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


8/31-9/01/2014 – 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. Embracing the three-day workweek - It is radical and refreshing to think of full-time work that still gives workers more than half the week off, 8/31 Boston Globe, K5.
    BOSTON, Mass., USA - The world’s richest man says we need to shorten the workweek. Easy for him to say, but who really wants to disagree?
    [Lotsa people, especially lotsa CEOs who can't quit linking human workhours with productivity, despite the spread of Lights-Out Manufacturing = whole factory systems, right here in New England, where they don't even have to turn the lights on because there are no people there, just robots and automata. It seems particularly difficult for hominids to grok, but they're having a specially hard time with the New Malthusianism: the fact that with mechanization, automation and now robotics, productive capacity is leaping exponentially, while consumption capacity is either sinking by kneejerk downsizing, staying the same with worksharing, or at best, increasing mathematically by magic. The only tried and proved form of that magic is labor shortage to raise wages and spending and engage the multiplier effect, and after repeated trials of plague and war, the only intelligent way to get that labor shortage is Timesizing: no-argument conversion of chronic overtime into training and hiring followed-up with as much gradual workweek reduction as required to generate as much convertible overtime as it takes to raise wages by market forces, decoagulate the money supply, and begin enjoying strengthening consumer markets and the business markets based thereon, and restore, once again, financial markets with fundamentals and not just anxiety to put it somewhere.]
    Mexican multibillionaire Carlos Slim has been advocating for a three 11-hour days while also predicting that many of us will work into our 70s. Or, in other words, Slim, a workaholic worth almost $80 billion, believes work needs to be made more sustainable for the long haul. The extra leisure time would lead to happier and more productive workers, he has said.
    Beware when billionaires start promulgating big labor ideas — and condemning the rest of us to work into old age. But the concept of fewer workdays is not only intuitively pleasing, it’s already gaining approval across corporate America as employers focus less on where and when one’s work is done and more on the end product. In a recent survey of 1,051 organizations with 50 or more employees, the Society of Human Resource Management found that 43 percent of employers allowed at least some people to compress their workweek. That’s up from 38 percent in 2008.
    And there’s some strategic sense to shortening the workweek.
    For one, the compressed week is a good fit for congested regions — like, for instance, Boston — because of the cost of commuting, according to Thomas Kochan, professor of management and co-director of the Institute for Work and Employment Research at MIT.
    Kochan likewise thinks workers stand to benefit from having more control over their schedules. “It has some advantages for people in situations where there’s child care involved, or elder care, where there’s need for flexibility,” he said. “If I have a sense of control over how I do my job, where and when I do it, that makes people really productive and highly motivated.”
    For most American enterprises, the compressed week is just one tool for providing employees more flexibility. “There’s part time work, there’s flex scheduling, there are telework options,” said Lisa Horn, the Society of Human Resources Management’s director of congressional affairs. “Each organization has to do that analysis and look at their workforce and business model and determine what works best for the business and their workforce.”
    Nonetheless, in a world where work seems to find a way to invade every day of the week, it is radical and refreshing to think of full-time work that still gives workers more than half the week off. The United States remains the land of the workaholic. Outside of South Korea, Kochan notes, we have the longest work year in the world — although the historic trend has been toward shorter and shorter American workweeks.
    So perhaps Carlos Slim, who’s a friend and admirer of the futurist author Alvin Toffler, is just looking ahead. Maybe in 50 years, the three-day workweek will be the norm. And there will be overtime for working Mondays.
    Marcela García is a regular contributor to the Globe’s opinion pages. Follow her on Twitter @marcela_elisa.

  2. State's Shared Work program adjusts to benefit companies, workers, by Phil Hall, 9/01 Republican American via rep-am.com
    NAUGATUCK, Conn., USA - Judging by government statistics, it appears the state's employment picture is improving. In July, Connecticut recorded an unemployment rate of 6.6 percent, the lowest since December 2008, when it was 6.7 percent, and only slightly higher than the national rate of 6.2 percent.
    Still, many people remain concerned about the state of the economy in general, and job security in particular. In a stroke of convenient timing, a recent change to the state's Shared Work Program has expanded the eligibility criteria for employers that need to reduce their employees' hours without having to commit to long-term layoffs.
    Donna Andrew, human resource manager at Flabeg Corp., sits in her office in Naugatuck on Friday. Flabeg [Technical Glass Corp.] participates in the state's Shared Work program, which is administered by the state Department of Labor. The program provides partial unemployment benefits to employees when a company is experiencing a temporary economic downturn and wants to avoid layoffs.


8/30/2014 – 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. The origins of Labour Day, (8/29 late pickup) Campbell River Courier-Islander via courierislander.com
    CAMPBELL RIVER, Vancouver Is., B.C., Canada - Though millions of Canadians now see the first Monday in September as one last opportunity to enjoy some summer recreation with friends and family members, Labour Day is symbolic of much more than long weekends and backyard barbecues.
    Labour Day was inspired in large part by Canada's growing industrialization in the second half of the 19th century, when competition for work in the nation's rapidly growing cities was fierce and workers who complained of long workweeks or poor working conditions could easily be replaced.
    [Same as today, when our workweek hasn't been adjusted for rising levels of technology for over two generations, and no attempts have been made to convert chronic overtime into training and jobs, even on a 40-hour basis.]
    Such was the case in Toronto in 1872, when printers threatened to strike after years of lobbying for shorter workweeks. Those protests went ignored, and on March 25, 1872, the city's printers went on strike.
    Within weeks, other workers in the city began to support the printers, whose strike had interrupted Toronto's thriving publishing industry.
    Within three weeks of the printers going on strike, 2,000 workers marched through the streets of Toronto. The number of marchers gradually grew, and eventually 10 percent of the city's population, or 10,000 people, had joined in the march that culminated at Queen's Park.
    But the striking worker's efforts did not go unchallenged, as Toronto Globe founder George Brown replaced his printers with workers from nearby towns and even took legal action to put an end to the strike and have its organizers arrested for criminal conspiracy.
    But Prime Minister John A. MacDonald, who worked on the opposite side [Conservative] of the political aisle as Brown [Clear Grit => Liberal], spoke out against the publisher's efforts during a public demonstration at City Hall. MacDonald eventually passed the Trade Union Act, decriminalizing trade unions, and set the leaders of the strike free.
    [Those were the days when Conservatives and Republicans were the progressives, while Liberals and Democrats could be mighty backward. Today they're both backward, with Conservatives and Republicans generally winning the backward race.]
    Though many printers who walked out never regained their jobs, and those that did still did not earn shorter workweeks, their efforts did mark an important step forward with regard to worker's rights in Canada. The movement that had started in Toronto soon spread to other Canadian cities, where workers also demanded shorter workweeks.
    Other cities also adopted parades in honor of the march that first caught the attention of MacDonald in 1872, and in 1894 then-Prime Minister Sir John Thompson officially declared Labour Day a national holiday.

  2. French socialists urged to consider end of 35-hour week by former WTO chief - Pascal Lamy says more hours could help solve record unemployment if businesses and unions are on board, by Anne Penketh, (8/29 late pickup) Manchester Guardian via theguardian.com
    PARIS, France - An attempt by the French prime minister to shut down debate on the 35-hour week appeared to flounder on Friday as the divided Socialist party prepared for its annual conference, with Pascal Lamy, the former head of the World Trade Organisation, urging members to consider ending it.
    "Sometimes you have to ask yourself questions about taboos," Lamy told the French 24-hour news network BFMTV. He said that with the record level of joblessness (11%) being a priority for prime minister Manuel Valls's new government, if businesses and unions were in favour of change "in my opinion, you have to let them do it".
    [Absolutely. With 11% joblessness, the 35-hours must be ended in favor of 32-hours or 30-hours. Perpetuating any fixed level of the workweek while levels of worksaving technology are not fixed but constantly rising, is insane; to maintain employment and markets, the workweek MUST go down as technology levels go up. Myopic businessmen who keep associating productivity with hours and think there's an infinite amount of market-demanded human employment to be done in the robotics age when they themselves are constantly merging and downsizing...are insane. They downsize and then wonder "Where are our consumers?" "Where is our growth?"]
    Lamy spoke just before the opening of a potentially explosive three-day party seminar in La Rochelle, in which the leaders of the Socialist party's rival wings will be addressing delegates. The annual conference comes amid a continuing political crisis triggered by the outspoken former economy minister, Arnaud Montebourg, whose anti-austerity remarks last Sunday prompted Valls to submit the government's resignation.
    Debate on the 35-hour week, a sacred cow for the left since its introduction 14 years ago, began when Montebourg's successor, Emmanuel Macron, a former investment banker, said that it could be revisited in an interview on the eve of his appointment but published on Thursday.
    French media characterised it as the first gaffe of Valls's new administration. The prime minister, whose office swiftly said there was "no intention of going back on the working week", had on Tuesday obtained a pledge of allegiance from ministers not to diverge on economic policy.
    The 35-hour week is the latest issue to divide the party following the expulsion of Montebourg and two other leftwing rebels from the cabinet. Valls enraged the left by winning a standing ovation on Wednesday from the employers' association after telling delegates: "I love business."
    One leftwing Socialist deputy said that Valls was a "copy and paste version of Tony Blair", and Cécile Duflot, who left the government when Valls was appointed last March, said that "imitating Thatcher in 2014 is really sad".
    The deepening split provoked 200 Socialist deputies into signing an open letter in Le Monde on Thursday in which they expressed support for the government's pro-business reforms. However, if Valls is to survive a confidence vote in parliament, he needs 289 votes for an absolute majority.
    A TV documentary on Thursday, meanwhile, painted an unflattering portrait of Montebourg, who has his eyes on a future presidential bid. Friends said the former lawyer treated his time in office as though he were still prosecuting a case. He was also filmed being condescending to the female journalist who interviewed him, commenting to a TV crew member: "Does the little girl have any other questions like that?"
    And a forthcoming book by journalist Valentin Spitz reveals that the outburst by Montebourg last Sunday that led to his eviction from the government was part of a pattern of criticism. The book quotes him as saying: "Hollande lies all the time. That's why he's at 20%. He's lied all the time from the start."
    [So Montebourg is a mountebank?]
    Anne Penketh is a journalist based in Paris. She is the former diplomatic editor of The Independent and previously a staff correspondent with the AFP news agency based in Paris, Moscow and New York.
    [Another take -]
    Even French Socialists want a longer work week, says poll, by Natalie Huett, Reuters via csmonitor.com
    PARIS, France — Nearly two thirds of the French [60%] believe companies should be allowed exemptions to the country's 35-hour working week if they reach agreements with trade unions, two polls showed on Saturday.
    France's new pro-business Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron caused a stir this week - in an interview made before his appointment on Tuesday - for floating the idea as a measure that could help companies gain in confidence and competitiveness.
    The comments drew immediate fire from trade unions and the government was quick to stamp out speculation there could be a change in the law.
    Introduced by a previous Socialist-led government in 2000 in a bid to redistribute work and create jobs, the 35-hour week is fiercely protected by the French left [and anyone else with half a brain] - despite the fact that many French in reality work much longer hours than that.
    [Conclusion = so they do not now have, and never have had, a 35-hour workweek if "many French in reality work much longer"! So Step One: Enforce the 35-hour workweek in terms of energetically converting chronic 35-hrs-based overtime into training and hiring - which has apparently never been done, and if you don't do that, it doesn't matter how low you say the workweek is. Step Two: If Step One doesn't provide full employment and maximum domestic spending, cut the workweek further - as much as it takes to generate enough convertible overtime and jobs to achieve (and maintain) full employment in the age of robotics.]
    Under EU pressure to reform France's economy to make it more business-friendly and lift it out of stagnation, President Francois Hollande's government has introduced modest reforms to the labor market but has stayed clear of changing the 35-hour working week.

    An Ifop poll for newspaper Sud Ouest Dimanche showed 65 percent of the French favored allowing companies to change the rules on working time if they have reached an agreement with trade unions representing a majority of workers. Thirty-five percent of those polled opposed the idea.
    A separate Odoxa poll for daily Le Parisien and television news channel iTele showed 62 percent support for such tweaks to working time, of which 53 percent of Socialist voters and 77 percent of right-wing voters. However, 57 percent of more left-wing voters opposed such a move.
    The same Odoxa poll showed 57 percent of the French - and 71 percent of Socialist voters - believed Macron, a former investment banker and presidential adviser, had "the right profile to tackle France's economic difficulties".
    Macron, who helped draw up Hollande's pro-business agenda, replaced leftist Arnaud Montebourg as economy minister in a government reshuffle this week.
    Montebourg's removal followed his tirade against Germany's "obsession" with austerity, and angered many on the left wing of the Socialist Party who had been calling for an economic policy U-turn away from budgetary rigor.
    (Editing by Rosalind Russell) [Say, didn't we see her in Auntie Mame?]


8/29/2014 – 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. Businesses can avoid layoffs with Shared Work, by Chad Pearson, (8/28 late pickup) Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce via jeffcountychamber.org
    PORT TOWNSEND, Jefferson County, Wash. State, USA - It can happen to any business. Demand for your product or service slips. Maybe the market goes in the tank. All you know is your business is in a fix, and you’ve got hard decisions to make.
    You don’t want to lay off your skilled employees, but what else can you do to cut costs?
    The Employment Security Department provides an alternative.
    It’s called Shared Work.
    Under the program, businesses can reduce the hours of permanent employees, who can then collect partial unemployment benefits to replace a portion of their lost wages. This translates into immediate payroll savings and prevents the loss of skilled employees.
    Plus, to make the program more affordable, the federal government will cover more than 92 percent of Shared-Work benefits through June 2015. That means you can participate virtually for free and there will be practically no effect on your unemployment-insurance tax rate.
    Sterling Ramberg, co-owner of The Gear Works, had this to say about Shared Work: “We invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in our employees’ training and couldn’t afford to lose them. Shared Work helped us avoid that.”
    The flexibility of the program also makes it attractive. Your business can enroll some or all of your employees. You use it only when needed, and you can vary each employee’s reduction anywhere from 10 to 50 percent per week.
    Recent surveys show that Shared Work helps keep skilled workers, reduces payroll costs and improves employee morale. Employers who have used the program consistently recommend it to others.
    To learn more, watch our *Shared-Work video, visit *www.esd.wa.gov/shared-work or call 800-752-2500.
    Chad Pearson is the Shared Work Marketing Manager in the Washington State Employment Security Department.

  2. A closer look at France's 35-hour work week controversy, The Straits Times Asia Report via stasiareport.com
    SINGAPORE, (formerly part of) Straits Settlements - Newly appointed French economy minister, Emmanuel Macron, 36, has re-ignited debate by saying during an interview released on Thursday that he is open to relaxing regulations on a 35-hour work week.
    His remarks raised hopes, especially in pro-business circles, for a revival in the French economy, which has been languishing for some time now.
    But workers and trade unions are dismayed.
    The 35-hour work week has been a legacy of French socialism and attempts to make changes in 2007 failed.
    So, what is this controversy all about? Should one work shorter or longer hours? How long do we work here in Singapore, and the rest of Asia?
    What is the French debate all about?
    Former President Francois Mitterrand from the Socialist Party introduced a 39 hour work week in 1982. But in 2000 that was reduced further to the current 35 hours. The rationale was that if people worked fewer hours, employers would be encouraged to hire many more workers.
    Over time, however, rules were relaxed and some industries were exempted from the regulation. And, in effect, today French workers tend to work longer than 35 hours every week.
    Still, the economy minister's remarks Thursday have reopened divisions.
    Macron, a former investment banker, suggested that employees could vote to decide if they wanted to expand their work week. And if a majority of them wanted to do so, the hours could be extended.
    "The key to a recovery in France is to liberate our potential energy to create activity," he was quoted as saying by Le Point, a French weekly news magazine.
    Predictably, unionists were furious with Laurent Berger, the head of the moderate CFDT trade union, slamming the move as a "mistake".
    "It's out of the question. The subject is closed," he was quoted as saying in a report by CNN Money.
    The prime minister's office has since clarified that the government "will respect" the 35-hour legislation.
    How did the 35-hour work week come about?
    Here's a quick look at the history of the 35-hour work week in France:
    1982 - President Francois Mitterrand decrees a shorter 39-hour work week and a 5-week vacation.
    1995 - Government starts dishing out subsidies for significant reduction in working time.
    1998 - France's new working time law was passed by Parliament in May. It sets the length of the statutory working week at 35 hours from January 1, 2000 in companies employing more than 20 people, and from January 1, 2002 for smaller firms.
    2000 - The 35-hour work week is adopted by Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin's government
    2007 - President Nicolas Sarkozy announces his "working more for earning more" initiative, to increase the number of working hours. But it faces stiff opposition.
    2014 - Economy minister Emmanuel Marcon provokes controversy by resurrecting a longer work week again.
    Is 35 hours a week too much or too little?
    There's no definitive answer with opinion divided over the need to promote output from work [as if output varies with human workhours in the robotics age!] and the need for a better quality of life.

    [Sure there's a definitive answer. As long as worksaving technology is increasing and the standard response remains downsizing, there is no permanently fixed level for the workweek. It must be designed on a regularly adjustable, heuristic basis that repeatedly seeks to furnish as much chronic overtime to convert into training and jobs as it takes to restore and maintain full employment, which alone maximizes consumer spending and all the signs of economic health which go with it: maximum-velocity monetary circulation, maximum engagement of the multiplier effect, maximum marketable productivity (productivity without marketability is irrelevant), and the maximum solid-investment destinations which that assures.]
    Critics of the 35 hour work week said it crushed the spirit of Gallic enterprise, made already rigid labour codes even more inflexible and dragged French unemployment to record levels.
    [No, it was introduced because of record unemployment of 12.6% in 1997, and its 4-hour reduction of the workweek to 35 by 2001 resulted in an 8.6% unemployment rate before the US-led recession hit France in summer 2001. This corelation of 1% less unemployment per hour cut from the workweek is the same result that the USA itself got when it established a 44-hour workweek in 1938 with unemployment (UE) at 19.0% and cut it two hours a year for two years: 42 hours in 1939, UE 17.2%, and 40 hours in 1940, UE 14.6%. Critics will say anything to block this approach, as they did the entire way from the 80 to the 40 hour workweek in the USA between 1840 and 1940. But only the coincidental start of Lend Lease and World War II for the U.S. in 1941 was sufficient to distract enough of the labor movement from continuing this sine-qua-recession approach, to their cost. And the cost of the whole economy, which is now splitting into 3000 insulated and isolated super-rich who spend and donate a smaller percentage of their HUGE holdings than any other bracket, workaholics/overworkers/burnouts with unlimited hours, part-timers with hours limited by levels of mandated benefits and ofcourse shrinking availability of human employment in the robotics age, and disemployed dependents, many invisible but record numbers scattered throughout our record numbers of unemployed, welfare cases, disabled, beggars, homeless, incarcerated, suicides, and... clientless self-employment. Critics of the 35-hour workweek, of emergency worksharing and permanent timesizing should be forced to eat at a homeless shelter for a year to wake them up. They have no idea how far standard downsizing has pushed technological displacement. There are entire systems of factories in New England with NO EMPLOYEES - it's called Lights-out Manufacturing because they don't even need to have the lights on most of the time.]
    But there have been many in favour who claim that working fewer number of hours actually encourages workers to be more productive.
    Sweden, for instance, embarked last week on an experiment to see if a six-hour work day would benefit public sector companies. Sweden hopes the move will reduce sick leave and boost efficiency.
    How many hours do people work elsewhere?
    There are several countries where people work longer hours than the French.
    Full-time workers in Finland - where a debate similar to that in France is continuing - work for 39 hours a week, according to the Helsinki Times.
    Americans on average work about 38 hours a week.
    Netherlands perhaps has the shortest work week in the Western world of 29 hours, according to a report by CNN, followed by Denmark where it is 33 hours.
    How does Asia compare with the rest of the world?
    People tend to work many more hours in Asia.
    According to the International Labour Organization, most Asian countries have a 48-hour working week, but almost a third of the countries in the region do not have a regulated maximum number.
    Another third put the weekly limit at 60 hours of work, the China Daily reports.
    Japan - which was well known for Karoshi or death from overwork in the 1970s & 80s - introduced standard working hours of eight hours per day and 40 hours per week, in 1994.
    South Korea also introduced a 40-hour work week in 2003, but that was rarely followed.The law did not cover weekends and holidays, a loophole which allowed employees to put in more hours. Last September, South Korea cut the maximum number of work hours per week to 52, down from 68.
    Among the five cities in the world with the longest working hours, three are in Asia.
    Hong Kong ranked third among the 72 cities surveyed by UBS financial services firm, with the average worker spending 2,296 hours per year at their job.
    In Bangkok, workers spend 2,312 hours every year and in Seoul 2,308.
    In Shanghai, the average work year is 1,967 hours and in Tokyo it is 2,012 hours.
    How long do we work in Singapore?
    An employee is not allowed to work more than 12 hours a day in Singapore.
    For shift workers, the Ministry of Manpower states that one can work up to 12 hours a day, provided that the average working hours each week do not exceed 44 over a continuous three week period.
    In a report last August, job-listing website eFinancialCareers found that more than two-thirds of 1,738 of Singapore’s finance and banking professionals surveyed in the poll worked weekends, and about 43 percent remained contactable by their jobs at all times of the day and night.


8/28/2014 – 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. Companies Consider Program To Cut Hours Instead Of Layoffs, by Brandon Smith, Indiana Public Broadcasting System (IPBS) via indianapublicmedia.org
    Legislators are considering forming a program that would allow businesses to reduce workers' hours instead of laying them off during hard economic times.
    INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., USA - State lawmakers are exploring the creation of a work share program to give companies the option of reducing employee hours rather than using layoffs during economic downturn.
    Work share programs allow companies to reduce employee hours in lieu of layoffs, while the workers collect partial unemployment benefits.
    Indiana Chamber Vice President Mike Ripley says they benefit both employers and employee.
    Companies don’t lose skilled workers and hurt morale. Workers keep employment benefits such as health insurance and pensions.
    He says while work share won’t be a cure-all to solve problems created by a recession or economic downturn, it can be a useful tool.
    “Not everybody’s going to use it; there’s probably going to be relatively few,” Ripley says. “But even if we save five hundred, a thousand jobs – it’s that better than having people laid off?”
    Indiana Department of Workforce Development deputy commissioner Josh Richardson says his agency is opposed to work share both philosophically and technically.
    He says the program would put more pressure on the state’s unemployment insurance trust fund,
    [no, because it saves full-support payments to some completely jobless people who are likelier than worksharers to become long-term wards of the state]
    and Indiana is still paying off the federal loan it had to take out for the fund during the last recession.
    “The question is, do we really want to make it cheaper or easier to reduce people’s work hours? [- see comment on this point in 8/27/2014 #1 below.] And I think that there’s some fear that doing that could result in additional reductions and that that then harms the trust fund,” Richardson says.
    Rep. Dave Ober, R-Albion, who chairs a study committee investigating the issue, says he plans to have a draft recommendation for the full General Assembly ready for a vote by the committee in October.
    Brandon Smith, IPBS, has previously worked as a reporter and anchor for KBIA Radio in Columbia, MO, and at WSPY Radio in Plano, IL as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.

  2. Rising "partial unemployment" suggests businesses struggling, Saint-Paul Luxembourg via Luxemburger Wort (English Edition) via wort.lu/en
    LUXEMBURG CITY, Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, Europe - The number of people affected by partial unemployment measures in Luxembourg will rise for September, compared with August.
    According to a report from the “Comité de Conjoncture”, which analyses employment indicators in the Grand Duchy, 16 firms applied for state funding [in Sept.?] to reduce working hours and save costs [and jobs!].
    Of that number, 13 applications were accepted which will result in 1,023 people having their working hours reduced.
    Compared with August, when 844 people were affected by partial unemployment measures, the number of applications approved rose by 2 [from 14 to 16].
    Applications for the so-called “chômage partiel” (partial unemployment) [=in French, alias worksharing (in English) alias Kurzarbeit (in German)] need to be renewed every month. Under the scheme, companies in difficult financial circumstances can place workers under reduced hours with the state compensating lost wages for employees [and avoiding layoffs].
    The next meeting of the “Comité de Conjoncture” is scheduled for September 24.

  3. Library hours cut in £20k council savings bid, Edinburgh Evening News via edinburghnews.scotsman.com
    MUSSELBURGH, Scotland - Libraries across East Lothian are set to have their evening opening hours slashed as part of a cost-cutting drive.
    [Better hourscuts than jobcuts, timesizing than downsizing.]
    Seven libraries will have their hours reduced from December in a bid to help trim £20,000 from council budgets.
    East Linton, Musselburgh and Port Seton will lose two-and-a-half hours each week, with Gullane and Port Seton set to be hit by three hours.
    Longniddry and Haddington libraries will also be affected, with officials cutting opening by two hours and 90 minutes per week respectively.

    But the move has prompted an angry response from councillors after the changes were voted through without consultation.
    Councillor Stuart Currie, representing Musselburgh East, said the cuts were an “attack on the heart of our communities”.
    “It is deeply concerning that these cuts to our libraries have been approved by councillors without any debate or a paper coming to the council,” he said.
    “Cutting services in our award-winning libraries is the wrong thing to do.”
    Jeremy Findlay, from Gullane Community Council, said the changes would harm community groups that use the town’s library to meet.
    From December 1, Gullane Library will be open for three hours a day on Thursdays.
    He said: “Several groups rely on the library as a meeting place, and restrictions on hours could be devastating for some of those people.”
    Irene Tait, chair of Musselburgh Community Council, said the town’s library was one of the busiest in East Lothian.
    She said: “We can only hope this is just a temporary measure, because it’s going to make some people very unhappy.”
    Not every library in East Lothian will see its opening times cut, with an extra 11 hours per week at Dunbar.
    An e-mail sent to councillors last week said officials had been forced to bypass a public consultation because of the need to implement the budget cuts as soon as possible.
    It read: “We would normally undertake such a review with public consultation, but there was a need to make savings for this financial year.”
    A spokeswoman for East Lothian Council said: “The decision to make changes to opening hours in some of our libraries is driven by the need to make best use of public resources. Library opening times are informed by the use that people make of them and are adjusted accordingly.
    “We continue to monitor library and other facility operating hours to ensure that we can provide customers with optimum service experience within resources available to us."

  4. Germany considering BANNING employers from contacting staff out of work hours under anti-stress laws, by Jack Crone, DailyMail.co.uk
    • Politician Andrea Nahles claims work stress is cause of rising mental health
    • Smartphones are seen as biggest culprit as employees are always reachable
    • Employment minister has commissioned report to see if new law could work
    • Germany already bans employers from contacting workers while on holiday
    Supporting investigation: German employment minister, Andrea Nahleshas commissioned the report to assess the viability of introducing an 'anti-stress law' (photo 1 caption)
    Rising problem: Levels of stress and work-related mental health issues are said to be on the rise in Germany, according to recent surveys (photo 2 caption)
    BERLIN, Germany - A leading German politician has taken a significant step towards implementing an 'anti-stress law' - banning employers from contacting workers outside office hours.
    Employment minister, Andrea Nahles, has commissioned a report to asses the viability of new legislation in the wake of rising stress levels and work-related mental health issues in Germany.
    The report will examine the effect of people being in constant contact with their office - a trend blamed largely on the popularity of smartphones.
    It is already illegal under German law for companies to ask employees to do any work while on holiday, including answering emails.
    But Ms Nahles suggests the law needs to go further as high working demands mean people are finding it impossible to switch off when they are at home.
    She told the Rheinische Post newspaper: 'There is an undeniable relationship between having to be constantly available and the rise in mental illness.'

    Recent surveys have confirmed that Germans tend to take their work home with them leading to high levels of of stress.
    Health insurer Techniker Krankenkasse found in a report last year that stress levels had increased in the last 12 months for 53 per cent of the people their surveyed, The Local reports.
    And in August last year, a television programme called 'Stressed Germany' also investigated the country's growing problem.
    The programme revealed that the number of sick days taken as a result of mental illnesses had risen by 80 per cent in the last 15 years.
    Germany’s coalition government promised that they would improve people's 'work-life balance' in their coalition agreement last year leading German politician has taken a significant step towards implementing an 'anti-stress law' - banning employers from contacting workers outside office hours.

  5. France’s new economy minister pokes the 35-hour week hornets’ nest, by Geoffrey Smith @geoffreytsmith, Fortune.com
    [It's astonishing how much hatred of France this has triggered on the Web - probably by exhausted burnouts following the pattern of "misery loves company" and workaholic puritans defined by their nagging suspicion that somebody somewhere is having a good time.]
    French PM Manuel Valls promised a new era of clarity and consistency after Monday's government reshuffle. It lasted three days. (photo caption)
    PARIS, France - After a mere three days in the job, France’s new pro-business economy minister Emmanuel Macron has raised the prospect of big changes to the country’s notorious[?] 35-hour working week.
    ["Notorious"? Oh please - some of America's most conservative industries, like insurance and academe, had a 35-hour workweek half a century ago. Even Wall Street clerks in the 1960s worked only 37.5 hour workweeks. When are people going to grow up? They talk the talk of freedom but walk the walk of slaves loving their chains.]
    In an interview published Thursday, Emmanuel Macron told the magazine Le Point that he wants companies to have more freedom to set their own agreements with their workforces over pay and working time.
    “It’s already possible for companies in difficulties,” Macron said, referring to the limited exemptions written into the law. “Why not extend it to all companies as long as there is an agreement supported by the majority of staff?”
    [You want higher unemployment? Go right ahead! Push your workweek right back to 40, 48, 60. Hell, go all the way to 168 and see what that does to domestic chômage (unemployment), consumer spending, $circulation-velocity and your whole short-sighted business sector!]
    Macron, a former investment banker, had been installed as Economy Minister after the Arnaud Montebourg and two other left-wing ministers were booted out of the government for opposing a collection of pro-business reforms.
    Reuters said the interview had been taken before his new appointment, and the government was quick to play down the comments.
    Harlem Désir, secretary of state for European Affairs, told Télé, that “there is a desire to develop collective bargaining at companies…but not to put in question the law on working hours.”

