible childcare, up from 18 percent in 2003.
    A quarter of women also said they were willing to take a pay cut of up to 10 percent in return for more flexible working hours.

  2. Flexi work hours will become the norm, by Shilpa Phadnis, TNN via TimesOfIndia.indiatimes.com
    BANGALORE, Kam., India - About 64% of the Indian women polled for a survey believe that the traditional 9-to-5 job would become obsolete and flexible hours would be the norm.
    [Nevermind flexible hours, which just rearrange deckchairs on a jobless Titanic. How about shorter hours = more overtime AND overtime-to-job conversions, which seal the leaks, reverse the sinking, and refloat the ship?!]
    This was the highest percentage among all countries - in Brazil, the figure stood at was 48%, China 53%, UK 47%, and the US 44%.
    The survey, conducted by IT consulting and outsourcing firm Accenture, also found that about 44% of Indians feel that there would be a slight increase in the percentage of women who hold CEO positions by 2020 and 40% of them believe more women would hold seats on the boards of companies. A similar trend is reflected in developed economies - 65% of Americans and 52% of British polled believe that more women would occupy board positions by 2020.
    "More and more women are aspiring to see themselves in leadership roles. We have seen that women are also increasingly open to the idea of relocating to a different geography to take on roles which are global in nature," said Ramnath Venkatraman, MD, human capital and diversity, Accenture India
    The survey, done for a research study titled Career Capital, polled 4,100 business executives from companies across 32 countries, including Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany and India. A minimum of 100 respondents participated from each country with almost an equal number of men and women respondents.
    Accenture defines career capital as differentiated skills that are required to progress in one's career with people investing in learning and development to take on bigger roles in future and making an effort to expand their networks, both inside and outside their companies.
    However, 64% of Indians - both men and women - defined career capital as achieving seniority within their organization and having the ability to influence decisions at work.
    The survey found that 65% of Indians are preparing more women for senior management roles, and 80% of women are taking on more responsibilities to advance in their current roles at work. This is a good sign in comparison to the UK where a majority of the British (70%) are not focusing on preparing women for senior management roles.
    The findings indicated that a majority of women have received a raise following negotiations for a salary hike. About 63% (70% men, 56% women) of Indians have negotiated for a pay raise, which is very similar to countries like China (64%), the US (64%) and the UK (64%). And as high as 82% of Indian women have received a raise as an outcome of the negotiation.
    More Indians (60% overall - 66% men, 54% women) have asked for a promotion compared to their counterparts in the UK, the US, China or Brazil. As an outcome, 81% of Indian women were given a new role.

  3. Why do students prefer all-nighters to sensible work hours? Tom considers the reasons behind this unsolved mystery, by Tom Carter, Cherwell Oxon.Student News via cherwell.org
    [More crucial to the real world, why do private-equity CEOs prefer longer hours of unproductive facetime from fewer&fewer employees = eternally "slow recovery" - to shorter hours of creative productivity from more&more employees = wartime levels of prosperity without the war?]
    OXFORD, England - 10% battery left on my computer. Gulp. 0 words down, 2000 to go. Gulp. It is gone 12am (well, 12.32 to be precise) and I am in the library trying to write an essay for tomorrow morning on a topic I don’t particularly like without a power cord. Everyone has gone to Camera Tuesdays (when did people start going out on Tuesdays?) and I am all-alone. Life’s a bummer. Oh, and f***, I have a blog to write.
    Perhaps the most depressing thing about the above is the fact that most students reading it would have little sympathy. They, after all, have been in far worse predicaments. 3am mate. All-nighter mate. Working through the night is a commonly accepted fact for the sleep-deprived student who views them like a badge of honour, going around college boasting of how he pulled two all-nighters in a row. Oxonians, it seems, are night animals. This image fits into the whole work-hard, play-hard ethos Oxford seems to have going.
    [Sounds more like work-dumb, play-sloshed, starting with work-hard-not-smart and the common mistaking of long hours for hard effort; in short, a life of sympathy-sucking and oh-you-think-that's-bad one-up-manship.]
    Yet, there is a reason why so many students at Oxford feel burnt out after only 8 weeks of work: such a lifestyle is unhealthy. It fails on all three fronts – social, academic and sleep (obviously). Let us first tackle the social aspect. For most young people, night time forms the culmination of their daily social experience. (Unless you are a rower who has to get up at 5.30 in the morning in which case a) this article doesn’t apply to you as you manage your time far too well already and b) give up – there is more to life). Why, therefore, would you want to eat into it by doing work, which you could have done in the daytime instead of Internet shopping? From my present personal experience, there is nothing more depressing than seeing all your friends have a good time whilst you needlessly slog away in the library.
    In the academic world, such a lifestyle screws you over even more. After the bewitching hour, people stop to concentrate properly and what might have taken 20 minutes in a post-noon high now takes 2 hours in a post-midnight low. What is more, the bullshit you produce burning the midnight oil is not even good bullshit – it rarely makes sense, often lacks coherence and is littered with spelling errors. That lie you tell your bleary eyed self when you finally go to bed – you know the one where you kid yourself into thinking that you will carry out a meaningful edit of your masterpiece in the morning – is just that, a lie, and it tales a rare character to do anything more than correcting the odd misuse of the colon before sending it off in the morning.
    In some senses, this is a pointless blog post to write. Very few people mean to stay up all night, they just are forced into that situation through sheer laziness. I am not going to kid myself into thinking that what I have written will change anybody’s working patterns. Anyway, people who do manage to do all their work ridiculously early exist only to be antagonized as people we love to hate. I probably would not even take my own advice. However, if you take away one thing, take away this: much like getting hammered, essay crises are not things to be proud of.

