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Timesizing News, April 2015
[Commentary] ©2015 Phil Hyde, Timesizing.com, Harvard Sq PO Box 117, Cambridge MA 02238 USA 617-623-8080


4/30/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. Oradell library cutting hours, slashing spending, by Nicholas Pugliese pugliese@northjersey.com, NorthJersey.com
    ORADELL, N.J., USA — The borough's public library will reduce its hours by nearly 20 percent — cutting Thursday service altogether — and further slash its spending on new materials if it does not receive an extra $36,000 in municipal funding this year.
    [Better reduced hours than reduced staff = Timesizing than downsizing.]
    The decision, which library officials finalized last week and is set to take effect Friday, prompted dozens of frustrated residents to urge the Borough Council at a meeting Tuesday to meet the library's request
    — an amount equivalent to little more than $1 per month for each of the borough's roughly 2,600 households.
    "I've never resented paying taxes for good services," Katherine Lessersohn, 91, said during her public comments. "It boggles my mind that the council can't put this in perspective and give the library what it needs."
    The library is set to receive $578,509 from the borough this year, according to the proposed 2015 municipal budget. That amount is $30,950 more than the minimum the governing body is required by law to provide, but the same amount that has been budgeted since 2012 and $30,000 less than was budgeted in 2008.
    Around 2008, the library assumed the cost of health care for its employees, a burden of approximately $80,000 that the borough had previously carried, said James Lessersohn, Katherine's son and chairman of the library board's strategic planning committee.
    The combination of the flat budget and rising costs has finally reached a point, James Lessersohn said, where cutting hours — a total of 10 per week — is the best solution.
    Starting Friday, the library will open an hour later, at 11 a.m., on Mondays and Tuesdays, and remain closed on Thursdays, said John J. Trause, the library's director. At the proposed level of funding, the library will also spend roughly $14,500 less on acquiring new books, DVDs and other material this year than it had hoped, Trause said.
    Should the governing body approve additional funding for the library, however, library officials say they will be able to invest adequately in new materials and expand hours starting in September to include Sunday afternoons.
    Mayor Joseph Murray Jr. said Wednesday that he was at least partially swayed by residents' comments at Tuesday's meeting.
    "The overwhelming majority of the speakers were annoyed or concerned about the library closing another day, so I would support giving them the funds to be open Thursday and Sunday," he said, adding that the council would discuss the matter at its next work session on May 12.
    But Murray, like other borough officials, is unsure how much more money the borough can spare.
    To increase funding for the library, the borough can either reallocate funds from other departments or draw from its surplus, said Borough Administrator Laura Graham. Raising taxes is not an option because the proposed budget already increases local property taxes by the maximum allowed by law, she said.
    Of the two options, drawing from the surplus may be more feasible given that almost every department has already been scheduled for budget cuts, Graham said.
    In fact, she said, "The library was the only department that was kept whole from what they had the year before."
    But even drawing from the surplus can have negative consequences, she said. The borough is already planning to use more than $900,000 in surplus money this year, she said, and using much more could threaten the borough's bond rating, which is affected by fluctuations in the surplus.
    A downgraded bond rating would increase the interest rates that the municipality pays on its bonds.
    Trause, the library director, said he was touched by the show of support from residents at Tuesday's meeting but was disappointed that the dilemma had not been resolved earlier.
    "It is a little sad that it has to come to this where we have to rally the public instead of just working in a more efficient manner with the mayor and council," he said.
    The council will vote to approve the municipal budget at its monthly meeting on May 26.

  2. Lawmakers pledge support for 40-hour workweek, by Lii Wen, (5/01 over dateline) TaipeiTimes.com
    Activists led by the Taiwan Labour Front yesterday rally outside the Legislative Yuan in Taipei. Holding bright yellow umbrellas, participants arranged themselves to form the number 40 to show their support for a proposed 40-hour work week. (photo caption)
    TAIPEI, Taiwan - Legislators from across party lines yesterday pledged support for major reforms to shorten the legal workweek, as the legislature’s Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee cleared amendments to the Labor Standards Act.
    If passed by the legislature’s plenary session later this month, the landmark piece of legislation would change regulations that define work hours as 84 hours per two weeks to 40 hours per week — effectively ensuring two days off per week.
    The new policy is set to be implemented by next year and expected to benefit about 3.4 million workers in the private sector.
    However, the fate of a controversial clause that would increase the monthly limit for overtime work from 46 to 54 hours remained unclear, as the Executive Yuan’s version of the bill failed to reach the committee stage for review yesterday.
    The move to raise the overtime cap provoked strong criticism from legislators from the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) alike.
    DPP Legislator Chao Tien-ling said that increasing the overtime limit by eight hours would render the other reforms meaningless, because shortening work hours to 40 hours per week decreased work hours by precisely eight hours per month.
    He accused the government of treating the people like monkeys, citing a classic fable in which an old man appeased monkeys under his care by promising them four chestnuts at dawn and three at dusk, instead of the other way around.
    Given that all 12 versions put forward by legislators shortened the workweek without stipulating an increase in overtime work, it made no sense for legislators to support the Executive Yuan’s version, Chao said.
    In a show of bipartisan cooperation, KMT legislators supported Chao, with Lin Hung-chih, Wu Yu-jen, Chiang Hui-chen and others taking to the speaker’s podium to speak out on the clause.
    They said that while the Executive Yuan’s version contained certain progressive aspects — such as a clause that requires employers to compensate employees for unused holidays that have passed their half-year limit — the proposal to increase overtime hours stymied the otherwise positive reforms.
    Legislators also agreed on other reforms such as increasing fines for those who violate labor regulations, extra pay for employees working on national holidays, and making workers eligible to apply for flexible work hours by one hour for family reasons.
    Although the two-days-off-per-week policy has been in place in the public sector since 2001, only about 50.1 percent of companies in the private sector have followed suit, while the remaining 49.9 percent of private enterprises do not guarantee two days off a week.
    While legislators reviewed the act, nearly 200 protesters led by Taiwan Labour Front rallied outside the Legislative Yuan compound to protest the proposed increase in the overtime work limit.
    Holding bright yellow umbrellas, participants arranged themselves to form the number “40” in the middle of Jinan Rd outside the legislature, chanting: “Open up the protective umbrella for workers.”
    Taiwan Labour Front secretary-general Son Yu-liam said that Taiwanese suffered from overwork to a dangerous degree, with the nation’s annual average number of work hours ranked third in the world at 2,124 hours a year, surpassed by only South Korea and Mexico.
    He urged the government to withdraw its proposal to increase overtime hours, adding that Taiwanese employers rarely offer overtime pay.
    “We urge the government to help us fulfill our pitiful demand of a 40-hour workweek, something many other nations already achieved more than 100 years ago,” Son said.


4/29/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. The Fair Workweek Initiative in Connecticut, by Jonathan Kantrowitz, blog.CTnews.com
    Source: “Hourly Work and Workers in Connecticut”, The Center for Popular Democracy
    HARTFORD, Conn., USA - Connecticut has almost 885,000 hourly workers—nearly 57 percent of Connecticut’s total workforce—who would benefit from updating workplace protections to match our modern workweek. Across multiple measures, hourly workers are more likely than salaried workers to experience volatile, precarious schedules. A national survey found that 41 percent of early-career hourly workers know their schedules a week or less in advance and half of the hourly workers in the study said their schedules were decided by their employer alone. Nearly three-quarters of hourly workers reported that their weekly work hours had fluctuated in the past month.
    Twenty-nine percent of Connecticut’s hourly workforce is employed part-time at their main job (working less than 35 hours a week), compared to just eight percent of the non-hourly workforce.   6.5 times as many of these hourly part-time workers would prefer to work full-time (78,000) than non-hourly part-time workers (12,000). Fifty-six thousand hourly workers hold more than one job, more than twice as many as in the non-hourly workforce.
    Even though the majority of both hourly and non-hourly workers are assigned 40 or more hours of work a week, hourly workers are much more likely than non-hourly workers to be assigned fewer work hours. Connecticut has almost 129,000 women paid hourly who work less than 30 hours a week, and an additional 33,000 female hourly workers who have hours that vary week to week. One in three women paid hourly work less than 30 hours a week, compared to one in 10 women not paid hourly.
    In 2013, 22,000 of Connecticut’s hourly workers were paid at or below minimum wage (then $8.25 per hour).2 In 2014, at leastb 140,000 of Connecticut’s workers were earning between minimum wage and $10 per hour (or between $17,200 and $20,800 per year), and 183,000 hourly workers earned between $10 and $15 per hour (or between $20,800 and $31,200 per year).
    Sixty-six percent of Connecticut’s hourly workforce is white, while 34 percent are people of color. Black and Latino workers are most likely to be paid hourly: 77 percent of the Latino workforce and 76 percent of the Black workforce in Connecticut is paid hourly, compared to 52 percent of Whites, and 41 percent of Asian workers. Black, White and Asian women are all more likely to work hourly than men of the same race.
    The Fair Workweek Initiative
    Low-wage workers and their families continue to struggle, even as the US economy recovers from the Great Recession of 2008. While stable, middle-income jobs were lost in significant numbers, the recovery to date has been built on the dramatic expansion of low-wage, no-benefit jobs in industries like retail, restaurants, and healthcare, which rely on large part-time workforces. These fast growing low-wage industries are shifting to just-in-time scheduling practices, which in turn fuel massive under-employment and attendant economic insecurity for workers.
    A just-in-time workforce experiences profound insecurity: workers cannot predict their hours or pay from day to day, make time for schooling or to care for children or family, secure a second job, or qualify for promotions to full-time employment. The negative impact on earnings is not simply due to fewer hours of work: America’s 28 million part-time workers earn on average a third less per hour than their full-time counterparts, and do not qualify for critical employer-provided benefits. Low-wage women and workers of color, especially in Black communities, are especially hard hit by this trend.
    The Fair Workweek Initiative (FWI), a collaborative effort anchored by the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD), is bringing together leading worker-organizing and community-based organizations across the country and allied research and policy groups to develop, drive and win policy solutions at the local, state and federal level that concentrates on the priorities of low-wage women and women of color and puts those impacted communities at the forefront of this fight.
    We are working to shift employer practices and advance transformative policy change that achieves:
    • Predictable, stable, transparent schedules
    • Access to full-time employment
    • Equitable part-time work and opportunities to advance
    • A voice in our work schedules
    • Using technology for a high-road in workforce management
    • A 21st Century social safety net for today’s workforce.
    With this new baseline, we can provide working families with stable employment, a livable income, and family-sustaining scheduling that will ensure that our recovering economy is built on quality jobs for all.

  2. Barking up the wrong tree - How to focus on the work that matters, by Eric Barker, TheWeek.com
    PALM COAST, Fla., USA - How can you spend time wisely?
    We all wonder where the hours go. There's a good reason for that — we're absolutely terrible at remembering how we really spend our time.
    Via [ie: check out -] What the Most Successful People Do at Work: A Short Guide to Making Over Your Career:
    Hunting through data from the American Time Use Survey, conducted annually by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and other time diary projects, I came to the inescapable conclusion that how we think we spend our time has little to do with reality. We wildly overestimate time devoted to housework. We underestimate time devoted to sleep. We write whole treatises glorifying a golden age that never was; American women, for instance, spend more time with their children now than their grandmothers did in the 1950s and 60s.

    Nowhere is this truer than with work. Are you a workaholic spending 75+ hours at work a week? Then you're probably off by as much as 25 hours.
    More from What 10 things should you do every day to improve your life? A Short Guide to Making Over Your Career:
    These curious blind spots continue into the realm of work. People who get paid by the hour know how many hours they work. People who inhabit the world of exempt jobs have a much more tenuous grasp on this concept but, as a general rule, the higher the number of work hours reported, the more likely the person is to be overestimating. A study published in the June 2011 Monthly Labor Review that compared estimated workweeks with time diaries reported that people who claimed their "usual" workweeks were longer than 75 hours were off, on average, by about 25 hours. You can guess in which direction. Those who claimed that a "usual" workweek was 65–74 hours were off by close to 20 hours. Those claiming a 55-64 hour workweek were still about 10 hours north of the truth. Subtracting these errors, you can see that most people top out at fewer than 60 work hours per week.
    It's no shock that we don't spend time wisely — most of us have no idea where the time goes.