    Macron’s comments were welcomed by center-right politicians, who said the idea was their own, and by the employers’ federation MEDEF, but were immediately attacked by trade unionists.
    Laurent Berger, leader of the CFDT union, told the Europe 1 channel that it “was not a good idea…and is definitely not the order of the day.”
    Although Macron’s suggestions make clear the difference in outlook between the old and new ministers, the furore that followed has been an embarrassing repeat of the public arguments that had undermined Prime Minister Manuel Valls’s government before the reshuffle.
    Montebourg had accused fellow ministers of bowing to destructive German demands for austerity as they tried to cut France’s yawning budget deficit and bring down a jobless rate of over 10%.
    Jacques Cailloux, an economist with Japanese bank Nomura in London, said the government more than anything needs to formulate a consistent communications policy, both to financial markets and to the public at home.
    “Hearing one thing then the opposite in the space of a week is just too difficult,” he said.

  6. French workers aren't as lazy as you think, by Chris Matthews @crobmatthews, Fortune.com
    PARIS, France - Despite France’s admittedly complex labor regulations, French workers are about as productive as American workers.
    There are few things Americans do better than make fun of France.
    [We repeat: It's astonishing how much hatred of France this has triggered on the Web - probably by exhausted burnouts following the pattern of "misery loves company" and workaholic puritans defined by their "nagging suspicion that somebody somewhere is having a good time."]
    Perhaps aside from the French army’s World War II-era ineptitude, French work habits is our favorite piece of fodder. Last year, when a collective bargaining agreement between overtime-exempt French employees in the the tech sector prevented those workers from being required to check their emails for longer than 13 hours per day, the English-speaking media gleefully (and erroneously) produced countless headlines proclaiming that France had banned workers nationwide from checking their email after 6 p.m.
    [Oh gaaawd, I remember that! Americans are filling up with self-hatred, and spreading it around, and "don't confuse them with facts, their mind's made up!" Recall nitwits like Dubya who wanted to change "French fries" to "Liberty fries" while keeping the Land of the "Free" as the only developed nation without minimum vacation legislation, and thoroughly terrified by the most fundamental freedom of all, financially secure Free Time, without which the other freedoms are inaccessible or meaningless.]

    The Anglophone world also has a seemingly endless fascination with France’s famous 35-hour work week. Could it really be that in an age when Americans feel like they are spending more and more time at work, French workers can get away with a 9-to-4 shift five days a week?
    The simple answer is no.
    Even though France’s new economy minister is making headlines by calling into question some of the details of his country’s 35-hour work week policy, the regulation isn’t really all that much different from those in place in the U.S.
    The 35-hour work week was instituted in France in 1998 as part of an effort to create more jobs, based on the logic that if people were working fewer hours, firms would have to hire more workers to compensate. And, just like in the U.S., where there is a 40- hour work week, French workers are free to work more than 35 hours, it’s just that they have to be compensated with overtime pay or flextime if they do. In the U.S., employers often have to pay non-exempt workers time-and-a-half for hours worked beyond 40 per week. In France, workers are paid 1.25 times their normal salaries for weekly hours worked between 36 and 44, and 1.5 times those worked beyond that.
    And at the end of the day, French workers put in an average of about 39.5 hours per week, not far behind the Eurozone average of 40.9 hours per week, according to a report from the European Green Foundation. The main difference in working hours and income between France and the U.S. boils down to the fact that French law mandates 30 paid days of vacation, or five weeks. But this is the norm across Europe. Countries like Germany, which is often considered a much more business-friendly environment than France, require 34 days of paid vacation.
    As a result, French workers are on the job for more total hours on average per year than their German counterparts, according to the most recent OECD data.
    Much of the differences in the income of wealthy countries can simply be explained by variations in required paid vacation. Sure, the U.S. has higher GDP per capita than some of its wealthy peers like France, but when you control for the number of hours worked, the differences are much less stark. ...France actually had a more productive work force by this measure than the U.S. until very recently...
    So, despite France’s admittedly complex labor regulations, French workers are about as productive as American workers. And when they aren’t on vacation, they work roughly 40 hours per week, just like Americans do. It’s just that French society has decided it would rather be compensated in leisure time than in cash.
    There’s little evidence that regulations like requiring overtime for work above 35 hours per week (or 40 for that matter) hamper employment or economic growth. The World Bank published a study in 2013 that surveyed the literature on labor regulations and their economic effects, and it found that mandated benefits like paid time off and a limited workweek have no real measurable effect on the efficiency of an economy. There’s far more evidence that laws in France that make it difficult or expensive to fire workers inhibits job growth, but that’s another question altogether.
    [Note that in French articles like today's "Matignon recadre Macron sur les 35 heures" (Matignon reframes Macron on the 35 hours), Matignon refers to the French Prime MInister (via his official residence at the Hôtel Matignon) just as the British PM is referred to as "10 Downing St" and the US Prez as "the White House." Compare references to France itself as "the Hexagon" (l'Hexagone) due to its (very) roughly hexagonal shape on the map.]


8/27/2014 – 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. Work sharing gains support as alternative to layoffs, HeraldBulletin.com
    INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., USA — Support may be growing in the Legislature for a program that lets employers cut worker hours instead of cutting their jobs.
    During a hearing Tuesday, lobbyists for the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and AFL-CIO urged the concept as a way to keep skilled workers on the job and mitigate the damage of an economic downturn.
    At least 27 states [we've heard 28] have implemented similar programs, known as “work sharing,” which are credited for reducing the number of workers unemployed during the 2008 recession.
    Republican Gov. Mike Pence opposes the idea. But the legislative study committee’s conservative chairman, Rep. Dave Ober, R- Albion, said he’ll push for a bill next session.
    “Obviously this would be valuable if there were to be another economic downtown,” said Ober, whose northeast Indiana district was hit hard by the last recession. “So if we’re going to pursue a program like this, the earlier the better, as far as passing it and getting it into law.”
    Democrats and Republicans on the committee echoed the sentiment, saying they are convinced the Legislature can pass a bill that doesn’t burden the state’s unemployment fund.
    Work-share programs allow companies that face a temporary decline in business to reduce employee hours rather than implement layoffs. Such programs allow workers to keep health and retirement benefits. State unemployment benefits make up a portion of lost wages.
    During Tuesday’s hearing, Josh Richardson, who oversees unemployment insurance for the Department of Workforce Development, said the Pence administration’s objections are “philosophical.”
    [Then maybe they should get less philosophical and more practical and drop their objections.]
    “Do we really want to make it cheaper and easier to reduce people’s work hours?” Richardson said.
    [That's like saying, Do we really want to make it cheaper and easier to reduce unemployment? or, Do we really want to make it cheaper and easier to contain weaker consumer spending? or even, Do we really want to make it cheaper and easier to contain Ebola? And Richardson is in charge of the unemployment insurance program which pays out a little for jobsaving worksharing which helps save itself a lot in unemployment insurance benefits. Maybe they should can this mathophobe who can't seem to do the figures.]
    His comments came after business and labor leaders expressed support for work sharing. Among them was Tom Easterday, senior vice president of Subaru of Indiana Automotive, which employs more than 3,600 workers.
    Easterday said auto industry layoffs after car sales plunged in 2008 meant the loss of highly skilled workers who were difficult and costly to replace. He cited national statistics that only 36 percent of advanced manufacturing workers who lost jobs to the recession returned when the economy recovered.
    Retaining jobs in a downturn is not only critical for workers, Easterday said, “but to retain those skills is critical to the state of Indiana.”
    As a member of Congress, Pence voted two years ago for legislation that gave financial incentives to states that created or improved work-sharing programs. But, as governor, Pence threatened to veto a work-share bill filed this year. In doing so, he passed up about $2 million in federal funds that could have been used to launch the program.
    During the hearing, Ed Roberts, lobbyist for the influential Indiana Manufacturing Association, spoke against work sharing. He described it as “uber-complex” [playing on supporter Dave Ober's name? as Sir Humphrey Appleby of "Yes, Minister" would sarcazz, "very droll"] in its impact on the state unemployment insurance system and spoke at length about the difficulty of implementing it.
    Republican Sen. Greg Walker of Columbus, and later Democrat Rep. Chuck Mosely of Portage, cut short his argument.
    “How do we not have enough brains to make this work?” Mosely said tersely.
    Mike Ripley, a vice president at the Chamber of Commerce who’s been lobbying for a work-share program, countered concerns that it would negatively affect the unemployment trust fund, which is subsidized by a tax on employers and pays benefits when workers lose their jobs.
    Others noted findings of a 2011 report by the Congressional Research Service that the effect of work-sharing programs on states’ unemployment insurance funds will be minimal.
    Ripley also addressed concerns that work-sharing programs are only used by a small number of employers. About 1 percent of employers used the programs in states that had them during the last recession.
    “Even if we save 500 to 1,000 jobs,” he said, “isn’t that better than having those people laid off?”
    The committee is scheduled to meet again in early October, with the intent of developing recommended legislation, Ober said.
    Maureen Hayden covers the state for the CNHI newspapers in Indiana. Reach her at maureen.hayden@indianamediagroup.com. Follow her on Twitter @MaureenHayden

  2. Unpredictable Work Hours Are Stressing Too Many People Out, by Morra Aarons-Mele, Harvard Business Review via blogs.hbr.org
    CAMBRIDGE, Mass., USA - In the modern workforce, control over your time is a valuable form of currency: for many, it’s an equal aspiration to getting rich (if it’s any proof ,“control your time” has almost 200,000,000 more mentions on Google than “make more money”). And yet as jobs become ever more dependent on online connectivity and technology, more of us are losing control over our time.
    Workers at the top and bottom of the economic spectrum feel the loss of control dearly, and technology is often the culprit. Whether it’s a buzzing smartphone or software that tracks our whereabouts, the more hard to predict our schedules become, the less real flexibility many of us have.
    Researchers, company executives, and advocates fought for decades to increase workplace flexibility. I remember my own initial experience of it: my Blackberry and VPN didn’t yet feel like a yoke, but rather a truly empowering instrument that allowed me freedom to work on my terms. Now, the fight for flexibility feels like a red herring, masking the huge erosion of agency over our own time, whether at work or not. What if it’s not about flex, but about helping managers and workers set good boundaries, so that we all feel a reasonable level of control over our lives? What if the problem isn’t one of flexibility, but variability?
    Today, workplace flexibility is the goal for many firms and its implementation is increasing across the board. But we can no longer kid ourselves that increased “flexibility” is enough to cope with increasing work variability. Here are two powerful examples, from opposite ends of the income spectrum.
    Retail workers are often forced to work hours that may seem flexible but in truth are just highly variable. Software that helps retailers optimize staffing against levels of store traffic creates chaos for working families, as New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor so vividly illustrated in a recent story featuring days in the life of a Starbucks barista, Jannette Navarro. Kantor writes, “in interviews with current and recent workers at 17 Starbucks outlets around the country, only two said they received a week’s notice of their hours; some got as little as one day.”
    From a corporate perspective, scheduling software takes a time-consuming task away from store supervisors and does it much more efficiently. Using analytics to schedule workers on an as-needed basis saves labor costs and also ensures adequate staffing during peak periods. But are the upsides enough to compensate for the havoc wreaked on workers’ lives? Starbucks quickly promised to revise its scheduling practices so that work hours must be posted at least one week in advance.
    While the problem is vastly more challenging for those at the bottom of the economic ladder, those who work in well-paid, white collar jobs also feel the effects of variability. Employees at Boston Consulting Group, one of the most elite workplaces there is, suffered the stress created by lack of control over their work hours. Deborah Lovich, a BCG Partner who engaged Harvard Business School Professor Leslie Perlow, writes: “The big problem wasn’t so much the long hours and incessant travel. Our consultants expected that when they joined BCG. Rather, Perlow discovered, it was the complete lack of predictability or control they had over their daily lives.”
    “When consultants woke up in the morning, they literally had no idea how many hours they would be putting in that day. When Perlow asked them in the morning how long they expected to work that day, they underestimated by up to 30 percent. For data-driven people like us, those numbers really hit us.” Lovich worked with Perlow to offer BCG employees predictable time off. Simple interventions, such giving team members more control over how they define their schedule, raised productivity and intent to stay with the company.
    Whether we are low-paid hourly workers or highly-salaried professionals, we are witnessing a shift: What was originally a case for greater flexibility has morphed into a need to control increasing variability.
    In the end, it’s control over your day that empowers people and gives satisfaction at work. We all must have control over our time in order to function and create solid families and normal lives. Jannette Navarro’s lack of control over her shift schedule helped cripple any sense of routine for her son, and made basic steps towards gaining a leg up, such as getting a driver’s license or finish her education, impossible. Leslie Perlow’s work with consultant teams found lack of control over one’s schedule drives dissatisfaction and turnover.
    Those who have been influential in demanding workplaces with greater flexibility need to think holistically about what happens next. Leaders in work redesign not only have to make work more flexible, but make work hours more predictable.
    [AND more spread-around - shorter hours per person - to include more employee-consumers, unless ever-shrinking domestic markets are the goal.]
    Morra Aarons-Mele is the founder of Women Online and The Mission List. She is an Internet marketer who has been working with women online since 1999. She helped Hillary Clinton log on for her first Internet chat, and launched Wal-Mart’s first blog. Morra tweets at @morraam.

  3. Koreans Work 2nd-Longest Hours among OECD Nations, by J. H. Kim (jhkim@koreabizwire.com), KoreaBizwire.com
    SEOUL, South Korea — An OECD report shows that the working hours of Korean employees is second-longest in last year among those of OECD member countries.
    The working hours for Koreans were 1.3 times longer than that of the OECD average, and 1.6 times longer than that of the Netherlands, where the employees worked for the shortest hours last year.
    Korea’s average labor hours have been the longest in OECD for eight consecutive years, from 2000 to 2007, and only after 2008, it slid a notch to second-longest, after Mexico.
    According to the OECD report released on August 25, which surveyed labor hours of its member nations, Korea had second longest working hours among the 34 members of OECD with 2,163 hours, after Mexico, which had 2,237 hours.
    Countries that had over 2,000 labor hours other than Korea and Mexico were Greece (2,037 hours) and Chile (2,015 hours).
    Poland (1,918 hours), Hungary (1,883 hours), Estonia (1,868 hours), Israel (1,867 hours), Turkey (1,832 hours), Ireland (1,815 hours), the United States (1,788 hours), Japan (1,735 hours) and Britain (1,669 hours) followed after. The Netherlands had the shortest working hours with 1,380 hours.
    Generally, relatively wealthy Western Europeans countries such as the Netherlands, Norway (1,408 hours), Denmark (1,411 hours) and France (1,489 hours) had shown to have comparably shorter working hours.
    [Are the control freaks in the executive suites of relatively poor nations everywhere else learning anything from relatively wealthy Western European countries about paradoxically beneficial shorter working hours, or do they actually want to be big fish in unnecessarily small ponds forever?]
    Korea held the [booby-prize] title of longest working hours with 2,512 hours, overleaping Mexico by a large margin which had 2,311 hours, back in just 2000. But largely due to the implementation of the five-day workweek scheme in 2004, the hours have been in a steady fall in recent years and Korea has stepped down from the No. 1 rank.
    Also, the 2008 global financial crisis raising the unemployment rate and an increase in the number of part-timers seem also partly responsible for the fall, the analysts said.
    Although it has shown a downward trend in recent years, the working hours of Korea are still way too high compared to other developed countries.
    Considering that last year had 116 days of public holidays, the average working hours of Korean working men in a day was 8.7 hours. Assuming that a Norwegian worked for the same number of days last year as a Korean worker, he would have only worked only 5.5 hours in a day.

  4. Sunday a day off in Israel? Tel Aviv brokers hope so - Israel’s stock exchange could be the first major institution [in Israel] to adopt the Western Mon.-Fri. five-day work week, by David Shamah, All the New & View from Silicon Wadi via Startup Israel via TimesOfIsrael.com
    ["Silicon Wadi" based on Silicon Valley? All I can say is, Wadi Ham-It-Up! (based on Wadi Hamimat)]
    TEL AVIV, Israel - The Monday through Friday work week is coming to Israel — at least at the stock market. In the coming days, the management of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange [TASE] will present a plan to members that would have the exchange close on Sunday, and the current Friday day off would become a regular work day. The TASE would open as usual at 9:30, and close at 2:00 in the afternoon Fridays, taking into account the beginning of the Jewish Sabbath before sundown.
    [So, one full day off (Sunday) replaced by one partial day on (Friday) - sounds like a shorter workweek to me = 3 hours shorter? (from Sun.9-5? to Friday 9-2?)]
    [So, one full day off (Sunday) replaced by one partial day on (Friday) - sounds like a shorter workweek to me = 3 hours shorter? (from Sun.9-5? to Friday 9-2?)]
    The directors of the TASE support the plan, and reports in the media quote stock exchange officials as saying that the idea has strong support among members. Many brokers, the officials say, see Sunday trading as a waste of time. Volume is low, because investment firms in the rest of the Western world take the day off. Brokers often dedicate Sunday to catching up on paperwork or other administrative tasks because there are so few orders to execute. With Friday as a trading day, the officials feel, the TASE would operate on the same schedule as banks, investment houses, and investors around the world.
    Over the past few decades, Israel has moved gradually from a six-day work week — Sunday through Friday with Saturday off for the Jewish Sabbath — to a five-day week. But instead of closing down on Sunday, most have opted to skip Friday, which is anyway a short work day, especially in the winter, when the Sabbath begins early.
    The Monday through Friday move is seen by experts as a way to revive the fortunes of the moribund TASE. Volume has declined significantly in recent years. Since the beginning of 2010, there has been a drop of about 44 percent in trading volume in the domestic stock exchange, and in the second half of 2012 it reached a 6-year low, a 2013 report by the Bank of Israel said. Various reasons have been given for this decline – foreign investors spooked by political issues, Israel’s reclassification in international stock indices as a developed market excluding investors who wish to invest only in emerging markets, and global activity retraction by international investors are some of them – and TASE officials have for years been trying to attract more investors.
    For decades, Israelis have debated the positives and negatives of replacing Friday with Sunday as a day off from work and school, but until now no major institution or industry has taken up the gauntlet of change. The TASE plan, if approved, would require thousands of people to change their work schedules — and not just employees of the TASE. Brokers, secretaries, bankers, even cafeteria workers employed at lunchrooms run by big investment houses would work on Friday and take off Sunday.
    Could the TASE move become a “back door” for a general shift to a Monday-Friday work week? If it does, many Israelis — from Western olim to top government officials — would be happy. Economics Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman are big supporters of Sunday off (it’s in both their parties’ platforms), as is Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Infrastructure Minister Silvan Shalom, who proposed legislation to turn Sunday into an official day off in 2013.
    The reasons touted for a Sunday off are many — encouraging Western aliyah, further extending Israel’s leisure economy, and enhancing observance of the Sabbath. The theory for that is that less-observant but traditional Israelis would have their “fun” day off on Sunday instead of Saturday, which might enhance synagogue attendance and general Sabbath observance.
    Not all are in favor. Ultra-Orthodox Jewish members of parliament believe that a Friday workday would hurt Sabbath observance, especially in winter months, as workday Friday would gradually edge out Sabbath’s Friday night. And the Finance Ministry has spoken out against the idea, claiming that a short Friday workday replacing a long workday Sunday would cut the work week — resulting in a productivity loss.
    If the TASE does make the switch, it would be at the vanguard of a major social experiment — but for stock market officials, it’s all about the money. In a 2013 report on why the TASE has lost business, officials wrote that “the lack of coordination of activities during the TASE’s operating hours with those of other major stock markets results in gaps in information traders need, and makes it difficult for traders to operate in the market to appropriately respond to what is happening in the global markets.” Friday trading, while not a total solution to the exchange’s problems, is at least a start, TASE officials hope.

  5. Two-day weekend stays, by Ibrahim Naffee, ArabNews.com
    JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia - The Labor Ministry has denied reports that it was withdrawing the 40-hour work week and two-day weekend system in the private sector after coming under pressure from businesses. The ministry said the revised labor law proposing a two-day weekend has already been presented to higher authorities for approval.
    “Two-day weekends and 40-hour work weeks are still part of the new draft labor law,” said Tayseer Al-Mufarrej, ministry spokesman, in response to a report published by an Arabic newspaper.
    “The rumors that have circulated on social media sites saying that the ministry was withdrawing the article related to reducing weekly working hours and increasing the work week days is not true,” the spokesman said.
    “The ministry has presented the draft law to higher authorities for endorsement or observation and the ministry has not withdrawn any of its articles or regulations,” Al-Mufarrej said.
    The Council of Saudi Chambers (CSC) had objected to the two-day weekend, saying such a move would lead to huge losses among construction, operation and maintenance businesses, especially contract-based government projects that are based on 48-hour work weeks, according to a local daily.
    The council had maintained that "only" expat workers [our quotes], who represent about 85 percent of the total work force, would benefit from the two-day weekend.
    [The Council's brains are stuck in somewhere in the 19th Century, or is it the 9th Century? They should empty their Chamber pots.]
    The council had also argued that the private sector would be forced to recruit at least 30 percent more expats to stay on schedule.
    “Several Saudi businessmen rejected the idea of a two-day weekend because government projects need to be completed on time,” one source told Arab News.
    “These businessmen maintain that such a decision would have a negative impact on the economy and would increase economic burden by a third,” Abdul Aziz Al-Rashed, a Saudi businessman, told Arab News.
    Several GCC countries [Gulf Cooperation Council] that had adopted the two-day weekend increased the number of working hours during the five working days to ensure 48 hours of work per employee per week. The Shoura Council had endorsed a proposal to reduce weekly working hours in the private sector from 45 to 40 with a two-day weekend at the end of last year.


8/26/2014 – 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. City Council approves public safety contract, by Robin Wood rwood@newsminer.com, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner via newsminer.com
    FAIRBANKS, Alaska, USA — The Fairbanks City Council ratified a labor agreement on Monday between the City of Fairbanks and the Public Safety Employees Association, Fairbanks Police Department Chapter, which represents both the police and dispatch.
    PSEA has been without a contract since the start of 2014, the new agreement is a three-year contract. Shorter work weeks, increased leave and salary increases are some of the terms under the new contract.
    Ordinance 5953, introduced by Mayor John Eberhart, passed by a vote of 4-3. Councilmen Lloyd Hilling, Perry Walley and Bernard Gateword voted “no.” Council members Jim Matherly, Renee Staley and Chris Anderson voted “yes.” With the last vote Eberhart sealed the approval, “I vote yes, the ordinance passes.”
    The number of work hours per week for union members will decrease from 40 to 36 — which according to a fiscal note is projected to save the City $73,618 in three years. According to the note, the shorter work week is predicted to reduce the amount of overtime for certain shifts, saving the city $116,000 in three years. [Which is it: $73k or $116k? Are there two different notes?] There was no strong consensus among council members regarding the possibility of increased overtime because of a shorter work week, potentially offsetting the savings. [Heads in the sand?]
    PSEA members who’ve worked more than 10 years will see their earned leave increase from 240 to 300 hours per year, estimated to cost the city $240,000 over three years. There’s a 10 percent increase in base wages and a $250 per month, per member health contribution, the two combined are estimated to cost the city $646,000 in three years, the note states.
    A opt-out clause also received much discussion, largely because the city will pay roughly $500,000 regardless of which party decides to withdraw from the contract.
    There’s also a one-time retroactive payment of $1,750, totaling $119,000.
    Discussion revolved heavily around the eight-person dispatch, which is having trouble retaining workers.
    “Right now they’re working 12 hours shifts. Some work six, others seven days a week,” Stephanie Johnson, lead dispatcher, said.

    Public testimony supported and opposed the contract. “I think the 36-hour work week was an outside the box idea, which will help get and retain qualified personnel in the dispatch center as well as the police department,” Ron Dupee, president of Fairbanks Police Department Association, said.
    Former City Mayor Jerry Cleworth said the estimates of overtime pay were “grossly underestimated due to the reduction in the work week.”
    Jeff Johnson, who’s been with the city finance department more than 10 years, said employees who receive the increase in leave time already have the best pensions, which may slight the newer workers. He raised the issue of employees who will receive a higher pay out rate for accrued leave they currently have.
    “For us to sit here and not pass something for our employees, it just drives a doggone wedge between us,” Councilman Chris Anderson said.
    “It’s been said this contract is a leap of faith, and I think that’s a good way to categorize it,” Councilman Bernard Gatewood said.
    Contact staff writer Robin Wood at 459-7510.

  2. Kurzarbeit, new markets and money from the EU - Experts advise the government on how to deal with sanctions, Czech Radio via rozhlas.cz via Zprávy Ukrajina via ViralNewsChart.com
    [Translation by Google Translate & cleanup by Phil Hyde.]
    PRAGUE, Czech Republic - The working group of the Government, ministries and companies today suggests how the Czech can cope with economic sanctions. The document summarizes the impact of sanctions as well as the opportunities to help Czech companies.
    "For farmers, it will be mainly using European funds plus supporting their ability to enter new markets," explained the Secretary of State for European Affairs, Government Officer Tomáš Prouza.
    Industrialists and workers, according to him, should help promote accelerated Kurzarbeit so that companies do not have to lay off workers.
    "It will also strengthen the Czech economic diplomacy, greater government activity in the opening of new markets, and the like," added Prouza.
    The document will have two main parts. The first expert grouping will summarize the impact of current sanctions and others that could occur in the next few months.
    "The second part, the major one, will be recommendations to the government, what could you do to help Czech farmers and industrialists handle the situation, and perhaps even get strengthened through better support," explained Prouza.
    According to the blackest estimates, up to two billion [crowns?] may be lost due to sanctions.
    According to Vice President of the Association for Industry and Trade, Radek Špicar, today the impact of sanctions will be quantified in direct impacts:
    "Already slowly starting to show are some very understandable and soon-to-be much more significant but indirect impacts. For example, a very poor financial situation in Russian banks, which in some cases cease to fund the already agreed-upon and signed-for trades."
    "They're starting to reduce so-called re-exports. For example, shipments by Czech exporters to Germany and their subsequent export to Russia. European exporters are very busily occupied in the mid-term with Asian competition."
    [Last sentence, low confidence because Google translation of "Místo evropských exportéru(o) velmi c(v)ile obsadí ve str(v)edne(v)bodém horizontu asijská konkurence.“ (where parenthesized letters indicate shape of diacritic on previous letter) was "Place a European exporters in Chile occupies str(edne(bodém term Asian competition" - hooboy.]
    EU sanctions against Russia: ban the sale of arms and related materiel of all types, including weapons and ammunition, military vehicles and equipment, paramilitary equipment, and spare parts for them and dual-use goods (ie: usable in the military)
    Russian sanctions against the West (including the Czech Republic): fruit, vegetables, meat, milk and dairy products

    Domestic exporters would now be able to learn how the state will help them recoup losses from the closure of the Russian market.
    Some have problems with the fact that their goods are not among state-supported commodities.
    For example, the director of the Madeta dairy, Milan Teplý, notes that milk is currently among the perishable goods the government did not include, so that its producers are not publicly supported.
    According to Teplý, how the state can effectively help manufacturers is by such measures as purchases for state material reserves.
    "It's in the government resolution, even the mention of the establishment of state material reserves. By order of the government means are established for the stocking-up of certain products to the capacity of the state material reserves. And this order was never abrogated," said Teplý.
    Authorship: Jakub Šídlo (jšo), Jitka Hanžlová (jhn), van,[?] Eva Rajlich (era), Michaela Vydrová


8/24-25/2014 – 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. You Could Be Happier If Your Boss Was Forced To Make You Work Less, by Bryce Covert, 8/25 ThinkProgress.org
    LEXINGTON, Knty., USA - When labor laws reduce the hours that people have to be at work, their life satisfaction increases, as indicated by new research from Daniel S. Hamermesh, Daiji Kawaguchi, and Jungmin Lee published in the NBER.
    The researchers examined two examples in Japan and Korea where the government sought to shorten the workweek by imposing overtime penalties at a lower threshold of hours. In Japan, the standard workweek was reduced from 48 hours to 40 between the mid-1980s and mid-1990s by imposing a 25 percent overtime penalty after 40 hours of work. Korea also reduced its workweek that way, from 44 hours to 40, between 1999 and 2009 by extending its 50 percent overtime penalty. Both were responses to those countries experiencing some of the longest workweeks around the globe and high levels of overwork-related deaths. The laws had the intended impact of reducing hours across their economies but particularly for those who were putting in the most hours.
    While the authors caution that they can’t conclude that life satisfaction was raised only because of the legislative changes, they find significant increases in satisfaction after the laws were imposed, particularly among those who were most likely to have their hours reduced once they were implemented. This held true across two different surveys in Japan and another in Korea.
    The researchers also note that there weren’t any other long-term trends in increased life satisfaction before the laws in either country, nor were there other reforms — such as more progressive taxation or higher returns for workers with more education and experience — that can explain their findings. Self-employed workers who weren’t impacted by the laws also didn’t see the same increase as those impacted by it.
    “Either the legislation had positive impacts on particular workers’ well-being,” they write, “or something else occurred in each country that differentially benefited particular groups of workers and did so only during the period when the laws were being implemented.” Their analyses all point to the former. And, they note, “At the very least we have found no evidence that those workers most likely to have been affected by the legislation were worse off as a result.”
    The results also point to workers in these two countries being stuck in work arrangements they didn’t want before the reforms. They were likely either in a “rat race” atmosphere where they put in unnecessary time and effort to stand out from the pack and/or in one where high unemployment or too much power in employers’ hands let them exploit their employees and lengthen hours. The overtime reforms broke workers out of these cycles.
    The authors are also quick to note, “Our results say nothing about whether similar regulations in other labor markets would have the same positive impacts on workers.” But there is evidence that even if shortening hours doesn’t make workers happier, it can make them more productive. The most productive workers across the globe put in fewer hours, with Germans, for example, putting in 1,400 hours a year compared to 2,000 from Greek workers but creating 70 percent more productivity. While there is a bump in productivity at first when someone works more than 60 hours a week, the benefits disappear around week three or four. Other studies have found that more hours create short-term increases that eventually dissipate.
    The United States hasn’t caught on to this trend. We’re number 12 among 36 other countries in how many hours we work each year, well behind places like the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and Germany and higher than the average. In fact, many of these other other countries have far outpaced us in reducing work hours over the last 40 years. Today, nearly all professional American employees put in 50 hours each week or more and nearly half are at work for 65 hours or more.
    That could shift after a recent executive order from President Obama takes effect. In March, he announced changes that would make current overtime rules, which have covered fewer and fewer workers over recent decades, apply to many more people, imposing a penalty over 40 hours a week. As in Japan and Korea, that has the potential to reduce the workweek and therefore raise satisfaction for American workers.