3/07/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Does Short-Time Work Save Jobs? A Business Cycle Analysis, (3/06 late pickup) papers.ssrn.com
    ["It can? Gee, what a miracle! How unexpected!" Why are Europeans still asking these basic square-one questions? Why haven't they moved on to questions of fine-tuning? You know, there's a helplessness to these scholarly papers. A pretend-innocence that paints the situation under observation like some kind of Act of God instead of the entirely craftable Act of Will that it is. We're looking for scholars who will quit wasting time and move on to the nittygrits of how we plug the leaks in this approach and make it work better. Scholars who will get their thumbs out of their mouths and move humanity forward toward full employment and maximum markets, meaning full delivery on the Right to Work (in the old honest sense and not the union-attacking sense spun by the venal and ignorant fake 'conservatives' who develop "Coalitions to Save the Forest" when they just intend to clearcut). And we're looking for business owners and managers who understand that the economy is a big circulatory system and they have to fund their own markets by employing a maximum of people, not by diverting a maximum of money out of the warpspeed circulation and rapid torrents of the consumer and business sectors into the coagulated hoards and stagnant ponds of the financial sector and then robopath(et)ically beating their chests over it like some kind of crazed King Kong, while usurping the title of Masters of the Universe when they're actually deepening slowdown, CAUSING recession and blocking recovery. We're looking for business owners and managers who will notice logjams in the solution, glare at them and clear them - who will "find a way or MAKE it"! And scholars who will help them by studying these logjams and imagining potential clearing methods, instead of damning the whole solution approach with faint praise. There's no such thing as objectivity, scholarly or otherwise - there is only specificably extended subjectivity.]
    BONN, Germany - Does Short-Time Work Save Jobs? A Business Cycle Analysis
    Almut Balleer, University of Bonn
    Britta Gehrke, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg
    Wolfgang Lechthaler, Institute for the World Economy
    Christian Merkl, Kiel Institute for the World Economy; University of Kiel; Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)
    February 20, 2014, CESifo Working Paper Series No. 4640
    In the Great Recession most OECD countries used short-time work (publicly subsidized working time reductions) to counteract a steep increase in unemployment. We show that short-time work can actually save jobs. However, there is an important distinction to be made: While the rule-based component of short-time work is a cost-efficient job saver, the discretionary component appears to be completely ineffective. In a case study for Germany, we use the rich data available to combine micro- and macroeconomic evidence with macroeconomic modeling in order to identify, quantify and interpret these two components of short-time work.
    Number of Pages in PDF File: 41
    Keywords: short-time work, fiscal policy, business cycles, search-and-matching, SVAR
    JEL Classification: E240, E320, E620, J080, J630
    working papers series
    Does Short-Time Work Save Jobs?
    A Business Cycle Analysis
    Almut Balleer
    Britta Gehrke
    Wolfgang Lechthaler
    Christian Merkl
    FEBRUARY 2014
    An electronic version of the paper may be downloaded
    • from the SSRN website: www.SSRN.com
    • from the RePEc website: www.RePEc.org
    • from the CESifo website: Twww.CESifo-group.org/wpT

  2. Bad Weather Did Affect Jobs Report and May Put Growth on Ice, Wall Street Journal via stream.wsj.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Average weekly hours among production and nonsupervisory employees fell to seasonally adjusted 33.3 hours in February, continuing a steady winter decline from 33.7 hours in November. The workweek among rank-and-file retail staff dropped to 29.6 hours—the lowest on records back to 1972.
    Weather appears to be the culprit.
    The Labor Department data showed 6.9 million Americans worked part time due to the weather last month. That is ten-times the number reported a year earlier and well above the February average of 1.5 million the past decade.
    The decline in hours worked “is going to take a little wind out of the economy’s sails,” said John Silvia, chief economist at Wells Fargo. The latest numbers confirm his forecast for 1.5% gross domestic product growth in the first quarter, a marked slowdown for the second-half of 2013.
    The reduction in hours for production employees is a double whammy for the economy. Those workers typically don’t get paid when they don’t work. That means not only were they not adding to output, but they also have less income, and therefore could reduce their own spending.
    “From the point of view of the economy, income dynamics, it’s clear things are depressed,” said J.P. Morgan Chase economist Bruce Kasman said.
    The reduction in hours was particularly prevalent among retail workers.
    The workweek for production retail employees was below 30 hours for consecutive months for the first time since 2009. That could reflect closures of malls and other retail outlets due to weather and disruptions to transit systems that prevented many employees from commuting to work.
    However, other factors could also be at play.
    Retail sales eased in January and stores may have cut back on hours in response. The hours worked figures have also been closely watched to determine if employers are reducing hours to avoid the health-care law’s requirement for large companies provide health insurance for full-time workers.
    “Obamacare may have had some effect, but it’s not significant compared to the slowdown in customers,” said Sung Sohn, an economist at California State University, Channel Islands. Weak income growth, bad weather and a lack of “must-have” items are keeping customers away from stores, he said.
    Retail hiring slowed in January and February, but if demand remains weak “those jobs won’t be replaced,” Mr. Sohn said.
    – Jonathan House contributed to the article.

  3. UNC Is Considering Hour Cuts, Other Options To Pay For Health Coverage, WUNC 91.5 North Carolina Public Radio via wunc.org
    CHARLESTON, N.C., USA - Individuals are enrolling in health care through the federal online marketplace, but thousands of North Carolinians might find themselves with employer-sponsored health plans next year.
    In January, the Affordable Care Act will require businesses to offer health insurance to full-time employees working 30 hours a week or more. This would now include graduate teaching assistants and visiting faculty at the University of North Carolina [UNC].
    This week, the conservative web site CampusReform.Org reported it could cost the UNC System about $47 million to insure these employees under the current State Health Plan. The site reported cutting hours would be pretty much inevitable.
    But UNC's Chief Operating Officer Charles Perusse said they're looking at numerous options.
    "We are hoping to work with the General Assembly this year to offer a healthcare plan for our UNC system employees that meets ACA requirements, but adds a lower cost based on their healthcare risk," Perusse said. "And we think that could save about $2,000 per employee if we go down that road."
    Perusse says UNC's individual campuses will be able to make their own plans of action at the end of the summer.