    We do know some of the culprits. [Social media?!!] TV. Web surfing. And email. Oh yes, email.
    Knowledge workers spend 28 percent of their time with email. Fifty-eight percent of smartphone owners don't go an hour without checking their device. Nine percent check it during religious services.

    Via What the Most Successful People Do at Work: A Short Guide to Making Over Your Career:
    According to a 2012 McKinsey Global Institute report on the social economy, knowledge workers spend 28 percent of their time wading through their inboxes. According to Lookout, the mobile-security firm, 58 percent of smartphone users say they don't go an hour without checking their phones. And not just waking hours. Lookout reported that 54 percent of smartphone users check their phones while lying in bed. Almost 40 percent say they check their phones while on the toilet. Some 9 percent admit to checking their phones during religious services.
    Why can't we focus? [In Predictably Irrational, NYT bestselling author ] Dan Ariely says it's an issue of visibility.
    Calendars are great for showing things that take 30 minutes but can't help us judge progress on big projects or creative endeavors that take 30 hours.
    Via Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind (The 99U Book Series):
    The next thing working against us is the calendar. It has a tendency to represent tasks that can fit in thirty-minute or one-hour blocks. And tasks that take, say, fifty hours — which could be how long it takes you to complete a meaningful creative task — don't naturally get represented in that calendar.
    Then there's opportunity cost. With money, opportunity cost is the fact that every time you spend three dollars on a latte, you're not going to spend it on something else. With time, there is also an opportunity cost — but it's often even harder to understand.
    Every time you're doing something, you're not doing something else. But you don't really see what it is that you're giving up. Especially when it comes to, let's say, e-mail versus doing something that takes fifty hours. It is very easy for you to see the e-mail. It is not that easy for you to see the thing that takes fifty hours.

    How do you break free?
    In my interview with [assistant professor of Computer Science at Georgetown University] Cal Newport, he said that the emphasis on productivity tricks was problematic. It's only part of the solution — and not the important part:
    There's this notion that productivity alone, if you could just get the system right, is going to give you a meaningful career. I think a big shift is happening in people's thinking as they realize "No, no, productivity can't do that for you." It can't help you crack the new theorem or the new big product. What it can do is help clear the deck so that you can then start the sort of hard work of building and applying skills that leads to the really valuable stuff.
    We spend time wisely when we plan:
    Via What the Most Successful People Do at Work: A Short Guide to Making Over Your Career:
    Preliminary analysis from CEOs in India found that a firm's sales increased as the CEO worked more hours. But more intriguingly, the correlation between CEO time use and output was driven entirely by hours spent in planned activities. Planning doesn't have to mean that the hours are spent in meetings, though meetings with employees were correlated with higher sales; it's just that CEO time is a limited and valuable resource, and planning how it should be allocated increases the chances that it's spent in productive ways.

    It's even a good idea with your free time.
    Caterina Fake points to management expert Pete Drucker who says working at home in the morning is the only real solution.
    Via The Practice of Management:
    The only published study of the way chief executives actually spend their day has been made in Sweden by Professor Sune Carlsson. For several months Carlsson and his associates clocked with a stop watch the working day of 12 leading Swedish industrialists. They noted the time spent on conversations, conferences, visits, telephone calls, and so forth. They found that not one of the 12 executives was ever able to work uninterruptedly more than 20 minutes at a time — at least not in the office. Only at home was there some chance of concentration. And the only one of the 12 who did not make important, long-range decisions "off the cuff," and sandwiched in between unimportant but long telephone calls and "crisis" problems, was the executive who worked at home every morning for an hour and a half before coming to the office.
    So what do you need to do?
    Plan ahead and protect a period of time every day, probably in the morning, and use it to do the long term things that matter.


4/28/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. Sit-in protest over Narberth library hours cuts, Western Telegraph via Milford & West Wales Mercury via milfordmercury.co.uk
    NARBERTH, Wales, U.K. - A protest sit-in at Narberth library is due to take place today (Tuesday) to highlight a cut in hours by Pembrokeshire County Council.
    [Better hourcuts than jobcuts, Timesizing than downsizing.]
    The Friends of Narberth Library has been formed in reaction to the authority’s closure of the facility on a Wednesday.
    The four-hour reduction in library time was given the go-ahead by the council’s Cabinet in January.
    [Better hours cuts than job cuts, Timesizing than downsizing.]
    And with further cost-cutting measures likely to affect the service, campaigners decided to stage the peaceful sit-in to raise awareness of the library’s importance to the community.

    “We’ve had over 300 signatures on a petition of support, and this service is absolutely vital,” said Lisa Taylor from the Friends of Narberth Library.
    Council spokesman Len Mullins said that consultation feedback from library users resulted in plans to cut five hours off the opening time being reduced to four.
    He added: “Narberth Town Council was given an opportunity to contribute financially to protect the opening hours, but they did not respond.
    “Other councils (St Davids and Newport) have contributed financially and seen their library opening hours protected as a result.”
    The sit-in is due to take place at around 5.30pm.

  2. Venezuela cuts working hours to tackle energy crisis, BBC News via bbc.com
    The government said power demand had risen 1,500MW in a week due to hot weather (photo caption)
    CARACAS, Venezuela - Venezuela says it will cut the working day for public sector workers to five-and-a-half hours to conserve energy, down from eight to nine hours.
    The initiative is part of a nationwide electricity rationing plan.

    Vice-President Jorge Arreaza said there had been a surge in energy demand due to extremely hot weather. He said state employees would now work from 07:30-13:00 to save on air conditioning.
    On Monday, local media reported blackouts across the country.
    Mr Arreaza said private companies would be asked to use their own generators to reduce pressure on the national grid.
    But he said it was private homeowners who consumed the most energy, and he called for everyone to turn the dial down on their air conditioners.
    "We are appealing to everyone's conscience, to use energy efficiently."
    Last week the government claimed that energy problems were due to maintenance issues, but the opposition criticised the government for not investing enough in the energy sector, BBC Venezuela correspondent Daniel Pardo reports.
    Power outages are common in Venezuela, which is a big oil producer but depends heavily on hydro-electric power.
    Venezuela is also struggling with an economy in recession that has been hard hit by the fall in the price of oil. Some 96% of its export revenues are reported to come from oil.
    Inflation is also high, and stood at more than 60% in 2014.


4/26-27/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. Beaufort County public libraries to cut hours this summer, by Rebecca Lurye rlurye@islandpacket.com, 4/27 Beaufort Gazette via islandpacket.com
    BEAUFORT, S.C., USA - Beaufort County public libraries will reduce their hours beginning June 1, a little more than a year after county and library leaders opted to keep most branches open for longer periods.
    Budget constraints will now undo those improvements.
    While the library system had enough money to fill half of its 10 vacant positions in September -- and hoped those new employees could keep the branches open -- more employees have left in the months since, says interim libraries director Jan O'Rourke.
    The system currently has 18 full-time vacancies it can't afford to fill, O'Rourke said.
    "We just don't have the staff to provide the service that the public deserves," she said. "We just have to do what we have to do at the moment."
    O'Rourke will be replaced Monday with newly hired director Milton Ray McBride, who has served with library systems in Florence and Greenville counties.
    The Beaufort, Bluffton and Hilton Head Island branches will reduce hours from 50 per week to 42, and the St. Helena Island branch will drop from 40 hours to 32. The Lobeco branch will remain open for only 28 hours per week, down from 40.
    In March 2014, the Beaufort, Bluffton and Hilton Head branches added 10 hours to their schedules.
    However, in February, library system leaders said they would be forced to trim hours if the county did not provide the system with more money this year.
    The county's expected $2.5 million deficit next fiscal year made that unlikely, Councilman Jerry Stewart told library leaders at the time.
    Stewart declined to comment on the libaries' hours Monday.
    Deputy county administrator Joshua Gruber said the shortened hours were also due to the Library Board of Trustees shifting money from its upcoming budget from hiring personnel to purchasing books and materials.
    Board chairman Bernard Kole said in addition to that $87,000, the library system will receive $200,000 from the state for materials.
    O'Rourke said she had opposed that decision but declined to comment further. County administrator Gary Kubic said he disagreed with the board's priorities as well.
    "Do you want a book or do you want to keep the door open to give people access to computers they need?" he said.
    Kole said without more money from the county, he's faced with a lose-lose scenario.
    "If you don't have books on the shelves, it doesn't serve the public very well," Kole said.
    The upcoming changes slash weekday hours at all locations, and have the Beaufort, Bluffton and Hilton Head branches open and close earlier on Fridays.
    The Lobeco branch will also close Mondays and Fridays, and St. Helena will close Fridays.
    O'Rourke said staff met with branch leaders and studied each locations' busiest days and times before making cuts, though she said she's optimistic library hours will be restored next year.
    "We feel like we're a critical resource, and we'll hopefully see a change in the tide in the near future."

  2. As Obamacare is Implemented, Part-Time Jobs at All Time High - U.S. has had a record 27 million people working 35 or fewer hours a week the past five years, by Tom Gantert, 4/27 MichiganCapitolConfidential.com
    LANSING, Mich., USA - Part-time employment in the U.S. has remained steady at a record-level 27 million jobs for the last five years, raising questions about how much of a role Obamacare has played in the rise of part-time workers.
    [Uh, if Obamacare was enacted five years ago, why would having a steady record-level of PT jobs for those five years raise questions about how much of a role Obamacare has played in that record?]
    The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, was signed into law March 23, 2010 by President Barack Obama. The employer mandate portion of the act states that businesses have to offer health insurance to anyone working 30 or more hours a week.
    The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) considers part-time work to be 35 hours or less.
    From 1994 to 2002, the number of part-time jobs (35 hours or less) in the U.S. stayed relatively flat at about 23 million-plus. From 2003 to 2007, the number of part-time jobs hovered in the 24 million-plus range. The number of part-time jobs went up from roughly 25 million at the start of 2008 until it reached 27.5 million by the end of 2010, a number that has held steady since then.
    However, the full implementation of the Obamacare employer mandate has been delayed.
    [But many employers anticipated rather than delayed.]
    The employer mandate only takes effect this year, and even then, only for businesses with 100 or more employees. Those employers need to offer coverage to 70 percent of their full-time employees in 2015 and 95 percent of their full-time employees in 2016. The mandate goes into effect for employers with 50 to 99 employees in 2016.
    In January 2015, the National Federation of Independent Business called for legislation to repeal the Obamacare 30-hour-work-week provision.
    “One of the more easily foreseeable consequences of the Affordable Care Act is the pressure it imposes on small firms to reduce or avoid adding full-time positions,” said NFIB President and CEO Dan Danner in a news release.
    [But they've been doing that for years anyway to avoid the cost of full-time benefits.]
    Mike Tanner, a senior fellow for the Cato Institute who has written two books about Obamacare, said there was no proof that Obamacare was sparking the increase in part-time hires, especially since the full implementation of the employer mandate has been delayed until 2016.
    [Lack of proof does not prove a lack, especially when scientists these days don't accept any kind of cause&effect, only corelation, and we do have a corelation between five years of Obamacare and five years of record PT jobs. That's as good as it gets.]
    “But surveys and anecdotal evidence [and the 5-year corelation?!] do suggest that employers have shifted workers from full to part time or hired more part-time workers, to escape the Obamacare mandate,” Tanner said in an email. “Employers may be making hiring decisions in anticipation [bingo] of its future impact, but we should be careful about overstating current impact.”
    [Scientists should always careful about overstating anything.]
    Don Grimes, a University of Michigan economist, said since the start of 2010, the number of part-time workers has remained flat and the number of full-time workers has grown. Grimes said he didn’t think Obamacare had much to do with the rise of part-time work.
    [Uh, what rise of PT work? Didn't he just say it's remained flat?]
    “This is similar to the path that you see at the end of the 1991 and 2001 recessions,” Grimes said in an email. “What I find most interesting is that there never seems to be a decline in the number of part-time workers, it is either growing, most pronounced during the recent recession, or flat — while the number of full-time workers moves with the business cycle.
    [- but shows an overall 'secular' decline relative to the working-age population - check the stats on the growth of welfare, disability, homelessness, mendicity, incarceration, suicide and self-'employment'! Not to mention delayed moving out of parents' house on one end of the worklife and early retirement on the other, plus uncategorized "leaving the workforce." Then there's the "acid reflux" = young people who can't afford to stay moved out and have to move back in with parents, and old people who can't afford to stay retired and have to return (or try to return) to the workforce.]
    The long-term trend seems to be toward a greater reliance on part-time work, which is probably not a good thing for most workers.
    [It certainly IS a good thing for ALL workers and more than that, an urgently necessary thing in the age of robotics and A.I. (unless Grimes still believes that worksaving technology creates more jobs than it destroys despite CEOs' standard downsizing response to it). During a time of rapid introduction of worksavings, to save consumer demand and spending and markets, the definition of "full time" must be adjusted downward against un- and under-employment and chronic overtime must be vigorously converted into OT-targeted training and hiring. Yesterday's part-time was tomorrow's full-time for 100 years between 1840 and 1940. To regain real economic growth we need to make that happen again instead of attempting to freeze the 1940 forty-hour workweek forever.]