  2. The [blemished] truth about work life balance in France, 8/24 (8/23 late pickup) every-weekend-in-europe.com
    PARIS, France - North America, the general fascination with Europe centres around differences in lifestyle and societal approach to life-work balance between the European and American/Canadian society. Moreover, the reference case for such comparisons and the corollary of North American envy is France. A visit to any bookstore would inevitably lead to the dedicated corner to everything French, where in the smallest of spaces one can see a plethora of books on the broadest variety of topics relating to France and the French. The title is always prosaic and message invariably positive. Paris, the most romantic city; French food paradox: eat butter, drink wine, live happy and long! French men are great lovers! French women don’t diet! The French work 35 hours a week and enjoy the longest holidays in Europe!
    Oh, let’s all move to Paris, let loose and be French!
    ..well, I did. Not because of those books, incidentally, and not because I believed all the hype but, truthfully, because I needed a change and was hoping for a slightly more relaxed life, with bit more time to travel and more time to myself.
    Fast-forward a year and I’m sitting admiring Parisian rooftops from my apartment, paid for with the wages from my enviable Parisian job. Friends back in North America imagine me breakfasting on fresh croissants and accompanying each meal with champagne, while strolling carefree the bohemian Paris quartiers.
    But the reality is this: right now in front of me I have my work laptop, and a presentation that I’m working on …on Saturday. I spent my whole day working today and I’ll be working tomorrow, too. Monday to Friday I work from 9-9:30 to 6:30- 7, and that’s a regular day. All my French colleagues work like this. Yes, we are given 6 weeks of vacation, but that’s to compensate 46 weeks of 10-11 hour days.
    [That would be fine if they were three-day workweeks, as per Carlos Slim...]
    How is this possible? It’s simple. France operates on a dual band workforce: those working for one type of government job or another, benefiting from long vacations (8-9 weeks) and the prescribed 35 hour week but receiving very small wages; and those working for the corporations as “cadre” … who have to opt out of the 35 hour week, work like dogs and, to compensate, have a decent wage, 5 or 6 weeks of vacation and 5-6 additional RTT (reduction du temps de travail) days off a year. For the latter, 50 – 60 hours, plus more than the occassional weekend of unpaid work, is the norm.
    If you’re dreaming of moving to France in search of that easy life, think again. As an expat, you’ll only be able to get a job as a cadre. So, unless you’re independently wealthy, your simple, stress-free life in Paris will remain a dream if you come here with a job.
    The 9-5 is an Anglo-Saxon concept that is not adopted here. It’s strange to me, but all my colleagues at work are jealous of my former 9-5 life in Canada….in fact, many dream of moving to Montreal. I have days when I, too, get nostalgic for what, at the time, seemed a very stressful work schedule.
    You don’t have to take my word, feel free to check out some related articles about work life balance in contemporary Europe….
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/07/31/us-france-workhours-idUSBRE96U13820130731
    http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20140312-frances-mythic-35-hour-week
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/life-easy-in-land-of-the-35hour-week-generous-holidays-and-long-lunches-non-say-burntout-french-9091678.html
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/jobs/10433170/Brits-work-two-billion-hours-in-unpaid-overtime-every-year.html
    Not quite the stuff of dreams, is it?
    Truth is, my job enables me to run around Europe at the weekends (when I don’t work) and for that, I am grateful.
    But the reality of my work in Paris has killed every preconceived idea on the French life/work balance I might once have had...

  3. Many work nearly 40 hours a week, by Juha Roppola & Aleksi Teivainen, 8/25 Helsingin Sanomat via HelsinkiTimes.fi
    HELSINKI, Finland - Full-time employees in Finland worked an average of 39 hours per week last year, with entrepreneurs and the highly-educated especially boosting the average working hours, according to Statistics Finland.
    The question of working hours kindled a debate last week after Arto Satonen, the chairperson of the National Coalition parliamentary group, suggested that regular weekly working hours should be increased from 37.5 to 40 hours.
    [How bizarre that even in supposedly advanced Europe, otherwise intelligent people in the age of robotics can't get out of their heads that productivity no longer varies with working hours. It raises the suspicion that for them, this is really about control, reminiscent of how many women say rape is not about sex but about power. Well, there are certainly lots of fool societies that want to intensify their split into workers and drones, despite history's many examples of the inefficiency, turbulence and unsustainability of such societies.]
    The Left Youth of Finland responded by calling for a transition to a 30-hour work week.
    Neither proposal would affect the wages of Finns.
    At present, the weekly working hours of full-time employees in the country are closer to the 40 hours proposed by Satonen than the statutory 37.5 hours, let alone the vision of the Left Youth of Finland.
    Maria Löfgren, a director at Akava, reveals that the members of the confederation for the highly-educated worked an average of 41.1 hours per week last year.
    What annoys the experts is uncompensated overtime.
    [Here again, short-sighted employers waste overtime's function as a market signal of skill bottleneck that should be swiftly and automatically triggering training and hiring, especially if it's chronic overtime.]
    “Does the current approach to working time even begin to apply to expert positions?” asks Löfgren.
    She is of the opinion that the individual needs of employees should be taken better into consideration at workplaces. “Flexibility should be increased. Coping at work is an investment in the future,” she argues.
    Seppo Nevalainen, an economist at the Finnish Confederation of Salaried Employees (STTK), reminds that reasonable working hours are particularly important to families with children. “Part-time employment is not as common in Finland because women work full time,” he points out.
    Similarly, employees in the manufacturing industries widely work eight hours a day, or 40 hours a week. Their eligibility for a total of 12.5 additional days off, however, brings their actual working hours down to 37.5 hours per week.
    Raising working hours would be far from straightforward, states Juha Antila, the head of working life development at the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK). For employees, he highlights, the increase would fundamentally translate a wage cut.
    The Confederation of Finnish Industries (EK) is contrastively prepared to raise working hours, with senior adviser Seppo Saukkonen arguing that the Finnish work week is “quite short” in international comparison. “When you take into account the various days off, you're talking about some 36 hours,” he says.
    While Satonen argued that raising working hours is necessary to restore Finnish competitiveness, Osmo Soininvaara, a seasoned Greens League representative, points out that worldwide competitiveness is not dependent upon work time. At present, the longest work weeks in Western Europe are in countries ravaged by the financial crisis: Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal.
    Soininvaara has long campaigned for a work-time reduction, insisting that it would be possible to improve social well-being by using advances in productivity on increasing free time rather than raising real wages.

  4. Koreans work 2nd-longest hours in OECD, 8/25 KoreaHerald.com
    SEOUL, South Korea - South Koreans worked 2,163 hours in average last year, ranking second among the 34 member states of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, according to an OECD report on Monday.
    "Ahead" of Korea was Mexico, which ranked at No. 1 with 2,237 hours [our quotes].
    [Another bunch of emphysemic employers with an economic deathwish in the age of robotics. Downsizing to get growth=UPsizing? Bankrupting the markets for massive robot output capacity? Dumb dadumb dumb!]
    Korea previously held the No. 1 position for eight consecutive years from 2000-2007, but slid a notch in 2008.
    The fall was largely attributed to the five-day workweek system that was introduced in 2004, according to industry sources. An increase in part-time workers also caused the working hours to fall, they said.
    Koreans’ average working hours, however, still stood at 1.3 times the OECD average of 1,770 hours.

  5. Is It Time for a Shorter Workweek? 8/24 DubaiChronicle.com
    DUBAI, U.A.E. - The 40-hour workweek and the 9-5 concept are considered the norm in most countries around the world, but now experts are suggesting we should change the time and way we work. A different working schedule may make you more productive and satisfied with your job, and even improve the quality of life.
    [Unfortunately, this is not about "you," the employee, as long as you allow the market surplus of "you" to mount and mount by maintaining your pre-technology workweek longer and longer into the age of robotics.]
    So, is it time for a shorter workweek?
    [Long since!]
    Working fewer days will probably make most people happier, but according to researchers, it will also be beneficial for your company. Carlos Slilm, Mexican telecom billionaire and the second-richest person in the world, said at a business conference that employees need to shift to a 3-day workweek. It may sound odd, coming from one of the largest employers on Earth, but he explained that not only the workers will have more time to relax and entertain, but their happiness will actually result in better productivity and creativity. These are certainly great improvements that both employees and corporations would welcome. However, Slim also suggested that on these three days, people should work 10 to 11 hours in order to maintain some normal levels of productivity.
    [Again, the twin tenacious-outdated assumptions that productivity without regard to marketability has any value whatsoever, and that in the age of mechanization, automation, AI and robotics, the direct variation of productivity with human working hours still holds.]
    The idea is also to push the retirement age to 70 or even 75 and solve the labor force crisis many countries are facing today.
    [Uh, what labor force crisis? The alarmist cries of "labor shortage!" are actually about training shortage now that employers are so spoiled by floods of resumes they have dropped any responsibility for training, and the alarmist cries of "insufficient workers to support the bump of retirees" is again employer-created by mass layoffs and burning out survivors.]
    Of course, the billionaire didn't give much explanation, but his radical idea isn't that new at all. In fact, there has been a huge debate about determining the ideal workweek [as if that's a static figure!], and according to most scientists and research papers, the world should shift to a shorter schedule. And this needs to be done as soon as possible - today people retire later in life than they used to, and they are as overworked as never before. In many countries, worker productivity is constantly increasing, while wages are only slightly raised. This leads to overworking, prolonged stress, and poor overall quality of life. According to the OECD, the average employee in Greece works 2,034 hours a year, while in Germany, the annual working hours are 1,397. Guess which country is more productive - Germany of course, with 70% higher productivity rate than [the*] South European nation.
    [And guess which country has more of the most basic freedom, free time, despite the Greeks' long lipservice to eleutheria (liberty)?]
    The* burnout, often caused by stressful jobs combined with the 40-hour workweek, decreases the* productivity, which is of course, directly linked with lower revenues for the company. Shorter working hours or workweeks are the perfect solution for people who are dealing with a lot of stress and responsibility at their jobs such as firefighters [though most of this job involves waiting] or surgeons, or people in the creative fields [creative fields extra stressful? not likely]. For an artist, actor, a musician, or even a jewelry maker, the 40-hour week is a mission impossible. Of course, the 4- or 3-day workweek won't do any good for some industries, but it will certainly improve employees' health and satisfaction of* personal and professional life.
    So, the debate is still on, but experts say that governments aren't likely to make that change, at least in the recent* future. The idea still seems to [be*] unrealistic and too controversial, but not to scientists - for them, this is how economies will manage to enter the 21st [or 22nd at latest] century and solve many employment problems.
    [*Generally a well-written article, though by a non-native-speaker-of-English, with only a few infelicities (asterisked).]


8/23/2014 – 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. Yes, Flexible Hours Ease Stress. But Is Everyone on Board? by Phyllis Korkki, NYTimes.com (8/24 NYT, Bu4)
    DAVIS, Calif., USA - Everyone with a job knows how stressful it can be when personal priorities clash with work schedules. The conflict could involve a continuing medical concern, taking care of children or aging parents, or getting enough exercise or running errands. A too-strict schedule combined with too many demands can cause workers to feel that they have let down their companies, their families and themselves.
    A recent study, published in The American Sociological Review, aimed to see whether the stress of work-life conflicts could be eased if employees had more control over their schedules, including being able to work from home. As might be expected, the answer was yes — but before everyone deserts their desks, some important caveats bear consideration.
    The study, financed by the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, involved the information technology department of a large corporation. The researchers included psychologists, physiologists, economists and public health scholars.
    As part of the research, department managers received training to encourage them to show support for employees’ family and personal lives, said Erin Kelly, a sociology professor at the University of Minnesota and one of the lead authors of the study. Then employees were given much more control over their schedules than before. They “were free to work where and when they preferred, as long as the work got done,” she said.
    The results: The employees almost doubled the amount of time they worked at home, to an average of 19.6 hours from 10.2 hours. Total work hours remained roughly the same. Focusing on results rather than time spent at the office, and cutting down on “low value” meetings and other tasks, helped employees achieve more flexibility, Professor Kelly said.
    Compared with another group that did not have the same flexibility, employees interviewed by the researchers said they felt happier and less stressed, had more energy and were using their time more effectively, Professor Kelly said. There was no sign that the quality of the work improved or declined with the changed schedules, she added.
    She emphasized that for programs like these to be successful, they must be applied departmentwide and have the full support of managers. “Sometimes an individual supervisor may say that it’s O.K. to work from home,” she said, “but these kinds of deals are happening under the radar — a signal that they aren’t really accepted.”
    The message is not that you must work from home, she added. Many studies have shown how important face-to-face interaction can be in the workplace. Unexpected insights and collaborative possibilities can emerge when people are in the same room, whether in planned or spontaneous conversations. (Instant messaging and email from home just aren’t the same.)
    Just being seen in the office is important, too, regardless of what you are doing. According to Kimberly D. Elsbach, a management professor at the University of California, Davis, people who spend normal hours in the office are perceived as more responsible and dependable than those who are in the office less. And, if they work extra hours, they are more likely to be seen as more committed and dedicated. They could just be surfing the web or emailing their friends — but the face time still matters. This perception can directly affect employees’ performance evaluations, according to research she helped conduct involving a technology company in the Bay Area.
    Employees know this. The professor found that some workers developed elaborate rituals to give the impression that they had only briefly stepped away when they were actually at home or at the gym — by draping a coat over their chair, for example, or putting open boxes of Chinese takeout on their desks.
    Professor Elsbach said the tendency to attach positive traits to longer hours in the office is often subconscious, which makes it hard to combat. Companies need to raise awareness of this hidden bias and show widespread and uniform support for flexible scheduling, she said. Otherwise, “people who telecommute are going to be unfairly penalized,” she said.

  2. Cross Border Employer - Russian Employment Law: Terms of Employment and Separation, by Celia Joseph, Fisher & Phillips LLP via (8/22 late pickup) jdSupra Business Advisor via jdsupra.com
    Moscow, Russia - This article is the second in a series of articles regarding Russian employment law.
    Terms of Employment. Under Russia’s Labor Code, there is a maximum 40-hour work week for employees, and less than that for certain types of jobs and workers, such as for employees working in dangerous environments or employees under eighteen years of age. The law also contains provisions pertaining to flexible job arrangements, such as virtual work and flexible working hours. Russia’s Labor Code was amended in April 2013 to set forth a number of new statutory provisions recognizing the growing existence of employees working in virtual locations. These amendments address many matters specific to remote workers, such as working hours and discharge reasons, as well as the communication of the employer’s hiring, termination and other decisions.
    Overtime, which is generally considered to occur when an employee works more than 40 hours in a week, is usually only allowed to be required if the worker provides prior consent in writing and with the opinion of any applicable union organization, except for: 1) emergencies (which still need an employee’s consent); or 2) upon the initiative of an employee who is working more than one job. Some workers, such as pregnant employees or those under the age of eighteen, are exempted from overtime. Russia’s Labor Code further provides that overtime work cannot exceed four hours in two days and 120 hours annually. Employers are generally required to pay overtime pay between one-and-a-half to two times a worker’s usual pay, depending upon the circumstances.
    In general, employees in Russia are entitled to 28 days of annual paid leave. There are requirements for a greater number of vacation days for employees who conduct certain types of work. Russia’s Labor Code recognizes the following statutory holidays during which employees are not required to work: New Year (January 1 and 2); Christmas Day (January 7); Day of the Defender of the Motherland (February 23); International Women’s Day (March 8); Spring and Labor Holiday (May 1); Victory Day (May 9); Day of Russia (June 12); Anniversary of the October Revolution, Day of Agreement and Conciliation (November 7) and Day of the Russian Federation Constitution (December 12). However, if any of these days coincides with a non-working holiday, the day off is changed to the next working day following the holiday.
    Russia’s Labor Code includes special procedures for female employees and employees with family responsibilities. Employees in Russia are also allowed numerous types of paid leave. For example, employers must provide paid maternity leave both before and after childbirth, with three years’ parental leave paid by governmental social funds. There are other types of paid leave to which employees in Russia are entitled, such as: child care leave, adoption leave, sick leave and leave for caring for a disabled child. Employers are not allowed to send pregnant employees on business trips or to require them to work overtime, nighttime, on free days or religious days.
    Certain guarantees and rights also exist in Russia for employees who work in the Far North regions of that country and other equivalent areas. Employees working in these regions have numerous enhanced rights created by law pertaining to matters such as their compensation, work hours, leaves of absence, and dismissal payment in the case of a company liquidation or reduction in force.
    Employers must forbid employees from performing job functions under certain circumstances, such as where an employee appears to be in a state of alcoholic, narcotic or other intoxication in the workplace; or when an employee has not completed a preliminary or required medical examination as required by law. In general, such employees are not owed wages for the period they are forbidden to work, except where the reason for the inability to work is the employer’s fault.
    Termination of Labor Agreements. Under Russia’s Labor Code, general reasons for termination of a labor agreement are:
    • agreement of all sides of a labor agreement;
    • expiration of the term of a labor agreement, except in cases where the labor relationship is actually continuing and neither side requested the termination of the contract;
    • termination of a labor agreement upon the employee’s initiative;
    • termination of a labor agreement upon the employer’s initiative;
    • transition of an employee to a job for a different employer or the transition to an elected job on the employee’s request or consent;
    • the refusal of an employee to continue performing his or her job functions because of the change of ownership of the organization, change of jurisdiction of an organization or the restructuring of an organization;
    • the refusal of an employee to continue performing his or her job functions because of changes in significant conditions of a labor agreement;
    • the refusal of an employee to transfer to a different job position because of the state of his or her health according to the results of a medical examination;
    • the refusal of an employee to transfer to a different job position because of transferring of the employer to a different region;
    • circumstances not depending on the will of sides; and
    • violation of regulations of the conclusion of a labor agreement, specified in Russia’s Labor code, or in other federal laws, if the violation excludes a possibility of the continuation of performing job functions.
    Labor contracts can only be terminated for reasons set forth in the Labor Code, which provides many obligations of employers, and rights of employees, depending on the reasons for an employee’s separation. The following provides some further key information on separation of employees.
    • Fixed-term agreements are terminated at the end of the valid term, although employees must be warned about the expiration of the agreement in writing no later than three days prior to an employee’s dismissal.
    • Some of the specific reasons an employer may terminate a labor agreement of an employee are as follows: repeated non-fulfillment of job functions by an employee without excuse, if the employee has received a disciplinary punishment; a single violation of job duties by an employee for reasons such as truancy (absence from work without a reasonable excuse for a period longer than four consecutive hours during a working day); appearing in the workplace in a state of alcoholic, narcotic or other intoxication; or the unauthorized disclosure of a secret protected by law that was learned by the employee because of his or her job functions.
    • Employees whose labor contracts are cancelled in connection with the liquidation of an organization or the reduction of the number of permanent staff are generally entitled to a dismissal allowance in the amount of a worker’s average monthly wages until he or she obtains other employment, up to a period of two months from the date of dismissal.
    • Employees are generally entitled to a dismissal allowance in the amount of two weeks of the employee’s average wages when the employee’s contract is cancelled for a number of reasons, such as: the employee’s non-conforming to the post held or the work being done due to the employee’s poor health which hinders him or her from fulfilling the job; or the employee’s refusal to be transferred due to the employer’s move to another location.
    ... DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.


8/22/2014 – 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. Short-handed drivers license office cuts hours, posted by Matthew Prosser, HendersonDailyNews.com
    HENDERSON, Tex., USA - Beginning Sept. 15 the Department of Public Safety in Henderson will be temporarily adjusting its hours of operation.
    Timothy Smith, Region 1A Assistant Manager for driver licenses, told the Henderson Daily News that Monday, Wednesday and Friday will be normal hours for over the counter service.

  2. Women with flexible work hour arrangements perform better, by Rezina Sultana, Financial Express via thefinancialexpress-bd.com
    DHAKA, Bangladesh - "HR policy in Bangladesh has no such law only for women." Different companies adopt their own policies according to their needs. Only foreign companies demonstrate [a] few policies which now benefit a woman employee and which in turn help a woman give her best," says Monir Hossain, Head of HR, Bangla Trac Ltd.
    Sharmin Sarwar, a marketing manager of a renowned company, feels it as a tough [situation]. She says: "Spouses should understand that it is a juggling act for women and that [spouses] have to be supportive. Working women face a lot of domestic hiccups and often have to make a tough decision where they have to work or stay home. HR policies in their favour would help them go a long way and they don't have to quit their job."
    Flextime is a scheduling arrangement that permits variations in an employee's starting and departure times, but does not change the total number of hours worked in a week. In fact, flextime may be applied to full-time and part-time positions. Staff may request a flextime arrangement, or managers may restructure work schedules to create flextime opportunities. As with all formal flexible work arrangements, flextime schedules must be approved in advance by the department.
    The notion of flexible work arrangements explains letting employees work where [not 'when'?] they want and how they want. This notion is catching on in [a] few law firms and legal departments [and] educational institutions of our country. Flexi time [same as flextime??] allows full-time employees to enjoy time off at certain times of the year most convenient to them. Flexi time can include flex hours, flex workdays/weekends, flex holidays and other flexible work arrangements.
    In fact, women do two jobs -- they work and they look after family. Flexi time helps them meet unpredictable demands of family life, illness and personal emergencies. At the same time, flexible work options decrease employee stress, reduce sick leave, and increase productivity. Usually a working woman has to take maximum responsibility of her family and home and in such a scenario flexible working hours, option to work from home, and a friendly leave policy will help them juggle roles. Many acclaim women's multi-tasking ability, saying, "Since ages, women have been great multi-taskers and it is this in-built efficiency in them that helps them to manage work and home with such great perfection." Spouse support gives women psychological strength, they said, adding that at her [sic] organization they have "personal interaction with our employees."
    A recent study of Cranfield School of Management in the United Kingdom suggests that workers given flexible hours by their employers tend to work more intensively than their counterparts with more rigid office hours. However, it has been found that employees who worked remotely one day a week and workers who had reduced their required weekly office hours tended to report higher job satisfaction, lower stress and higher loyalty to their company than employees who didn't have flexible hours. One way to gain more flexibility is through alternative work schedules that provide greater flexibility or reduced hours. Examples of alternative work schedules include flex time, staggered hours, part-time employment and job sharing.
    It is an interesting fact that most of the people want a working wife. At present about 80 per cent people want to marry working women. Surprisingly, these men, when they are at the higher positions, they often get puzzled finding female colleagues become pregnant. In Bangladesh, government already declared six months' maternity leave. But before leave, a women in her pregnancy needs some support but it's not that she can't perform the day to day regular responsibilities. However, she can do the usual work without hiccup but a little flexibility may add more to her performance.
    Daniel Jebasingh, CHRO [Chief, HR Organization?], Consim Info Ltd, agrees that HR policies are becoming more friendly in Indian companies and claims, "We are one of the very few companies in India with an in-house counsellor who helps women cope with stress and generally maintain a good work/life balance."
    To have a better equation [sic, prefer symmetry,balance] between personal and professional life, women should avoid taking work back home. "Being a working professional for more than 13 years I have always managed to keep my personal and professional life separate. I never take my work home," said Daniel Jebasingh, CHRO, Consim Info Ltd.
    [But he is not a woman.]
    In this country [Bangladesh] skilled workers of both genders have options. It is important not to force workers to choose between work and family. Each year thousands of good poeple leave good jobs to take other positions that are more family friendly. [This would be a valuable statistic to track in every economy!] This situation has fueled the dramatic rise of home-based and female-owned businesses.
    Achieving a steadiness betwen professional and personal life is a challenge in today's fast-paced business. The traditinoal 9:00 am to 6:00 pm Saturday-Thursday work schedule no longer goes with many employees. Perhaps one has young children, or is pursuing a degree, has a chronic medical condition or needs to care for elderly parents. Whatever the reason, today's workplace offers a number of strategies to strike a better work life balance.
    However, few Bangladeshi companies are also adopting work-from-home and flexible working hours policies to provide an ideal working atmosphere for women. HR fraterity at large must grow to be very responsive to the fact that a majority of the workforce consists of women. A women has to balance multiple areas like home, work and growing children's needs.
    [Sounds like a "male chauvinist pig" (MCP) economy, and what MCP wouldn't want a nice pliable-reliable slave wife?]
    More and more companies are fast adopting their policies to suit the requirement of women and help provide options like 'work from home', 'flexi hours', 'maternity break', etc. In fact, as long as the deliverables are clear and the women are performing, flexibility should be allowed.
    [An increasing number of similar articles do double duty as journalism and as prayers for relief, this one a particularly poignant example. However, this prayer would be backed by more power at the bargaining table in a nation where "a majority of the workforce consists of women" if Bangladeshi women utilized contraceptive techniques to make it indeed "surprising" that they were pregnant, in order to begin reversing overpopulation in Bangladesh relative to the supply of jobs and create instead that magic wage-raising labor shortage (as perceived by employers) with which alone, capitalism runs prosperously, as during the labor-shortage-borne "wartime prosperity" of World Wars I and II (though of course the military industrialists would prefer to attribute it all to the wasteful demand for death-dealing products).]
    The writer works at Bangla CAT as manager, HR Dept.


8/21/2014 – 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. RIL implements 5 day work weeks to retain top executives, SteelGuru.com
    NEW DELHI, India - Economic Times reported that Reliance Industries has implemented 5 day work weeks from the earlier 6 days, as the oil to telecom conglomerate aims to retain senior and overseas executives and synchronises HR policies with those of partner BP Plc.
    Mr Prabir Jha, Chief Human Resources Officer of RIL, said that the weekly working hours remain unchanged at 45, as staff will now have to put in nine hours a day, instead of 7.5 when they worked Monday to Saturday. RIL staff will now work from 9.30 am to 6.30 pm, or suitable times on manufacturing sites depending on shift requirements. The 5 day week has been effected for staff across all group companies.
    Mr Jha said that "This is part of an organisation transformation initiative launched at RIL to make working simpler. Reliance is looking at an upgrade of its people processes and practices to prepare it for the next wave of growth."
    A person aware of the change said that “The process of shifting to a five-day week started in April, but was completed only recently. Now all employees and contractors of the company get a two-day weekend and mandatory leave, the period for which is still to be defined.”
    A person with knowledge of the matter said that “The move is partly an attempt by RIL to retain some of the senior and overseas talent the company has been hiring.”