3/06/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Do CEOs of family-owned businesses work less? by Rachel Feintzeig, Wall Street Journal, B1.
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - What's the difference between a family firm and a regular business? According to one new study, an empty corner office.
    Professors at Harvard Business School, the London School of Economics and Columbia University's business school examined the schedules of 356 chief executives in India and found that family CEOs worked 8% fewer hours than managers without genetic ties to their companies. The researchers found similar disparities in Brazil, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and the U.S.
    The incentives and risks that motivate professional CEOs to burn the midnight oil just might not be a factor for family CEOs, said Raffaella Sadun, a Harvard strategy professor and one of the study's authors.
    "The consequences of underperforming…are very different," she said. "How easy is it to fire your brother?"
    Overall, the jury is still out on whether family-owned businesses perform better or worse than firms with outside CEOs, say researchers and consultants who study the topic.
    Morten Bennedsen, academic director of Insead's Wendel International Centre for Family Enterprise, said that the firms often outperform nonfamily companies when the founder is at the helm but falter when passed down to the next generation. Fewer than 30% of family businesses are still standing by the third generation of leadership, according to research cited by McKinsey & Co., though a 2011 paper in the journal Family Business Review noted similar survival rates in nonfamily firms.
    What does seem clear is that family CEOs spend their time differently.
    Steven Gewirz, a third-generation executive at Potomac Investment Properties, a family-owned commercial and residential real-estate firm in Washington, D.C., usually leaves the office between 4:30 p.m. and 5 p.m., allowing him to eat dinner with his family. In the summer, he'll take three-day weekends at his vacation home in Rhode Island, and he enjoys seven- to 10-day-long vacations several times a year.
    Mr. Gewirz, who is the company's CFO, and his brother, its president, pass on deals when they feel they are "busy enough" with other projects.
    The business is performing well, he said, and will give his children financial freedom to pursue whatever career paths they want. "We tend to think longer term than the typical real-estate development firm," he said.
    Wesley Sine, a researcher at Cornell University's Johnson Graduate School of Management who studies entrepreneurship, said that executives who are more oriented toward family and establishing a legacy are more likely to favor leisure.
    "You have a perspective that life is more than money," he said.
    To be sure, Ms. Sadun acknowledged, hours worked is a "very crude measure of effort."

    Mr. Bennedsen believes family CEOs might be adding value to their firms in ways not captured by the hours they are formally working. They tend to focus more on networking at cocktail parties or hammering out contract details at sporting event, he said, versus professional CEOs who are more "implementers," carrying out plans at their desks.
    And many family CEOs dispute the idea that they're skipping out early.
    Charles S. Luck IV, CEO of construction building materials business Luck Cos., doesn't think he works fewer hours than an outside manager. Mr. Luck spent several years as a Nascar racer before joining the family business and said he had to fully exhaust his love of the sport before he was ready to dedicate himself to the company his grandfather built.
    He said less time in the office might be a symptom of a family member who is only devoting himself to the firm out of a sense of obligation.
    "When they are raised with the mind-set that they are entitled because of [what] their last name is, that creates a really unhealthy situation," he said.
    Write to Rachel Feintzeig at rachel.feintzeig@wsj.com

  2. Chester Post Office looks to cut hours, by Michael G. Maness, TylerCountyBooster.com
    Lufkin Post Master Robert Austin and Chester Post Master Sarah Bourne met with Chester residents Monday to discuss likelihood of a four-hour day (photo caption)
    CHESTER, Tex., USA - Chester Post Office will likely reduce hours from the current seven hours to four hours, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., Monday through Friday soon.
    The U.S. Postal Service hosted a community information meeting Monday night, March 3, at Chester school cafeteria. The USPS's POST Plan had reviewed the Chester Post Office and presented the results of a survey sent out to Chester residents over a month ago.
    Lufkin Post Master Bob Austin was there to lead the meeting with Chester Post Master Sarah Bourne. The survey was sent to 397 residents, and 96 responded. Among the responses, the top three results on recommended hours included 28 residents preferring 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., 20 preferring 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and nine preferring 10 a.m. to 2 pm.
    Chester Post Office is currently open from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Austin said that when one looks at the number of transactions and the amount of revenue earned, "you are looking at a four-hour operating window." Among the operational demands, the mail has to be distributed to the carrier by 10 a.m. and Post Office mail has to be up by 10:30 a.m.
    There are a lot of reasons to consider the change. As many know, the USPS is self-sustaining and reduction is a nationwide necessity to keep the service running. If the Chester office was closed, the current closest alternatives are Camden at 9.7 miles, Corrigan at 14.8 miles, and Colmesneil at 15 miles away - none of which are very convenient alternatives.
    Austin mentioned that there was the possibility of a Village Post Office, where a local business might decide to sell stamps and such, with the USPS providing the stamps at a reduced rate to allow the business to recover some costs.
    Austin said the likelihood of Chester going to the four-hour window of 8 a.m. until 12 noon soon is "very good," the final decision coming from headquarters in Washington D.C.
    One resident asked if this was a step in the direction of closure of the Chester Post Office. Austin emphasized that this was not the first step to a potential closure. Rather, this was the POST Plan procedure with no foreseeable closure in the works.
    Bourne has plans to stay on as post master after the changes that likely could come about in a week or two.

  3. Opening hours cut at council tip [town dump], MidDevonGazette.co.uk
    TIVERTON, Devon, U.K. - Opening times at the Ashley tip near Tiverton are set to be cut by ten hours a week as part of council cost-cutting measures.
    The Devon County Council-run recycling centre is currently open from 8am on weekdays but from April 1 will open at 9am. People who use the facility after work will also be affected, as the changes will see the centre close an hour earlier at 5pm, rather than 6pm as at present.

    In a notice to users of the service, the county council say the changes to opening hours are “due to budget reductions.”
    From April 1, the centre will be open from 9am-5pm on Monday to Friday during the summer months (April-September), and the winter hours (October-March) will be 9am-4.30pm, as opposed to the current 8am-4.30pm arrangements.
    Saturday and Sunday opening are unaffected, and will remain 10am-6pm in summer, and 10am-4.30pm in winter.
    The changes are affecting all Devon recycling centres including Punchbowl in Crediton and some are facing even more drastic cuts.
    Maclins Quarry at South Molton will only be open three days a week (Thursday, Saturday and Sunday). The facility will be closed Monday to Wednesday and also on Friday.
    For more information about the changes please call 0845 1551010 or visit devon.gov.uk