4/25/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. Board of Livestock Votes to End Employee Furlough, Northern Ag Network via NorthernAg.net
    BILLINGS, Mont., USA - Dept of Livestock Video Minutes of April 23rd Meeting Available On-Line
    In an effort to increase awareness and transparency for the Montana Board of Livestock, the 64th Legislature passed HB439, which requires that B.O.L. to audio and video record all board meetings, make the audio or video recording available online in real time when possible, and also make meeting recordings publicly available on the board's website.
    As a result, the audio and video recording of the April 23rd Board of Livestock meeting is now available at the following links:
    Video: http://montanalegislature.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?clip_id=17651
    Audio Only: http://montanalegislature.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?clip_id=17652
    The April 23 Meeting included action on the following items:
    Much-Improved Budget Outlook (3 minutes into video)
    Most of the four-hour meeting was devoted to analysis of Department budget status, including a review of each individual division compared to the monthly budget year-to-date, and the projection for the upcoming June 30, 2015 Fiscal Year End.
    The recent budget adjustments appear to be working, as the Department now expects that it will achieve their budget targets by June 30, and will meet their deferred revenue requirements.
    Employee Furloughs to be Lifted (3hrs 47 minutes into video)
    With a brighter financial outlook, the Board voted to lift the Employee furlough requirements effective May 1st. This is very good news for Department of Livestock employees who have averaged 8 days of furlough through this period of budget austerity.
    [Shared work, not makework or no work = Timesizing, not upsizing the public sector or downsizing the private sector!]
    The Board expressed its gratitude to department staff who have been impacted through this challenging time.
    Industry Long-Range Planning Committee formed (3 hrs 50 minutes into video)
    A special Long-Range Planning Committee comprised of industry leaders from various ag organizations has been tasked with reviewing certain aspects of the DOL and providing industry input and recommendations for helping the department move forward. John Youngberg reported that this new committee plans to meet in the first two weeks of May to elect a Chair and Vice-Chair, and determine committee priorities and a timeline for reporting to the BOL.
    Committee Members include:
    Bob Hanson   Montana Bureau Federation
    Gene Curry   Montana Stockgrowers Association
    Tim Gill   Montana Livestock Ag Credit
    Greg Wichman   Montana WoolGrowers Association
    Dean Peterson   Montana Farmers Union
    Cal Erb   Montana Livestock Auction Markets
    Jeanne Rankin   Montana Veterinary Medical Association
    Secretary: Chelcie Cremer
    Improving Department IT capability (3 hrs 58 minutes into video)
    The Board of Livestock moved to begin to advertise for a new IT Staff Member in a position that would be filled in July. Additionally, the Board has begun a process to review Department IT Hardware, Software, interfaces, IT Contracts, Training, and Personnel needs going forward, for reach of the IT systems that the Department operates.
    Comments from Members of the Public (3 hrs 54 minutes into video)
    Butch Gillespie – Kevin (Maries River Livestock Association)
    Gene Curry – Valier (Montana Stockgrowers Association)
    Tim Gill – Helena (Montana Livestock Ag Credit)
    The next meeting of the Montana Board of Livestock is scheduled to be held in Helena on Monday and Tuesday, May 18 and 19.

  2. End to short time working at Manroland Sheetfed, GPM via GlobalPrintMonitor.info
    OFFENBACH AM MAIN, Germany - Manroland Sheetfed [manrolandsheetfed.com] will return to normal working following a pick-up in orders.
    Manroland Sheetfed GmbH, which imposed short-time working [Kurzarbeit] on over 800 staff at its headquarters and manufacturing facilities in Germany in January, announced today that it will be back to normal working from May 1st.
    The company, which cited a drop off in demand from China for the short time working, says that despite China other markets have picked up sufficiently such that for the time being at least, normal hours working can be resumed.
    A spokesman for the company said: "Short-time working is just one of the tools at the company's disposal to match supply with demand. We will use other measures to avoid short-time working wherever possible, but in this case over capacity was unavoidable without it".
    [Shared work, not make-work or no work = Timesizing, not upsizing the public sector or downsizing the private sector! Note mention of overcapacity = excess capacity = excess inventory etc. = major symptom of depression.]
    Apprentices and their trainers were exempted from the short-time measure, which was originally planned to be in effect until the end of June this year.
    About Kurzarbeit - "Kurzarbeit", literally "short-time" [no you idiot - literally "short-WORK" as in "Arbeit macht frei"!], is a form of government work subsidy in Germany in which employers are permitted to cut working time with employees placed on the scheme receiving between 60 and 67 percent of their net foregone wage from the German Federal Employment Agency. Employers also receive benefits from the social insurance through the scheme. Before the financial crisis companies in Germany could access subsidised short time working for up to 6 months and in June 2009 it was temporarily extended to up to 24 months for the rest of that year, although the scheme has since returned to 6 months. The short-term work instrument has been touted as one of the most efficient economic measures during and since the crisis.
    Comment - While many countries are struggling with economic recovery, Germany seems to have a successful strategy that has put them in a good place for long term economic providence.
    During the recession Germany implemented a controversial move to save the jobs of its highly skilled workers by funding companies to keep them employed while orders were down. The strategy, known as Kurzarbeit, has proved to be a resounding German success story.
    The idea behind is to preserve the most vital asset of companies like Manroland Sheetfed, i. e. their highly skilled workers. These workers represent a large investment in long-term thinking businesses that are now ready to produce high quality products as exports begin to pick up.
    Meanwhile the company has been keeping its head above water. According to its parent company, the British industrial group Langley Holdings PLC, Manroland Sheetfed has returned over €40 million since the business was acquired in January 2012.


4/24/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. UAA says furloughs ‘first of many painful decisions’, by Austin Baird, ak-pipeline.com
    ANCHORAGE, Alas., USA — Dozens of University of Alaska Anchorage [UAA] employees who hold leadership positions will take five- to 10-day furloughs starting in July amid a contracting state budget that is still in flux as lawmakers continue to linger in Juneau.
    167 employees will be impacted system-wide due to the cost-saving measure, saving about $600,000 overall. In Anchorage, the move will affect 69 employees and is expected to save $270,000.
    [Better furloughs than firings, timesizings not downsizings.]
    While the exact number could be more or less once a conference committee irons out the details of the budget, the current shortfall is projected to be $19.5 million. The results of the committee will be confirmed by the full Legislature, and then Gov. Bill Walker must sign the plan into law.
    Given that reality, in a Friday release announcing the move, UAA Chancellor Tom Case conceded that there will be more cuts soon.
    “This is the first of many painful decisions,” Case wrote. “By starting with furloughs at the top, we hope to avoid pay reductions for those who can least afford it.”
    On the horizon there are layoffs, reduced work assignments and position eliminations, Case said.

  2. Shoura considering 40-hour work week, SaudiGazette.com.sa
    RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Chairman of the Management and Human Resources Committee in the Shoura Council Muhammad Hamid Al-Nagadi said the higher authorities referred to the council a study on reducing working hours in the private sector.
    He said the committee was currently studying a proposal in this regard by a meeting of those concerned with the matter. The committee will discuss the findings of the study in upcoming sessions of the council.
    Informed sources in the Ministry of Labor disclosed that the proposal included a study to reduce the weekly working hours from 48 to 40, or eight hours a day in a five-day work week.
    [We'd love to welcome the Saudis to the 20th Century. If they mandate reinvestment of overtime profits and earnings in OT-targeted training and hiring, they will outpace us all! The USA got the 40-40-40 Plan (40¢ min wage, 40 hrs max wkwk, in 1940) on 10/24/1940 (and if the workweek had been low enough they wouldn't have needed a minimum wage!) - see Ben Hunnicutt's 1988 Work Without End.]
    The aim of the proposal was to narrow the gap between working hours in the private and public sectors in order to expedite Saudization of jobs in the private sector.
    Comments( 6 )
    25-04-2015 8:37 AM
    1 ZMA
    Hope it's true this time
    Well, hearing about this subject since many years but not yet finalized. We all private sectors..all means all expats & saudis hope this time this news becomes real and true to our ears and eyes. We have been longing the Kingdom implements this working hours in a standard manner. If you see Whole World is having two days off in a week only kingdom is lacking in implementation, which shows that slavery system is still ON. Please don t give chance to World to say that Kingdom is discriminating.
    25-04-2015 10:11 AM
    2 Muhammad Zakariya
    Will the result will be positive?
    It has been almost a year that such news are Rumoring but unfortunately ZERO results appeared. Govt and Private offices timing should be uniformed with maximum gaps of 1 to 2 hours because all the companies have some relations with government offices. There should be no discrimination on such kind of issues as it falls under humanity.
    25-04-2015 1:02 PM
    3 Mohammed Ahmad
    Kingdom rules must be standardized
    Our company is Pipe and Well Services Company, Who's the sponsor of Tariq Al Qathani. Still here going on 12 hrs duty without any overtime and 7 days duty without any extra payments or overtime, more than 300 employees working. Must be this rule will be soon and checking labour inspection of all companies. Allah Kareem.
    25-04-2015 1:53 PM
    4 Abu Nawaf
    How Many Times More?
    I think instead of asking Labor Ministry I should ask Saudi Gazette....How many times are you going to report this? No Follow ups with Labor Ministry afterwards? Just post this same news over & over again?
    25-04-2015 11:50 PM
    5 Tanveer Tara
    best labs
    Our company is one of best companies in Kingdom....and following all the rules in full....
    27-04-2015 8:25 AM
    6 Basir
    Good News & Consideration
    It is really good news and it will eliminate the discrimination.


4/23/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. Saginaw County Board of Commissioners Votes to Limit Working Hours, WSGW News Radio 790 via wsgw.com
    SAGINAW, Mich., USA - The Saginaw County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution Tuesday afternoon limiting their work week to no more than 29 hours.
    Saginaw County Controller Robert Belleman says because of the Affordable Healthcare Act, which states employers who have 100 or more employees must provide their full time employees with health coverage, the commissioners will limit their work week to an average of 29 hours a week, or 519 hours in 90 consecutive days.
    He says the commissioners had previously decided to forego county provided health insurance to save the county money.
    "In about 2011, they elected to cease those benefits, and so this is kind of upholding that commitment to the public, that they would no longer receive... active health care."
    With 11 commissioners on the board at an average of $17,000 a year per commissioner for family benefits, the money invested becomes substantial.
    Belleman says there shouldn't be a problem with the commissioners being able to perform their service to the county with a shortened work week.

    "I think these hours will be sufficient in their official capacity. I mean, they'll be attending functions, interacting with residents like they normally do, but not in their official capacity."