  2. Where the Five-Day Workweek Came From - It's a relatively new invention—is it time to shave another day off? by Philip Sopher, TheAtlantic.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Seven days,” wrote Witold Rybczynski in the August 1991 issue of The Atlantic, “is not natural because no natural phenomenon occurs every seven days.” The year marks one revolution of the Earth around the sun. Months, supposedly, mark the time between full moons. The seven-day week, however, is completely man-made.
    [No it isn't. It is one quarter of the approximate time between full moons (29 days) and equals the number of visible celestial objects that are wanderers ('planets') among the fixed stars: Sun, Moon, Mercury (Tiu), Mars (Woden), Jupiter (Thor), Venus (Friyya), Saturn.]
    If it’s man-made, can’t man unmake it? For all the talk of how freeing it’d be to shave a day or two off the five-day workweek, little attention has been paid to where the weekly calendar came from. Understanding the sometimes arbitrary origins of the modern workweek might inform the movement to shorten it.
    The roots of the seven-day week can be traced back about 4,000 years, to Babylon. The Babylonians believed there were seven planets in the solar system, and the number seven held such power to them that they planned their days around it. Their seven-day, planetary week spread to Egypt, Greece, and eventually to Rome, where it turns out the Jewish people had their own version of a seven-day week. (The reason for this is unclear, but some have speculated that the Jews adopted this after their exile in Babylon in the sixth century B.C.) At the very latest, the seven-day week was firmly entrenched in the Western calendar about 250 years before Christ was born.
    The earliest recorded use of the word “weekend,” Rybczynski notes, occurred in 1879 in an English magazine called Notes and Queries:
    In Staffordshire, if a person leaves home at the end of his week’s work on the Saturday afternoon to spend the evening of Saturday and the following Sunday with friends at a distance, he is said to be spending his week-end at So-and-so.
    Some 19th-century Britons used the week's seventh day for merriment rather than for the rest prescribed by scripture. They would drink, gamble, and enjoy themselves so much that the phenomenon of “Saint Monday,” in which workers would skip work to recover from Sunday's gallivanting, emerged. English factory owners later compromised with workers by giving them a half-day on Saturday in exchange for guaranteed attendance at work on Monday.
    It took decades for Saturday to change from a half-day to a full day’s rest. In 1908, a New England mill became the first American factory to institute the five-day week. It did so to accommodate Jewish workers, whose observance of a Saturday sabbath forced them to make up their work on Sundays, offending some in the Christian majority. The mill granted these Jewish workers a two-day weekend, and other factories followed this example. The Great Depression cemented the two-day weekend into the economy, as shorter hours were considered a remedy to underemployment.
    Nearly a century later, mills have been overtaken by more advanced technologies, yet the five-day workweek remains the fundamental organizing concept behind when work is done. Its obsolescence has been foretold for quite a while now: A 1965 Senate subcommittee predicted Americans would work 14-hour weeks by the year 2000, and before that, back in 1928, John Maynard Keynes wrote that technological advancement would bring the workweek down to 15 hours within 100 years.
    There’s reason to believe that a seven-day week with a two-day weekend is an inefficient technology: A growing body of research and corporate case studies suggests that a transition to a shorter workweek would lead to increased productivity, improved health, and higher employee-retention rates.
    The five-day workweek might be limiting productivity. A study in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that those who worked 55 hours per week performed more poorly on some mental tasks than those who worked 40 hours per week. And Tony Schwartz, the author of Be Excellent at Anything, told Harvard Business Review that people work best in intense 90-minute bursts followed by periods of recovery. Taken together, these findings suggest that with the right scheduling of bursts and rests, workers could get a similar amount of work done over a shorter period of time.
    Moreover, there’s some anecdotal evidence that a four-day workweek might increase productivity. Google’s Larry Page has praised the idea, even if he hasn’t implemented it. And Jason Fried, the CEO of Basecamp, has his employees work four-day, 32-hour weeks for half of the year. “When you have a compressed workweek, you tend to focus on what’s important. Constraining time encourages quality time, ” he wrote an op-ed in The New York Times. “Better work gets done in four days than in five,” he concluded.
    Beyond working more efficiently, a four-day workweek appears to improve morale and well-being. The president of the U.K. Faculty of Public Health told the Daily Mail that a four-day workweek could help lower blood pressure and increase mental health among employees. Jay Love of Slingshot SEO saw his employee-retention rate shoot up when he phased in three-day weekends. Following this line of thought, TreeHouse, an online education platform, implemented a four-day week to attract workers, which has contributed to the company's growth.
    That said, the five-day workweek might already have so much cultural intertia that it can’t be changed. Most companies can’t just tell employees not to come in on Fridays, because they'd be at a disadvantage in a world that favors the five-day workweek.
    But there’s a creative solution to this problem. David Stephens, a consultant based in Houston, detailed in a post on LinkedIn the clever system devised at a company he used to work for. The company was divided into two teams. One would work from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. from Monday to Thursday, and the other would work those hours from Tuesday to Friday. The teams would switch schedules every week, so every two-day weekend would be followed by a four-day weekend. The results, Stephens reports, were positive. The company was open five days a week, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. instead of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. He claims that morale skyrocketed. Employees took fewer sick days, visiting the doctor in off hours rather than during the workday. If the old ways are truly just sitting there, waiting to be disrupted, it’s surprising that the traditional workweek remains wholly intact.
    In this scenario, employees still work 40-hour weeks, but they do so over the course of four days rather than five. This arrangement still sounds sub-optimal, though, as working at full capacity for 10 hours is more demanding than doing so for eight. Despite that, the employees at Stephens’s company still preferred 40 hours in four days to 40 hours in five days. They might be even happier—and work even better—if they worked fewer hours in addition to fewer days.
    Given the ongoing conversation about how most of the old ways are just sitting there, waiting to be disrupted, it’s surprising that the traditional workweek remains wholly intact. On top of that, one would think that the slew of corporate perks deployed to attract top talent would have by now extended to a re-envisioning of the two-day weekend. But it hasn’t.
    Of course, the upsides of a four-day weekend have yet to be truly borne out, but there’s a lot of evidence that suggests it’s a good idea. So, for now, there appears to be an untapped way for companies to bring on and retain high-quality employees: Shorten the work-week. And figure out a way to do that before everyone else does.

  3. Standard Working Hours Committee launches thematic exhibition on working hours issues, 7thspace.com
    HONG KONG, HKSAR, China - The following is issued on behalf of the Standard Working Hours Committee:
    Members of the public are invited to visit a thematic exhibition on working hours issues organised by the Standard Working Hours Committee (SWHC), to be held at Discovery Park Shopping Centre in Tsuen Wan on August 23 and 24.
    At the exhibition, the SWHC will display panels with information on various working hours issues and broadcast a TV promotional video entitled "Get to Know Standard Working Hours" to enhance public understanding of the subject of working hours. The comic book "Touring around the World of Working Hours" and the DVD "Get to Know Standard Working Hours" will also be distributed. In addition, a quiz game will be held during the exhibition and participants will receive SWHC souvenirs.
    The exhibition will be held at the Display Exhibition Area A, Level 2, Discovery Park Shopping Centre, 398 Castle Peak Road, Tsuen Wan, from 11am to 8pm.
    Admission is free.
    The SWHC comprises a Chairperson and 23 members, including 12 serving members (employer and employee representatives) of the Labour Advisory Board. The remaining 11 members come from the labour and business sectors, academia, the community at large and the Government.
    Source: HKSAR Government


8/20/2014 – 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. Germany's Short Work Week, Kurzarbeit, Moving East, by Sean Carney sean.carney@wsj.com, Wall Street Journal (blog) via blogs.wsj.com
    PRAGUE, Czech Republic - German solution to save jobs in the long run amid temporary falls in economic activity is set for introduction in neighboring Czech Republic.
    The Czech government, labor unions and business leaders this week found initial consensus for the short-time regime, called Kurzarbeit in German, that prevents companies from rapidly reducing head counts and worsening local labor markets due to macroeconomic downturns.
    In the short-time regime, the state funds some labor costs at businesses to keep workforces intact and to prevent the government from having to pay full unemployment benefits which would be more costly.
    At the same time, tax revenues remain somewhat stabilized while workers and their families don’t face the bleak prospects that come with being laid off.
    The cabinet will submit a bill to parliament in coming weeks and the legislation could go into effect as of January 1.
    The plan helped Germany survive the downturn following Europe’s initial financial crises, but the jury is still out whether this remains a long-term economic solution.
    [Of course it's not a long-term solution; It's short-term, because it depends on the jobseekers' fund aka unemployment insurance. It's a short-term emergency solution that is halfway to a long-term version with independent organically related funding, namely, Timesizing.]
    Qualifying companies could scale back working hours and reduce wage and salary payments to workers, while the government would cover most of the difference in labor costs to preserve social cohesion.
    The details of the plan, such as specific criteria for determining which business qualify or for how long support should last, need to be agreed in parliament.
    The plan’s supporters—which includes the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development—say it is a win-win situation in times of macroeconomic downturns.
    The Czech economy is emerging from a recession that spanned most of 2012 and 2013, but the emerging trade war between the West and Russia is worrying locals, who want to prevent the country falling into its third recession since 2008.
    Czech labor unions and left-leaning politicians have been calling for the short-time solution to temporary economic dislocations for over seven years. However the newly-introduced Russian ban on food from the European Union and the specter of waning exports amid sanctions regimes seem to have made the difference.
    The play enjoys broad support in the country of 10 million, despite some opposition politicians saying they worry that companies which have poor business models and lack long-term prospects for success will be propped up by government subsidies.
    [Here's the Kurzarbeit-related part of another article -]
    Czech press survey - August 20 , by CTK via ctk.cz via ceskenoviny.cz
    PRAGUE, Czech Republic - ... Czech businesspeople, politicians and trade union bosses rarely reach agreement, but they have one reliable link: love for kurzarbeit, which is nothing but a state contribution paid to firms for the salaries of employees in situations where the economy is not doing well, Zuzana Kubatova writes in Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD).
    Some time ago, Petr Necas´s government sent money to the industrialists who lost orders over the crisis, but unemployment continued growing and it is not clear what the effect of kurzarbeit was, unlike the quite clear effect of the investment cuts and restrictions, which stiffed construction industry and other branches and which were made by the same government, Bendova writes.
    Now, kurzarbeit has again been proposed, Kubatova writes, but she asks whether it would not be better if the state finally made a couple of legislative changes that would loosen the rules of people´s employing [=hiring? or employment?], which have been adjourned [=delayed?] for many years.
    The changes would rid firms of the fear of accepting employees for whom they pay big money to the state [why would firms pay big money to the state for all(? or some?) employees?] and whom they have problem getting rid of if need be. This would definitely help the labour market more than kurzarbeit, Kubatova writes.

  2. A Compelling Case for Shorter Work Weeks, by DashBurst, Small Business Trends via smallbiztrends.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Does your boss consider you lazy for not working more than 40 hours in the workweek? Most companies in America believe that the more hours you work, the more productive you’re likely to be. However research shows this rationale isn’t always the case where overall productivity and disposable income seem to increase as annual hours worked lessen. Also workers with more free time tend to be more loyal, are healthier and can ultimately be more productive and valuable in the long run.
    Most countries in Europe favor a mid 30 hour work week compared to the 40 hours worked in the U.S, however, are nearly equally productive in terms of annual hours worked relative to the country’s GDP.
    Then again, if you want to get ahead with your own startup, you may find yourself working 80 plus hour weeks. So the important thing to remember is to work smarter, not necessarily longer utilizing intelligent prioritization of tasks, resources and any help you can get to accomplish your goals.
    Do you think you would be more productive if you could work less hours each day?
    DashBurst is part of the Small Business Trends Publisher Channel and is an open content network for creators, marketers, designers, bloggers, small businesses and brands and covers the latest in social media, marketing, technology and design. The site also features fresh infographics, presentations, videos, photos and more. It is a highly-frequented independent publication online that focus on social media and Web culture.

  3. Federal court confirms employers may define workweeks to limit overtime pay, by Barbara E. Hoey & Mark A. Konkel, Kelley Drye & Warren LLP via Lexology.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - In a favorable ruling for management, the Fifth Circuit affirmed the principle that an employer need not follow their employees’ understanding of their own workweek. Rather, the employer may define the workweek in a way that is most employer-friendly for determining overtime obligations.
    [And not bother informing the employee(s) concerned?]
    In Johnson v. Heckmann Water Resources (CVR), Inc., the plaintiffs worked 7 consecutive 12 hour shifts in every two week pay period, which ran from Thursday – Wednesday. The plaintiffs filed a lawsuit alleging that their employer violated the overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act by not calculating overtime compensation using a Thursday – Wednesday workweek. Under the plaintiff’s preferred approach, they would be entitled to over 40 hours of overtime each pay period. However, the employer calculated overtime on a Monday – Sunday basis, resulting in less than 10 hours of overtime for the plaintiffs each pay period.
    [So the workweek does not even have to coincide with the pay period? Note the article never makes this point. This is a sick joke both on the part of the employer and their law firm.]
    The district court granted summary judgment for the employer, and the Fifth Circuit affirmed. In so holding, the court noted that regulations interpreting the FLSA only require that a “workweek” be “a fixed, regularly recurring period of 168 hours—seven consecutive 24-hour periods.” While the regulations require that the workweek remain fixed once established, they expressly state that the workweek “need not coincide with the calendar week [or the pay period?!] but may begin on any date and at any hour of the day.” In rejecting the employees’ claims of overtime violations, the Fifth Circuit also relied upon a 2009 DOL Opinion Letter and a similar decision from the Eighth Circuit, both of which supported an employer’s right to choose a workweek under the FLSA.
    This decision should serve as a reminder to employers to review their workweek policies to ensure that the workweek is not only clearly defined, but also defined in a way that is most economical to the company.
    [At least redefinition of the workweek is affirmed here, if only in the one-sided, consumption&circulation&market-eroding interest of the employer. Now it's time to move toward full employment, so these information-withholding and compulsively employee-scanting employers can be disciplined by employee departures.]
    Kelley Drye’s Labor and Employment Group can help you determine whether your pay policies comply with applicable wage and hour law and assist with proper documentation in the event that your practices are challenged.


8/19/2014 – 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. Work Sharing in the US, Posted by Michel Cournoyer, JobMarketMonitor.com
    MONTREAL, Quebec - Short-time compensation (STC) is a program within the federal-state unemployment insurance system. In states that have STC programs, workers whose hours are reduced under a formal work sharing plan may be compensated with STC, which is a regular unemployment benefit that has been pro-rated for the partial work reduction.
    Although the terms work sharing and short-time compensation are sometimes used interchangeably, work sharing refers to any arrangement under which workers’ hours are reduced in lieu of a layoff. Under a work sharing arrangement, a firm faced with the need to downsize temporarily chooses to reduce work hours across the board for all workers instead of laying off a smaller number of workers. For example, an employer might reduce the work hours of the entire workforce by 20%, from five to four days a week, in lieu of laying off 20% of the workforce.
    Employers have used STC combined with work sharing arrangements to reduce labor costs, sustain morale compared to layoffs, and retain highly skilled workers. Work sharing can also reduce employers’ recruitment and training costs by eliminating the need to recruit new employees when business improves. On the employee’s side, work sharing spreads more moderate earnings reductions across more employees—especially if work sharing is combined with STC—as opposed to imposing significant hardship on a few. Many states also require that employers who participate in STC programs continue to provide health insurance and retirement benefits to work sharing employees as if they were working a full schedule.
    Work sharing and STC cannot, however, avert layoffs or plant closings if a company’s financial situation is dire. In addition, some employers may choose not to adopt work sharing because laying off workers may be a less expensive alternative. This may be the case for firms whose production technologies make it expensive or impossible to shorten the work week. For other firms, it may be cheaper to lay off workers than to continue paying health and pension benefits on a full-time equivalent basis. Work sharing arrangements in general also redistribute the burden of unemployment from younger to older employees, and for this reason the arrangements may be opposed by workers with seniority who are less likely to be laid off.
    From the perspective of state governments, concerns about the STC program have included the program’s high administrative costs. Massachusetts has made significant strides in automating STC systems and reducing costs, but many other states still manage much of the STC program on paper.
    Currently, approximately half of the states and the District of Columbia have enacted STC programs to support work sharing arrangements. However, few UC beneficiaries are STC participants. At the peak of its use in 2010, the STC beneficiaries totaled nearly 3% of regular unemployment compensation first payments. The reasons for low take-up of the STC program are not completely clear, but key causes include lack of awareness of the program, administrative complexity for employers, and employer costs. P.L. 112-96, passed in February 2012, offers grants to states to help bring attention to the states’ STC laws. In addition, P.L. 112-96 provides temporary federal funding to states that have existing STC programs or to create a new one. Despite these changes, the proportion of UC claimants receiving funds from STC remains low relative to overall UC claims.
    [Table 1 shows 8,907,190 regular unemployment compensation first payments and 1,593 short-time compensation first payments (0.02%) in 1983 mounting to 9,474,445 regular UE first payments and 236,379 STC first payments (2.49%) in 2011.]
    Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at Compensated Work Sharing Arrangements (Short-Time Compensation) as an Alternative to Layoffs

  2. Implement Kurzarbeit as soon as possible because of sanctions, government experts advise, ekonomika.idnes.cz
    [Translated from Slovakian by Google Translate & cleaned up by Phil.]
    PRAGUE, Czech Republic - Due to the Russian sanctions, the government should accelerate work on the so-called Kurzarbeit plan [German for worksharing], i.e., the ability to raise money for the training of employees for whom firms do not have work due to the loss of contracts. On Monday, the Cabinet recommended that a working group be formed for monitoring the impact of sanctions between the EU and Russia.
    The State Secretary for European Affairs, Tomáš Prouza, who chaired the working group, spoke at a press conference.
    If possible, the new rules would ideally implement Kurzarbeit from January 2015. The President of the Federation of Industry, Jaroslav Hanak, said that support of staff on Kurzarbeit from the state would have significantly less impact on the state budget than if such employees lived on welfare.
    Throwing their weight behind Kurzarbeit on Tuesday will be representatives of employers and trade unions in the House of Commons, said Vice President Jana Bartoška of KDU-CSL.
    Allocated support for the system by the end of 2015 will reach 400 million crowns. But employer support is yet too unstable and unfavourable to a too-strict setting of the rules that are to obtain these funds from them.
    As an additional measure, the working group proposed the introduction of so-called agricultural diplomats. The pilot project would be situated at embassies in Moscow, Kiev, Riyadh, Beijing and Belgrade. "We will discuss whether just Moscow and Kiev would be the best two sites, or if we wouldn't think about switching the top two of the five diplomats," Prouza added.
    Embargo mostly affected Czech dairies
    As a short term measure, the working group proposes the use of European financial mechanisms to support the agricultural sector, such as market intervention. Due to sanctions on exports to Russia, Czech exporters of agricultural commodities and food will come to the end of the year with sales of only 250 to 300 million. The embargo mostly affects domestic dairies, the Ministry of Agriculture said on Monday.
    The working group will submit proposals to mitigate the impact of sanctions to the Government at its first meeting after the summer break on Aug. 27. The government also created a Web presence where the cabinet will publish information on the impact of sanctions. The main priority is to keep jobs in the Czech Republic.
    Last year [by contrast], the volume of Czech exports in sanctioned engineering products reached 2.1 billion crowns. According to Prouza, however, this [year's lower] number reflects the impact of sanctions in a situation where a Czech engineering company failed to find any alternative outlets for their products. "The real impact will be lower," he added.
    Gas supply or constriction of strategic raw materials will not be a problem according to the Secretary. Czech reservoirs are now 93% full and in a matter of days will be filled completely.
    Source: http://ekonomika.idnes.cz/experti-chteji-urychlit-kurzarbeit-db7-/ekonomika.aspx?c=A140818_181417_ekonomika_jj


8/17-18/2014 – 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. A Latino middle class is key, billionaire says [even as his concentrated billions block it!], AP via 8/18 Boston Globe, B6.
    HOUSTON, Tex., USA — Increasing workers’ earning power and offering Hispanic-owned companies easier access to funding that can be used for growth can help improve the social and economic status of Latinos in the United States and across Latin America, Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim says.
    In a speech at the annual conference of the Catholic Association of Latino Leaders, Slim spoke on how to better the plight of Hispanic workers and Latino-owned businesses.
    Slim, ranked by Forbes magazine as the world’s second-richest person, with an estimated net worth of $72 billion, suggested establishing investment firms dedicated to working with small- and medium-size Latino businesses.
    He also said that following recent economic crises, countries need to focus on strengthening the middle class as well as health care and education.
    ‘‘What is important is that people earn more and that more middle classes are formed,’’ said Slim, who owns America Movil, a cellphone service provider in Latin America.
    Slim also reiterated his recent proposal for a three-day [33-hour] work week. He said the idea would mean longer work hours and delaying retirement until 70 to 75 years old. But he said it would mean people having more free time with their families or for personal enrichment.
    Last week, Slim’s foundation unveiled Acceso Latino, a free website to provide Hispanics access to information about education, health care, job training, culture, and other areas.
    There are more than 53 million Hispanics in the United States, or 17 percent of the population, according to census figures. Slim said this makes the US Hispanic population larger than the populations of many Latin American countries.
    Martin Cabrera, chief executive of a Chicago investment firm, said there are already multibillion-dollar pension funds that have investment arms that provide financing to startups and other companies. But ‘‘the amount of business they are doing with Latino [companies] is close to zero,’’ he said.
    Cabrera said Slim can use his influence to start a dialogue with pension funds and their investment arms to get them to see the potential of investing in Hispanic-owned businesses.
    Cabrera added that these funds and investment firms can also bring ‘‘management and experience to help’’ Hispanic-owned businesses grow and ‘‘get them to the next level and even possibly be the Latino Facebook or the Latino Google.’'
    [And in some places 3-day workweeks are happening automatically -]

  2. Teachers who sub likely to get hours cut, by Brian C. Rittmeyer, 8/17 Tribune-Review via triblive.com
    APOLLO-RIDGE, Penn., USA - Students may regard the appearance of a substitute teacher in their classroom as a day off, but it means more work — and potentially more cost — for school districts.
    As students return to classes, many school districts will be closely monitoring — and limiting — how many hours subs work because of requirements to provide health insurance under the federal Affordable Care Act.
    And in cases in which districts have to offer insurance, some may do the math and find it's cheaper to pay a penalty to the federal government than to pay for the insurance.
    Beginning next school year, districts will be required to provide health insurance to part-time employees such as substitute teachers if they work an average of 30 hours in a week or 130 hours in a month.
    It matters now, because school districts are able to average out their work hours over a “look back” period of between three months and a year to determine whether they need to offer coverage to subs who could work full-time hours one week but less than that — or not at all — the next.
    Most districts are averaging hours over a year, said Jeff Ammerman, director of technical assistance for the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials. When eligible, districts have to offer coverage for the same span of time as the look-back period.
    “Every district is going to have to deal with some portion of it this year,” Ammerman said.
    The challenge districts face is tracking people who work multiple jobs in multiple buildings, Ammerman said.
    “There's a significant penalty if school districts do not offer coverage to employees who should be offered coverage,” he said.
    Kiski Area last school year started manually tracking, and limiting, how many hours substitute teachers work, Business Manager Peggy Gillespie said. The district will now use a computer program to do that work.
    Once a day-to-day sub reaches a weekly limit, 27 to 28 hours, they won't be able to substitute, Gillespie said.
    The requirement has essentially ended the practice of “building subs,” people who could be relied on to come in every day and work where and as needed, Gillespie said.
    “We have to be cognizant of that 30-hour timeframe,” she said. “We can't afford to provide individual health care for 100 substitutes. We couldn't bear those costs.”
    3-day-a-week limit
    Apollo-Ridge will be limiting subs to working three days per week so none rises to full-time status
    , which Business Manager Jennie Ivory said is “a shame.”
    “The biggest impact is to our substitute individuals, and we certainly have some wonderful substitutes,” she said. “It seems a shame. It seems as through they're being penalized. That's not the district's intent, of course. We have to stay within the guidelines of the Affordable Care Act in order not to incur penalties or have to provide benefits.”
    Outsourcing substitutes can relieve districts of both the task of tracking hours and offering insurance.
    It was a factor in the South Butler School District's move to use a staffing service for subs starting with the coming school year, district spokesman Jason Davidek said.
    Using the service gives the district an expanded pool of subs — teachers, custodians and others — to draw from who have the needed clearances to work in schools, he said.
    The health care requirement is factoring into the Plum School Board's ongoing discussions over whether to continue using the same staffing service or taking management of subs back in-house.
    Although the district's 2014-15 budget called for eliminating use of a staffing service, some board members want to learn more about the impact of the insurance requirement before formally ending the arrangement. The board has not reached a decision.
    Kiski: Not much savings
    Gillespie said Kiski Area looked at outsourcing, but decided against it after not finding much savings.
    “We just weren't ready to move in that direction,” Superintendent John Meighan said.
    Because most substitute teachers work in more than one school district, they may not work enough hours at any one district to qualify for health insurance, said Jan Klein, business director in the Mt. Lebanon School District and chair of the Allegheny County Schools Health Care Consortium.
    Subs may not need their own policies, as they may be covered by spouses or be recent graduates still covered under their parents' policies.
    But for those few who do, Klein said districts may opt to risk paying a penalty rather than pay for health insurance.
    It's what she recommended for her district, and what the Mt. Lebanon School Board has decided to do — the district will offer, but not pay for, health insurance for the few subs who work enough hours to qualify for it.
    That's because it could cost districts less to pay a penalty to the federal government than pay for health insurance, according to Klein.
    At Mt. Lebanon, the cheapest insurance for a single person would cost the district $365 per month. Under the Affordable Care Act – commonly referred to as Obamacare – the penalty is $250.
    “It doesn't pay for us to offer health care,” she said. But, “every school district is going to make a different decision.”
    Penalty uncertain
    Even then, a penalty is not a sure thing. A district would be penalized only if the employee goes to the federal website and gets a subsidy to get coverage.
    “That's not a bad choice. The person still has health care and it's less expensive for us. It's an option,” Klein said. “We can pay for it by paying a subsidy through the government or directly out of our pocket. Directly out of our pocket costs more money.
    “The federal government has this system, we're going to use it. That's how the law was set up.”
    The challenge isn't entirely financial, as districts must consider educational impacts as well, especially if limiting substitute teacher hours results in changing them more frequently in classrooms.
    “A familiarity and continuity with substitute teachers who are quality teachers is important for the students,” Allegheny Valley Superintendent Cheryl Griffith said.
    Griffith said administrators in her district are still working to figure out how they'll comply.
    “There's a balance that has to be considered,” she said. “We have to do the right thing by the students.”
    While Kiski Area will be trying to limit substitute teacher hours, there will be times that won't be possible, when a certain teacher with a certain certification is needed for a class, Gillespie said.
    “We're always going to do what's best for a classroom. We can't sacrifice the quality of the education,” she said. “There will be some hard choices having to be made.”
    Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4701 or brittmeyer@tribweb.com

  3. 19 Entrepreneurs Share What Hours They Work, by Kira M. Newman, 8/17 (8/13 late pickup) Tech Cocktail via tech.co
    LAS VEGAS, Nev., USA - If I had a penny for every time an entrepreneur joked about long hours, maybe I could fund your next startup.
    But what hours do entrepreneurs really work? Answering that question might provide some psychological relief: if you feel ashamed or guilty of not working long enough, it might be reassuring to hear that not everyone is putting in marathon days. If you feel worn out and overworked because of your hours, you might discover that you’re not alone.
    We asked tech entrepreneurs to share their hours, and we got a host of responses across the board, falling into a few distinct categories: two or three shifts, “normal” hours, late night, early start, evenings and weekends, and 12+ hours. Here they are:
    Two or three shifts
    “My work days are usually split into two shifts – 11 am-5 pm, then 9 pm-3 am. In between those shifts, I like to hit the Crossfit gym.”
    - Justin Zhu, CEO and cofounder of Iterable
    “During the week, I’ll work 6:30 am-5 pm and 6-10 pm (travel time in between). On the weekends, I’ll check my email here and there, and work during my daughter’s three-hour naps.”
    - Len Gauger, founder and CEO of Message Blocks
    “My day starts with a yoga class, then I typically work 8 am to 5 pm, at which point I take a break to play with my pup outdoors. Somewhere between 6 and 10 I usually put in another hour or two, but it’s usually the more mindless activities like organizing merchandise (which I rather enjoy).”
    - Antonia Townsend, founder of Enclosed
    “I usually work from home from 9 am-10 am, and then at the office from 10 am-7 pm. I’ll go out to dinner and then work from 10 pm-2 am, depending on workload.”
    - Blaine Vess, CEO and founder of StudyMode
    “I work 9-6, break for workout/dinner, and then 9 pm-midnight again. Some days I have grad school, so I will be in school from 6:30-9:30.”
    - Mikhail Avady, CMO of Smartup
    “Normal” hours
    “I work usually from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm. I’m generally one of the first in the office, since most people come in at 10 or 11 am.”
    - Tania Ryseck, business development associate at nVisium
    “I work 9-6 most days. I never work weekends, and extra hours are generally confined to travel or when we’re at a trade show.”
    - John Peebles, CEO of Administrate