3/05/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. House amends, passes "shared work" legislation, by Michael Sluss, (3/04 late pickup) The Roanoke Times via roanoke.com
    RICHMOND, Va., USA - The House of Delegates today [3/04] passed legislation that would allow Virginia businesses to temporarily cut workers’ hours as an alternative to layoffs and permit workers to receive unemployment compensation to partially replace lost wages.
    The House passed the measure (SB 110) by a vote of 87-13 after the bill was amended to improve oversight, clarify eligibility and shorten the duration of voluntary “shared work” programs.
    The bill’s co-sponsor, Sen. Bill Stanley, R-Franklin County, said he expects the Senate to accept the House’s changes so that the bill will go to Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s desk.  Stanley and Sen. George Barker, D-Fairfax County, have worked together on the issue for three legislative sessions.
    Stanley said the timing of the bill’s passage was critical, because this is the last year the federal government will cover the startup costs for shared work programs, which have been implemented in 26 states and the District of Columbia.
    “George and I are just thrilled,” Stanley said. “We’ve worked on this for three years, so today was a very good day for both of us. It just shows that we can do things together, what we share in commonality rather than sitting on either side of the aisle pointing fingers, assigning blame.”
    The bill gives businesses the option to reduce workers’ hours by as much as 60 percent rather than lay them off during economic downturns. Supporters, including the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, have said the programs would benefit employers by allowing them to retain skilled workers when business is slow. Workers keep their jobs and benefits and collect a prorated share of the unemployment benefits they would have received if they had been laid off.
    Del. Kathy Byron, R-Bedford County, who voted against the bill in the House Commerce and Labor, played a key role in amending the measure before it passed the full House today. The revised bill would limit the duration of shared work programs to six months, rather than the 12-month period called for in the original bill.
    Byron had raised concerns that non-participating businesses could end up bearing some of the cost associated with voluntary shared work programs. The Virginia Employment Commission projects that the short-term program would increase the unemployment tax per employee by an average of 19 cents a year for businesses that choose to participate and less than 2 cents for those that do not.
    Byron said the federal government recently issued guidance that enables Virginia “to put more structured, narrow definitions in there that will help ensure that other businesses do not bear the cost.” Among other things, the provisions would prevent participation by employers that have a financial incentive to participate in a shared work program for reasons other than layoffs, she said.
    “I think everything that she put in the amendments were acceptable to us because they fit within the overall scheme of what we’re trying to accomplish,” Stanley said. “She worked really hard with me on trying to make this bill right, which I appreciate greatly from her.”
    If enacted, the law would take effect Jan. 1, 2015 and expire in five years unless the General Assembly agrees to extend the program.
    “I think it’s a program that’s going to help my area a great deal,” Stanley said.

  2. A Utopian Debate, March 14, 2014:  Basic Income versus a 30 hour working week = [original in German] Ein utopisches Streitgespräch: Grundeinkommen versus 30 Stunden-Woche, by Michael Millar, Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN) via Basic Income News via binews.com
    [BIEN sounds like another group under the illusion that Mother Earth provides a basic income for her hundreds of thousands of species, which would mean there'd be no such thing as starvation-based extinctions.]
    HAMBURG, Germany - Analysis and comparison of [2 ideas: (1)] Basic Income, alongside [(2)] a reduced full-time working week, with Prof. Beate Zimpelmann (Bremen University) and Prof. Sascha Liebermann (Alanus College of Arts and Social Sciences [just west of Bonn] ).
    Language: German
    For more information, [the following -]
    Program: A utopian controversy - Basic income versus 30-hour workweek: A debate, The Work in Progress Initiative of the Hamburg Creative Company.. via work-in-progress-hamburg.de (seed translation thanks to Google Translate via translate.google.com)
    HAMBURG, Germany - With [1] unconditional basic income and [2] proposals to reduce worktime, two ideas are discussed that react to changes in the workworld and the eclipse and meaning-loss of the classic Permanent Job.  Work is therein more than just employment [huh?]. Both ideas moved the spirit of social transformation. Both are dismissed by critics as utopian. We want to subject these supposedly "good ideas" to the numbers.
    [Strange that this deep into the Age of Ecology, we're still talking about fostering dependency = unsustainable, instead of talking about spreading and sharing the source of independent self-support = market-demanded human employment = sustainable. And Germany is the major economy with the most and most successful worksharing = Kurzarbeit. Truly the Europeans don't know what they're doin' right!]
    What kind of working hypothesis lies at the root of each approach and wherein do they differ? What deficiencies in the existing system do the proposals address? Who gains, who loses? How can they change our corporate employment?
    These and other questions will be discussed with Prof. Beate Zimpelmann (Bremen College) and Prof. Sascha Liebermann (Alamis [=>Alanus!] College of Arts and Social Sciences). Moderator: Jochen Bader.
    The event: »Ein utopisches Streitgespräch: Grundeinkommen versus 30 Stunden-Woche«
    Date: 14 March 2014
    Time: 13:30 pm
    Room: K2
    Address: ??? [dumb place for usually efficient Deutschers to cut off the info! but probably -]
    Hongkongstr. 5 / 3. Boden
    20457 Hamburg
    [Original German -]
    Ein utopisches Streitgespräch: Grundeinkommen versus 30 Stunden-Woche
    Mit dem bedingungslosen Grundeinkommen und Vorschlägen zur Arbeitszeitverkürzung werden zwei Konzepte diskutiert, die auf die Veränderungen der Arbeitswelt und den Rückgang und Bedeutungsverlust der klassischen Festanstellung reagieren. Arbeit ist darin mehr als reine Erwerbsarbeit. Beide umweht der Geist einer gesellschaftlichen Transformation. Beide werden von Kritikern als Utopien abgetan. Wir wollen diesen angeblich “guten Ideen” auf den Zahl fühlen.
    Was für ein Arbeitsbegriff liegt beiden Argumentationen zugrunde und worin unterscheiden sie sich? Welche Defizite des bestehenden Systems adressieren die Vorschläge? Wer profitiert, wer verliert? Wie können sie unsere Arbeitsgesellschaft verändern?
    Diese und weitere Fragen werden wir mit Prof. Beate Zimpelmann (Hochschule Bremen) und Prof. Sascha Liebermann (Alamis [that's Alanus, ALANUS! Don't they read their own literature?!] Hochschule für Kunst und Gesellschaft) diskutieren.
    Moderation: Jochen Bader
    Die Veranstaltung
    »Ein utopisches Streitgespräch: Grundeinkommen versus 30 Stunden-Woche«
    Datum: 14.März 2014
    Uhrzeit: 15:30 Uhr
    Raum: K2