  2. Cabinet bill to cut work week, extend two-day weekends to all workers, by Hsieh Chia-chen & Ted Chen, CNA via Focus Taiwan News Channel via focustaiwan.tw
    TAIPEI, Taiwan - The Executive Yuan on Thursday completed a draft amendment to the Labor Standards Act that is aimed at shrinking the work week [from 42 to 40] and allowing two-day weekends for the country's entire workforce [instead of just all the public sector and half the private sector].
    [Some judicious googlinaround (http://www.ey.gov.tw/en/cp.aspx?n=95097CAF31185CC1) hath produced the following illumination... the Executive Yuan is the executive branch of the ROC government, headed by the premier. ROC stands for Republic of China aka Taiwan aka island of Formosa, not to be confused with the People's Republic of China aka Mainland China aka Red China aka Communist China - whooo-ooo-ooo - 2nd-largest economy by padded GDP and 92nd in Social Progress rating. Meanwhile, back in Taiwan, the Executive Yuan Council is the cabinet and the Legislative Yuan is the 113-member legislature.]
    About 3.4 million workers are expected to benefit from the change, which may be implemented at the start of 2016 in an effort to bring Taiwan's working standards more in line with international conventions, according to Labor Minister Chen Hsiung-wen.
    The draft amendment proposes a maximum 40-hour work week, revising the regulations that currently allow up to 84 hours a fortnight [= 84hrs/2wkperiod = 42hrs/wk avg.].
    To minimize the impact on employers, however, the draft amendment increases the maximum number of overtime hours per month from 46 to 54.

    [Alvays zuh coddling off employahs - such pussies! - really nessry? The steeper employers slope the playing field for themselves, the faster they're shrinking their own markets.]
    Industrial and business associations had appealed to the government to set a yearly ["annualized"] instead of a monthly limit on overtime hours, but Chen said the monthly limits are designed to prevent companies from overworking their employees by exploiting the loopholes inherent in administering a whole year's worth of overtime hours.
    Meanwhile, on the issue of weekends, Chen said two-day weekends have been in effect in the public service since 2001, but are granted to only about 50.1 percent of private sector employees.
    The regulation will be extended to include Taiwan's entire 8 million-strong workforce, he said.

    In the private sector, however, the number of national holidays will be reduced from 19 to 12, more in line with the public sector regulations, a move that will help offset the effects of the two-day weekend on businesses, Chen said.
    He said May 1, Labor Day, will remain a holiday in the private sector, which will give those employees one national holiday more than the 11 specified for the public sector.
    Some of the private sector holidays that will be scrapped include the birthdays of founding father Sun Yat-sen (Nov. 12), Chiang Kai-shek (Oct. 31) and Constitution Day (Dec. 25), although those days will still be observed, the minister said.
    Chen explained, however, that the number of working hours in the private sector could potentially increase by 48 hours per year because of two factors.
    The first is the reduction in the number of national holidays, and the second is the increase in the maximum allowable number of overtime hours per month, he said.
    Meanwhile, the amendment allows for overtime work to be compensated by means of additional payment or extra time off.
    In cases of compensatory time off, the employee must apply within 10 working days of accumulating the overtime hours and must take the time off within six months, according to the draft bill.
    If the employer is unable to grant the time off, the worker must be paid within six months of accumulating the overtime hours, the bill states.
    Employees who are required to work on national holidays should also receive extra payment or compensatory time off that should be taken within seven days, according to the draft amendment.
    It also requires employers to keep detailed and accurate employee work records and store the data for at least 5 years.
    Democratic Progressive Party lawmaker Chao Tien-lin said that he hopes to see the first reading of the bill completed by April 30, on the eve of Labor Day, and that the opposition party will strive to make it a law by the end of the current legislative session.


4/22/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. Shared Work officials to explain program at upcoming talk at IslandWood, Bainbridge Island Review (subscription) via bainbridgereview.com
    ISLANDWOOD, Wash., USA - Experts from a state program that helps employers prevent layoffs will host a meeting on Bainbridge Island this week to explain the program.
    Speakers from the Employment Security Department’s Shared Work program will join members of the Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce to present information about how the program can prevent layoffs and keep skilled staff when business slows.
    The presentation — "How Shared Work can help business weather tough times, keep good employees" — is planned for 7:30 a.m. Friday, April 24 at IslandWood.
    The meeting is open to the public and registration is required on the chamber website http://www.bainbridgechamber.com.
    Officials said the Shared Work Program offers businesses an alternative to laying off workers. Instead of letting workers go, employers may reduce the work hours for permanent employees, and the workers can collect partial unemployment benefits to replace a portion of their lost wages.
    This approach allows businesses to weather downturns without losing skilled employees. It also gives workers an opportunity to keep their jobs part time while collecting unemployment benefits for time they are not working.
    Officials noted that a 2014 customer survey showed that the program is helping businesses stay afloat, and nearly 97 percent of participating employers would recommend Shared Work to other struggling businesses.

  2. Labor Day protest to call for wage hike, by Zoe Wei & Christie Chen, (4/21 late pickup) CNA via Focus Taiwan News Channel via focustaiwan.tw
    TAIPEI, Taiwan - The annual Labor Day protest in Taipei will call this year for higher wages, the organizer said Tuesday, estimating that thousands will attend the rally set to kick off in front of the Presidential Office May 1.
    Although official statistics show that the average number of annual work hours in Taiwan fell from 2,281 hours in 2000 to 2,135 hours in 2014, Taiwanese workers' average monthly wages have also gone down from NT$46,716 (US$1,501) in 2001 to NT$45,494 in 2014, according to the rally's organizer, an alliance that consists of local labor unions and groups.
    Wages should not decline with the shortening of work hours, the alliance said, adding that the protesters this year will call for wage hikes, a further cut in work hours and a ban on the use of dispatch workers.
    [Employees stupidly fight market forces by demanding higher pay for a surplus commodity, themselves, instead of demanding shorter hours and thus harnessing market forces to make it easy to get higher pay for a reduced surplus of...themselves.]
    [Employees stupidly fight market forces by demanding higher pay for a surplus commodity, themselves, instead of demanding shorter hours and thus harnessing market forces to make it easy to get higher pay for a reduced surplus of...themselves.]
    The march in Taipei will begin at Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office and proceed along Gongyuan Road, Xiangyang Road, Guanqian Road and Zhongxiao West Road before reaching the Legislative Yuan on Zhongshan South Road.


4/21/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. Steps to prevent overwork-linked deaths must result from draft plan, The Yomiuri Shimbun via TheJapanNews.com
    TOKYO, Japan - To bring to zero the number of people who lose their lives due to overwork, it is essential for the labor ministry’s draft outline of policies on prevention of death from overwork, or karoshi, to result in the creation of effective measures to correct long working hours.
    The draft outline, which has been released by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, is based on the law for promotion of measures to prevent death from overwork and other reasons that was brought into force last November. The outline is expected to be approved by the Cabinet in June at the earliest.
    The draft outline calls for decreasing the percentage of workers with weekly working hours of 60 or more from the current 9 percent or so to 5 percent by 2020, with the ultimate goal of eliminating death from overwork. The goal for the actual use of paid days off will be raised from 49 percent to 70 percent.
    These numerical targets set in the draft outline are not new as they are in line with the already established policy framework. Nevertheless, encouraging firms to reform work practices will be of no small significance from the viewpoint of preventing karoshi.
    The draft outline is characterized by the fact that it emphasizes research and study to elucidate the factors behind karoshi. Fact-finding research will be conducted on workers, including the self-employed and public servants, by taking follow-up surveys on the relationship between working conditions and karoshi. We hope to see effective prevention measures being established.
    A total of 133 people were recognized as victims of work-related death in fiscal 2013 after dying of brain and heart diseases caused by overwork, topping the 100 level for the 12th consecutive year. In 63 other cases, overwork was cited in suicides or attempted suicides due to depression and other mental disorders.
    The tip of the iceberg
    Recognition of a worker’s death as work related must meet strict requirements. Recognized cases may represent the tip of the iceberg in the total number of people dying from overwork.
    There are also workers at risk of dying from overwork. Especially worrying in this regard are men in their 30s. Nearly 20 percent of them work more than 60 hours a week. Their overtime exceeds 20 hours a week, threatening to hit the threshold of 80 hours a month required for recognition as a victim of karoshi.
    More than half of all workers complain about strong anxiety and stress related to work.
    Given such a situation, the outline has incorporated measures to establish consultation offices and raise awareness in such places as universities and high schools.
    The bereaved families of karoshi victims, among others, have denounced the draft outline as insufficient because it has stopped short of setting a ceiling on working hours.
    Under the Labor Standards Law, overtime is permitted almost without limit if agreement is reached between labor and management. Even working beyond the karoshi threshold is not regarded as illegal, making it difficult for administrative offices to regulate work practices.
    Productivity tends to decline at workplaces where employees are pressed to overwork. Amid the decline in the working population, it is difficult to recruit proficient personnel, but the envisaged correction of long working hours will also benefit businesses.
    The government should back up voluntary corporate efforts by doing such things as publicizing cases of advanced efforts to prevent karoshi. Joint efforts by the private and public sectors are called for to work toward establishing workplaces that safeguard the health of workers.