    [So there are even some entrepreneurs who work smart, not hard =long.]
    Late night
    “Well, everything starts out with the intention of 9-6, but somewhere around 8 or 9 pm I realize it’s going to be a long night.”
    - Brian Winters, VP of services at Adcieo
    “I work seven days a week: I wake up at 6 am and go to sleep at 1 am, sometimes midnight if I am lucky.”
    - Jerry Castanos, CEO of 3D Heights
    Early start
    “I usually wake up around 6:30 am, walk the dog, and go for a run. When I get back, I spend 20-30 minutes answering emails and questions from students that came in overnight. I try to get to the office around 8:30 am so I can get some work done before students and my team arrive. It’s the quietest time of day and I can work very efficiently. . . . I’ll leave the office around 7:00 pm, but like a typical startup, leaving the office doesn’t mean the work is done.”
    - Jeremy Snepar, CEO and cofounder of New York Code + Design Academy
    “With the new baby, I’m up in the middle of the night so I’ll send ~10 emails between the hours of midnight and 6 am while helping her get to sleep. A lot of them are international prospects/clients :) I wake up around 6:30 am and go for a paddle board ride or bike ride (listening to Audible during the trip), come home and grab breakfast, then my day begins. I’m on and off with the team until they leave and usually do 2-3 dinners/week with associates, clients, and entrepreneur friends.”
    - Kyle Porter, CEO of SalesLoft
    “In office on the beach in Venice, CA, from 7:30 to 4:30 and telecommute during off hours.”
    - Ben Pappas, CEO of Call Creator Plus
    “I’m a morning person (I know, obnoxious). By 6 am, I’m typically at my laptop in ‘heads down’ mode. I use the app Concentrate to turn off distractions, and use the first 1-2 hours of the morning to focus on things that need real thought. After my two-year-old daughter wakes up at 7:30, I spend time with her, then hit the gym, get ready, and walk the 0.9 miles to the Rise office, which is in the Mission area of San Francisco. Our office and team are awesome, so I sometimes lose track of time, but try to get home by 7:30.”
    - Suneel Gupta, CEO and founder of Rise
    Evenings and weekends
    “I still work full-time as a biomedical equipment technician in Kenosha, Wi (55 hours a week) and spend my mornings and lunch break, weekends, and a good portion of my evening working on the site.”
    - Ryan Schlipp, owner of The Unprofessional Football League 12-hour+
    “HAHAHA the life of an entrepreneur is neverending. Initially it felt like 24/7, now I’m down to 7 am-7 pm for the most part.”
    - Laura Meck, managing partner at Small Business Secret Weapon Company
    “5 am-10 pm”
    - Mirta Desir of Smart Coos
    “As of today, we are an eight-person team that often works remotely and internationally. I’m based in Shanghai, but have team members in San Diego, upstate New York, New York City, and Paris. In terms of the hours worked, I personally put in around 10-12 hours a day separated into 2- or 3-hour chunks beginning as early as 7 am and ending as late as 1 am.”
    - Brett DeColyse, cofounder and CFO of Embark.org
    “At Roojoom, located in Tel Aviv, I work pretty much from 6:30 am-12 am so that I can connect to all of the important time zones from Europe all the way to California and even Australia.”
    - Marni Mandell, head of business development at Roojoom
    “Our business is over 50% overseas so, to accommodate meetings with Copenhagen, Dubai, and Sydney, my hours are all over the map. I generally put in a core 8 am-8 pm and then take early calls at 5 am and late calls at 2 am as well as weekends to meet clients’ various time zones. As a tech platform, customers can come from anywhere and you need to be ready to meet them when they want to talk to keep them happy.”
    - Brandon Ancier, director of customer happiness for Tint
    About the Author - Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and positivity. Since 2011, she has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact kira@tech.co


8/16/2014 – 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. Unemployment insurance – Job sharing / short-time working, by Curt Nickisch, (8/21/2008 very late pickup) Morning Edition via National Public Radio via CollegesSurvival.com
    [Translated into non-English and machine-translated back, and cleaned up by Phil Hyde.]
    SAMFORD, Queensld., Australia - Job sharing or work sharing and part-time or short-time work allude to circumstances or situations in which staff members agree or are forced to accept a decrease in worktime and reward.
    These may be based on single contracts or on politically authorized programmes in numerous nations that attempt to cut joblessness.
    In those, bosses have the choice of decreasing work hours to part-time for numerous staff members in lieu of laying off a few of them and keeping solely full-time employees.
    For instance, staff members in 18 states [now 28] of the United States may then obtain unemployment benefits for the hours they are no longer functioning.
    [http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=93581221 Companies Implement Part-Time Layoffs]
    [Original story -]
    Companies Implement Part-Time Layoffs, by Curt Nickisch, (8/21/2008 very late pickup) Morning Edition via National Public Radio via npr.org
    BOSTON, Mass., USA - In the small seaside town of Gloucester, Mass., business has been so slow at Modern Heat, a sheet metal shop, that there's often only one machine running at a time.
    Bernard Savo, who runs the operation, says the sluggish economy has really cooled sales.
    "When we didn't have enough money coming in to take care of the payroll, we knew that we had to do something at this end to cut the overhead," Savo says. "The insurance still goes on. The electric still goes on. But the payroll was what was killing us."
    Normally, cutting payroll means cutting jobs. But Savo did not want to lose experienced workers, only to have to hire and train replacements when orders pick back up again.

    A Shared Impact
    Instead of laying off part of his workforce, Savo's laying everyone off part time.
    He's doing so as part of a state program called worksharing.

    Under this little-known program, offered in 18 states [28 as of summer 2014], employees collect unemployment only for the hours they're cut back. To weather the economic slowdown, a growing number of companies are laying people off for part of the workweek.
    "If I had the work, I [would] put them back to work full time. I have no choice but to keep them working three days a week and then unemployed for two," says Savo.
    Maintaining Benefits
    His employees still draw full benefits — health care and retirement — under worksharing. But for the two days they're not on the job, they get unemployment from the state.
    Savo's staff is pretty torn about the plan. Longtime employee Alex Monell says the unemployment he gets only makes up about half of what he would have been earning for those two days.
    "I don't have a family or a mortgage, so I'm not in too bad shape," Monell says. "And it comes at a time of the year when it's sort of nice to have some extra time off. But in general, I'm living on my savings. It's dropping."
    Shorter Workweek
    The drop was too much for another employee with a family. The welder took another job. Still, the rest have stayed on, resigned that a three-day workweek is better than a no-day workweek.
    "It's good for the economy here because these people do have a job to go back to," says Edward Malmborg, the director of Massachusetts' unemployment division.
    He says the number of people in worksharing programs in the state has shot up by more than one-third so far this year. Many of the 17 other states that offer part-time layoffs are seeing big increases, too. In Florida, the number is on track to triple this year from 2007, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Malmborg says companies want the flexibility to bring employees back full time as soon as the economy gets better.
    "That's what we really like to see," he says. "Doesn't always work out, but in a large number of cases, we've seen that it has."
    Malmborg says part-time layoffs don't appear to drain the state's pool of unemployment money any more or less than conventional pink slips.
    Limited Savings
    But worksharing is not necessarily a wash for the companies themselves.
    "The downside is that the costs don't fall proportionately with the hours," says Paul Osterman, a labor market economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He says businesses don't save as much money up front as they would through regular layoffs.
    "If you still have to maintain benefits and so on, two half-time people are still more expensive than one full-time person," Osterman says.
    He says companies have to weigh that against the savings that worksharing brings down the road by not having to rehire. The shorter the economic downturn is, the more part-time layoffs pay off, he adds. The big jump in worksharing recently suggests companies are betting the slowdown will be short-lived.
    Curt Nickisch reports for member station WBUR.

  2. It pays to keep flexible working hours, by Manar Al Hinai, TheNational.ae
    ABU DHABI, Arab Emirates - When it comes to the workforce, one of the most common complaints I hear from my friends is the lack of flexible work options. Some find that certain tasks could be done remotely from anywhere around the world, and that not being physically there at the office will not mean that they are less efficient and effective.
    The complaints I hear most comes from mothers who want to contribute to the workforce but at the same time do not want to sacrifice their personal lives. For instance, they complain that because most working hours are too long they do not spend enough time with their family, which could affect their personal relationships with their spouse and children.
    Working from home and having flexible working hours is a dream for many. Think about working in the comfort of your pyjamas, taking conference calls while you’re lying down on your couch and avoiding the hectic morning traffic. Not to mention the relief many mothers will feel for staying at home with their kids and not worrying about leaving them at day care centres or with the help.
    For those living in the United Kingdom, flexible work options are no longer a perk, but a working right for employees across the board.
    A new law went into effect in the UK that gives all employees the right to ask for flexible work options, and employers have the right to refuse only if they have a legal reason.
    The United States, however, is a contrasting situation. The Department of Labor says: “Alternative work arrangements such as flexible work schedules are a matter of agreement between the employer and the employee.”
    But on a corporate level, things are quite different and many organisations have adopted that option. Walt Disney and Google are two American organisations known to promote flexible work schedules for their employees. Google is recognised as promoter of personal and professional life balance, in which employees learn how to manage their time and collaborate with each other using a flexible schedule.
    Thanks to technological advances, we are more connected than ever. We communicate with each other through email, SMS and video conference calls if needed. While face-to-face interactions are extremely important so that one does not feel that they are connected to a robot, they do not have to be on a daily basis for some organisations.
    On my team at work we have a member who conducts her work remotely. We go over the daily goals every morning either through phone or email, and then follow up with each other throughout the day. She comes to the office once a week and at other times when needed.
    Is this arrangement any different from having someone physically at the desk every day? In my case and for the type of work that we do, I do not see any difference. I do not believe that this arrangement has hindered her effectiveness and work efficiency. It is also worth mentioning that this arrangement is not applicable to all work types such as police force and medicine.
    What is good about this arrangement? Plenty. Numerous human resources articles highlight the benefits of flexible work hours – an empowered workforce, increased staff retention, attractiveness to potential excellent employees and a happier workforce. Having happier, healthier employees decreases turnover and health insurance bills.
    People at a business start-up phase would find this arrangement very attractive and it would expedite their business growth and expansion. Saving on dedicated office space is something many small and medium enterprises consider, and the options of working with excellent employees who do not necessarily reside within the same area are priceless.
    Work flexibility options are not only good to employees, but to employers and companies as well. A study done by Vodafone UK, a telecommunications operator, last year found that UK companies could potentially save up to £34 billion (Dh208.24bn) by opting for flexible working hours and freeing up desk space.
    Work flexibility is important to maintain a professional-personal balance, and to not sacrifice one over the other.
    As for me, I will keep an eye on the UK’s new rule and monitor its effect on the workforce.
    Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer based in Abu Dhabi. Follow her on Twiter: @manar_alhinai


8/15/2014 – 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. Rohrersville sends a message about cutting its post office hours, posted by Don Aines, Herald-Mail Media via heraldmailmedia.com
    [Another PO story, but... it's a slow news day, at least for shorter-hours articles...]
    ROHRERSVILLE, Mryld., USA - About 40 Rohrersville area residents attended a meeting with a U.S. Postal Service official Thursday to express their concerns about a plan to cut the village's post office time of operation in half, to just 20 hours a week.
    Sean O'Donnell, the manager for Post Office Operations for the Western Area of the Baltimore District, fielded questions from residents, many of whom wanted to see Saturday service restored.
    He told them the Postal Service began a study in 2012 examining the number of retail transactions and revenue generated at rural post offices.
    The Postal Service plans for the Rohrersville office to be open from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.
    A decision will be made in seven business days, but comments from residents would be taken into consideration for possible changes to the schedule, O'Donnell said.
    "We have made accommodations for different hours ... where we were able to change them to make them more conducive to the community," he said.
    While the decision on the schedule is expected in a matter of days, a decision on when the new schedule would go into effect has yet to be made, he said.
    Window service at Rohrersville is currently from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays.
    A survey had been sent to 428 customers served by the Rohrersville office, and 59 were returned. None of the four options in the survey was to maintain current hours, but 82 percent selected the four-hour-a-day option, as opposed to a study to close the office or other alternatives, he said.
    With 31,000 facilities, the Postal Service's choice was to either close post offices or reduce hours to save $500 million, O'Donnell said. The postmaster general wanted to maintain the identities of communities as much as possible, he said.
    "The plan was to not close post offices," O'Donnell told residents at the Rohrersville Ruritan Club. "The hours are going to be cut. There's no way to avoid that any longer."
    "To me, Saturday is the day most people are free," Megan Kealy said after the meeting. "Since this is a service-oriented business, it seems to me they should be thinking not only about the dollars ... but also what they can do to provide services to the community."
    "They could check with our Postmaster Wanda (Poffenberger) and see which day is slowest, perhaps Tuesday, and close it that day and have it open on Saturday again," Lynn Sibley said.
    Richard Barthlow said the post office's retail services should be open Saturday anyway, because people are in the building at 4314 Main St. working that day.
    O'Donnell said there are employees sorting mail and packages on Saturday, but having window service during that time would interrupt their work.
    Retired postal employee Richard Haynes said it would make sense to build a post office on Md. 67, where it would be more accessible to traffic from nearby communities.
    The Rohrersville Post Office is in a house on Main Street that he said is also "not very handicapped accessible."
    Tom Brudenell said post offices could improve their bottom lines if they were allowed to provide services they offered in the past, including banking.
    "They used to have checking and savings accounts, and even lending," Brudenell said. "Congress ought to let them do it again."
    A number of residents were concerned about the future of longtime Postmaster Wanda L. Poffenberger.
    "She's very well liked," Esther Bolt said.
    "Her hours would be reduced," O'Donnell said, but he noted that efforts are made to give postal employees in similar circumstances additional work at other facilities.
    O'Donnell said there are a number of factors that have reduced the volume of mail, including e-mail and online bill paying.
    The Postal Service also has to pay $5 billion a year for 75 years to prefund its retirement plan under the Postal Reform Act of 2006. That means it is funding pensions for postal workers who have yet to be hired or even born.

  2. Apple Working to Remedy Labor Violations Found at Quanta Factories, MacRumors.com
    RICHMOND, Va., USA - The Fair Labor Association (FLA) today published a new report examining two factories operated by Apple-supplier Quanta Computer, finding several code violations related to working hours, recruitment policies, compensation, health and safety, and more in August of 2013 [PDF] (via TechCrunch).
    Factories examined included a Quanta facility in Shanghai and one in Changshu. Quanta is a long-time Apple partner that manufactures Apple's MacBook Air and much of the rest of the company's Mac lineup.
    Violations were found in both locations, with some of the more egregious issues including verbal abuse by supervisors, a hiring fee charged to workers by a broker or labor dispatch agent, and long working hours. According to the report, 62 percent of workers in Changshu received no rest day for much of Q4 2012, working as many as 16 days in a row.
    Many workers were also underpaid for sick leave and may have been uncompensated for up to an hour of work each day, based on clock in and clock out times. Some workers were forced into joining the All China Federation of Trade Unions, and there were several safety violations.
    Both of the factories fell short of the local requirements for indoor air quality, and neither had easy access to a shower/eyewash station in case of emergency. There was no active worker participation in the Employee Health and Safety committees, and flammable and toxic substances were stored improperly at Shanghai while chemicals at Changshu were not properly monitored.
    The Fair Labor Association provided a number of recommendations to improve conditions at the factory, and according to the report, Apple is using the recommendations to work with Quanta to fix each code violation. Apple released a statement on the FLA's Quanta inspection, stating that it has worked closely with Quanta to bring improvements to working conditions.
    Our suppliers must live up to the toughest standards in the industry if they want to keep doing business with Apple, which is the first and only technology company to be admitted to the Fair Labor Association. We are committed to providing safe and fair working conditions for everyone in our supply chain.
    Last year we conducted 451 comprehensive, in-person audits deep into our supply chain so we could uncover problems and work with our suppliers to fix them. We track and report the weekly working hours for more than 1 million workers, and our 18-month Apple Supplier EHS Academy training program is raising the bar for environment, health and safety management in the industry.
    The Quanta facilities inspected by the FLA last year were included in our 2014 Supplier Responsibility report, which we released in February. Our own experts have audited these sites 16 times, most recently last month.
    In the year since the FLA’s visit, we have worked closely with Quanta to drive meaningful improvements in areas identified by both the FLA and Apple. Apple conducted four follow-up inspections on top of the annual audits of both facilities, to ensure the needed corrections are in place.
    This year, through the end of July, Quanta has averaged 86 percent compliance with our 60-hour workweek.
    [So nice to know that those advanced hominds who swear by Apple instead of tainted IBM are at least/most committed to "our 60-hour workweek" - sooo advanced - which the USA achieved and adjusted downward-from in 1888 (round-figure date-averaging based on data on Preface page x of Roediger & Foner's 1989 history of the American workweek, "Our Own Time").]
    Excessive overtime is not in anyone’s best interest, and we will continue to work closely with Quanta and our other suppliers to prevent it.

    Apple initially signed up for factory assessments by the Fair Labor Association back in 2012, following a rash of worker suicides at Foxconn, the factory responsible for assembling many of Apple's mobile devices. The FLA has since helped to improve working conditions in several of Apple's factories, with Apple aiming to bring all workplace compliance standards in line with the FLA's guidelines.
    Apple also maintains a Supplier Responsibility team that audits supply chain facilities to ensure compliance with Apple's strict code of conduct preventing underage labor and providing safe, comfortable living conditions for workers. An additional Supplier Responsiblity academic board also evaluates Apple's labor policies and practices and researches labor standards within the supply chain to create ethical working conditions wherever Apple products are produced.


8/14/2014 – 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. Post Office hours cut in half, by Dan King, ManchesterNewspapers.com
    HULETTS LANDING, N.Y., USA - Postal Service officials announced on Monday that the Huletts Landing Post Office would remain open, but that the hours of operation would be reduced to four hours per day.
    [Timesizing, not downsizing!]
    In the fall of 2012 the United States Postal Service began a two-year nationwide process of notifying communities of potential changes to their post office hours. Residents of the communities that could see post office hours change, received questionnaires to voice their opinion on what should happen to their respective post offices.
    About 13,000 post offices nationwide have seen their hours reduced by this program, some dropping to six hours, some four hours and others down to two hours per day.
    The Post Office sent out 231 surveys to those in the Huletts Landing postal code and received responses from 136, with 98 of the 136 wanting the office to remain open.
    Postal Service officials said that the reduction in hours is tailored to meet the needs of the Huletts Landing community.
    “The modified retail hours are designed to match customer use.” Maureen Marion, USPS media contact for central New York and the Capital Region said.
    Thus far, all that is known about the hours of operation is that they will be reduced to four hours. Some suggested that the office be open from 9 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. while others preferred the option of 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
    It is unsure when the new hours of operation will take place, but officials said that they will be implemented relatively soon. “Implementation of the changes can vary but all offices, nationwide, will be in their new operating hours no later than January.” Marion explained, “Many will be in place by fall.”
    Saturday hours at the office will remain the same, as will access to postal boxes. These hourly reductions simply impact weekday retail operations.

  2. Celebrating National Relaxation Day, by Kathryn Mayer, BenefitsPro.com
    SKOKIE, Illin., USA - I love England. Studying abroad there during my junior year of college, I truly felt at ease and at home. I was immediately taken with the accents (duh), the theater (I saw 40-some plays and musicals during my time there), the public transit system and the pubs. So it’s no surprise to me that a brilliant (see, I could be British) holiday came to us from across the pond.
    And I’m totally taken with it, too.
    National Slacker Day. Of course, we Americans adjusted the PC-friendly name and refer to it as National Relaxation Day. Haven’t heard of it? Well, it’s great. And you’re in luck — because it’s this Friday!
    Aug. 15 is the day to relax, de-stress and unwind. And though it sounds like a prime advertisement model for the Massage Envys of the country, it’s a great idea. And a perfect tie in to one of my favorite topics: wellness.
    I’ve argued this before, but I stand by it: Wellness programs across the nation focus too little on emotional and mental health. Mental anguish and stress takes its toll at the office, affecting our productivity. The inability to disconnect after hours only exacerbates the problem. And, of course, we know by now that it ties in directly to our physical well-being.
    (A study in the American Journal of Epidemiology, for example, finds that “a combination of stress, raised blood pressure and unhealthy diets stemming from long working hours may be the cause of thousands of workers’ serious health problems.)
    But maybe most importantly, when we’re too busy and too stressed out life passes us by.
    Though it may seem silly, at the very least a holiday devoted to relaxation is a helpful reminder to take a step back and focus on our overall wellbeing.
    Organizers of the day say it “intends to remind people that life does not revolve around the office, and that a day spent in bed or in front of the telly can make a remarkable improvement to your health and happiness.”
    “The UK currently endures the longest working hours in Europe and one of the shortest average life expectancies,” they say. “Everyday, otherwise creative and intelligent people are driven to hair loss and road rage due to an unhealthy ‘work comes first’ stress driven culture.”
    I’m not a fan of hair loss, but I’m definitely a fan of television, so this all makes perfect sense to me.
    Coincidentally enough, on the eve of National Relaxation Day, I’m incredibly stressed out, driven by deadlines, a move and various projects. And though not going to work in honor of the holiday is not an option, I’m not going to rule out taking off early and postponing some of my responsibilities. It’s a good thing the wine tasting I planned weeks ago falls on this weekend — seems like a good way to celebrate.
    I’m certainly not one to waste a perfectly good fake holiday.
    About the Author - Kathryn Mayer is Managing Editor for Benefits Selling magazine. She can be reached at kmayer@sbmedia.com


8/13/2014 – 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. Southampton highway dept. workers to take unpaid furlough days, by Mary Serreze, The Republican via masslive.com
    SOUTHAMPTON, Mass., USA — The Southampton Highway Department will be closed Fridays to save money, town administrator Heather Budrewicz announced this week.
    All union highway employees and administrative staff will take unpaid furlough days every Friday from July 18 through November 28, saving the town $16,306, said Budrewicz.
    The highway worker's union agreed to take the unpaid days, she said, instead of suffering layoffs within the department.
    Budrewicz said because the town pays 50 percent of unemployment costs, it would take two layoffs to recoup savings from a single position.
    "The furloughs are more fair, because they're across the board," said Budrewicz. "And there's no guarantee that if we lay somebody off, that we'll be able to hire them back again."
    Budrewicz said scheduling the furloughs for Friday, when workers are on a four-hour schedule, provides them with a three-day window to pick up outside work if they need to.
    Highway Superintendent Randall Kemp, a salaried employee, will remain on duty Fridays. Kemp was not immediately available for comment.
    On July 1, Southampton voters defeated a $1 million Proposition 2½ override to fund town services and shore up reserves. The town is adopting cuts to work within its $14.6 million fiscal 2015 budget, said Budrewicz.

  2. Meinders seeks flexibility in work weeks, by Rae Yost, Forest City Summit via Mason City Globe Gazette via globegazette.com
    FOREST CITY, Mich., USA - Winnebago County Engineer Scott Meinders sought more clarification on working hours and time off from the county board of supervisors on Aug. 5 and said he got his answer.
    Meinders is a full-time salaried county employee who, as an exempt employee, does not qualify for compensation time or overtime for any hours worked beyond 40 hours in a work week.
    "I'm looking for flexibility in my office," Meinders said.
    He'd make sure he'd work at least a 40-hour week but also wanted to be able to take time off to coach a youth sport, take a Friday off or participate in other activities during a week.
    Meinders asked the supervisors if they'd be agreeable to his taking a possible two hours off over lunch to play in a basketball league at the Forest City YMCA.
    On those days, "I'd start early and stay late to cover the (eight hour) day," Meinders said.
    Supervisor Terry Durby said he was agreeable to time off for coaching or basketball but not a Friday off if Meinders had worked more than 40 hours before that Friday.
    "You should do it on vacation time," Durby said of Fridays.
    "I'm in between," supervisor Willie Wubben said. "I'm flexible with one or two hours early on Friday."
    Supervisor Mike Stensrud said he was agreeable to time off for coaching or basketball but only an early departure on a Friday, not the whole day.
    "He's still gonna be putting in 40 hours a week," Wubben said.
    Meinders has an individual employee contract with the county as does information technology director Eric Guth. Guth was recently granted his request to convert his vacation time and sick time to all paid time off with no specified days for vacation or sick time.
    County attorney Adam Sauer said because Meinders and Guth have two separate contracts, the two employees could have different guidelines than other county employees.
    Yet, Sauer said, the county should specifically address the requests when the two contracts are up for renewal.
    Three employees at the county board meeting said they understood Meinders request and that he has weeks where he works more than 40 hours.
    County recorder Kris Colby, an elected official, said that as a supervisor, Meinders should get some leeway because of his work schedule.
    County auditor Sue McCollough, who was recently appointed to fill the elected position, said she attended the meeting to explain the situation to her full-time employees.
    Kris Wempen, a full-time employee in the auditor's office, said when she coached cheerleading, she made sure practices started at 4:45 p.m., which was after her work day ended at 4:30 p.m.

  3. Why Entrepreneurs Struggle to Achieve Work-Life Balance, by Jackie Nagel, Huff Post Small Business via huffingtonpost.com
    SAN PEDRO, Calif., USA - France's decision to reduce their workweek from 35 to 30 hours sparked a few brain cells of excitement for me.
    [Apparently very few. France reduced from 39 to 35, not 35 to 30. Also the dating on this article says "Posted: 12/31/1969 7:00 pm EST   Updated: 08/13/2014 5:59 pm EDT" - anyone spot the mega booboo here? Probably needs to flip that 6 - there was no postable Internet till the 90s.]
    Could it be remotely feasible to consider the probability of reducing the workweek without it being accompanied by a reduction in revenue? In fact, isn't a loss of revenue the real reason we won't let go of the drawn-out, brain-numbing work hours? We don't want to lose ground financially!
    Many small business owners simply feel that if they take the finger off the pulse of the organization for one second, it will fall apart. Sound familiar? It's a common -- albeit unspoken -- thought for many entrepreneurs. Without our 24/7 watchful eye, we feel it's all going to "hell in a hand basket", as my mom would say. Consequently, we toil on.
    Although the financial dial appears to be moving forward for most small business owners, it's impossible to discern whether the extended work hours damage or benefit the business.
    One thing we know for certain, hours worked beyond 40 hours per week create unnecessary illness, stress, and fatigue. It produces needless errors, inefficiencies, and avoidable costs. Numerous studies expose the negative impact on performance when work exceeds 40 hours. Yet, despite scientific proof, we labor on. What Entrepreneurs Are Not Being Taught
    I'm no angel. I've been a willing participant in the American "dream" that taught entrepreneurs 60 - 70 hour workweeks were the standard. When I pause long enough to consider the rapid advancements in technology that allow us to conduct business at the speed of light, I am bewildered at the need for long workweeks that extend into weekends, and ultimately lead to burnout and bad decisions.
    Despite the studies attesting to improved performance when a cap is placed on the number of hours we work, no one has taught us how to squeeze 70 hours of work into 40. Until now... Work Less. Earn More.
    Since 1997, I've used Synnovatia as a testing ground for untested, innovative ideas. Unproven concepts, such as limiting the number of weekly work hours while growing revenue, hold great promise.
    Since learning of France's workweek strategy, I've taken this on as a personal challenge. It's my hope that we can learn together what works -- and what doesn't -- to keep our work hours down and our revenue growing.
    Here are the steps I've taken thus far:
    1. Put hard stops on the start and end of my workweek. I'm a farmer at heart so early mornings are good for me. My first meeting is at 7 am. My day ends at 5 pm at which time my computer is turned off to evade temptation.
    I know that sounds like a 10-hour day but stay with me...
    2. Carve out personal time during the day. I'm not crazy about exercise but I do love being healthy. Although I've tried early morning exercise, it was just too early -- even for me! Instead, I block out 11 am - 2 pm each day for exercise, shower, lunch, and reading. It's non-negotiable time during which I unplug and renew.
    That makes for a 7-hour day or a 35-hour workweek. Next steps -- how to squeeze 60 hours into 35...
    3. Respond to email twice a day. Email left unmonitored is like a 2 year old without supervision. It's a Tasmanian devil eating through precious, never to be recovered, time.
    I limit the amount of time on email to 20 minutes. (I actually set a timer!) I use Feedly to aggregate information I want to read so it doesn't mix with email and create a distraction.
    I separate email into billable, marketing, selling, and general which allows me to set priorities. I don't "work" in my inbox. I sort emails into the various categories to address them at the time designated in my day. (Sound rigid? Perhaps but it's less exhausting and more productive to focus on one activity at a time.)
    4. I say "no" more often. Like any small business owner, I get requests to be interviewed on blogtalkradio.com or speak for organizations or share advice at no charge. When my calendar was open-ended, I said "yes" to everything.
    With boundaries on my time, a request must fit with my buyer persona, have a large enough audience to net results, have a brand that I can be proud to be affiliated with, and fit in with my strategic plan. If not, I decline the request -- graciously, I hope.
    Do you want to work fewer hours while keeping your revenue growing? This is just the start. I'm committed to re-evaluating all aspects of my business in order to achieve just that -- and share them with you, of course. :-D ...