3/04/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Work-sharing solutions - House Bill 4409 creates a work-share program known as the Valued Employee Retention program in West Virginia, by Caitlin Cook, WVgazette.com
    CHARLESTON, W.Va., USA - With an Aug. 22, 2015 deadline approaching for a share of $100 million in federal grants, the West Virginia Legislature is one step closer to implementing a work-share program in the Mountain State.
    House Bill 4409 creates a work-share program known as the Valued Employee Retention program in West Virginia.
    The program's goal is to curb layoffs by reducing employees' work hours while supplementing lost hours of work with unemployment benefits. The house passed the bill Feb. 24.
    Across the country, 26 states plus Washington, D.C., have enacted work-share programs. Work-share programs are facilitated through the same state agency that administers unemployment benefits.
    A company pays into a state's unemployment insurance trust fund based on the size of its workforce and history of layoffs.
    "A lot of people think it's a new benefit that they are paying, but if you look at it, you'd be paying those benefits anyway," said Sean O'Leary, a fiscal policy analyst with the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy. "You're just changing how and who you are paying those benefits to when allowing employers to decide how to use them instead of them just laying off employees and employees collecting unemployment benefits."
    If implemented, businesses would have the option to participate in a work-share program during an economic downturn or market shift.
    For a manufacturing company that has 100 employees earning $20 an hour that needs to reduce its operational costs by 20 percent, work-sharing provides a company with more options, supporters say.
    The company could lay off one-fifth of its employees to reduce costs. Those 20 employees would then collect $400 each in unemployment benefits weekly, totaling $8,000.
    Or the company could opt for a work-share program. The workers' workweek would be reduced from five to four days. All 100 employees would remain on the job while achieving the same 20 percent cost reduction. The employees would receive $80 each weekly in work-sharing benefits, also totaling $8,000.
    Kenny Perdue, president of the state's AFL-CIO, supports implementing work-share programs in West Virginia.
    "I think it's good for the fund. Good for the employees and to be able to keep your [health and retirement] benefits is great," Perdue said.
    Perdue added companies might also retain their highly skilled workforce during a business rut.
    Work-share programs work best with higher-wage earners that do not qualify for partial unemployment benefits without significant reduction in hours and wages.
    Workers that have their hours reduced by 10 to 60 percent are eligible for work-share benefits.
    "We have partial unemployment but it doesn't work for people who have higher wages," said Ted Boettner, executive director of the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy. "You have to have huge reductions in your earnings to qualify for partial unemployment if you make $20 an hour. Where with work-sharing, you can reduce your hours by one day a week or half a day a week and still qualify, because it's based on hours reductions, not your earnings, which is the big difference."
    The 2012 Middle Class Tax Relief and Jobs Creation Act provides temporary incentives for states to adopt work-sharing. West Virginia would have $488,063 worth of federal grants available to implement and promote its work-share program.
    Both Boettner and O'Leary believe the nature of West Virginia's economy lends itself well to work-sharing.
    "We're optimistic it would work well in the mining sector where they can slow down production and wait till the price of coal or gas comes back up," O'Leary said. "Whether it's aluminum, gas, oil, coal or wood - all these different types of companies could benefit."
    According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, 153,000 workers were in work-share programs during the height of the recession. In 2009, work-sharing saved 165,000 jobs.
    Supporters of work-sharing also say workers in work-share programs take home more money than if receiving unemployment benefits.
    An employee earning $20 an hour makes $800 per week when fully employed. If they were laid off, they could collect a maximum of $400 per week in unemployment benefits. If their employer opted for work-sharing and reduced their work week from five to four days, the employee could collect one-fifth in unemployment benefits - a weekly income of $720.
    But not everyone is in favor of bringing work-share programs to the Mountain State.
    "We want to make sure we don't do things in West Virginia that drain the unemployment trust fund," said Steve Roberts, president of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce. "In West Virginia we tend to act in haste and repent in leisure."
    The program may look better on paper than it actually is, Roberts said.
    The chamber has not heard of any companies wanting work-share programs, he added.
    "It's hard to get worked up over a program that's voluntary," Roberts said. "Our real concern is the cost. It's expanding government. It will come at a cost."
    The cost of the program is debatable.
    "Some studies have determined work-share is revenue neutral, meaning that because you are only doing a short time reduced work hours instead of a full layoff, the cost is less than doing layoffs," said Beth Carenbauer with WorkForce West Virginia. "Work-share provides an income subsidy to keep those workers attached to the employer, which allows employers in the state to highly skilled workers."
    WorkForce estimates the program would cost $1.6 million annually with administrative and promotion costs. A mere 0.7 percent of total regular benefits paid would go toward work-share programs, WorkForce estimates. West Virginia's total regular benefits paid for federal fiscal year 2013 amounted to $228.9 million.
    Carenbauer emphasized WorkForce's estimates are just that - estimates.
    WorkForce would need to hire a maximum of two employees to facilitate the program, Carenbauer said.
    Carenbauer said, "As with any new program, promotion and education about the program and really getting a chance to explain what the program entails - what benefits and challenges ahead are -" will be key to moving forward.
    Reach Caitlin Cook at caitlin.c...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5113.

  2. Resident work-hour limits, patient safety examined, by Andis Robeznieks, Vital Signs via ModernHealthcare.com
    CHICAGO, Illin., USA - Whether work limits imposed on surgical residents in the name of patient safety have actually led to patient harm and limited education opportunities is the topic of a study this July.
    Dr. Karl Bilimoria, director of surgical outcomes and the quality improvement center at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, will lead research that will examine how flexibility in general-surgery resident work hours affects clinical outcomes such as death and serious morbidity rates, lengths of stay and readmissions. Also, residents' perception “of their ability to care for patients and their own well-being” will be assessed.
    Bilimoria said 129 hospitals have signed up for the study and half will be randomly assigned to follow the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education's 2011 duty-hour regulations. The others will be allowed some flexibility in following the regulations, though they must adhere to the ACGME 80-hour workweek limit (averaged more than four weeks).
    These hospitals must also allow residents a minimum of one free day every week (averaged over four weeks). But the group will not be subject to other aspects of the 2011 regulations, such as 16-hour workday limits for first-year residents or a requirement that residents get 14 hours off after a 24-hour shift or eight to 10 hours off after shorter shifts.