  2. Germany: Short-time working allowance, by Irene Mandl with Sebastian Schulze-Marmeling, (2010 late google pickup) European Foundation for the Improvement of Living & Working Conditions (Dublin) via Eurofound via EF10632EN.pdf
    BERLIN, Germany - [Table of Contents]
    Background and objectives of the report
    General information about the scheme
    Characteristics of the scheme
    Assessment and lessons learnt
    Bibliography
    Background and objectives of the report
    The global economic crisis hit Europe [so innocent & helpless!] in mid 2008 and also had a considerable impact on the region’s labour markets [not that their obsoletely long and frozen workweeks had anything to do with it]. Although almost all Member States have seen a decrease in gross domestic product (GDP) in the wake of the crisis, measures to protect labour markets from the effects of this have had varying success.
    The reduction of working time has played a major role in lessening the impact of lowered production output on employment levels, and this project aims to investigate short-time working and temporary layoff schemes which have been used as a means of avoiding redundancies by many Member States during the recession.
    To do this, the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound) conducted an in-depth analysis of public short-time working and temporary layoff support schemes available in nine Member States (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland and Slovenia) during the recent economic crisis, supplemented by an analysis of ProAct, a regional support scheme in Wales (Eurofound, 2010). An emphasis was placed on those Member States offering public income support instruments for two types of reduced working time: those linked to a social security element, such as publicly supported social security contributions or dismissal protection during or after a period of short-time working or a temporary layoff; and those linked to a training element, such as a requirement to undertake training during non-worked hours in order to receive income support, or to receive an enhanced level of public financial support. The analysis encompassed a wide geographical mix and covered both short-time working and temporary layoff schemes.
    This is one of the individual country reports describing its national public support scheme. It is based on a literature and document review, as well as on qualitative semi-standardised interviews with national stakeholders conducted in the spring and summer of 2010. The main objective is to provide as detailed a description as possible of the characteristics and working methods of the scheme, and to assess its short-term effectiveness.
    A comparative analysis of the individual schemes forms the thematic part of the ERM Annual 2010 – Extending flexicurity – The potential of short-time working schemes. This is supplemented by a secondary analysis of European data on short-time working and temporary layoff schemes, and an assessment of the relationship between short-time working and flexicurity.
    [Oh spare us the clever neologisms and get on with simplest and clearest explanation!]
    General information about the scheme
    The German public short-time working support scheme is one of the oldest in Europe and aims to help companies retain trained workers and jobs during times of economic recession, and to reimburse workers’ loss of income during periods of temporarily reduced working time (BA, 2010a). The first version of the scheme was introduced with the so-called ‘potash law’ in 1910. Following the hyperinflation of 1923, a general short-time working scheme came into effect in 1924 providing wage compensation for affected workers. The system of short-time working allowances that is in place today has its roots in the 1927 Labour Exchange and Unemployment Insurance Act. In post-war Germany, new regulations were drawn up for short-time working at the end of the 1960s and widely applied during the economic downturn of the mid 1970s. More recently, short-time working played an important role in the early 1990s when the former East Germany’s planned economy became a capitalist economy (BMASa). The main objective at that time was not the preservation of jobs but the cushioning of the workforce and employers while they adjusted to the new production culture and retrained to meet new employment opportunities (Deeke, 2009a). In Western Germany, short-time working had an important bridging function during the economic downturn in 1992/93. Throughout the 1990s, short-time working regulation was amended, mainly by obliging employers to cover employees’ social security contributions during short-time working, and to ensure that all possible internal measures had been exhausted, such as using holiday entitlements or working time accounts, before they applied for short-time working support (Deeke, 2009a). As a consequence, short-time working is not a stand-alone solution anymore and has to be seen as one of a set of different instruments of a company’s internal flexibility.
    Currently, there are three types of public short-time working support available. Short-time working as a result of economic difficulties/temporary shortfall of orders. This allows employers to reduce the number of hours worked in times of temporary economic difficulties.
    • The seasonal short-time working scheme which allows enterprises to adapt working hours to seasonal economic volatility in the construction sector or other sectors subject to seasonal variations, usually caused by poor weather conditions. Allowances are available from 1 December to 31 March when the weather prevents any work from being carried out or the volume of new orders is not sufficient to maintain a company’s employment level.
    • Finally, employers can use short-time working where there is a permanent loss of employment. Where employees should be made redundant because of a permanent and unavoidable loss of workload, and it is impossible for them to be redeployed within their company, they can be grouped into a separate unit (often a transfer agency) and offered retraining to help them find new employment. A service to match skills and vacant jobs at other companies is also offered, and workers can be offered up to six months temporary employment with another employer while their wages are subsidised by the scheme. This type of short-term working is mainly applicable for companies in restructuring processes.
    The following pages refer to the first type of short-time working, triggered by economic difficulties, as this is the form most used during the recession of 2008/09.
    Short-time working arrangements in Germany are generally regulated by law and under the responsibility of the federal government (Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, BMAS). Relevant regulations are laid down in the third book of the German Social Security Code (SGB III). If eligibility criteria are met, employees are legally entitled to receive the support. It is paid to the employers and passed on to the workers.
    The government delegates the administration of short-time working schemes to the Federal Employment Agency (BA). Employers must apply to the local employment agency (AA) if they want to introduce short-time working. In order to standardise procedures, detailed guidelines are provided by the BA setting out the administrative process as well as clarifying the benefits available.
    A second anti-crisis package was introduced in January 2009 and in the new framework, after consultation with employers’ and employees’ organisations and the BA in the form of a working group on employment security, the BMAS simplified the eligibility criteria and the administrative procedures for short-time working support (DGB, 2009a). All involved stakeholders considered the short-time working allowance to be a suitable instrument to cope with the anticipated effects of the crisis. This general consensus was mainly triggered by the joint objective of maintaining the unemployment rates at the relatively low level achieved after the last economic crisis in the mid 2000s. Repeated discussions took place among social partners and the government, and it was quickly agreed that some amendments were necessary, because otherwise the existing scheme would not be able to deal with the effects of such a deep recession. The result was a slight delay in the creation of an appropriately adapted short-time working scheme because of the need to draft and implement new legislation, but this was handled relatively quickly.
    In addition to the legal regulations, there are in most sectors sectoral collective agreements on working time arrangements, including short-time working. These are not new or specific to the recession. They differ among sectorsand regions: for example, the required notice period for informing workers about the introduction of short-time working varies from between five days and one month; the number of reduced working hours permitted also varies, as does how far wages can be reduced or pay should be increased when the short working period ends. Nevertheless, in the main they all address the following issues (WSI, 2009a, 2009b and 2010; Herzog-Stein/Seifert, 2010):
    • involvement of the works council;
    • length and extent of short-time working and coverage of additional wage compensation;
    • period of time between the announcement and the introduction of short-time working and requirement for reannouncement in case of interruption of short-time working;
    • conditions, such as limitations on the net wage reduction for employees on short-time working, dismissal protection, wage claims in case of dismissal, and the exclusion of pay cuts in case of marginal short-time working – usually less than 10% reduction of working time;
    • effects on other elements of collective bargaining.
    When short-time working is being arranged, employers and works councils cooperate closely with the BA: The regulations stipulate that once employers and employees/works councils have agreed on short-time working within the framework provided law and sectoral collective agreements, the local AA needs to be contacted to clarify the conditions for receiving the short-time working allowance.
    In general, the works council has to agree to the introduction of short-time working as this temporarily changes one of the employer’s major contractual obligations (DGB, 2009a). If there is no works council, the employer has to get agreement from each affected individual employee. Where there is a works council, it is able to influence whether or not short-time working will be introduced and will carefully check whether all preconditions for short-time working have been fulfilled and whether other solutions are available. A works council will also be involved in the design of the shorttime working measures, clarifying to what extent short-time working will be implemented, or how the non-worked hours are to be distributed across the working week. The results of the discussion between employer and works council are summarised in a collective agreement at company level. A standard sample agreement is published by the German Trade Union Confederation (DGB).
    Characteristics of the scheme
    Application process and administration of short-time working support
    The application for short-time working allowance has to be made in writing using the relevant forms available on the internet. These can be faxed or e-mailed with scanned signatures to the local employment agency (AA). The AA is obliged to check the eligibility of all applications and is authorised to audit all relevant company documents such as working time accounts and to conduct further investigations if necessary (BA, 2010a). If the application is approved by the AA, the employer pays workers the normal wage for hours worked, topped up with the allowance for the non-worked hours. This allowance is reimbursed and the BA provides a table showing how to calculate it on the basis of the worker’s gross wage, payroll tax class and the percentage of allowance to be applied (BA, 2010a).
    The company sends in a monthly statement of the number of reduced hours and the amount of compensation paid for them. In practice, therefore, the allowance may differ from month to month, but has to be within the parameters defined by law and the employment agency’s approval.
    In general, the aim is to reimburse paid allowances within 15 working days after the application (BMASc), and in practice it turned out that this was generally the case. The speed of reimbursement is one of the performance indicators regularly checked by the BA and as a result good statistical information is available for this aspect of the scheme. In spite of the high number of short-time working applications that had to be dealt with during the crisis, the employment services kept within the target times because additional staff members were devoted to the task through internal redeployment as well as recruitment.
    Eligibility for income support
    In general, in order to be eligible for short-time working support, the following conditions need to be fulfilled (169ff, SGB III; BMASb; Eichhorst/Marx, 2009; BA, 2010a; DGB, 2009a):
    • The workers (including part-time workers and employees on fixed-term contracts) must have paid sufficient social security contributions. This means that workers not obliged to pay social security contributions, for example, because of their low number of working hours are not eligible for short-time working allowance, and nor are workers who have reached retirement age or receive sickness benefits.
    • There must be a substantial reduction of working time (up to 100%) as a result of legally recognised causes such as the temporary shortage of orders or supplies, or internal restructuring caused by general economic developments which requires, for example, automation, extension or limitation of production facilities, or their adaptation for a new product, or unforeseeable weather conditions.
    • The reduction of working time must be temporary and unavoidable. ‘Temporary’ means that there is a strong possibility that within a certain amount of time – usually the maximum period for which short-time working allowance can be paid – full-time work will be restored. The exact point of time when the company will be able to return to full-time work can of course not be predicted, but it is sufficient for the firm to offer plausible arguments showing that their hopes of recovery are realistic. ‘Unavoidable’ means that the company has to have tried all feasible alternatives to compensate for the lack of work. Industries and sectors where the ebb and flow of work is routinely seasonal or cyclical are not eligible for support.
    • In the calendar month for which short-time working support is requested, the usual working hours of at least one third of all employees, excluding trainees, or one or more specific units must be affected, and the resulting wage cut has to amount to more than 10% of their monthly gross wage. When this is the case, all workers, including those whose income will drop by less than 10%, are eligible for the short-time working allowance.
    • With few exemptions, the company has to have exhausted all other options, such as balancing working time accounts or granting leave days. However, only holiday entitlements for previous years must be used up before a company can resort to claiming the allowance; the current year’s entitlements must be granted in accordance with workers’ preferences. The company also has to actively pursue new orders and this means that employees specifically responsible for sourcing new work must not be subject to short-time working.
    • The reduced working time has to be reported in writing to the regional employment agency. The report has to include an agreement between the employer and employee representatives or between the employer and the affected employees. The application must give credible proof of the lack of work and the eligibility of the company and its affected employees for short-time working allowances. A statement from the employer and the works council declares that all information given in the application form is correct. The employment agency regularly checks the documents with the companies.
    While receiving public short-time working support, additional employees can only be recruited in parts of the company not subject to short-time working, and it has to be proven that the intended job cannot be filled by other employees among those on short-time work measures.
    During the current economic crisis, some changes have been made to these provisions. The new regulations were enacted on 1 February 2009 and remain valid until 31 December 2010. The most important changes concerning income support are as follows (BMASb; Eichhorst/Marx, 2009; DGB, 2009a and 2009b; BA, 2010b).
    • Working time accounts no longer have to be exhausted before a company applies for short-time working allowances. (Negative working time accounts did not have to be settled before the crisis).
    • Temporary agency workers do not have to be released before short-time working can be introduced for the core staff, and it is possible to extend fixed-term contracts during short-time working. During the crisis, temporary work agencies are also eligible for short-time working support.
    • An application for short-time working allowances can also be made if less than one third of the employees are affected, provided that the affected workers’ gross pay is reduced by more than 10% by the proposed short-time working. Where this is the case, however, only those workers losing more than 10% of their gross wage are eligible for the short-time working allowance.