8/12/2014 – 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. Sig Sauer introduces short-time working, (8/13 early pickup) Handelsblatt.com
    Under suspicion of having made illegal arms shipments to Colombia, gun manufacturer Sig Sauer now also has their back to the wall economically. Short-time work prevails in their factory.
    [Whoo-ee, worksharing alias short-time working alias Kurzarbeit has arrived! Now being used to save merchants of death!]
    ECKERNFOERDE, Germany - The economic prospects of gun manufacturer Sig Sauer, possibly involved in illegal arms shipments, are still uncertain. "We are doing short time working," works council chairman Rolf Rohde said on Wednesday. Only in a few areas are two shifts still being worked. The state attorney's office is investigating the enterprise for alleged illegal arms exports.
    The short-time decision for the 140 employees has put the management at its own risk, Rohde said. The employment agency will not yet give it support. "We suspect that eventually by the end of the week, a decision will be made about it." Previously, radio station NDR 1 Welle Nord had reported on it.
    The Kiel state attorney's office has been investigating Sig Sauer for some time. Under investigation is a gun delivery to the Presidential Guard in Kazakhstan. This should have been cleared in 2010 through the United States, but no authorization existed. Moreover Sig Sauer was investigated because of a possibly illegal gun shipment to Colombia.
    This too should have been cleared through the USA, but no authorization for the arms deal existed. In addition, raids on the company took place in early July. The police had recently searched the private homes of the owners.
    Colombia had confirmed the import of Sig Sauer pistols from the United States. A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Defense in Bogota had said under dpa [deferred prosecution agreement] in mid-July that a corresponding newspaper report was correct, whereby Colombia from 2006 on has bought via the US Department of Defense nearly 65,000 guns of the type SP 2022 for $28.6 million (roughly 21 million euros).

  2. Unions continue 35-hour fight, European Federation of Public Service Unions via epsu.org
    LISBON, Portugal - Public sector unions are continuing their campaigns to retain the 35-hour week in the fact of the government’s attempt to impose a 40-hour week and what would effectively be a 14% cut in hourly pay. Hundreds of agreements have been negotiated and signed in local and regional government to retain the 35-hour week but the government has refused to officially publish the agreements. Read more at > STAL (PT) [right below]. And at > SINTAP (PT) [second below].
    STAL (PT)
    STAL accuses government of bad faith - Workers demand the publication of ACEEPs [collective agreements], (8/01 late pickup) stal.pt
    LISBON, Portugal - At a meeting held this morning, all day, in front of the Ministry of Finance, about two hundred employees of local authorities approved an open letter, in which they accuse the government of bad faith and of illegally blocking the ACEEPs.
    In today's demonstration, union leaders and activists of STAL again demanded the immediate publication of close to half a thousand collective agreements (ACEEPs, acordos coletivos de entidade empregadora pública) signed with public employers of Local Administration, designating seven workhours daily and 35 hours weekly.
    In the open letter directed to the Government, the STAL considers that the blocking of the publication of the ACEEPs "violates all the principles of a democratic rule of law and clearly reveals the authoritarian and arrogant attitude of a government that seeks to impose work at bargain prices and without rights to workers".
    The document points out that the government froze the publication of the ACEEPs excusing it by a request for an opinion of the Attorney General's Advisory Board.
    The request was communicated on the 10th of February, and the Government at the time guaranteed that the question would be clarified within 60 days. However, 180 days have elapsed without the Government divulging the contents of the opinion or proceeding to publication of the same.
    For STAL, this behavior denotes "bad faith" and "a tremendous lack of respect for workers and the autonomy of Local Democratic Power".
    In this regard, the Union notes that recently the Minister of Adjunct Affairs & Regional Development, Poiares Maduro, swore in the Assembly of the Republic to "recognize the autonomy of Local Power and bow to the spirit of that opinion."
    Faced with such a large discrepancy between words and deeds, the STAL characterizes this conduct as 'foul play' and questions "what is the concept of democracy of these rulers." ...
    SINTAP (PT)
    Regional Directors in 35 hours, (7/23 late pickup) Workers Union for the Civil Service & Public-Purpose Agencies (SINTAP, Sindicato dos Trabalhadores da Administração Pública e de Entitdades com Fins Publicos) via sintap.pt
    FUNCHAL, Madeira, Portugal - In Series III of the July 18 edition of the Official Gazette of the Autonomous Region of Madeira, six collective labour agreements (ACTs, acordos coletivos de trabalho) negotiated by the SINTAP, these agreements established the 35-hour workweek as a rule among these agencies.
    These ACTs refer in particular to the Presidency of the Regional Government, to the Vice-Presidency of the Regional Government, to the Regional Secretariat for Social Affairs, to the Regional Secretary of Planning and Finance, to the Regional Secretariat for Education & Human Resources and to the Regional Development Institute, IP-RAM.
    We still await the publication of the ACT relative to the Regional Secretariat of Environment & Natural Resources and all the collective agreements of the public employment agency (ACEEP, acordos coletivos de entidade empregadora pública) relative to the Local Administration in RAM, especially the municipalities of Funchal, Machico, Santa Cruz and Porto Santo.
    We are still in the negotiation phase of the ACT from SESARAM, the Institute for Social Security and the Regional Secretariat of Tourism, which we expect to complete as soon as possible, particularly the SESARAM.
    The publication of these agreements will prove to be of great importance for restoring justice, seeing that they practice a work schedule of 35 hours and workers are not diminished in the value per hour of their salary by about 14%, as would happen if they worked 40 hours per week in conformance with the intention of the Government of the Republic.
    The SINTAP expects all ACEEPs and ACTs already negotiated and signed in the Autonomous Region of Madeira to be published shortly, so that the Public Administration of the archipelago can observe a work schedule of 35 hours.
    In this regard, the SINTAP already called for the publication of an ordinance extension that allows all workers to be covered by these agreements.
    The SINTAP still believes that the autonomy that is recognized for regional agencies in Madeira and the Azores, which welcome openness and willingness to negotiate agreements that truly value collective bargaining, should also be recognized for all municipalities in the national territory, such as enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic itself.


8/10-11/2014 – 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. Junior doctors at Arrowe Park receive £38,000 payout after BMA rules on pay and working hours, by Liam Murphy, 8/10 LiverpoolEcho.co.uk
    MERSEYSIDE, England - Junior doctors at Arrowe Park are to share a payout of £38,000 after it was revealed they had been underpaid and unable to take "natural breaks".
    A group of junior doctors at a Merseyside hospital are to share a payout of almost £40,000 after it was revealed they had been underpaid and unable to take natural breaks.
    The BMA [British Medical Assoc.], which represents doctors, has welcomed the payout and changes to the hospital’s rota which, it said, should ensure tired doctors weren’t compromising patient care.
    The 43 junior doctors will share a total of £38,850 after a diary monitoring exercise of their working patterns found they were doing longer hours than they should.
    The monitoring of the doctors working on a surgical rota at Arrowe Park [teaching] hospital in Wirral [University] showed trainees who worked between August 2013 and May 2014 were unable to finish shifts on time or take natural breaks.
    Darshan Brahmbhatt, deputy chair of the BMA’s Junior Doctors Committee, said: “We welcome the outcome for the doctors in the Wirral.
    “Monitoring of working patterns is vital for ensuring that junior doctors are being paid fairly for the hours they are actually working and tired doctors aren’t compromising patient care.
    “In this case, the junior doctors involved were working hours in excess of their rota, so we are pleased to see that this has been corrected and their rota has been redesigned. This should allow these doctors to get the appropriate levels of rest and ensure that their patients get the best possible care.
    “Safe working hours and pay are being discussed as part of ongoing negotiations between the BMA and NHS [National Health Service] employers regarding a new contract for doctors in training.”
    A spokesman for the trust which runs the hospital said: “All rotas are compliant with European Working Time Regulations requirements and are signed off by trainees and the junior doctors’ advisory team to confirm they meet both service and educational requirements. “As a teaching hospital, we have an excellent reputation for medical education and were recently noted to be in the top five best performing trusts for foundation training nationally.
    “When the trust became aware that there had been a change in the agreed rota, we worked collaboratively with the BMA representative to ensure trainees were re-banded and paid accordingly.
    “To prevent this situation occurring in future we have amended the rota in accordance with the findings by adapting shifts to meet the requirement that trainees attend the ‘post take’ ward round. Wirral University Teaching Hospital encourages engagement in rota design and feedback from trainees."

  2. Sturbridge Fire Dept. adjusts work schedules to reduce overtime, by Craig S. Semon craig.semon@telegram.com, 8/11 Worcester Telegram via telegram.com
    [Sounds good ...but...]
    STURBRIDGE, Mass., USA — Fire Chief David E. Zinther has successfully lobbied the selectmen for a 12-hour workday and 48-hour workweek for full-time firefighters, which he insists will give better fire coverage in town and help bring down overtime costs in the long run.
    Previously, Sturbridge had a nine-hour work day, a 15-hour night shift and a 45-hour work week, Chief Zinther said. The approval of the 48-hour week is pending ratification from the union, which is expected this week.
    "Originally, under the 45-hour work week schedule, there was a lot of required overtime in order for people to use their benefit days," Chief Zinther said. "In other words, every night that somebody wanted a night off, I had to backfill it with overtime, which cost 15 hours. And now that I have switched to a 24-hour workday schedule that goes in 12-hour blocks, and also adding an extra person on Wednesday, instead of having to cover seven nights a week, with 15 hours of overtime, I am down to six nights a week with 12 hours of overtime."
    Under the new structure, seven of the town's eight full-time firefighters will work two 24-hour shifts for a 48-hour week. They will work one day for 24 hours straight, have the next two days off, work another 24-hour day and then be off the remaining three days. The remaining full-timer is working Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday for 12 hours each day to get his 48 hours, Chief Zinther said.
    While there were initial costs involved in upgrading from a 45-hour workweek to a 48-hour workweek, Chief Zinther insists that not only are the extra three hours added to the workweek going to help offset this cost, but the town will gain more fire coverage.
    Currently, the department consists of eight full-time and 12 on-call/part-time firefighters. While Chief Zinther said the department is short 10 on-call firefighters, he is pushing hard for a ninth full-time firefighter, which would be a department high for Sturbridge.
    [Reducing overtime by converting it into a job sounds good, in fact, just like Timesizing Phase 2 - but how is increasing the workweek even further beyond 40 going to reduce overtime? The paragraphs of explanation above leave my eyes glazed!]
    "We want nine full-time firefighters to be our new standard," Chief Zinther said. "We're trying to move forward in a positive way. We got good things moving forward. We hope to continue to move forward."
    If he gets a ninth full-time person, the department will have three firefighters on duty every day and it won't cost the town any overtime if anyone wants to take a vacation day, Chief Zinther said.
    Chief Zinther, who has been fire chief since Jan. 21, replaced Fire Chief Leonard E. Senecal, who was placed on paid administrative leave April 22, 2013, after consultant Ernest Horn's critical report of his management. Chief Senecal retired May 17, 2013.
    All of the 26 "level one critical recommendations" in last year's controversial, 166-page "Sturbridge Fire Department Management/Operational Study" have been adopted, Chief Zinther said.
    "Everything has been completed out of the critical recommendations, every single item," Chief Zinther said.
    All turnout gear (jackets, hoods, gloves, pants and boots), regulators, masks and fire helmets are in compliance with National Fire Protection Association standards, he said. All air-packed cylinders have been hydrostatic tested, and all hand and supply hoses, as well as all ground ladders, have been tested and are up to NFPA standards and will continue to be annually tested, Chief Zinther said.
    "All of our equipment from that Horn study, everything has been certified and inspected," Chief Zinther said. "Everything is in great shape. We made some significant strides as well."
    Contact Craig S. Semon at craig.semon@telegram.com. Follow him on Twitter@CraigSemon

  3. Saving jobs just as good as creating them, by Steve Hunt, 8/11 Victorville Daily Press via vvdailypress.com
    VICTORVILLE, Calif., USA - We hope you had a chance to read Staff Writer Shea Johnson’s frontpage story Sunday [see article below] on the San Bernardino County Workforce Investment Board.
    According to data provided by the WIB, more than 2,500 unemployed High Desert residents have found jobs in the past two years with help from that county agency. Countywide, the figure stood at 8,000.
    The WIB received a federal allocation of just over $15 million for each of the past two years. If you do the math, that works out to taxpayers spending about $3,750 per person to help those 8,000 find work.
    In government, that’s a bargain. Especially when you consider those 8,000 are no longer receiving unemployment or other county, state or federal entitlements.
    But what really caught our eye was a program that WIB Executive Director Sandy Harmsen told Johnson about. It’s a specialized layoff aversion program in which WIB partners with consulting firms to help struggling companies.
    Because businesses with 50 or more employees are required to notify the county of pending layoffs, the WIB is able to take preventive measures to try to head off those job cuts.
    Harmsen said in the past two years, this program — which uses federal Rapid Response dollars — has saved 686 jobs at 47 local businesses. It also has created 114 new jobs and helped those struggling companies save $13.5 million in operational costs and revenue.
    The WIB gets the consultants to visit the companies and help them find efficiencies. The consultants don’t get paid until after the county receives confirmation that jobs were saved.
    Harmsen said the WIB was one of the first in the country to use Rapid Response funding to try to prevent layoffs.
    It’s a creative idea that should be copied throughout the country. Creating new jobs is important, but you can’t go wrong when you save jobs and help struggling companies to gain strength.
    [And that's exactly what worksharing, the emergency halfway step to permanent timesizing, does.]
    Meanwhile, the WIB continues to try to match up unemployed High Desert residents with local employers. It will hold the High Desert Regional Job Fair from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday at the Hilton Garden Inn, 12603 Mariposa Road, Victorville.
    There will be employers in several different sectors looking to hire: Health care, warehousing, hospitality, manufacturing, technology and construction. Some will conduct interviews with job candidates at the event.
    If you’re looking for work, we advise you to take plenty of copies of your resume, dress like you want a job and head to the Hilton on Wednesday morning.
    [Here's the referenced article -]
    County workforce board reports job data - More than 2,500 positions filled by area residents since 2012, by Shea Johnson, (8/10 hardcopy & 8/09 online?) Victorville Daily Press via vvdailypress.com
    VICTORVILLE, Calif., USA - In the last two years, more than 2,500 unemployed High Desert residents have secured jobs with help from programs offered by San Bernardino County’s Workforce Investment Board, according to data released by the WIB.
    That figure balloons to nearly 8,000 for workers in the whole county.
    The WIB, which according to its website is “charged with addressing major workforce issues in the county,” released its city-specific totals to the Press Dispatch this week.
    During the two-year time frame, a number of individuals in Apple Valley (415), Adelanto (215), Barstow (144), Hesperia (859) and Victorville (915) found employment through WIB programs, according to Clarissa Jimenez of the Workforce Development Department.
    If that trend continues, the WIB could play a significant role in recouping some of the 27,823 jobs that economist John Husing has said remain necessary for the Inland Empire to climb completely out of the hole spurred by the Great Recession. He previously estimated hitting that goal by September 2015.
    Despite not tracking how many of their created jobs are full-time versus part-time, WIB Executive Director Sandy Harmsen said her staff report that “the majority of jobs are full-time.”
    According to Bradley Gates, deputy director of administration for the county WDD, 74 percent of individuals are placed in employment that is directly related to training they receive.
    The WIB doesn’t track money spent-per-job filled, though, because not all customers who obtain employment go through training services.
    “... So this number is not summarized, as each customer’s experience is unique to their individual needs,” Gates said.
    On Thursday, Harmsen spoke about the WIB’s most recent reported win regarding a specialized layoff aversion program that sees the WIB partner with consulting firms to push for efficiencies at troubled companies.
    In the last two years, the program saved 686 jobs at 47 local businesses, created 114 new positions and assisted those companies with $13.5 million in operational cost savings and revenue, officials reported.
    Harmsen said the WIB built the program using federal Rapid Response dollars. While businesses with 50 or more employees are mandated to notify the county of pending layoffs, the WIB then targets those companies for the program.
    “We were one of the first to use Rapid Response dollars for layoff aversion,” Harmsen said.
    The consultants don’t get paid until the business confirms the jobs were saved, she said.
    WIB also contracts an economist to present a bi-annual report to the board that indicates demand sectors in the region.
    “We’re making sure we’re getting an actual picture of our economy in the county,” she said. “What positions are being looked for? What are (businesses) looking for in an employee?”
    A 44-member board, a majority in the private sector, guides policy direction, according to Harmsen.
    “What we have strived to do is make sure our workforce board represents those demand sectors,” she said. “When you have federal dollars come into a local area and you have local businesses involved in policy setting as to where those dollars will be spent, they know what’s going on.”
    WIB is federally funded through the Workforce Investment Act, according to Gates. It’s annual allocation for the fiscal year 2014-15 is $15.33 million, Gates said.
    The WIB will hold a High Desert Regional Job Fair from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday at the Hilton Garden Inn, 12603 Mariposa Road, Victorville.
    Shea Johnson may be reached at 760-955-5368 or SJohnson@VVDailyPress.com. Follow him on Twitter at @DP_Shea.

  4. Noida companies open up to flexible working hours for male employees, 8/11 Economic Times
    NOIDA [New Okhla Industrial Development Authority], N.C.R. (National Capital Region), India - Flexible working hours is increasingly becoming a fad amongst working men in Delhi-NCR according to experts, to further their career or deal with family issues. Companies are also gradually opening up to this concept and giving the freedom to the male workforce to work. The practice though new, has not only helped candidates to further their careers and also help them in their overall development. For companies it has checked attrition and cut cost as they were not forced to hier employees on fatter salaries.
    Vidur Gupta, director of Noida based Spectrum Talent Management said, "Offering flexibility to employees has always been our constant endeavour, in some form or the other. In our case, most of flexible hours opted by men associates have largely been for personal priorities."
    Touchtalent.com's managing director, Mohammad Waseem spoke about the practice in his organisation. "Touchtalent is a very open, some of the practices are very unique, we do not have fixed working hours and days. Our team members have complete flexibility on their schedule."
    Even a timesjob.com report suggests similar trends though the findings of the portal are for the entire country. Over 50 per cent of organisations polled in a TimesJobs.com survey said the frequency of usage of flexibility options is equal among male and female employees.
    About 45 per cent of organisations said that men are largely using this option for child/family care, while 31 per cent said they use it to study/upskill themselves.
    Experts in the industry said that the trend has been growing to the tune of 8-10 per cent year-on-year basis. In India this is still a new phenomenon because male is supposed to be a bread earner for the family. For such employees who want to work full-time, there is also a provision of shifts.
    There are many models of flexible hours practiced in the country. One is six hours a day. Second is 3 days a week and the third one is 8 months a year. Though there is no set structure or practice adopted by companies to allow flexibility and it depends upon company, nature of work and the reason.
    Vidur Gupta spoke about the benefits of such initiatives taken by his company. "The pace at which we've grown in past five years has been phenomenal. All this has been possible because of our people capital."
    For Mohamad Wassem effects of the practice are yet to show up. "As such we have not measured increase in productivity but we are quite confident that it has positive impact on overall working environment and productivity."
    Companies are also cautious about the misuse of the practice. Kamal Mansharamani, co-founder workXmate.com said, "There is a flip side to it. However, a small percentage. So, from an overall perspective, benefits to employee and organisation are higher with flexi hours. We also need to have tight review mechanism in place."
    He added, "We have encountered these problems. We have put in place a mechanism of rigorous reviews. Each employee is given weekly targets and they are reviewed against those targets on a weekly basis," explained Mansharamani.


8/09/2014 – 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. All work and no play is no way to spend the rest of your life, by Shoba Narayan, TheNational.ae
    DUBAI, United Arab Republic - How many hours a week do you work? For most of us, the problem is not the division between work and home, but the fact that work has now seeped into every part of our lives [ie: into our homes; ie: there is no division between work and home]. We are constantly checking email without differentiating whether they are personal or for work.
    Employees and employers are able to stay in touch 24/7, thanks – or perhaps it is more appropriate to say no thanks – to text messages and apps such as Whatsapp and Snapchat. The combined effect of this constant infiltration of the work culture into our lives can be overwhelming.
    For many of us, it is difficult to switch off, and indeed, we don’t even know how to do it. I certainly am a victim, if you want to call it that. I cannot go one hour without checking my email or my phone, whether it is the weekend or whether I’m on holiday. The whole notion of switching off or taking time off for leisure seems oddly outdated in our continuously connected lives. Along come a couple of billionaires who suggest the opposite. Recently, both Carlos Slim, the world’s richest man, and Larry Page, the cofounder of Google, have suggested different versions of a shorter workweek. Slim suggests that people work for three days a week with longer daily hours. (The Herald in Scotland reported this under the headline: “Fat chance of Slim’s short week working.”) Page suggested shorter working hours as a way of combating unemployment.
    Both billionaires linked shorter workweeks with higher life satisfaction.
    Is that really true?
    Of the two approaches, I think Slim’s is better. With a net worth of $80 billion (Dh290bn), he doesn’t even need to work. His approach suggests that people [should] work longer hours per day – 11 hours to be exact – and work for a longer number of years. The current retirement age of 65 is outdated, according to him. I agree. The beauty of working three days a week is that you can actually plan to do different things that physically and geographically remove you from work. You can go on a camping trip, for example.
    [You can virtually have a little retirement every week.]
    Page’s proposal for shorter working hours will not change our lifestyles very much, in my view. It is not that we don’t have leisure time these days. We do. It is just that it is hard to switch off, even late at night when we don’t need to work. Being on again, off again has the benefit of not letting work issues fall through the cracks, but has the huge disadvantage of clogging up our mental space with everything that is only work related. How many of us don’t check work email on the weekend? I would venture to suggest that it is a minuscule proportion. Getting four out of seven days free per week, on the other hand, offers plenty of possibilities. You could volunteer, or you could sign up for a course.
    The larger question has to do with the purpose of work. Do you work to make a living or to create a purposeful life? If you need to work to make a living, many of these philosophical questions aren’t really relevant. If you don’t need to work – at least to the level that you do and the hours that you do – to put bread on the table, the question of a shorter workweek becomes very relevant.
    Why are you working? If you are over 50 and senior in your job, it would be a good time to figure out an answer to this question.
    In coming decades, the more meaningful issues will not be about work, but will be about leisure and legacy. Building a family and raising good children and grandchildren are issues that have to do with legacy. Both require a time commitment that is linked with leisure. If you are stressed at work, it is unlikely that you will be open to the subtle signals that your children and family send.
    Regardless of whether you choose the Page model or the Slim model, one thing is clear in my head: work less. If possible, find meaningful work; find an activity that will see you through years of leisure; cultivate a group of friends that you can stay in touch with over several decade. And last but not least, figure out your spiritual parameters that will help you stay content and resilient as you grow older.
    Shoba Narayan is the author of ­Return to India: a memoir

  2. 35 hour working, comment by @crimelibrary, (8/8 late pickup) Crime Library via Your Esty via 20140809-newkeys-048.vfdgrecsv.pw/jvcjzhris
    [This piece has a lot of unfinished sentences, so we'll just omit them...]
    PARIS, France - The 35-hour working week is a measure adopted first in France, in February 2000, under Prime Minister Lionel Jospin's Plural Left government.
    [France is indeed the first (and still the only?) country in the world to adopt an official 35-hour nationwide workweek. It was a response to their 12.6% unemployment in 1997 and a voluntary hours-shortening program that just wasn't getting enough take-up on a company by company basis in 1996. Despite a crazy two-step introduction that kept getting delayed and that let the government go SECOND with the small companies [less than 20 employees], France's unemployment ("chômage") came down to 8.1% in spring 2001 before the U.S.-led recession hit France and pushed chômage back up into the 10%s. Still, four hours cut from the previous 39-hour workweek, 4% cut from the worst of the unemployment = 1% less unemployment for every hour cut from the workweek, same results as the U.S. got 1938-1940 when it cut from 44 hours to 40 and 19.0% to 14.6% at a two-hour cut per year.]
    So intensely do France's conservatives hate the 35-hour work-week that they're willing to work twice as much every week to do away with it.
    After years of debates over the 35-hr work week which became law in 1998, it turns out that the infamous law is fading into obscurity.
    Despite having a workweek limited by law to 35 hours, many workers in France are finding that, like people in other countries, they have to work more. As of now, the standard work week is 40 hours (or more) [.]
    France's 35-hour work week has plenty of critics who say it has sapped the country of its competitiveness and is tying companies in knots.
    I'm 29 years old and have been in the full time career workforce for 7 years now. I currently work a 35 hour week! I definitely am less exhausted than people I know who work 40+, but I don’t know that I’m really more productive.
    Takeaway: To be the most productive and creative, studies have shown that you should work 35 hours a week.
    [What studies?]


8/08/2014 – 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. Should Employers Ban Email After Work Hours? by James Harter, Harvard Business Review via blogs.hbr.org
    [Definitely, except in narrowly defined emergencies.]
    CAMBRIDGE, Mass., USA - Like many of you, I often work outside of regular office hours while at home, in the airport, and sometimes on vacation. Mobile technology has created a “new normal” work life for a lot of us: Gallup’s research reveals that nearly all full-time U.S. workers (96%) have access to a computer, smartphone, or tablet, with 86% using a smartphone or tablet or both. And a full two-thirds of Americans report that the amount of work they do outside normal working hours has increased “a little” to “a lot” because of mobile technology advances over the last decade.
    But is this a net gain or net drain on our well-being? And how should leaders manage this after-hours work?
    To answer these questions, it’s important to understand why we turn to mobile technology in the first place. For many people, it’s because we’re excited to share an idea with a colleague, or want to finish a task so it doesn’t become a burden the next day. Yes, taking care of work during non-work time may hurt our relationships with family and friends — but still, more than three-quarters of full-time workers tell Gallup that the ability to use mobile technology outside normal working hours is a somewhat to very positive development. ...
    Going deeper, we found that just over a third of full-time workers say they frequently check email outside normal working hours — and those who do are 17% more likely to report better overall lives compared with those who say they never check email outside work. This finding holds even after controlling for differences in income, age, gender, education, and other demographics. Similarly, those who spend seven or more hours checking their email outside work during a typical week are more likely to rate their overall lives highly than those who report zero hours of this activity.
    But here’s the conundrum: About half of workers who report checking email frequently outside work are also more likely to report having “a lot of stress” yesterday, compared with just one-third of those who never do. ...
    In other words, the “evaluating self” disagrees with the “experiencing self.” The “evaluating self” probably says life is better because we have the flexibility to check email when we want, while the “experiencing self” feels the stress associated with the extra work, pressure, or guilt during our after-hours working time.
    This inner conflict is not new to psychologists. For example, research suggests our “two selves” also differ in how they interpret having money and children. Being a parent and having more money is associated with higher life evaluations; but above a baseline of income, having more money doesn’t relate to less daily stress, and having kids brings more daily stress, on average. The “evaluating self” responds to status, while the “experiencing self” responds to daily and momentary life.
    Thus, while checking email frequently appears to be stressful, it is also most likely associated with status and perceived importance.
    [Bingo, the universal confusion of busyness with importance, no matter how trivial the task.]
    So for optimal workplace well-being, what should employers do in light of this conundrum? Expect workers to check in during non-normal working hours? Or implement policies that discourage work during non-normal work times?
    Sure, employees who say their employer expects them to check email outside normal working hours report stress 19% more frequently than those whose employer doesn’t expect them to check email. This might lead employers to think they should put the needs of the “experiencing self” of the employee ahead of the “evaluating self” and place specific parameters around expectations that employees check in during off-hours.
    Not so fast.
    Problems arise when companies make such policy decisions without considering whether their employees are engaged. If we assume work can be engaging and rewarding, rather than a necessary burden, our assumptions about people and policy become quite different. Gallup’s research has found that high levels of engagement are more important than specific well-being policies.
    [Not so fast again. Work is livelihood. Work is remunerated. It's nice if it's also engaging and rewarding, that is, if you have deflationary incentive for doing it and would do it for less money, but that is NOT the crucial aspect of work. The crucial sine-qua-non aspect is the location of control: I give you control over a accountable amount of MY LIFE, either by time units or piecework units, and you give me a certain amount of money, that is, access to the output of accountable amounts of everyone else's lives. Sounds like Harter is about to put the cart before the horse.]
    Gallup has identified three types of workers: engaged, not engaged, and actively disengaged. Thirty percent of U.S. workers are engaged — they are involved in and enthusiastic about their work and company. At 52%, not engaged workers make up the vast majority of the U.S. workplace — they are indifferent and basically just show up, do the minimum required, get their paycheck, and go home. Actively disengaged workers comprise 18% of the U.S. workforce and actually work against the aims of the organization. (Gallup measures engagement through 12 elements that explain differences between highly productive and less productive workplaces.)
    Daily stress is significantly lower for engaged workers and higher for actively disengaged workers, regardless of whether their employer expects them to check email during non-work hours or not. And it is the vast swath of “not engaged” or “indifferent” workers who are most influenced by policy decisions of this nature. Among the “not engaged” workers who say their employer expects them to check email outside normal working hours, 54% report a lot of stress the previous day. Of those who say their employer does not expect them to check email, 39% report a lot of stress. ...
    These findings suggest workers will view their company’s policy about mobile technology through the filter of their own engagement. Thus, instead of tinkering with their policies,
    [= setting hard and fast hours has now become "tinkering with company policies" for this genius? if his nonsense spreads, it's all over for the U.S. economy - No Borders, No Country, and No Boundaries, No Company. No organism exists without limits, and now that this supposedly intelligent "Chief Scientist" is falling in line with America's megalomania, America's national Alzheimers spreads apace -]
    companies would be better off developing a strategy to engage more of their employees.
    [Trying to have casual Fridays or corporate yoga classes etc.? oh please! just nail the basics and quit trying for creeping omnicontrol over your employees' lives.]
    For instance, while more hours worked, less vacation time taken, and less opportunity for flextime generally relate to lower well-being in our studies, that doesn’t hold true when workers are engaged in the workplace. It turns out that among engaged employees, their well-being remains high, regardless of these types of policies. As an extreme example, employees with six or more weeks of annual vacation time who are actively disengaged in their work and workplace have lower overall well-being than those who are engaged and have less than one week of vacation time.
    [But when it is a SYSTEM REQUIREMENT in the age of robotics (to have enough consumers with enough money to buy all the tech-amplified output) that everyone get a piece, however small by today's standards, of our most precious vanishing resource, namely market-demanded human employment, making a case for running your company with just happyface "engaged employees" aka happy slaves, whom you can treat anywhichway, is a system requirement violation, and your whole system will go down, as surely as if you funnel the whole money supply to the financial sector.]
    Similarly, while long commutes generally relate to lower well-being in the average non-engaged worker, it isn’t true for those who are engaged. Our research shows that well-being levels are similar among engaged workers, regardless of their commute time. These findings underscore the importance of employee engagement to workers’ well-being in the workplace. Engaged workers are more productive and profitable, are more likely to show up to work regularly and make a difference with customers, and are loyal, advocating partners to the organization. They view their lives more positively because they work in organizations that get the most out of their talents.
    While just 30% of employees nationally and 13% internationally are engaged, it doesn’t have to be that way. Many organizations — even very large international organizations— have more than doubled these percentages by not accepting a fatalistic status quo. Through quality measurement, accountability, developmental plans, good communication, and aligned strategy, they have developed environments where the norm is for workers to be engaged rather than indifferent. This starts and ends with hiring and developing quality managers who have the natural talents and skills to engage and develop each person they manage, thereby improving how people both evaluate their lives and experience their days.
    [But pushing on this can also result in a company of excellent actors, who know just the right gestures and responses to display...]
    Most full-time employees consider the option to use mobile technology away from work an advantage rather than a hindrance, probably because of the flexibility it invites [nevermind the interruption of, and possible invasion into, one's private life, if any]. With the help of great managers, engaged employees leverage this flexibility without feeling extra stress. And while organizations can set blanket policies that assume indifference among employees, they might be better off engaging them first. Policies are important — but they shouldn’t be any manager’s starting point.
    [This advice is like telling a woman to just have one dress, a bright red party dress. What about the days when you just don't feel like that? It all becomes a show: "You SMILE when you are looow!"]
    Jim ["Work harter, not smarter!"] Harter, Ph.D., is Chief Scientist of Workplace Management and Well-Being for Gallup's workplace management practice. He is coauthor of the New York Times bestseller 12: The Elements of Great Managing, an exploration of the 12 crucial elements for creating and harnessing employee engagement. His latest book, Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements, is based on a global study of what differentiates people who are thriving from those who are not.
    [Obsessed with numb-ers or what? There seems to be a campaign starting among the dumb side of corporate America to paint black as white; witness the cover article in the May/June's Stanford Magazine for Stanford Alumni, "It's good for you. REALLY. The upside of acute stress. Page 48 - The best comment on all this may be in the title of the first of the sub-featured articles on the cover, "The walking dead."]