    Northwestern University is the sponsor of the one-year parallel-assignment trial with the ACGME, American Board of Surgery and American College of Surgeons providing the funding. Hospitals need to be participating in the ACS National Surgical Quality Improvement Program to be eligible for the study, which has been dubbed the FIRST Trial, or Flexibility In duty hour Requirements for Surgical Training.
    The ACGME's 2011 resident work-hour regulations generally followed recommendations the Institute of Medicine released in 2008, but they have come under fire for eroding professionalism and developing a “shift-work” mentality in new doctors.
    A review of resident work-hour studies, co-authored by ACGME CEO Dr. Thomas Nasca, identified eight papers that found that the work-hour limits had no significant effect on surgical residents, two that found the regulations led to small improvements and two that found quality had decreased and led to admission increases for surgical intensive-care units.
    “The effect of the limits on safety and quality of care is positive in studies of medical specialties, but negative in surgical specialties,” Nasca and his co-authors wrote. Institutions that have kept up surgical volumes for residents may have done so at the expense of continuity of care outside the operating room, they noted.
    “Operative volume alone may be a suboptimal measure for surgical competence, particularly decisionmaking around interventions and managing complications,” they wrote.
    Bilimoria said the study's results could be used to shape policy. “There is clearly a need to fill the data void,” he said. “I'm not really concerned which way the results go. Either way, it will give us useful information.”
    The trial will last a year.
    Bilimoria scoffed at the notion that physicians in training should be subject to work-hour limits similar to pilots and truck drivers.
    “You could have a number of pilots who can step in and fly that plane,” he said. Medicine “is far more complex,” Bilimoria said, adding that the doctor who has been up all night with a patient is probably the best individual to ensure that patient's condition has stabilized.
    Bilimoria also dismissed the idea that simulation training can replace time spent in the OR. “I don't think anything substitutes for real-life experience, particularly in surgery,” he said.

3/02-03/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Part-time Nation: Was the April jobs report really the Obamacare jobs report? by James Pethokoukis, 3/02 (5/03/13 very late pickup) American Enterprise Institute Ideas via AEI-Ideas.org
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - US job growth in April beat economist expectations as nonfarm payrolls rose 165,000, and the jobless rate fell to a four-year low of 7.5%. But the report contained worrisome signs that President Obama’s health care reform law is hurting full-time, high-wage employment.
    [Sloppy thinking! because hourly wage initially stays the same when hours are cut; only personal income is initially cut or "hurt." The healthcare law is changing 40-hour high?-income employment for eg: 75 people (3,000 hours total) into 30-hour 3/4-income employment for 3000/30= 100 people. And with the additional confident consumer spending of those 33% extra people with jobs, the multiplier effect will start driving up consumer spending and monetary circulation to the point where the income of the previously 40hr/wk-employed people will start to return to where it was before the change, and the reduced unemployment rate will start driving up wages toward 40 hours' pay for 30 hours' work.]
    Unemployment Rate with and without [higher] the Recovery Plan [and Actual U3 Unemployment Rate (highest) ] (*graph - scan down)
    While the American economy added 293,000 jobs last month, according to the separate household survey, the number of persons employed part time for economic reasons — “involuntary part-time workers” as the Labor Department calls them – increased by almost as much, by 278,000 to 7.9 million.
    [Meaning that almost all of the added jobs can be credited to shorter hours?!]
    These folks were working part time because a) their hours had been cut back or b) they were unable to find a full-time job. At the same time, the U-6 unemployment rate — a broader measure of joblessness that includes discouraged workers and part-timers who want a full-time gig – rose from 13.8% to 13.9%.
    [Is Pethoukakis ever going to think "outside the box" enough to say that maybe "full time" should be adjusting downward as we wade into the age of robotics, considering it was cut in half between 1840 and 1940, from over 80 to 40 hrs/wk? At least he's talking about the other, the "secret," unemployment rates, secret because they're more depressing and uncomplimentary to current economic policies, and the published rate which is geared to always make our unemployment look low.]
    What’s more, there wasa 0.2 hour decline in the length of the average workweek. This led to 0.4 percentage point drop in the index of average weekly hours, “equaling the largest declines since the recovery began,” notes economist Dean Baker of Center for Economic and Policy Research.
    Let’s see, more part timers and fewer hours worked. Economist Douglas Holtz-Eakin says what we’re all thinking: “This is not good news as it reflects the reliance on part-time work. … the decline in hours and rise of part-time work is troubling in light of anecdotal reports of the impact of the Affordable Care Act.”
    Anecdotal reports like this one from the Los Angeles Times: “Consider the city of Long Beach. It is limiting most of its 1,600 part-time employees to fewer than 27 hours a week, on average. City officials say that without cutting payroll hours, new health benefits would cost up to $2 million more next year, and that extra expense would trigger layoffs and cutbacks in city services.”
    Now, there is the possibility that government furloughs are affecting the length of the workweek. (Though at the same time, steady if unspectacular private-sector job growth shows the Fed may be continuing to effectively offset any negative sequestration impact.) Here is JPMorgan on the subject:
    "Government shed a trend-like 11,000 jobs last month, a number which bore little evidence of a meaningful sequestration impact. Similarly, it is hard to directly link the decline in the average workweek to furloughed government workers, as the workweek only measures private industry hours. It’s conceivable the decline in the workweek may be related to the Affordable Care Act, but a simpler explanation is that it had jumped two ticks in the prior two months, and through the month-to-month noise is just settling into a stable trend."
    We’ll see. But the combo of data and anecdotes should at least raise red flags about how health care reform could be permanently altering the structure of the American labor market.
    A few other points:
    1. The labor force participation rate was dead in the water. If it were back to January 2009 levels, the U-3 unemployment rate would be 10.9%. Demographics are playing a role here. But even taking that into account may put the real unemployment rate in the 9% to 10% range.
    2. Only 53.9% of private industries added jobs last month, the second lowest of the labor market recovery, according to JPM.
    3. Even with the unemployment rate at a misleadingly low 7.5%, it is way above where the Obama White House predicted it would be if Congress passed the 2009 stimulus, as the above chart shows. Back then, Team Obama thought 5% was the economy’s full-employment rate but recently has upped that number to 5.4%.
    4. If the economy continues to add jobs at the 2013 pace of 196,000 a month, the labor market would return to pre-recession employment levels in seven years and ten months, according to the Hamilton Project’s “jobs gap” calculator.
    [The jobs gap is apparently the difference between pre-recession and post-recession monthly job addings, which is misleading if you believe, as we do, that we were already in a recession in terms of a diagonally downward spiral before 2008, and that 2008 just gave it a steeper downward angle, and since then it has unsteepened a bit but not enough to get it back to the pre-2008 angle. Why not? and why was the pre-2008 situation already deteriorating? Because the key prime top-priority foremost core bottom-line factor in any economy are the velocity and volume of monetary circulation based on don Juan Mateus's observation that "agreement is power" and Jesus' alleged statement (Matt.16:19), "Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven..." The chief connection to be agreed-upon here is that these little round pieces of metal and colored pieces of paper are actually worth specific amounts of MY LIFE, and can be traded for specific amounts of other people's lives, specifically when they are performing desirable services, some of which involve making desirable products, now usually with the aid of body extensions (tools, machines, automata) and evermore often focused on the brain within the top part of the body (artificial intelligence, robotics). The synergistic part of this is the circulation of symbols, now still somewhat anchored in solids (eg: gold bars in eg: Ft.Knox) and overwhelmingly extended to marks on paper (accounts) and electromagnetism (computations). But the agreement is pervasive. And the agreement is based on supply and demand on both sides. When there are more life chunks on offer than demanded, we get deflation as in "You are now asking more than my estimate of my own life chunk's worth allows for, alas!" (so prices and wages sink to continue the agreement-based exchange), and when there's less life chunkage on offer than demanded, we get inflation as in "My life chunk is worth MORE than you have been paying, dammit!" (so wages and prices rise in order to continue the agreement-based exchange). What controls this whole seesaw is the primarily the labor supply: are the overall labor hours on offer in the job market in surplus or shortage? or are they in balance with the labor hours demanded? (which tends to be perceived by employers as a shortage) In other words, are labor and employment, jobseekers and job openings, in balance or are there too many jobseekers and too few job openings, or too few jobseekers and too many job openings? This essentially determines the most basic power gradient in the economy: the level or slope of the "playing field" of the job market, since the economic base is the consumer base and the consumer base is based on the employment basement. If employers are serious about wanting real recovery and growth, they must have stronger consumer demand since everything controllable (exports are NOT controllable since there are too many other economies notreacting=inourfavor or reacting "unfairly"=intheirfavor to our attempts at control) is based on our consumer base. But unfunded consumers don't count and though consumer borrowing and government handouts can stave off the reckoning, sooner or later consumers have to be funded by job earnings. So maximum sustainable consumer funding and spending would involve maximum alias "full" employment. But there's another important twist here. "Consumers" cluster in large numbers in the bottom part of the income/wealth ladder, and are different from the "investors" who cluster in small numbers in the top part of the income/wealth ladder. The reason is that people at the bottom spend 100% or close to it of their income/wealth while people at the top spend, oh I dunno, how much can Bill Gates or Slim Helu or whoever's on top this nanosecond spend of his, say, $50,000,000,000 (fifty billion) - if s/he spent $50,000,000 a year, that would be 0.1% of their wealth and maybe 10-20% of their income? That leaves a LOAD of megamongobucks tied up in the financial sector, where the monetary circulation, compared to the consumer sector and even the finance-excluding business sector is lethargic = huge amounts moving relatively slowly and mostly staying within the relatively small population engaged in the financial sector. Let's jump to a conclusion here that I think most of you can follow cuz you see where this is going. The wealth create, cause, are responsible for, recession. Thanks to them, we are still redistributing unlimitedly large percentages of the money supply (M1) to an unlimitedly small percentage of the population, who spend-circulate a smaller percentage of it than any other bracket, and, the less-large the percentage of high-velocity monetary circulation in an economy, the deeper the downturn aka recession or as we now say, the longer the "slow recovery." And we don't find out about this because...guess who owns the media.]
    Closing the Jobs Gap (*graph - scan way down)