    • Application procedures have been simplified. The application forms have been shortened from four to two pages in a cooperative process involving the BMAS, employers’ and employees’ organisations and BA.
    Extent of income support
    If all criteria are met, a company is eligible to receive short-time working allowances which are paid from the unemployment insurance fund at the same rate as unemployment benefits. The allowance, therefore, amounts to 60% of the loss of net income of the affected workers (67% if a child lives in the worker’s household), up to a monthly maximum of €5,500 for western Germany and €4,650 for eastern Germany (DGB, 2009a). This means that the employer pays for the actual number of worked hours. The employer is reimbursed by the BA for the 60% or 67% of a worker’s net wage paid for non-worked hours.
    The BA has the right to temporarily place the recipients of short-time working allowance in an additional job. Short-time workers are obliged to talk to the BA if asked for interview, and to take up any feasible employment that is offered. In practice this hardly ever happens since the primary objective of the scheme is to preserve existing jobs. However, if a job is refused without good reason, BA will withdraw the short-time working allowance for three weeks. The income from any additional employment can obviously increase the income of a worker, while at the same time reducing the short-time working allowance (Eichhorst/Marx, 2009; BA, 2010a).
    Some collective agreements provide for supplements to these state-funded short-time working allowances. Such supplements have to be covered by the employer and can result in the maintenance of net earnings at between 75% and 100% of workers’ regular wage (EIRO, 2009b; WSI, 2009a and 2010).
    • In the wood and plastics industry in Saxony, workers receive 75% of their net wage.
    • In the metal industry in North Württemberg/North Baden, the guaranteed wage level for short-time working is 80% of the gross monthly wage.
    • In the chemical industry, supplements raise the net earnings for non-worked hours to 90% of the regular net wage.
    • In the wholesale trade in North Rhine-Westphalia workers receive an additional 16% of their average net earnings over the preceding three months, up to 100% of the workers’ regular wage.
    Within the general legal framework social partners have agreed upon sectoral and/or regional instruments. An example of this is the ‘Future in Work’ agreement in the metal and electronic industry (IG Metall, 2010a and 2010b).
    In early 2010, the trade union and employers’ representatives established a pilot measure in North Rhine-Westphalia that was later on also adopted in other regions (Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Lower Saxony). It guarantees that workers who have been on short working time for more than 12 months cannot be dismissed for a further 12 months. To supplement the state allowance during the first six months of short-time working, holiday and Christmas pay is divided by 12 and paid out on a monthly basis instead of once a year.
    During a further six months of short-time working, working time can be reduced (for example, from 35 to 28 hours in North Rhine-Westphalia or to 27 hours in Lower Saxony) but the workers are paid as if they had worked a higher number of hours.
    Workers also received a one-off payment instead of a wage increase in 2010. It was agreed that a general wage increase of 2.7% for North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony could be brought forward or delayed for two months as of 1 April 2011.
    The agreement also covers job security for trainees and an arrangement to give workers in training a consistent income by spreading wages for hours worked across working and training periods.
    Duration of income support
    The individual length and organisation of short-time working must be agreed between employers and employees or employees’ representatives. The reduction in working hours does not have to be the same for all employees and can be based on collective, company or individual agreements.
    The maximum duration of state-funded short-time working allowances is six months (section 177, SGB III), starting with the month in which the application was received by the BA or in the month when all eligibility criteria were fulfilled, whichever is the later. If an authorised short-time working period is interrupted within three months of commencement, it can be resumed without a new application. This provides the employer with a high level of flexibility to spread the permitted maximum six months of allowance over a longer period. If it is necessary to apply for a further six months’ support, however, there must be a gap of at least three months between the new application and the end of the previous six months’ support.
    The law allows for the maximum duration to be extended by ministerial decree to up to 12 months when exceptional circumstances in the labour market in specific industries or regions make it necessary, and up to 24 months in case of exceptional circumstances on the overall labour market (section 182, SGB III). These provisions have been widely used in the past. In the context of the current economic downturn, short-time working arrangements that have been in place in 2009 may be extended to up to 24 months. For measures that commenced in 2010, the maximum duration is 18 months (Bundesgesetzblatt, 2009; BA, 2010a).
    Security aspects of the scheme
    In general, social security contributions in Germany are shared between employers and employees. For the non-worked hours during short-time working, however, the company has to pay both employers’ and employees’ contributions. Contributions for non-worked hours are based on 80% of the gross wage that would normally have been paid to the worker for those hours. The usual percentage for contributions is applied to this figure (Bach and Spitznagel, 2009; BA, 2010a).
    During the recent crisis, these provisions have been modified until the end of 2010 for all short-time working that began in 2009. At the moment the BA reimburses 50% of the social security expenses paid by the employer for non-worked hours for the first six months of short-time working. From the seventh month onwards, the BA covers 100% of these costs.
    Until the end of 2010, if an employee on short-time working is enrolled in a training programme for at least 50% of the non-worked hours, the BA reimburses 100% of the employer’s social security contributions from the first month onwards and covers training costs under certain circumstances (BA, 2010a; see below for more details). The reimbursement is calculated as a lump sum for all workers receiving short-time working allowance (for a 50% refund the calculation is total normal wage – total actual wage = balance x 80% x 19.6% or, for a full refund, 39.2%) (BA, 2010a).
    In July 2010, this support was extended until March 2012 because it was feared many companies would not use the short-time working scheme, despite its extended duration to 18 months, if they had to bear the higher social security contribution costs.
    The design of this programme helps to reduce the employee’s loss of pension entitlements and to maintain their health insurance while on short-time working (BMASb). For the employer, however, this means that a cut in working hours does not cut labour costs by the same proportion. By bearing the cost of the additional insurance contributions, they therefore contribute indirectly to the funding of the short-time working scheme (Bach and Spitznagel, 2009).
    However, neither employers nor employees have to pay unemployment insurance for hours not worked (Bach and Spitznagel, 2009). Although employees on short-time pay contributions only on the hours worked, they remain entitled to the same level of unemployment benefit as if they were working full time. Any unemployment benefit will be calculated on the full-time wage they were earning before short-time working was introduced.
    The state parental allowance is calculated as 67% of a worker’s average net wage during the previous 12 months, regardless of whether or not they were on short-time working. This means that parental entitlements are cut when hours are reduced (DGB, 2009a).
    Dismissals are possible during authorised short-time working periods. However, the worker concerned has to be returned to their usual full-time employment during the notice period and the employer loses entitlement to the short-time working allowance.
    Training element of the scheme
    Short-time working in Germany can be used for training subsidised by the Federal Employment Office (BA). The BA covers social security contributions for reduced working hours, as described earlier, as an incentive to encourage employers and employees to take advantage of training opportunities during periods of short-time working.
    In the past training had been mainly offered to employees on short-time working where the outcome was likely to be permanent loss of their job. During this crisis, the government has extended the existing training measures to all employees on short-time working (BMAS, 2008; DGB, 2009b). This was one of several anti-crisis measures to support employees’ qualification enhancement, partly to counteract an anticipated lack of skilled labour and partly to foster firms’ competitiveness (DGB, 2009a).
    There are two types of support. Which one is offered depends on the existing qualifications of an employee:
    1. If the employee has no formal qualifications, or has been working for at least four years in a field not related to his/her formal qualifications, they can be supported through training programmes that result in the award of a recognised qualification or the acquisition of certified qualification modules. In these cases, the BA covers all training costs and subsidises for childcare and travel expenses (BMAS, 2010). Training has to be provided by an officially recognised training provider, and the company has to approach the local employment agency (AA) for consultation before enrolling employees in training (DGB, 2009a). If an application is successful, the AA issues a training voucher to the employee that can be used at any officially recognised training centre. The BA publishes a flyer entitled ‘Support for occupational training’, providing information about how to find a suitable training provider and appropriate courses. This training cost support is not confined to workers on short-time hours and was generally available before the crisis to poorly-qualified workers.
    2. Employees who have a recognised qualification and work in a field related to it are also eligible for training support during short-time working. They may either enrol in training programmes that provide them with workplace-related knowledge, or take training courses that are useful to the labour market to increase their employability. Examples include language courses or the acquisition of technical skills useful in a range of occupations, such as a forklift truck licence). For these employees, the BA covers 25% to 80% of the training costs, depending on the type of training, the size of the enterprise and the individual circumstances of the employee (BA, 2010a). The BA covers up to 60% of costs for general training relevant to other companies or occupational fields, while for specific training relevant to the trainee’s current or future job with their current employer, up to 25% of the training costs will be covered. For SMEs, these support rates are raised by 20% for small enterprises with fewer than 50 employees, and by 10% for medium-sized enterprises with fewer than 250 employees (DGB, 2009b). Training support for disadvantaged employees is increased by 10%. Training is co-funded by the European Social Fund (ESF). There is no legal entitlement to funding and support is discretionary and granted on the basis of available ESF funds. The preconditions are that the beneficiary is a recipient of cyclical short-time working allowance and can demonstrate a need for training, and that participation does not prevent him or her from returning to full-time work. ESF-funded training can either be received from an officially recognised training institution or it can be conducted in-house (BMASb). ESF-funded support is only accessible to short-time workers and was introduced during the crisis to improve the adaptability of workers to the requirements on the labour market through tailor-made qualifications.
    It is up to the employer to decide which type of funding to approach. This, however, will be based on the target group of workers participating in the training and the type of training that it is proposed to provide.
    Training which the employer is legally obliged to give, such as accident prevention, or which largely benefits the interests of the employer by providing knowledge or skills specifically tailored to their business is not eligible (BA, 2010a).
    Both employers and employees may apply for training support during short-time working. Applications are made to the local AA. In the application the employer has to provide a qualification plan and confirm that the training is in line with the eligibility criteria.
    It is assumed that as soon as new orders are realised and the company can return to full-time working, employees should return to their regular job. Training measures already begun should be adapted and continued under the changed framework conditions (DGB, 2009a).
    Budget devoted to the scheme
    The budget available to the BA to cover short-time working allowances stems from unemployment insurance funds and is therefore financed by employers’ and employees’ contributions.
    Table 1 shows the planned and actual annual budget for the three most recent short-time working schemes.
    Table 1: Planned and actual annual budget for short-time working allowances (without reimbursement of social security contributions) in Germany in € thousand, 2005-2009
    Short-time working due to economic reasons and seasonal short-time working
    Year   Planned   Actual   Difference
    2005   550,000   416,079   -133,921
    2006   410,000   150,309   -259,691
    2007   490,000   238,566   -25,143
    2008   335,000   287,276   -47,724
    2009   3,744,000 (of which, estimated for economic reasons, 3,444,000)
    3,267,029 (of which, granted for economic reasons, 2,975,431)
    -476,971 (of which, earmarked for economic reasons, -468,569)
    Short-time working in preparation for permanent loss of current employment
    [=should be in preparation for a permanently sustainable shorter-worktime program!]
    Year   Planned   Actual   Difference
    2005   85,000   219,087   134,087
    2006   240,000   199,267   -40,733
    2007   217,000   183,705   -33,295
    2008   200,000   131,232   -68,768
    2009   297,300   292,262   -5,038
    Source: Bundesagentur für Arbeit – Geschäftsberichte 2005 – 2009. Figures rounded up to the nearest € thousand.
    In 2009, the government had earmarked a total of €3.44 billion for short-time working allowances due to economic reasons, €300 million for seasonal short-time working allowances and about €297 million for transfer short-time working allowances. This is roughly 7.5 times the amount allocated to the budget for 2008. The total expenditure for short-time working allowances and social security contributions was €4.57 billion for short-time work due to economic reasons (BA, 2009a), about €640 million below the planned budget, about 1.51% of the national budget, compared to 0.03% and 0.04% in 2007 and 2008 respectively.
    The federal government has also set up a fund of €2 billion for continuous and other training measures for 2009/2010. This fund supports companies that train their staff during short-time working as well as young people who do not have a vocational training degree or who have so far failed to secure an apprenticeship or training position (EIRO, 2009c). For 2009, €150 million was devoted to training during short-time working, of which about €32 million has been used.
    For 2009 and 2010, the funds from the European Social Funds (ESF) have been increased by €200 million. This money is to be used to support training measures during short-time working as described below, and for counselling services to help enterprises maintain employment (BA, 2009b).
    There are also costs to employers and employees for short-time working since they have to bear the residual income loss not covered by the short-time working allowance. Estimates by the Institute for Employment Research (Institut fürArbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung, IAB) show that employers still have to pay 24–37% of the regular labour cost of the non-worked time even where 100% of social security contributions for those hours are reimbursed from public funds.
    This percentage increases to 35–48% when 50% of social security contributions are reimbursed, and may be as high as 59% where a collective agreement provides for a supplement to the allowance. These residual costs arise because some non-wage labour costs, such as holiday pay, bonuses or other additional payments, have to be paid regardless of how many hours are worked (EIRO, 2009b).
    Monitoring of the scheme