  2. With Their Hours Cut, Part-Time Market Basket Workers Pledge To Keep Fighting, by Michael Brindley, New Hampshire Public Radio via nhpr.org
    LONDONDERRY, N.H., USA - An estimated 8,000 part-time Market Basket employees in New Hampshire may be without a paycheck next week.
    The embattled supermarket chain announced Thursday that with sales plummeting from customer boycotts, part-time employees would no longer be scheduled for hours starting Sunday.
    Part-time cashier Susan Mawson was standing outside the Londonderry Market Basket, her sign pledging allegiance to Arthur T. Demoulas torn and tattered from weeks of protesting.
    "Our managers gave us a piece of paper today – attention all part-time employees, we have been instructed by our new CEOs that we have to schedule according to store volume. The office is not sending deliveries and customers are boycotting. This unfortunately affects your hours.”
    The note told employees they haven’t actually lost their jobs, but there will be no hours – and thus no pay – until the conflict is resolved.

    Mawson says workers were told how to file for unemployment, which she plans to do.
    “I have two children and I have to watch out for them. That’s my first priority.”
    One of the state’s largest Market Baskets, the Londonderry store employs nearly 600 people, 470 of whom are part-time.
    Apart from a small group of middle managers fired early on, these part-timers are the super market’s first employees to lose a paycheck.
    This follows weeks of protests, a customer boycott that managers say have cut store sales by 90 percent.
    Mawson says she knew it was only a matter of time until the company took action.
    “I was hoping that they would have solved their problems but, if they didn’t, I knew eventually, it was going to come.”
    The scene was similar at the nearly 30 Markets Baskets across New Hampshire Thursday.
    Londonderry part-time employee Melissa Gaw says employees were told the news during a meeting that morning.
    “The managers, they haven’t taken this very lightly, either. A lot of them were brought to tears just by having to read that to us. It’s been very difficult.”
    The state estimates roughly 8,000 part-time workers will be affected.
    Governor Maggie Hassan says she’s been advised many should qualify for unemployment.
    "And while that’s of comfort to the workers in the short-term, nothing is a substitute for a good solid job.”
    Hassan says there will be an impact of having that many unemployed workers seeking assistance at the same time.
    "Obviously if there’s a lot of claims on our unemployment fund, that does affect our unemployment trust fund going forward. So there’s certainly a potential impact on the state’s trust fund.”
    The attorneys general New Hampshire and Massachusetts warned Market Basket officials to be mindful of labor laws if they were to take action.
    Back outside the Londonderry store, part-time workers like Ashley Nadeau say they’re not sure what they’re going to do.
    “It’s just really upsetting because we all have bills to pay, we all have families and now it’s going to be hard trying to find something for the time being because this is my life. I’ve worked here since I was 14.”
    If you believe, these protests aren’t going to end anytime soon.
    Market Basket’s Board of Directors meanwhile says it is considering several offers to buy the company, including one from Arthur T. Demoulas.
    Reports say that the parent company of Hannaford, which has been a spike in business since the dispute began, is also among the potential buyers.


8/07/2014 – 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. Play or Pay in 2015 — so many requirements, so little time, by Dorothy Summers, (8/06 late pickup) Employee Benefit News via ebn.benefitnews.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - 2015 is getting close and the Employer Shared Responsibility Mandate (“Play or Pay”) under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is almost here. So what does this mean for your organization? Play or Pay requires certain employers to offer affordable and adequate health insurance to full-time employees and their dependents, or they may be liable for a penalty for any month coverage is not offered.
    Play or Pay goes into effect in the calendar year of 2015 for large employers only. However, mid-size employers aren’t entirely off the hook. They’ll have to report on insurance coverage even though they won’t be liable for penalties in 2015. By January 1, 2015, businesses with 100 or more full-time or full-time-equivalent employees must ensure they are offering health benefits to all of those working an average of 30 hours per week, or 130 hours per month. If an employer has a non-calendar year plan and can meet certain transitional rules, they can delay offering employee health benefits until the start date of their non-calendar year plan in 2015. Mid-sized employers will have to comply beginning in 2016.
    Here are [three] important questions that employers need to answer today:
    1. Do you know which category your business fits into?
    2. How do you classify who is a full-time employee?
    3. What do you need to do to comply with Play or Pay requirements?
    Let’s take an in-depth look at each of these questions.
    1. Which category do you fit into?
    Whether you are a small, mid-sized, or large employer is determined by the number of full-time and full-time equivalent employees (FTEs). It sounds simple on the surface:
    • Small employers have 1-49 full-time or FTE employees
    • Mid-sized employers have 50-99 full-time or FTE employees
    • Large employers have 100+ full-time or FTE employees
    However, it’s important to remember that these numbers can be affected by several factors, including whether the employer is a part of a control group, seasonal employees and variable-hour employees. That brings us to our next question:
    2. Who is a full-time employee?
    The law defines a “full-time employee” for penalty purposes as an employee who, for any month, works an average of at least 30 hours per week, or 130 hours. This includes any of the following paid hours: vacation, holiday, sick time, paid layoff, jury duty, military duty and paid leave of absence under the Family and Medical Leave Act.
    Employees who aren’t considered full-time include non W-2 leased workers, sole proprietors, partners in partnerships, real estate agents, and direct sellers.
    Variable-hour employees—those who don’t work a set amount of hours each week—fall into a gray area. That is, they don’t need to be counted as full-time employees until and unless it becomes an established practice for them to work more than 30 hours per week.
    To assist employers in determining whether variable hour workers will meet the definition of full-time employees (and therefore need to be offered health insurance), employers may use various “look back” and “look forward” periods. Here is a summary of terms used for measuring variable-hour employees:
    • Measurement Period: A period from three to 12 months in which the employer would track hours to determine whether the employee worked an average of more than 30 hours per week.
    • Stability Period: A period from six to 12 consecutive months in which the employer must provide health insurance coverage to employees who worked more than 30 hours per week in the Measurement Period. Note: must be at least six months and cannot be shorter than the Measurement Period.
    • Administrative Period: A period not to exceed 90 days, which falls between the Measurement Period and Stability Period, and/or a short period after a new employee’s date of hire. Using this waiting period allows employers to analyze eligibility of full-time employees and provide enrollment information to enroll them in a plan before penalties could be assessed.
    3. Does your plan meet the Play or Pay requirements?
    To avoid penalties, you’ll need to make sure your plan meets certain requirements. First, coverage must be offered to full-time employees and their dependents. Under the ACA, dependents are defined as children under age 26. Spouses are not considered dependents.
    Then, the employee benefits program you offer must meet three requirements:
    1. The plan must provide minimal essential coverage. Most employers won’t have to worry about this, as plans offered by an insurance carrier and approved by a state insurance department offer the required coverage. The only plans that don’t meet this requirement are bare bones or mini-meds that don’t really exist anymore.
    2. The plan must meet minimum value. That is, your plan must pay at least 60% of the cost of medical claims. For example, someone who goes to the hospital should only have to pay 40% of the total cost out-of-pocket cost.
    3. The plan must be affordable to employees. There are three tests to determine affordability:
      1. The W-2 test, in which the cost of premiums for the single-only tier of the employer’s lowest-cost plan cannot exceed 9.5% of the employee’s income as reported in Box 1 of the W-2.
      2. The cost of the premium for the single-only tier of the employer’s lowest- cost plan cannot exceed 9.5% of the lowest hourly rate paid by employer, multiplied by 130 hours per month.
      3. The federal poverty line test, in which the cost of the premium for the single-only tier of the employer’s lowest cost plan cannot exceed 9.5% of federal poverty rate (or $92/month for 2014).
    Talk with your employee benefits consultant to ensure you’re meeting the requirements for your organization’s size. Remember, depending on how many people you employ, your compliance requirements may increase over the next two years. Be sure to stay on top of these additional requirements.
    Dorothy Summers is a Senior Compliance Consultant with Corporate Synergies

  2. Shorter working hours, wearing shorts to office: How Samsung is reinventing itself to survive, Reuters via DNAindia.com
    SEOUL, South Korea - As its smartphone sales stutter and a generational leadership succession looms, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd is under pressure to reinvent itself - to be more innovative, but not lose the rigor and focus that made it a global powerhouse.
    One effort this summer to foster a more worker-friendly environment and a more creative culture is to allow staff at its main Suwon campus south of Seoul to wear shorts to work at weekends. Working hours are more flexible, and female staff can take maternity leave without worrying about job security.
    The flagship of South Korea's dominant conglomerate, or chaebol, is also trying to address shifting cultural values at home by curbing some of the excesses hardwired into corporate Korea. Forced late-night drinking sessions, long a staple of local office life, are out.
    "It's 1-1-9 for evening company outings now: one type of alcohol, in one place and only until 9 p.m," said a Samsung employee in his eighth year at the firm. "Younger staff are no longer forced to stay, and the senior workers will be careful not to upset their subordinates," he said, asking not to be named as he was not authorised to speak to the media.
    Samsung last month posted an unexpectedly sharp drop in second-quarter earnings, squeezed by falling market share in smartphones, and with no obvious driver in sight to reverse the decline. Chairman Lee Kun-hee, 72, who has famously managed Samsung with a sense of "permanent crisis", remains hospitalised following a May heart attack.
    The ascension of his son and heir-apparent, the Harvard-educated Jay Y. Lee, 46, could be a breath of fresh air, but effecting wholesale change in the way the sprawling company operates would be a Herculean task and could prove a mistake.
    "The company is in somewhat of a Catch-22 when it comes to changing its culture," said Jay Subhash, a former senior product manager who left Samsung in April. "It desperately needs to adopt a culture that fosters openness, creativity and innovation. But doing so would jeopardise its greatest existing cultural asset, its militaristic hierarchy, which enables it to operate at lightning speed to outpace the competition."
    "SOUL SEARCHING"
    Samsung has long emphasized the need for creativity while hiring more foreign talent as it operates in increasingly diverse markets. Along with relaxed rules on work hours, it stresses a "Work Smart" philosophy to reduce unnecessary time spent at the office.
    While it's hoped a looser environment will help stir new ideas, some insiders say progress is slow against what's often described as an entrenched culture of rigid, top-down management.
    "Samsung's doing some soul searching right now, it's asking itself 'who am I, and what should I do next?" said Chang Sea-jin, a business professor at Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology and author of "Sony Vs Samsung".
    "In the long term, the company needs to become global and open. Giving employees more autonomy can lead to loss of control, but this will in the long run benefit the company by developing talent that can run the business from a global perspective."
    The drop in second-quarter profit triggered some symbolic belt-tightening at Samsung: Handset division managers gave up part of their bonuses and downgraded to economy class for shorter flights - acts of loyalty that are part of Samsung's culture, which emphasizes urgency in action.
    While the company is a market leader in smartphones, TVs, refrigerators and memory chips, it's saddled with a perception that it's a "fast-follower" and not an innovator like Apple Inc or Google Inc.
    Samsung is hardly alone in the culture struggle.
    Many Korean firms deal with the same issues stemming from the legacy of the country's Confucian, conformist culture, which has also fuelled its industrial success. Several Samsung employees interviewed by Reuters said that those who "stand out" from the norm struggle and often end up leaving.
    "The core challenge for Korea is that as a Confucian culture that has deep respect for age, hierarchy is very important and so what you'll find is that it's hard to innovate in an environment where challenging your boss is not something you can easily do," said Shaun Cochran, head of CLSA Korea.
    SIGNS OF CHANGE
    Samsung is making efforts to address that.
    In July, Chief Financial Officer Lee Sang-hoon asked how Samsung can respond to rapid changes in the tech industry in the first "Grand Discussion", an initiative for more dialogue, through the company's newly launched Mosaic internal message board. The discussion generated 4,221 ideas and comments.
    "Samsung takes pride in the creativity and diversity of its talented people and will constantly strive to create an environment where they have the opportunity to grow," the company said in a statement to Reuters. The company did not make an executive available for an interview, but provided Reuters with written material on various initiatives.
    Under its "Creative Lab" programme, employees can individually or in teams take a year to develop an idea they come up with if it's deemed worthy of pursuit. Samsung says it had some 14,000 ideas last year through this programme and other company initiatives.
    Employees and Samsung watchers say cultural change is inevitable as a younger generation of Koreans increasingly demands more than just high wages.
    In a survey this year by job portal Incruit, Korean Air Lines Co ranked as the country's most desirable employer, snapping Samsung's 10-year run at the top. Incruit said Samsung's reputation for imposing a heavy workload and limiting personal time jarred with a growing preference for work-life balance.
    That said, some two-thirds of Samsung's nearly 300,000-strong workforce is outside South Korea, and the vast majority of its revenue is generated away from home.
    Among leading South Korean firms, Samsung stands out in that it doesn't discriminate on where job applicants were educated, said Im Chan-soo, head of LCS Communications in the southern port city of Busan, which offers private lessons for those preparing for interviews at Samsung.
    Staff turnover at Samsung in South Korea was below 3 percent last year, against almost 17 percent at its overseas facilities.
    "Samsung looks for honest people who are crazy about the company, people who have only looked to Samsung, who have done a lot to try to get in," said Im.
    One former Samsung Electronics employee, an American in South Korea, said top managers are globally minded, though many employees and observers interviewed by Reuters said the core of its culture remains distinctly Korean.
    "I think change is inevitable," said the current Samsung employee. "It's not because the company decided to be a trailblazer, but because the societal trends are changing. There's a desire to change the system."

  3. China’s Forty Hour Work Week Is Mandatory. Except When It’s Not. Part III. bLAWg via ChinaLawBlog.com
    BEIJING, China - In parts one and two of this series, I wrote about the “flexible” working hours system as an exception to China’s standard working hours system. China’s labor law and relevant regulations also provide for a second exception: the “comprehensive” working hours system. The latter system applies to three categories of employees who work longer hours because of their particular industries, as follows:
    (1) employees required to work extended hours in the transportation, aviation, railway, shipping, fishing, postal and telecommunications service industries;
    (2) employees subject to seasonal and natural constraints in the resource exploration, construction, salt production, sugar production, and travel industries; and
    (3) other employees in positions that may be suitable for the implementation of the comprehensive working hours system.
    Before implementing the comprehensive working hours system, an employer must obtain written permission from the local labor bureau on two fronts: general permission to implement the system, and specific permission for each specific employee designated to work under the system. Once implemented, the designated employees’ working hours will be accumulated over a given period (i.e., a week, month, quarter or year), called a “comprehensive calculation period.” During each such period, the employee’s hours for a month may exceed by up to 36 hours what would have been allowed under the standard working hours system.
    [And thus China flounders along with nowhere near an anchoring domestic consumer base it could have with its huge population and with nightmarish labor standards and work-quality slips.]
    (In practice, the overtime calculation is even more employer-friendly, as labor bureaus typically define the maximum allowable hours as the employee’s average hours for a month.) Employers who disregard overtime rules risk significant penalties: 150% of an employee’s normal wages for any time exceeding the legal maximum, and 300% of normal wages for such time occurring on a Chinese legal holiday.
    The above rules leave several details open to interpretation, and to help clarify matters, in May 2012 China’s Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security issued Draft Regulations on Management of Special Working Hours for public comments. The Draft Regulations introduced the following revisions:
    Categories (1) and (2) above would be expanded to include the electric power, petroleum, petrochemical, and finance industries.
    Category (3) above would instead read: “in accordance with the industry policies issued by the State Council with respect to encouraged or promoted industries, the positions that the PRC Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security deems eligible for implementation of the Comprehensive Working Hours System.”
    The amount of allowable overtime would depend on the length of the comprehensive calculation period. For a period of one week, the maximum overtime permitted per period would be 15 hours (with an additional cap of 36 hours per month). For a period of one month, the maximum overtime permitted per period would be 36 hours. For a period of one quarter, the maximum overtime permitted per period would be 108 hours. For a period of one year, the maximum overtime permitted per period would be 360 hours. In addition, regardless of the period length, an employee could not work more than 11 hours per day, and would be required to have 24 continuous hours of rest every other week.
    However, the Draft Regulations are still out for comment, with no end in sight. Unless and until they take effect, the comprehensive working hours system may only be used for employees who fit into one of the three categories listed at the beginning of this post.


8/06/2014 – 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. Why Not a Three-Day Week? by Maria Konnikova, (8/05 late pickup) The New Yorker Magazine via newyorker.com
    NEW YORK, N.Y., USA - In 1930, John Maynard Keynes posed a question about the economic future of society: “What can we reasonably expect the level of our economic life to be, a hundred years hence? What are the economic possibilities for our grandchildren?” To Keynes, the answer was clear: the rapid accumulation of capital, combined with technological advances, had already, by his estimates, improved the average quality of life in the West fourfold since the Industrial Revolution, and there was no reason why that trend shouldn’t continue. “I would predict that the standard of life in progressive countries one hundred years hence will be between four and eight times as high as it is to-day," he wrote.
    [That cannot possibly happen without two design modifications to our economic core: (1) automatic chronic overtime-to-training&hiring conversion, and (2) regular, repeated, automatic, and mostly downward adjustment of the workweek to create enough convertible chronic overtime to restore and maintain full employment - and the resulting maximization of domestic consumer spending, marketable productivity and solid investment. And these design mods do NOT get implemented by themselves or by magic.]
    The potent combination of technology and capital would render most material-based concerns irrelevant; people would no longer have to worry about basic problems of survival. One result would be an unprecedented abundance of leisure time, which would present a new problem for the average human: “How to use his freedom from pressing economic cares, how to occupy the leisure, which science and compound interest will have won for him, to live wisely and agreeably and well.”
    [Oh get off it! This is such a red herring, based on that old shibboleth about "the devil finds work for idle hands to do." Such nonsense! Experience shows that the LEISURE INDUSTRIES find work for idle hands to do" - when the idleness equates to financially secure leisure and not financially insecure downsizing.]
    In some sense, Keynes’s insight was accurate. Work hours declined during the Great Depression, and they have since then continued to decline in most countries around the world. In 1935, the International Labour Organization (now part of the United Nations) set a forty-hour week for its member nations; though many nations took time to meet that standard, the forty-hour work week was widespread by the nineties. Today, in some countries, the number is even lower: a 1998 law reduced the French work week from thirty-nine to thirty-five hours, with no corresponding pay cut for workers. According to the latest estimates by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (O.E.C.D.), the average work week in twenty-four of its thirty-two member nations declined from 2011 to 2012, to just under thirty-four hours a week.
    But the reality is more complicated that these numbers suggest. In the United States, where work hours have bucked the O.E.C.D. trend and have risen, we don’t seem any closer to lives of leisure or to the problem of too much free time. Ask any investment banker, chef, lawyer, or taxi driver if he works the standard number of hours, and he’ll probably laugh in your face. Recent efforts to limit the hours of medical residents, who often work for more than twenty-four hours straight, were met with controversy and blowback; a new rule, established in 2003, limited their work weeks to eighty hours, but supervisors have often found creative ways to circumvent it. On weekends and evenings, vacations and commutes, family events and meals, we are increasingly tethered to the office, increasingly able—and expected—to respond immediately to e-mails, requests, and queries. Free time is proving to be an ever-more elusive concept: the same technology that Keynes predicted would free us from work has instead brought work into our leisure time.
    This trend is not only undesirable but may also prove unsustainable if we want to maintain a productive, creative, and happy society. That, at least, is the argument which was made recently by the Mexican telecom mogul Carlos Slim. During a talk at a conference in Paraguay two weeks ago, Slim proposed that the standard work schedule worldwide should be trimmed to three days a week. The current arrangement, he pointed out, was developed when life expectancy was lower and the world was, as a whole, poorer. Now, with people living longer and the structure of society shifting accordingly, a four-day weekend would improve quality of life, promote the development of other occupations, and healthier and more productive employees. Slim’s proposal included two important caveats: employees would work longer hours each day, and would continue to work into their seventies. (At Slim’s own company, Telmex, he is allowing workers past retirement age to keep working four-day weeks, at full salary.)
    Slim’s three-day work week was greeted with skepticism, but he is far from the first executive to criticize the structure of our working lives. In 1926, when six-day work weeks were the norm, Henry Ford proposed a five-day week: workers would receive the same pay and have their weekends free. Ford didn’t take the change as a matter of faith; he tested worker productivity beforehand. “Now we know from our experience in changing from six to five days and back again that we can get at least as great production in five days as we can in six,” he wrote. “And we shall probably get a greater, for the pressure will bring better methods.” Ford saw the five-day week as just one step in ongoing efforts to reduce working hours. “The five day week is not the ultimate, and neither is the eight hour day,” he wrote. “It is enough to manage what we are equipped to manage and to let the future take care of itself. It will anyway. That is its habit.”
    In 2010, Anna Coote, the head of social policy at the New Economics, made a recommendation even more extreme than Slim’s: a twenty-one-hour work week. According to Coote, a twenty-one-hour week would help to address “overwork, unemployment, over-consumption, 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.” We may be reluctant to believe these claims—isn’t long, hard work necessary for success? But here’s the thing: when workers feel that they are being cheated or slighted by their employers, their productivity falls and their propensity to cut corners increases. In a study of non-union employees in the United States, the organizational psychologist Daniel Skarlicki found that workers’ perception that they are being treated unfairly not only causes negative emotions but also breeds a desire for retribution. If employees feel that they aren’t paid enough, they may feel entitled, for instance, to mistreat office property or to waste office materials. If they feel that they are being asked to work longer hours than they’d been led to believe they would have to, they may decide to spend more time in the office on Facebook, take longer lunch breaks, work more slowly, or call in sick. A common gripe is, “I don’t get paid enough to work as hard as I do.”
    One of the main factors affecting how motivated we are at work is whether we feel in control of our jobs, and whether we think our actions and views can actually make a difference. In a 2010 survey of employees and supervisors at a large I.T. company, feelings of empowerment affected both intrinsic motivation (wanting to do the work for its own sake, rather than for money or for other external rewards) and creativity. A 2012 review of workplace-empowerment studies since the early twentieth century concluded that helping employees to feel more in control has “proven to be competitively advantageous.” Fostering a sense of control and self-efficacy, it turns out, is a far more effective way to encourage productivity and creativity than demanding a certain output. We’re creative and productive when we feel we have space to find our own way; we’re frustrated and stubborn when we don’t.
    While feeling in control and working fewer hours may seem like distinct issues, they are fundamentally connected. When we own more of our time, we feel like we’re in charge of our lives and our schedules, which makes us happier and, ultimately, better at what we do. Our health and happiness also increases in the course of our lifetimes and, with it, our value to the workplace and to society as a whole. Additionally, we may finally recover from chronic sleep deprivation, which is one of the greatest health hazards currently facing the average employee. Sleep quality, in turn, translates to better cognition, clearer thinking, and increased productivity. Instead of the usual vicious circle, we get a virtuous one.
    That, of course, is one possibility—one grounded in psychology theory. Whether a shorter work week would lead to actual benefits for employers and employees would depend, in large part, on how it was implemented. Would thirty-three hours really mean thirty-three hours, or would we end up sneaking in extra hours of work during our off time, frightened that we might otherwise lose our competitive edge? If so, many of the advantages of the shift would be lost.
    At its core, this is a question of social values and norms. From its earliest days, the United States has fetishized hard work. In “Democracy in America,” Alexis de Tocqueville was struck by Americans’ relentless ambition, which remained high even among the most prosperous and successful citizens, and kept many Americans in a constant state of unrest and unhappiness. “These men left their first country to improve their condition; they quit their resting-place to ameliorate it still more,” he wrote. “Fortune awaits them everywhere, but happiness they cannot attain.” In “The Protestant Ethic,” Max Weber pointed out that the foundational values of the nation were grounded in the virtue of work, work, work. According to a 2013 poll by Penn, Schoen, and Berland and Burston-Marsteller, Americans may be divided on political questions, but we share a commitment to economic enterprise.
    In order for Slim’s proposal to work, we would need to reconceive the value of leisure time and shift how we measure employee performance, rewarding over-all output instead of long hours. That change would have to come from the top, so that employees would know they were not being penalized for working less. As Goldman Sachs has shown with their new “no Saturdays” rule, we wouldn’t have to start with something as drastic as a three-day week. Small changes in policy can lead to great shifts in mentality. The most important element of Slim’s proposal is the idea of giving us back our time—and enabling us to trust that using that time for ourselves won’t somehow disadvantage us.
    Our challenge, then, will be to learn what it means to make good use of our leisure time. Keynes said that “it will be those peoples, who can keep alive, and cultivate into a fuller perfection, the art of life itself and do not sell themselves for the means of life, who will be able to enjoy the abundance when it comes.” But he acknowledged that it would not be easy, “for we have been trained too long to strive and not to enjoy.
    Maria Konnikova is a contributor to newyorker.com, where she writes a weekly blog focussing on psychology and science.