  2. A solution for working-hours issues in Africa, by Joanne Bushell, 3/3 BIZcommunity.com
    JOHANNESBURG, RSA - Each year the OECD produces a table of average working hours around the world. The table shows vast differences in the hours people work. It also creates huge scope for envy: Mexicans and South Koreans with 2250 and 2090 hours a year respectively must envy full-time workers in the Netherlands and Germany doing an average 1400 hours a year.[1]
    No African country appears in the tables, but research from Regus points to a long-hours culture among senior business people in Africa. Globally around half (48%) of respondents worked at least nine hours a day, but this figure was far higher in several African countries including Algeria (71% of respondents), Ivory Coast (63%), Kenya (66%), Morocco (65%) and Uganda (83%).
    Working longer
    Wherever we live, we're probably working longer hours than we used to. In Regus' 2012 Work-Life Balance Index, 59% of workers globally said they spend more time at work than in 2010. Africa's senior business people are following the trend - in Algeria, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and other countries in the Maghreb and West Africa, more than six out of ten people worked longer hours than previously.
    So, why the longer-than-ever working hours in Africa? Germany and the Netherlands are known as highly productive economies, so maybe Africa's business leaders should take a leaf out of their management books.
    One issue is the old mindset that you can't leave before the boss. Only once he or she is through the door can everyone else exit the building. Wish, then, that you worked for Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, previously of Google, who was the subject of gigabytes of media words in the US last year when she said she leaves work at 5.30pm, to spend time with her family. It certainly hasn't done her career any harm.
    Across the Atlantic, in Gabon, the government has also tried to promote family-friendly hours and greater productivity. In 2010, introduced a working day of 7.30am to 3.30pm, with 30 minutes for lunch, instead of the previous pattern of 8am to 6pm, with a three-hour lunch break.[2]
    Is shorter better?
    But much as I disagree with the culture of presenteeism, it's important to take a nuanced look at the issue of working hours. It's notable in the Regus Work-Life Balance Index 2012 that, though people say they're working longer hours, they also enjoy their jobs more than in 2010. Globally, around 70% of people say this, with Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya and other Maghreb and West Africa all showing even higher percentages.
    Not surprisingly, businesses and academics struggle to find a 'right' answer on hours worked, job satisfaction, and productivity. In the early 1900s Ford's business boomed when Henry Ford made workers' shifts shorter and raised their pay; but Silicon Valley has a long hours culture (allegedly, staff at Apple in the early days wore T-shirts saying "working 90 hours a week and loving it") and they've done pretty well too.[3] So who knows?
    Flexibility is a game-changer
    What we do know is that flexibility is important. A series of Regus global studies have shown that if you give office workers flexibility over when and where they work, they work more productively and feel more motivated.
    Consider two different offices: in one, you have people who work ten hours a day with no freedom to choose their start and finish times, and also face a stressful 60-minute commute. In the other, you have people who work ten hours a day, but at times that suit their family circumstances, and at a convenient location five minutes from home. Who's going to feel better about their job? I don't think you need a university professor to tell you!
    Lead from the top
    It's a slow process introducing flexible working practices when there's a deep-seated belief that visibility promotes productivity. Managers in Africa need to reward by results, rather than hours worked, and incentivisation systems must adapt accordingly. Change needs to come from the top down, with managers acting as role models.
    Two final points might persuade managers to do this. First, let's all remind ourselves that just because someone's at the desk in front of us, it doesn't mean they're actually doing anything useful. They could be social networking or just chatting until the boss leaves.
    Secondly, in a Regus survey in 2012, 72% of companies globally reported that increased productivity is a direct result of flexible working practices. We need to think about the quality of people's working hours, not just the quantity.
    [1] "Average annual hours actually worked per worker", stats.oecd.org.
    [2] "Gabon scraps long lunch-breaks for workers", BBC News, 4 January 2010.
    [3] "Bring back the 40-hour work week", Salon.com, 14 March 2012.
    About Joanne Bushell - Joanne Bushell is currently the vice president for Regus Africa. She joined Regus in October 1998 as a national corporate account manager South Africa and has worked her way up through the ranks.