    The BA is obliged to check whether short-time working support has been lawfully introduced (BA, 2010c). In addition to the monthly statements that companies have to provide to be reimbursed, at the end of each quarter the local employment agency (AA) sends out a form on which employers must summarise the short-time working measures they have used during the previous three months. AA checks the forms and enters the information into a database where they can be analysed. The main indicators regularly monitored from this information are the stock of short-time workers, the number of employers using short-time working schemes, the number of authorised and declined applications, the share of non-worked hours and the duration of short-time working. In contrast to other labour market instruments, however, only aggregated data rather than individual data are available for monitoring short-time working support.
    If a company fails to provide the required information, or provides incorrect information, any allowance received has to be repaid and a fine can be levied. If criminal offence is suspected, the matter will be forwarded to the Attorney General (BA, 2010c).
    Throughout the crisis, the heads of the regional AAs and the BA have conducted monthly telephone conferences to discuss the situation and jointly decide how to deal with difficult applications. This has contributed to the coherent approach of all local AAs which have been well prepared for a wide range of issues by this regular exchange of information and experience.
    Transparency of the scheme
    There are numerous sources of information available in Germany on short-time working, short-time working allowances and training. The BMAS and the BA have a joint website (http://www.einsatz-fuer-arbeit.de/) with very detailed information on short-time working and training, and support for the application process. The website offers dedicated sections for employers and employees, including checklists to assess one’s own eligibility for short-time working allowance and frequently asked questions. In addition the BA’s own website also offers a broad spectrum of information on short-time working and the support it can offer (http://www.arbeitsagentur.de).
    An information leaflet is available in English and Turkish. A telephone hotline has been established to answer questions regarding short-time working and eligibility for the scheme which is open from Monday to Thursday, 8am to 8pm, although calls are not free.
    The BMAS has also integrated regional governments in the dissemination of information about the amended short-time working support at regional level. Works councils have been actively approached to inform them about the new regulations and to encourage them to use short-time working at their establishments. In a similar way, local AAs contacted the companies in their regions and provided them with information.
    The social partners provide information on short-time working schemes and support applications. The German Trade Union Confederation (DGB, http://www.dgb.de) as well as the Confederation of German Employers (BDA, http://www.arbeitgeber.de) offer topical information on their websites and have actively contacted their members to disseminate information (such as leaflets/brochures) about the changes.
    Finally, the short-time working scheme has been extensively covered in the media during the recent recession, partly based on press releases published by the BMAS to inform the general public about political decisions. Some papers have even established special sections where all articles about short-time working are listed.
    Impact of the scheme
    While short-time work had not been very extensively used in previous years, it has been an important measure to mitigate the effects of the recent financial and economic crisis on the German labour market. The huge increase in the number of applications for short-time working started in November 2008, when more than 7,000 applications were registered with the BA, affecting more than 164,000 employees (out of a total German labour force covered by social security provisions of about 27.5 million workers, as estimated in June 2008).
    This compares with about 2,600 applications made in October 2008, affecting around 57,000 workers. In December 2008, the number of applications reached about 17,800 (about 404,000 affected workers), rising to almost 25,000 in March 2009. The number of affected workers reached its highest level in February 2009 – more than 700,000. From April to October the numbers began to decrease. About 6,900 applications were made affecting 103,000 employees in October 2009. The number of applications then rose again sharply, peaking in December (about 16,000 firms registering more than 226,000 workers).
    Throughout 2009, the number of registered applications was roughly three times higher than in the previous year and affected almost four times as many employees (see Table). Since the beginning of 2010, applications have been steadily decreasing again; 6,100 applications affecting 67,300 workers in March 2010, and 2,300 applications registering 30,000 workers on short working time in July 2010. Since, at the same time, unemployment figures remain more or less stable it is assumed that short-time workers are returning to full-time employment rather than moving into unemployment.
    In 2007 about one third of the applications for short-time working were made for economic reasons; in 2008 this rose to 50% of applications and to 80% in 2009. In the ‘peak’ month of March 2009, 94% of all applications cited economic reasons as the basis of their request for support. Broken down by the number of workers registered in each application, this shift in why support was needed was even more dramatic. In 2007, about 35% of the affected persons were registered for economic reasons. This rose to 70% in 2008 and to 92% in 2009. In March 2009, almost 98% were registered in short-time working applications that had been made for economic reasons.
    Table 2: Applications for short-time working, 2007-2010
    Year   Applications   Employees concerned
    2007   41,753   411,919
    2008   53,201   898,434
    2009   162,435   3,626,711
    Jan–June 2009   106,681   2,749,119
    Jul–Dec 2009   55,754   877,592
    Jan–June 2010   39,224   418,159
    Source: Bundesagentur für Arbeit (http://www.pub.arbeitsamt.de/hst/services/statistik/detail/s.html; June 2010)
    Analysed by region, in 2008 about 78% of the applications for short-time working allowance for economic reasons, accounting for 84% of the workers receiving the allowance, came from western Germany. These shares increased slightly in 2009 and dropped to 71% (applications) and 76% (workers) in the first half of 2010.
    In 2008, 41% of all applications for short-time working allowance for economic reasons, accounting for 76% of the registered workers, came from manufacturing firms, followed by the construction sector (30% of applications and 10% of affected employees) and the trade sector (10% of applications and 4% of workers). In 2009 the manufacturing sector’s share of affected workers receiving the allowance decreased slightly to 71%, while the trade sector’s share rose to 15% of applications and 7% of affected employees. During the first six months of 2010 this trend continued, at least as far as numbers of affected workers are concerned.
    As the number of applications rose, the number of workers on subsidised short-time working also increased dramatically because of the extension of state provisions for short-time working allowances in response to the financial crisis. As Table 3 shows, the use of short-time working support had been comparatively low in the years of economic growth before the crisis. The rise in short-time working began in the third quarter of 2008. The monthly average data show an increase from about 4,000 enterprises with less than 40,000 short-time workers in August 2008 to more than 17,000 firms with about 270,000 on short-time work in December 2008. This increase is far above the usual cyclical volatilities and the figures continued to rise. On average, in 2008 about 57,700 short-time workers were active in 4,360 firms (Deeke, 2009a).
    The peak was reached in May 2009 when more than 1.4 million short-time workers were registered, and in July 2009 when more than 61,000 companies made applications. The number of affected workers then steadily decreased to about 809,000 in December 2009. While the first drop in short-time working during the summer of 2009 is attributed to the holiday season, the further decrease at the end of 2009 implies an increase of working time due to improved order levels stimulated by global recovery (Schneider/Gräf, 2010). For May 2010, the estimated number of short-time workers amounts to about 481,000, being about one third of the level of May 2009 (Source: Bundesagentur für Arbeit http://www.pub.arbeitsamt.de/hst/services/statistik/detail/s.html; data extraction July 2010).
    In 2009, the yearly average total of short-time workers was more than 11 times higher than in 2008 and almost 17 times higher than in 2007. While in 2007, 43% of companies and 39% of short-time workers received the allowance for economic reasons, these figures were as high as 89% (firms) and 95% (employees) in 2009.
    Table 3: Number of workers and enterprises benefiting from public short-time working support, yearly averages, 1998–2009
            Total                     For economic reasons
    Year   Workers Enterprises   Workers Enterprises
    1998   115,205 7,812   100,326 7,586
    1999   118,647 6,528   103,138 6,248
    2000   86,052 5,516   63,833 5,124
    2001   122,942 7,049   98,471 6,583
    2002   206,767 12,395   179,636 11,830
    2003   195,371 13,404   162,056 12,690
    2004   150,593 11,726   116,456 10,833
    2005   125,505 10,998   95,158 9,977
    2006   66,981 6,577   47,209 5,568
    2007   68,317 8,334   26,405 3,597
    2008   101,540 10,052   57,692 4,360
    2009   1,142,674 56,244   1,088,815 49,943
    Source: Bundesagentur für Arbeit (http://www.pub.arbeitsamt.de/hst/services/statistik/detail/s.html)
    As women generally work in occupations that are less subject to economic volatility and characterised by a higher continuous demand for skilled labour (such as the services sector), female workers were less affected by unemployment and short-time working than male workers (BA, 2010b). The available data show that between 2001 and 2009 on average between 74% and 85% of short-time workers (both for general and for economic reasons) were male, with the higher proportion being reached in 2007 and 2008.
    In 2008, on average, 62% of the companies receiving short-time working allowance (and 38% of those receiving it for economic reasons) belonged to the construction sector, followed by the strongly export-oriented manufacturing sector (16% overall, 31% of this number registered for economic reasons). In contrast, 43% of employees receiving the allowance (68% of this number registered for economic reasons) worked in manufacturing and 39% in construction (16% for economic reasons). It is estimated that in 2009 and the first four months of 2010, the manufacturing sector was the major recipient of short-time working allowances. About two fifths of companies and three quarters of workers registered belonged to this sector. While short-time working support was still important for the construction sector (20% of the companies and 6% of registered workers overall, and 13% of firms and 3% of employees registered for economic reasons in 2009), it also gained importance in trade (13% of firms and 6% of employees overall, and 15% of companies and 6% of employees registered for economic reasons in 2009).
    It is estimated that in May 2010, about 13% of short-time workers were employed in micro companies of less than 10 employees, 21% worked in firms of 10–49 employees and 12% in firms with 50–99 workers. This means that in spite of the high percentage of smaller enterprises among the beneficiaries they are still underrepresented compared to their share of the total workforce. 41% of the total workforce is employed by companies with fewer than 50 employees, but only 34% of registered short-time workers are employed by such companies. It is also true, however, that as the number of large companies on short-time working decreases, the number of smaller firms making applications for support increases. It is also noticeable that, compared to previous crises, the average number of affected workers per company is lower (Brenke et al, 2010).
    Workers in the west and in the south were more likely to work short time than those in the east and the north. This not only holds true in absolute terms, but also in relative terms when assessing the number of short-time workers as a share of all workers in the region. In general, it can be seen that those regions that had the most advantageous economic development, the most favourable employment situation and lowest unemployment before the peak of the crisis in June 2008, or which were strongly export-oriented, had the highest usage of short-time working during the crisis (Schwengler/Loibl, 2010; Schneider/Gräf, 2010).
    While in 2007 about 53 million working hours have been subsidised by short-time working allowances of all types, this reached 66 million hours in 2008 and more than 550 million hours in 2009. In December 2009, the average reduction of working time amounted to 31.8% overall and 29.4% for short-time working as a result of economic difficulties. Where short-working time is interrupted and then resumed, the available statistics count this as two different periods of short-time working. About 43% of the workers receiving short-time working support for economic reasons fell into this category. 34% of the employees received the short-time working allowance for economic reasons for six to 12 months, 11% for three to six months and 12% for up to three months. The available data show that the number of workers on longer periods of short-time working is increasing, suggesting the formation of a base of short-time workers (Brenke et al, 2010). This is particularly prevalent in the metal and machinery and car manufacturing sectors.
    Assessment and lessons learnt
    In general, flexible working times offer companies cost and productivity advantages by adjusting working time to market conditions and fluctuating demand. Working time accounts, short-time working and similar measures help employers avoid dismissals (and the associated costs of firing and rehiring), maintaining skill levels and team productivity created by established working teams (DGB, 2010; Herzog-Stein/Seifert, 2010). This might also increase workers’ commitment to the company and, as a result, their motivation and engagement. Short-time working provides the capacity to react flexibly and quickly to volatile production levels, including the ability to return immediately to full-time work if order levels improve. The system also avoids potential labour law-related conflicts and the costs of re-hiring workers after paying for costly redundancy packages.
    Workers, at the same time, benefit from job security which is particularly important in times of high unemployment. State support also compensates the workers partially for their loss of income and maintains a certain level of social security (DGB, 2010) which, in turn, contributes to the stabilisation of purchasing power.
    From a macroeconomic perspective, these benefits result in a working population willing to spend their income which is, in turn, beneficial for the whole economy. Against this background, the public expenditure on short-time working seems to be justified, particularly as its share of the overall anti-crisis package was comparatively low and it was carefully targeted. Furthermore, it seems fair to assume that the cost of the short-time working allowances is no higher than unemployment benefits would have been had workers been dismissed instead, and that the scheme has had a more favourable effect on workers’ employability. This is particularly likely to be the case if non-worked hours are used for training, giving the worker a better position on the labour market (DGB, 2010).
    Impact of the crisis
    The recent economic crisis was marked by a dominance of internal numerical flexibility that was stronger than in previous crises in Germany (Herzog-Stein/Seifert, 2010). More companies applied for short-time working support, but the average number of affected workers per company was comparatively low (Brenke et al, 2010).
    The German labour market did comparatively well throughout the recent recession. Although Germany experienced one of the highest drops in GDP in 2009 compared to other EU Member States, its employment figures remained quite stable (Schneider/Gräf, 2010). This is widely attributed to its working time flexibility measures including short-time working and the public support for it (BA, 2010b), as well as the use of working time accounts and overtime (Schneider/Gräf, 2010). Companies affected by lower demand adjusted the number of working hours rather than dismissing workers, and investigated all possible alternatives before public short-time working support was applied for.
    The scheme was adjusted in the early days of the financial crisis to make more companies eligible and as a result was widely taken up by employers. Among the changes, the dropping of the requirement that one third of the firm’s staff must be affected to qualify made the system more workable particularly for SMEs. The reimbursement of between 50% and 100% of the social security contributions led to lower costs for the enterprises and made it more attractive. As a result it was used by firms that had not used it before.
    The expansion of the scheme to cover temporary agency workers helped avoid conflicts between permanent and temporary staff. It has to be noted, however, that a significant number of temporary agency workers had already been made redundant at the beginning of the crisis and therefore did not benefit from short-time working.