  2. Why Technology Won't Shorten Your Work Week [While the Standard Response Remains Downsizing], by Kyle Chayka, Pacific Standard via psmag.com
    Despite advances in technology, we’re remarkably good at creating new forms of consumption, which lead to new work, and, in turn, new social hierarchies.
    [Newly created forms of consumption do not lead to new work unless there are consumers with money to purchase them, and as long as the kneejerk response to tech advances is downsizing instead of timesizing, there are going to be fewer and fewer consumers with money to spend on anything.]
    BROOKLYN, N.Y., USA - “Within two decades, we will have almost unlimited energy, food, and clean water; advances in medicine will allow us to live longer and healthier lives; robots will drive our cars, manufacture our goods, and do our chores,” optimistically proclaims a recent op-ed by the technology entrepreneur Vivek Wadhwa in the Washington Post [see 7/20-21/2014 #3]. This kind of techno-utopianism begs for a bit of schadenfreude: The future never quite seems to arrive and we love to watch predictions fail. Yet there somehow remains that gnawing sense of hope—maybe, this time, it actually will.
    Over the past week, I’ve embraced Silicon Valley’s methods for getting things done. With the company discounting its services for a launch in the city, I took Lyft cars, the slightly down-market Uber clone, back and forth across Brooklyn. Instead of going shopping in Manhattan, I used eBay Now to have electronics from Target brought to my apartment—no need for multi-day delivery times. These days, I have the option of getting my laundry picked up by car and my organic groceries curated for me.
    The existence of these time-saving conveniences provided by well-funded start-ups—the apparent beginnings of our coming techno-utopia—are what pushed Wadhwa to make the grandiose claim that soon, human labor will be irrelevant. In the age of the self-driving car and drone delivery systems, “There won’t be much work for human beings,” he writes. His solution? Let humans work less. “We may perhaps be working for 10 to 20 hours a week instead of the 40 for which we do today,” Wadhwa proposes. “We may not need the entire population to be working.” Indeed, those not working could focus “on creativity and enlightenment,” he suggests.
    Sounds great, right? Wadhwa’s argument runs that technology has fundamentally disrupted not just hotels and food delivery, but the human race itself. We have made ourselves irrelevant, no longer able to compete with technology. “The economic challenge of the future will not be producing enough,” agrees Lawrence H. Summers, the former treasury secretary, in the Wall Street Journal. “It will be providing enough good jobs.”
    One imagines socially established, economically successful people like Wadhwa and Summers sitting around after the prehistoric invention of fire, loudly proposing that, with this newfound power, humanity will never again have to labor to survive the winter. What post-work theories like this miss is that humanity is remarkably good at inventing new forms of consumption, which create new jobs, and, in turn, new oppressive hierarchies with little room for “creativity and enlightenment.”
    The idea that humans are meant to work 40 hours a week is a relatively recent innovation. During the Industrial Revolution, factory workdays stretched anywhere from 10 to 16 hours. The eight-hour-day movement came about in reaction to those conditions in the early 19th century. In 1817, the Welsh social reformer Robert Owen was calling for “Eight hours labor, eight hours recreation, eight hours rest.” By 1886, the U.S. Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions declared that eight hours constituted a legal day’s labor.
    Yet for all our innovations, workers may have actually been better off in pre-industrial times, when they already knew how to structure a sustainable, lighter work schedule without the help of robots. In her book The Overworked American: The Unexpected Decline of Leisure, Juliet B. Schor explains: “Before capitalism, most people did not work very long hours at all. The tempo of life was slow, even leisurely; the pace of work relaxed.” Medieval labor was broken up multiple times a day for meals and refreshments. A full “day of work” constituted only “half a day,” Schor writes. In 14th-century England, servile laborers worked only 175 days out of the year, and farmers and miners just 180. Even with these schedules, they were able to sustain themselves.
    So why don’t we aim for something like this now, cutting down our commitments instead of dreaming up machines that will enable us to labor better instead of less? The problem is systemic, as Marx suggested in his 1867 Capital: “Capital is dead labor, that, vampire-like, only lives by sucking living labor, and lives the more, the more labor it sucks.” The more labor we produce, the more demand for labor we drive.
    Wadhwa and Summers' dream of a robot-run utopia is not a new one, of course. It’s a myth that exists in the Jetsons and in Pixar’s Wall-E, which increasingly resembles a cautionary, rather than fairy, tale. In 1960, the Japanese architectural critic and poet Noboru Kawazoe sketched his similar vision: “Soon the time will come that everything will be done by machine. The only thing we have to do will be dreaming.” That time hasn’t arrived, but we can certainly dream.
    For every benefit that I was provided in the past week, those harbingers of utopia, there were humans, rather than robots, behind the process. It was still a person who brought products to my door or drove me to my next destination. These are the new jobs that we create and fill, servicing the fresh demands created by technology—the demand to be anywhere and receive anything instantly. Wadhwa and Summers won’t take these servile jobs. Instead, it will be the new working class. For the upper echelons, I’m sure the service will seem suitably robotic.
    The technology we praise today for its frictionless efficiency places the onus for labor ever more squarely on humans. As I saved time in my own schedule this week by not having to travel to shop or avoiding the delays of the subway, I found myself working more, not less. The time I saved never felt like my own because I was somehow cheating to get it, and I had to take full advantage of the opportunity to gain even more through work.
    As new technological innovations are developed, the nature of labor may change, but the workday is going nowhere. That’s because at its root is still the desire to consume. Kawazoe put that compulsion succinctly in a line that may as well describe the vision of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs: “I want to be a god.”
    In the end, the CEOs are the only ones living anything close to that particular dream.


8/05/2014 – 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. Why Illinois Is Cutting Hours At Some Historic Sites, And Sparing Others, by Amanda Vinicky, WUIS 91.9 via wuis.org
    SPRINGFIELD, Illin., USA - The Old State Capitol in Springfield is a popular tourist destination - it's where Abraham Lincoln gave his "House Divided" speech, but it will only be open to the public four days a week starting next month.
    The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency Monday announced that it's scaling back hours at more than a dozen of its sites.
    Lincoln's New Salem in Petersburg, the former statehouse in Vandalia, and Cahokia Mounds in Collinsville are also affected.
    Spokesman Chris Wills blames a 20 percent cut in state funding.
    But about a dozen other historic sites have been spared.
    Wills says determinations were made based on staffing levels.
    "Popularity really did not enter into it, except that we are making these reduced hours effective after the height of the summer travel season," he says. "We wanted to avoid interfering with family travel plans as much as possible."

    The Ulysses S. Grant Home in Galena, Fort Kaskaskia, the Black Hawk site in Rock Island and Mount Pulaski Courthouse are among those unaffected.
    Wills says the agency may need to take more severe actions -- such as shutting down sites completely -- early next year. But he's hopeful lawmakers will instead come through with additional funding.

  2. United Airlines to furlough, cut hours of Logan workers, by Jack Encarnacao, BostonHerald.com
    BOSTON, Mass., USA - United Airlines will furlough 52 of its employees at Logan International Airport and will cut 10 full-timers to part-time hours under a plan that continues the carrier’s cost-cutting moves in the wake of its merger with Continental Airlines.
    [Timesizing, not downsizing!]
    “These were difficult decisions, but these changes will enable us to better manage seasonal demands in our schedule and operate more competitively,” United spokesman Luke Punzenberger said.
    The furloughs and hour reductions take effect Oct. 1, United said.
    Punzenberger said the furloughed employees will have opportunities to transfer to different positions in airports where United operates.
    “Those folks, based on their seniority and qualification, will have opportunities to transfer to other areas in the system,” he said.
    Punzenberger declined to specify which positions were affected, only to say they are “airport operations employees.”
    “Combining our previously separate operations into one terminal has allowed us to be more efficient by better aligning staffing resources with workloads,” he said.
    United and Continental merged in 2010 and in April left their respective locations at Terminal A and Terminal C in Logan Airport to a new post at Terminal B.
    Punzenberger said similar changes are expected at other United operations.
    “There will be some changes taking effect at other stations at other airports in which we operate,” he said.

  3. Shelves empty, workers' hours cut in Market Basket standoff, by Jonathan Phelps, (8/04 late pickup) MilfordDailyNews.com
    Hudson Market Basket workers Maria Simboina of Milford and Magaali Rodas of Worcester hold signs Monday morning in front of the store. (photo caption)
    [What's with the giraffe on the signs?]
    MILFORD, Mass., USA - In spite of orders from the corporate office for all Market Basket workers who walked off the job to return to work, local stores on Monday still hadn’t received deliveries from the central warehouse.
    Jason Ramsey, assistant store manager in Ashland, said food orders for the warehouse have been placed every day, but the delivery trucks aren’t coming and many shelves and coolers are bare.
    "We were told that if we place the orders the trucks will come," he said. "We haven’t received any in two weeks."
    Produce, meat and bakery shelves have been left mostly empty at local Market Basket stores because of the boycott. Employees for weeks have been protesting the firing of former president/CEO Arthur T. Demoulas and say they'll return to work when "Arthur T." is brought back to head the company.
    Company officials say they will replace workers who didn't return to work by Monday. Market Basket is hosting job fairs this week to recruit store directors, assistant directors, grocery buyers, perishable food buyers and accountants.
    Over the weekend, Arthur T. offered to come back to work if a deal for him to buy a majority share of the company is worked out.
    On Monday afternoon, there were a few loyal picketers lining Pond Street outside the Ashland store, but the workers are doing so on their own time, Ramsey said.
    "Everyone has been showing up to work," Ramsey said of the Ashland store. "We are here every day stocking what we can."
    Ramsey said many of the workers are being told not to come to work.
    "They are telling us to cut hours to make payroll," he said. "There are no hours because there are no customers."
    In Bellingham, roughly 40 protesters picketed in the parking lot and at entrances of the Bellingham Market Basket.
    “They keep saying they're going to replace us, but how are they going to replace 25,000 people? You can't just do that,” said Joe Kenney, grocery manager and an informal protest coordinator.
    The protesters outside were mostly Market Basket employees off the clock.
    “There's no work to be done in there. Everything is cleaned, we're all caught up on that. I mean, we've had three weeks to do it,” Kenney said, noting business has almost completely dropped off.
    With business down about 90 percent, Jeff Lareau, assistant store manager in Hudson, said he is working with a skeleton crew. Like at the stores in Ashland and Bellingham, the Hudson workers picket on their own time.
    "We have people here doing their jobs based on what business we’re doing," he said.
    Other associates are doing "busy work," he said.
    Lareau said he believes the orders to return to work are for employees not currently performing their jobs like warehouse workers and truck drivers.


8/03-04/2014 – 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. Our view: Less work, more naps, 8/03 MilfordDailyNews.com
    MILFORD, Mass., USA - Carlos Slim is either the world's richest or second-richest man, depending on which measure you use and how much he spent on lunch that day. So it's worth taking note when he has something to say about work and productivity.
    At a conference recently in Paraguay, [Slim] pitched a radical overhaul of the 9-to-5 grind: People would work three days a week, though they would put in longer days (11 hours) and they would retire later in life (at around 70). The extra days off would give people more time to relax and invent things, Slim said.
    On the other side of the world, the Seoul city government was singing a similar tune - a lullaby, actually: Workers will soon have permission to take afternoon naps, though the nap experiment is restricted to the summer months. Perhaps city officials realize what sleep science has been saying for a while: Napping helps improve cognitive performance, especially if the nap is in the 10- to 25-minute range [only in the summer months?].
    The genius of Slim and Seoul's ideas is that they accept the malleability of the 21st-century workweek but ask why the change is in only one direction. Just because the workplace is always on, the workweek doesn't have to be. The five-day week, after all, was established in a time when we had dry goods, steam engines and lamplighters. Hasn't the workplace become more efficient since then? Shouldn't the workweek?

  2. Top Shelf: 3 Day Work Week, by Stacey Soble, 8/04 SalonToday.com
    [And here's someone else who's come up with a proposed three-day workweek - maybe the shorter hours solution is finally "getting legs" after all!]
    NEW YORK, N.Y., USA - Book: 3 Day Work Week
    Written by: Wendy White McCown
    Available: The e-book is complimentary and can be downloaded at edayworkweek.biz.
    Reviewed by: Nathan R. Reedy, executive director of sales and development for Be.Creative House, the Bumble and bumble distributor for Texas, Louisiana and Florida.
    SALON TODAY: What is the book about?
    Reedy: “3 Day Work Week is a wonderful explanation and exploration of a unique model to salon efficiency. Signatures Salon and Signatures Consulting have piloted an innovative model for salon success, built on maximizing time for all employees and stylists while working and increasing productivity. Without adding more chairs, opening a new location or increasing the fixed costs of running their salon, the Signatures team has increased their overall net income by an incredible 82 percent in two years! The efficiency with which they have executed their ‘3 Day Work Week’ is built on the strong culture of their salon, the roots of which are shared in 3 Day Work Week. Understanding the importance of a vision for your business, your life and the lives of the people with which you work, is a key driver of overall success and 3 Day Work Week lays out very simple processes for helping to refine this vision.”
    ST: What did you like best about the book?
    Reedy: “I very much enjoyed that 3 Day Work Week is laid out in a simple, approachable manner. Too often, “simple” is confused with “easy”. Through McCown’s very candid description of their own process of adopting the “3 day work week” into their everyday, you can begin to imagine how this may play out in your own salon. For me, it is so important to understand the bigger picture of what we do on a daily basis. I love that so much of groundwork for 3 Day Work Week is built on the vision that you as an owner/management team have for the salon. This said, I love that 3 Day Work Week incorporates not only testimonials from the owner/manager prospective, but from the stylists as well, sharing the impact of less, but more effective time in the salon. Equally impressive is the manner in which Signatures has woven in the involvement of their front desk team in maximizing the profitability of the salon while helping them to see a path in their own development – a sometimes elusive element to success.”
    ST: For you, what was the biggest takeaway message?
    Reedy: “Culture isn’t just important for the success of your business – Culture IS the success of your business! Everything begins and ends with having a greater vision for what you are trying to accomplish. As McCown says beautifully in 3 Day Work Week, people often look at salons from the outside and mistakenly think, “What an easy business to run!” Like any other business, salon success takes work! In order to think outside of the box, you have to have a clear understanding of who you are, what makes you special and how can you capitalize on this to trail-blaze new and different paths to success.”
    ST: What’s the one idea from the book that owners can implement in their professional or personal lives?
    Reedy: “Our salons – our businesses - are not just places that we go and, at the end of the day, turn off the lights, close the doors and forget about until we next arrive. They become extensions of us. How we view the world. How the world views us. Understanding the importance of a clear vision for this business, and all the people it touches, is an incredible concept. 3 Day Work Week lays out some very clear steps to begin examining and diving deeper into this immediately to establish what will work for your own culture”
    ST: Why would you recommend this book to peers, colleagues and customers?
    Reedy: “I’m fond of saying, and I’m certain I’m not the first, ‘We’re none of us an island.’ In today’s rapidly evolving, competitive business and salon climate, with so many demands on our time, it is so important to maximize efficiency and remove waste. 3 Day Work Week is built on this concept and revolves around maximizing not only salon profitability but stylist and employee happiness and health. To me, that is a truly winning combination!"

  3. Southern Ohio needs help to save jobs, letter to editor by Adam Jones of Otway OH, 8/04 Columbus Dispatch via dispatch.com
    [Opportunity Dept. - This is a situation begging for worksharing, and last summer Ohio passed *Shared Work Ohio but apparently the word hasn't got around yet.]
    OTWAY, Ohio, USA - The southern Ohio community is on the verge of a catastrophic loss of good-paying jobs that will be nearly impossible to replace (“Pike County worries over plants’ future,” Dispatch article, July 28). If Congress and U.S. Department of Energy officials do not act quickly, more than 1,400 men and women could lose their jobs due to funding cuts and an impending court case regarding uranium sales.
    The village of Piketon is home to a Cold War-era uranium-enrichment plant that has employed generations of families in our area. They say there are three service-industry jobs for every one full-time worker. A loss of this magnitude will cripple southern Ohio, a community that just in the past four years has suffered the loss of thousands of jobs, including at a cabinet manufacturer, a juvenile correctional facility and several other mom-and-pop businesses.
    This ping-pong funding game with our local families has to stop. This is a call for all our members of Congress and our president to find the funding for our jobs. If we can find $2 billion to help immigrant children, certainly we can find $110 million to help our own children.
    [Hey, Adam, Ohio just last summer passed the most powerful job saving program in the world, the one that Germany used to breeze through the last downturn, "Kurz-arbeit" (short work). We call it worksharing or shared work or short time working. Your state calls it Shared Work Ohio. Here's a link to an announcement about it: *http://www.ohiohouse.gov/republicans/press/shared-work-program-passes-ohio-house
    Timesizing.com/2wksharg.htm
    Worksharing is the halfway step to a practice that all economies will need as an alternative to downsizing in response to robotization and having fewer people with money to buy all the stuff the robots are making. We call it Timesizing(R) and it involves converting overtime into training & hiring and then adjusting the workweek downward to make enough convertible overtime to get full employment and maximum consumer spending and markets and, you could say, wartime prosperity without the war. Most of those 28 states could do a better job of publicizing their worksharing programs and apparently Ohio is one of them since you didn't know about it.]


8/02/2014 – 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. Affordable Care Act spurs substitute outsourcing, by Mike Connors, The Virginian-Pilot via hamptonroads.com
    HAMPTON ROADS, Va., USA - An increasing number of school divisions around the country are turning to private companies to find substitute teachers, citing the Affordable Care Act as a primary reason.
    In Hampton Roads, two divisions on the Peninsula have signed on. School board members in other cities think it’s worth exploring – though Virginia Beach decided a switch would not be beneficial.
    The reason to outsource stems partly from added costs associated with the health care law mandating that all entities provide benefits to employees who regularly work at least 30 hours a week.
    [Shorter hours are happening anyway but not the best way.]
    “It’s a whole new ballgame with the Affordable Care Act,” said Harry Murphy, a 16-year member of the Chesapeake School Board.
    Hampton started contracting substitutes in the spring, and Newport News will begin in the fall.
    Hampton and Newport News shifted their substitutes to Source4Teachers, a private company that started in 2000. It has partnerships with more than 160 divisions in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Virginia.
    Much of that growth has come since the health care law took effect in spring 2010, company President Kevin Bush said.
    Hampton’s original reason for contracting substitutes was financial. More than half its 300 to 350 subs work more than 30 hours a week, said Robbin Ruth, the division’s executive director of human resources.
    Officials estimated that health care law requirements would have added $2 million, money the division didn’t have.
    Source4Teachers pays substitutes the same rate the division offered, adding a slight mark-up, Ruth said. But it’s “not as great as providing benefits.”
    Newport News looked at outsourcing seven or eight years ago, said Mary Lou Roaseau, an assistant superintendent for business and support services. Now, about 10 percent of the division’s 700 substitutes work at least 30 hours a week.
    “Today it makes more sense,” Roaseau said.
    The divisions have found benefits beyond cost-saving. Both said Source4Teachers is able to find needed substitutes more regularly than they were on their own. That helps because if one isn’t available, they must adjust by combining classes or scrambling for a fill-in.
    Ruth also noted that the focus of Source4Teachers is substitutes. That allows the company to offer training that a division with other priorities can’t.
    “As we made the transition, we really feel for our substitutes it’s been a good thing,” she said.
    Virginia Beach looked at several proposals, said John Mirra, chief human resources officer. But most of its substitutes don’t work enough to qualify for benefits required under the law. The division also worried about how outsourcing would affect the quality of education.
    Source4Teachers can hire its own substitutes. It also can send them from one division to another.
    Virginia Beach prefers to do its own hiring and training and is able to find help more than 95 percent of the time.
    “With a track record like this, we see little advantage in working with an external vendor,” Mirra said by email.
    Suffolk School Board member Linda Bouchard, whose daughter teaches in Hampton, is familiar with that division’s outsourcing. She noted that the idea might not be efficient in Suffolk because it also limits substitute hours to four workdays a week. Last year, the division used only four long-term subs.
    Bouchard still would like to see whether outsourcing would allow more money to go to full-time teachers.
    “I think it’s the obligation of any school system to explore any cost-saving measure they can,” she said.
    Chesapeake has more than 1,200 approved subs, most of whom don’t qualify for benefits under the law. It allotted roughly $3.15 million for substitute teacher salaries this school year. That’s essentially the same as the previous two years and a drop from budgets earlier in the decade.
    Still, Murphy sees divisions everywhere outsourcing everything from substitutes to custodians to bus drivers. He wouldn’t mind his own division exploring it – with a caveat.
    “I’m for the private sector doing anything the private sector can do better,” he said. “As long as it doesn’t reduce or it enhances the educational process.”
    Mike Connors, 757-222-5217, michael.connors@pilotonline.com

  2. Day after meeting, notice given: PO hours cut, by Calvin Trice ctrice@newsleader.com, Staunton News Leader via newsleader.com
    NEW HOPE, Va., USA – A U.S. Postal Service representative Thursday assured a crowd gathered on the local post office parking lot that the agency would get back with them before making a decision on whether to reduce the center's hours.
    Friday morning, a notice was posted inside the lobby that the hours would be cut.
    "It has been determined that the New Hope PO will provide four hours of window service each weekday," reads what appears to be a form letter. Saturday hours for the location won't change.

    The agency will announce when the hours will take effect, said the letter, attributed to David Schenck, the service's post plan coordinator who appeared with a USPS group Thursday to gather public input.
    The office currently offers retail hours from 7:30 a.m.-noon, then from 1 p.m.-4 p.m. As part of a nationwide cost-reduction effort, the postal service has cut retail hours at small offices as a way to save money while keeping them open.
    [Hourscuts, not closures. Timesizing, not downsizing!]
    Several residents said at the meeting that they'd be willing to help boost traffic at the site and asked that a unique rural carrier and zip code be added specifically for New Hope.
    During the next two years, the postal service will review traffic and revenue at New Hope that could adjust office hours up or down, Bill Harlow, manager of post office operations for the local district.
    Postal service official could not be reached for comment.


8/01/2014 – 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. How to make the best decision among economic downsizing options? by Tim Bonansinga J.D. SPHR, (7/31 late pickup) *Industrial Workforce Ltd. via QuincyWorkforce.com
    QUINCY, Illin., USA - Recently, a number of Quincy, Illinois, companies have either closed their doors, laid off large numbers of employees or made plans to catch the first train out of town.
    Quincy Compressor, in the opinion of many people, appears to be just bugging out without any consideration at all for the options or interests of its workers. Even though state and local officials opened up their grab bags of subsidy goodies to try to convince them to stay and maintain the 150 jobs, they had apparently already made up their minds. It looks like there is not enough consideration for them to even entertain options that might have made it a little easier on their workers or to relieve the community of damage. Now over 150 households full of real people will be suffering various levels of anguish when the impact of no work hits them. Quincy Compressor won’t even release the list of names so other companies might consider hiring their workers. No, in the opinion of many they seem to want to squeeze the last bit out of those people before they slink out of town.
    For the other companies in Quincy who closed their doors or laid-off, in my opinion, there were options that were probably never considered.
    “If you are faced with the economic need to downsize your workforce, which method should you choose – a layoff or a furlough [or an hourscut]? Layoffs crush morale. A layoff inevitably results in letting go some good employees. The employees who are left will be always looking over their shoulders, waiting for the pink slips to come. They will be working harder [at least in the sense of being onsite longer], for the same pay, and in constant fear that their numbers are up next. This combination does not make for a healthy and productive work environment.
    "A furlough [or hourscut], however, sends a different message. It tells employees that each of them has value and is valued. It tells employees that you are doing what you can to keep them employed. Moreover, when your operational needs improve, a furlough is also easier from which to recover.
    Instead of facing the daunting prospect of restaffing through hiring new employees, you can simply undo the furlough, and bring everyone back to full-time status. (“The Employer Bill of Rights: A Manager’s Guide to Workplace Law”, by Jonathan T. Hyman)”
    Recruiting really qualified people is as tough as it has ever been. As Hyman says above,
    “A layoff inevitably results in letting go some good employees.”
    I’m sure that there were options and assistance available for the companies that closed. Whether they considered all the options is a mystery to me. However, for those that are laying-off, if I had been asked I would have said: Look forward to consider all the options before you make that layoff decision. Top talent is guarded obsessively by the best companies. High performing employees are the only sustainable competitive advantage for companies. There is no doubt in my mind that the best of the laid-off employees will have no trouble finding their next job. Unfortunately for the company who laid them off the next job for the best of your laid-off will probably be with your competitor. When you start trying to hire again into the tough recruiting market, it will be very tough. The best available in the future may be the worst of whom you laid off. Terrible way to grow a company.
    It is really best to consider all the options when making tough decisions, anticipate, and choose the option which damages the fewest people.
    [Here's a situation that needs the ideas in the above article -]
    Commissioners set priority of saving jobs, by Wayne Allen, Portsmouth-DailyTimes.com
    PORTSMOUTH, Ohio, USA - Mike Crabtree, chairman of the Scioto County Commissioners, said he and the other commissioners have set a priority of working towards saving the jobs that may be in jeopardy at the Piketon Department of Energy Plant.
    In a recent interview with the Daily Times, about ongoing issues in the county, Crabtree said most of the issues have been put on the back-burner while they focus on working to saving the jobs.
    “We’ve got this issue with Fluor-B&W Portsmouth and the potential loss of jobs, this is something that’s taken priority,” Crabtree said. “We’ve been at meetings, sending letters and we’ve been doing this that and the other to try to conserve what we have (jobs). Somethings have to take the forefront”
    He said if something we’re to happen to those jobs, it would likely set the economic development efforts of the county back.
    “Everybody wants to know if these jobs go how are you going to replace them. You’re not going to be able to replace those jobs. You might get additional jobs, but if you were going to get those anyway they would not be additional jobs,” Crabtree said. “What you lose is gone and right now this is something we want to hold on to if we can. Right now this (issue) is at the forefront of what we are doing.”
    Crabtree said there are others in the region also doing what they can to hold on to those jobs.
    “If you have a horse that gets out, with the rest of them in a barn. Your prime concern at the moment is that horse that got away,” Crabtree said. “You’ve got to worry about things that are critical at the time and right now the most critical thing we’ve got is what’s going to happen to all of those jobs.”
    He said along with the issue of the jobs there are other issues that have to be dealt with as well.
    “It’s other issue as well, it’s not only families (of those who could lose their job), but every close family member that has regard for the people that work there will be effected one way or another,” Crabtree said. “We have to do what we can to encourage the Department of Energy to do what the community and I hope the state of Ohio expects out of them.”
    Wayne Allen can be reached at tallen@civitasmedia.com, 740-353-3101, ext. 1933, or on Twitter @WayneallenPD.

  2. Tunnelton Post Office Hours Cut Back, WBOY-TV via wboy.com
    TUNNELTON, W.Va., USA - The Post Office in Tunnelton will be shortening it's operation hours as a part of the nationwide cut back.
    Post Offices all around the country are cutting their hours due to the declining financial situation.
    Cutting hours will allow all offices to stay up and running without having to close any buildings completely.
    This will save about $500 million once the plan is fully put in place by January 9, 2014.
    The biggest issue with the change, is that residents will now have a shorter amount of time each day they will be able to talk to someone in the office face to face.
    The office will be open four hours from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Those in charge said it's not an ideal plan but they're happy that they won't have to completely close any offices.
    One of the biggest factors that has caused offices to lose money is the internet. People are now buying everything from online sites and there is no need to go to the post office.
    "Our retail transactions over the last nine years, we've lost about 40 billion transactions over the window and we're just not getting them back. The impact of the internet has been very detrimental to us. You can do everything over the internet that you can do at the post office," said Manager of Post Office Operations, Paul Portillo.
    Residents are not pleased with the change in hours and argue that the hours they will be open are not suitable for those who work.
    Portillo said that hours of operation could increase if revenue is brought in and encourages residents to rent P.O. Boxes, buy stamps from the post office, and send mail to the office instead of directly to your home.

  3. Employees and bosses still along way apart on working hours law, Editorial, (8/02 over dateline) South China Morning Post (subscription) via scmp.com
    The concept of standard working hours is arguably even more contentious than a minimum wage in that it affects not just low-income earners. (photo caption)
    [But if you don't do it, you place yourself in the deteriorating position of downsizing your workforce AND your domestic consumer base and investment opportunities, instead of downsizing your workweek and keeping or growing your workforce and with it, your domestic consumer base and investment opportunities.]
    HONG KONG, HKSAR, China - Employees looking forward to legislation on shorter working hours can be excused for feeling disappointed. A six-month public engagement exercise has apparently failed to bridge the divide between employer and worker representatives in the government-appointed Standard Working Hours Committee. Without any concrete suggestions on the way forward, the prospects are not promising. Both sides should strive to narrow the differences through more dialogue.
    The concept of standard working hours is arguably even more contentious than a minimum wage in that it affects not just low-income earners. The issues involved are also more complex. For instance, should working hours take into account rest and meal breaks? Would shorter working hours result in wage reductions? Would it have an adverse impact on the business environment? If such a law is enacted, how should overtime be compensated? Should exemptions be considered? Given the complexity, the lack of consensus is not unexpected.
    The committee has held 37 talks with various stakeholders since late January. Yet we do not seem any the clearer about where we are. As confirmed by committee chief Dr Leong Che-hung, the fundamental difference is still whether legislation is needed, let alone what should or should not be covered. The only thing that seems certain is that the committee will table a report by the end of the year, after gathering 10,000 working hour samples across different sectors for further consideration. So for more than 7,000 have been obtained.
    [So, "much ado about nothing." Hong Kong was always the posterchild of capitalism, despite being surrounded by communist China, but now that communist China has embraced suicidal downsizing-friendly capitalism, Hong Kong employers are participating in the general death of Chinese brain cells - at the expense of anchoring HK-specific consumer spending.]

    The situation is reminiscent of the minimum wage debate a few years ago. Bosses complained that the wage floor, with a review every two years, would drive up business costs. They are even more wary of a law on working hours, which arguably limits operational flexibility and productivity. Some industries are said to be suffering severe labour shortages. Manpower may be stretched further if shorter working hours are mandated. Business resistance cannot be ignored.
    A work-life balance is a laudable goal. Unfortunately, years of campaigning have not brought us any closer. Pressured by the labour sector during the chief executive election in 2012, Leung Chun-ying rightly made standard working hours a campaign promise. It is to be hoped that the committee's report can provide some objective basis to help the public decide on the way forward. The road ahead is difficult. But it's a goal we should strive to achieve.
    This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as "Hard work ahead on labour issue."




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