3/01/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Long work hours, low salaries keep Saudis away from private sector jobs, by Mohannad Sharawi, ArabNews.com
    JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia - Why do Saudis shun jobs in the private sector? Long working hours compared to government jobs, the generally low or modest salaries, one day weekly off, lack of transportation and the different workplace environment compared to the government sector.
    [So much for the microeconomic view that you gotta work more hours to get more money. A paradox arises when everybody's trying that in the age of automation and a resulting surplus of hours on offer shifts wages systemically lower - and macroeconomics wins its baleful and self-fueling victory.]
    These five factors stand in the way of Saudis thinking of taking up employment in the private sector were revealed in a recent research and survey conducted by the Central Department of Statistics and Information (CDSI). The study also showed a drop in the level of unemployment among Saudis at 11.5 percent in 2013 compared to 12 percent in 2012.
    The labor force survey released by the CDSI in June 2013 revealed that the total labor force in the age group 15 years and above represented 54 percent of the entire population. The survey also showed that nearly two-thirds of Saudi labor force was in the age group of 20-39 with males accounting for 65.5 percent.
    On the working hours, the survey said the average weekly working hours totaled 49.1 hours with the figure differing according to the vocation or economic activity. On the other hand, the highest weekly average of 59.9 hours was recorded in industrial, chemical and food production jobs compared to the lowest weekly rate of 39.4 hours in technical, scientific and humanitarian occupations.
    Males averaged a weekly rate of 49.2 hours compared to the highest of 60.7 hours. Teaching jobs marked the lowest rate of 35.6 weekly working hours.
    Saeed Al-Amri, a fresh computer teacher, said he applied for around 13 different jobs in the private sector after his graduation from the King Abdul Aziz University. “Most of the job offers were below my expectations and didn’t match my BA degree either in terms of working hours or salary. I had to spend around nine hours a day in one company for a lump-sum monthly salary of around SR5,000 including all fringe benefits,” said Al-Amri.
    “I started at a salary of SR8,000 on my first day of teaching at the Ministry of Education for only six hours work a week,” he added.
    Salwa Mehairi, a clerk at a governmental hospital, said she used to work for a private polyclinic for a modest monthly payment of SR3,000 with no means of transportation. “I had to spend 45 minutes daily commuting from home to the hospital costing SR1,500 paid from my pocket. Moreover, I had to work more than 9 hours on rush and busy days, especially at weekends. I got just a day as weekly off and I had to work half day on Thursdays before the new holiday regulations of Friday and Saturday came into effect,” she said.
    The survey results showed that Saudi males employed in public administration, defense and social security accounted for the most at 43.5 percent followed by teaching jobs at 15.1 percent.
    As for Saudi females, nearly three-quarters (71.7 percent) of them work in the education sector followed by those who work in health sector and social activities at 11.7 percent.
    The survey report pointed out that Saudis in the age group of 20-24 accounted for the highest rate of unemployment at 38.1 percent with males representing 47.2 percent and women 42 percent.
    The survey also revealed those holding BA degree accounted for the highest rate of unemployment at 48.2 percent followed by high school graduates at 32.9 percent.
    Saudi women holding BA degrees accounted for 71.2 percent of women unemployed followed by 18.7 percent among high school graduates.
    The survey showed that there was lack of unemployment among PhD holders, both male and female. Non-Saudi work force accounted for 76.9 percent of the total work population. The age group above 15 accounted for 99.8 percent of the total expats work force.

  2. Lodi Unified School District board to discuss new union contracts, by Christina Cornejo, Lodi News-Sentinel via lodinews.com
    LODI, Calif., USA - Money may begin rolling in for new projects and pay increases after the Lodi Unified School District board meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the James Areida Education Support Center.
    Board members will discuss a permanent agreement with the teacher’s union to restore five furlough days and restore salaries by 2 percent for the 2012-13 year.
    [So some timesizing (eg: furloughs), having avoided downsizing (eg: layoffs), actually does turn out to be temporary.]
    Projects up for discussion at the meeting include a contract to begin renovations on Tokay High School’s Snack Bar. The board will also hear announcements that kitchen renovations at Lakewood Elementary and Morada Middle School have finished.
    The board will also consider changes to the adopted budget, hear an announcement of the Lodi-Tokay Rotary Club speech contest winner, discuss an application for the California Career Pathways Grant, and receive a Measure L Oversight Committee annual report.

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