    It seems this successful extension of the public support scheme depended on a strong and constructive partnership between employers’ and employees’ representatives as well as the government. This was possible because of the long- standing tradition of tripartite dialogue in Germany, facilitating the decision-making process since it was an established ‘common procedure’ the various parties were familiar with.
    A further factor in the success of the scheme was the close link of the short-time working allowance to the existing labour market and social security policy frameworks (European Commission, 2009). During the current crisis it was also beneficial that companies, workers, their representatives, the government and the Public Employment Service were already familiar with short-time working due to its long history and use in Germany. Consequently, it was not very difficult for all involved stakeholders to understand it, especially when it was even made easier to handle during the crisis. An indicator of this is that not all of the workers registered under the scheme actually had their hours reduced demonstrating that companies were well aware that it was possible to apply for the support and use it as a kind of safety net, only to be employed if really needed. During recent years the trend has been for employers and employees to prefer consensus and the positive acceptance of short-time working.
    The sharp rise in short-time working during the recent recession was expected and the use of the scheme was actively promoted and funded by the government with the aim to avoid (mass) dismissals.
    Measuring results
    The effectiveness of the measure, in terms of the number of jobs and possibly companies that have been saved due to short-time working arrangements, is difficult to assess. Research suggests that the use of working time accounts, shorttime working and similar instruments to reduce working time has saved some 1.2–1.5 million jobs (IAB, 2010; Herzog- Stein/Seifert, 2010; Schneider/Gräf, 2010), and also the BA attributes the comparatively low rise in unemployment to the application of short-time working (BA, 2010b). It has to be considered that the comparatively good situation of the German labour market during and after the crisis is not only due to the publicly supported short-time working arrangements – which alone are thought to account for about 300,000 to 350,000 saved jobs – but also largely to the many initiatives taken by companies without public intervention, particularly through the use of working time accounts (Hans Böckler Stiftung, 2009; Herzog-Stein/Seifert, 2010). Enterprises combined public support with other internal measures, such as the reduction of overtime, the amortisation of credit time or build-up of debit time in working time accounts, the withdrawal from previously agreed longer working times. The BA has appraised companies’ HR policies in this respect as ‘perspicacious’ (BA, 2010b).
    Of course, it is uncertain at this point in time whether jobs have really been sustainably saved or whether the impact on the labour market has merely been delayed and at high cost. Currently (Summer 2010), the decreasing number of shorttime workers in combination with relatively stable unemployment figures suggest that short-time workers return to fulltime employment rather than becoming unemployed. Nevertheless, the final sustainability of jobs will depend on how long the economic and labour market downturn lasts.
    Issues around short-time work
    The use of short-time working can only be temporary, not least because of the residual costs that have to be borne by the employers (EIRO, 2009b). It is only feasible for financially strong firms (Schneider/Gräf, 2010). However, the waiving or reduction of income-loss compensation for the workers would constitute a considerable problem for low income earners. This makes this option unrealistic for sectors with low average wages or a high percentage of low earners. At the same time, the lowering of working time with proportional reduction of wages creates the danger for employers that highly skilled workers are poached by competitors offering full employment and higher income (Herzog-Stein/Seifert, 2010).
    One of the preconditions for the success of short-time working in Germany during the recent crisis was the comparatively low number of fixed-term contracts on the labour market. While, for example, in Spain 30% of all employees and 80% of new recruits have a fixed-term contract, this is true of only about 15% of the workforce in Germany. Consequently, for Spanish companies it is much cheaper to dismiss employees than to maintain employment levels while reducing the working hours of individuals (Schneider/Gräf, 2010). Among German employers, however, there is a further incentive in choosing not to make workers redundant based on their experience from other crises of recent years when it turned out to be difficult to rehire workers with appropriate skills once recovery was underway. Employers’ perception of the workforce as a ‘scarce and valuable commodity’ had a considerable influence on the popularity of short-time working in Germany.
    It is sometimes argued that granting short-time working allowances might subsidise non-sustainable jobs and delay necessary economic restructuring (Eichhorst/Marx, 2009). However, in times of crisis the more pressing issue is often to find a way to reduce companies’ costs while maintaining employment. National stakeholders are convinced that shorttime working is only applied by employers who think that a return to full capacity will be possible within a short period of time. If not, they will react in a more ‘structural’ way. An example of this can be seen in the manufacturing sector where employment levels have decreased during the current crisis as firms have begun to assume a more permanent drop in orders.
    About 40% of the workers affected by short-time working during the crisis were employed by companies with fewer than 100 employees, and 8% in companies with fewer than 10 employees. This is in line with previous analyses of the application of short-time working in Germany, concluding that the typical firm using short-time working is a small enterprise (Deeke, 2005). This shows that short-time working also avoids dismissals in firms that are below the threshold for dismissal protection and which could, if they wished, set free workers more easily than larger companies (Handelsblatt, 2010). Furthermore, companies applying short-time working use a broader spectrum of flexible work arrangements in terms of numerical and functional adjustments (Deeke, 2005).
    The role of training
    Some authors (such as Eichhorst/Marx, 2009) argue that it is necessary to invest in training and to enhance the employability of workers, and therefore take a positive view of the most recent change in Germany’s short-time working support to combine non-worked hours with training activities. State authorities have sought to give incentives to both employers and employees to participate in training, whether or not short-time working is being used. Although in absolute terms the response is limited (about 112,400 employees participated in ESF co-funded qualification measures during short-time working in 2009), this is seen as a success since in previous years training participation has been considerably lower. Consequently, it is assumed that without the additional incentive and support, the affected workers probably would not have received further education. Furthermore, there is anecdotal evidence that, perhaps to avoid bureaucracy, companies and workers used the non-worked hours for training but did not apply for public support.
    One reason for the low interest in the training measures is that during the crisis, the priority of most companies lay in finding solutions to the urgent issues of work reorganisation, including the design and implementation of short-time working itself, rather than dealing with training questions (Deeke, 2009b).
    [That's why it's important to routinize this during ordinary times while converting chronic OT into training&hiring!]
    Qualifications require a longer lead time to plan and to see through to completion. This not only poses a problem for smaller enterprises not disposing of specialised HR units, but also for large enterprises if they have to come up with individual training plans swiftly for a large number of employees.
    Companies and training providers need to develop flexible modular training concepts that can be combined with the sporadic occurrence of non-worked hours. The first step towards this is to identify training needs and this is difficult for some employers, particularly the smaller ones and the ones who do not have established structures for implementing employee qualification measures. Consequently, it would help to provide them with the type of networks or agencies already available in some industries and regions such as the ‘Bildungsberatungsstellen’ in North Rhine-Westphalia.
    Due to the high level of flexibility inherent to the German short-time working model, in the way that the number and location of non-worked hours can be announced at short notice and may vary from week to week, it is also difficult to find a qualification programme that is not only suitable in terms of content, but also can be flexibly aligned to non-worked hours.
    Another important barrier hampering training during short-time working is the administrative burden related to it. Eligibility for support (particularly for ESF funding) needs to be approved. This process is judged to be complicated and lengthy by many enterprises. It may also be that employers (particularly relevant for larger companies) cannot take advantage of training providers they have worked with previously, because they are not qualified under the regulations of the system, making it necessary for the companies to find other solutions. In contrast to that, the qualification voucher system is deemed to be user-friendly and particularly suitable for SMEs because it makes it possible to choose the training offer that is appropriate for the worker. However, to choose a training course, the employee needs to be wellinformed about the available training offers. This is difficult bearing in mind the heterogeneity and lack of transparency on the training market. It is recommended that the administrative procedures for training, particularly for measures targeted at low qualified workers, are supplemented by a more intensive advice and consultation process and with the possibility of qualification networks (Deeke, 2009b).
    ESF-funded training for higher qualified workers does not cover cost in full. The employer has to finance parts of the training while at the same time facing the risk that in the medium to long term, the employee will not stay with the company.
    The German system is designed to minimise negative effects for short-time workers on their eligibility for social security benefits. Short-time workers’ pension contributions are only slightly lower. Unemployment and health insurance benefits are not affected at all. Actually, short-time workers may be considered to be better off since they are exempt from paying contributions while their time on short-time working still counts as full-time work for the purpose of qualifying for benefits, and their normal full-time wage before starting short-time work is used to calculate the unemployment benefits.
    From the viewpoint of the firm, however, the coverage of both employers’ and employees’ social security contributions during short-time working is a significant financial burden. Consequently, the state reimbursement of some parts of these contributions during the crisis is considered to have made the measure more attractive to companies (DGB, 2009a). At the same time, the reimbursement of 100% of social security contributions from the 7th month onwards is seen as a disincentive to employee training during the non-worked hours (Deeke, 2009a).
    At the time of writing in June 2010, some cases of fraud in relation to short-time working support have been uncovered. 1,446 cases were regarded as suspicious. It is assumed that working times have been recorded in an improper way in 852 cases. In about 580 cases initial suspicions could not be confirmed and a further 305 cases were passed on to the Attorney General (Source: BA). This is a very low proportion of the total number of applications made for short-time working support during the last two years.
    The general perception of short-time working by social partners is positive. Employee representatives appreciate it as a mechanism to limit redundancies and employers value their increased internal flexibility. Nevertheless, it is argued that labour market instruments such as short-time working allowances cannot alone counteract the negative effects of the crisis, and further initiatives by the government, such as support for R&D and innovation, are also needed (EIRO, 2009c).
    During the recession, the German model of short-time working allowance was presented at several international forums and has been transferred to several other European countries, adapted to their respective framework conditions (BA, 2010b). This can be seen as an indicator of both European appreciation of the German approach and its transferability.
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4/19-20/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. Question of the day, 4/20 TheWeatherNetwork.com [finder's credit to Dianne of Ottawa]
    OTTAWA, Canada - Do you think it's time for a four-day work week?
    Question Results [of 4/20 ended up at -]
    No   11,821   23.0%
    Maybe   3,384   6.6%
    Yes   36,145   70.4%
    Thanks for voting, tell us your thoughts in the comments below. Whether your prefer a 4 or 5 day work week, here's an interesting idea for a commute, how about a freezeway to SKATE to work?
    ... 67 comments ...
    hour ago Jeff Urwin - Working 10 hr shifts Monday to Thursday is great, every weekend is a long weekend .
    hour ago Richard Maloney - by creating a 4 day work week you would open up positions for those with out jobs to reenter the job market and have extra income...the more disposable income a person has the more likely they will go shopping, buy new items, dinner and show, a vacation or trip...dont penalize those who are trying to get extra money encourage it so it brings more commerce out into the open and products and services are bought.
    hour ago carolyn wilson - No way. That means less tax money for the government. Where do we get the $'s for social spending, schools, hospitals, that would mean cutbacks. We do not need a 4 day work week. Two days off plus vacation time, sick days, holidays is quite enough. I will get a lot of flack for saying this. Yes maybe in my teens and early 20's I would have said yes in a heartbeat but knowing how things work I have to say again, No.
    hour ago Mark Dvoress - Yea, sure. I think four-day week is also too much. There are plenty of people in Africa and Asia who work 7 days a week for the half money we get in a day. If they would work a bit harder and we could a bit less. Fair enough.
    hour ago gregrout - It comes down to quality of life. There's a lot more grunts out there toiling away while a handful of people get paid handsomely to work half days, play golf, etc. That said this will never ever happen. There's the overhead cost of benefits, insurance, taxes, etc that companies would have to incur to employ additional people to cover the gap in a 4 workday week. Until we do away with our "every company gets a tax break" instead of a new system that rewards tax breaks to companies for hiring people there's no incentive whatsoever to even entertain this.
    hour ago Patrick Taylor - Let's face it. With the population explosion (yes, it IS what the world is experiencing) there is an ever growing shortage of jobs. (food & water soon to follow) A 32 hour work week makes sense. We'll all have to live on slightly less money, but more of us will be working and that will help the economy as a whole. I already know I will never be able to afford a house in this country. (Thank you, all you real-estate speculating vultures) Even a car is a luxury for me now. Having an extra day off would at least mean being able to enjoy life for a few decades, before we reach the Soylent Green stage of overpopulation.
    hour ago Nathaniel Willmer - I figure if everyone is going to have a 4-day work week that they would be hiring more people to fill those empty days = more people employed but hopefully not a lessening of cash flow. @Kevin
    hour ago David Gouin - Things wouldn't take longer to get or build , like houses or roads. Because for every 8 jobs now in existence, one job would be created to fill the existing workload, as many trade unions found out long ago when they enacted this voluntarily.
    3 hours ago Kevin Doucette - Who exactly would get this 4 day work week? Everyone? While I'm sure everyone would love getting 3 days off a week would you be willing to wait longer for things because of it? What about construction. Would you wait 20% longer to get your house built or a road built? It goes on forever
    3 hours ago Lora Jessome - If I am ever even able to get a paying job, especially one that doesn't send me into a huge meltdown because of my ASD, which makes being around larger groups of people and noise and lack of control highly stressful, then by all means make it shorter. I know most NT people hate their jobs and are only working because they need money or have spouses or children to support. I have no husband or child but that doesn't mean I don't need free time.
    4 hours ago John Wilson - i'm not sure we are ready for a 4 day week, as tempting as it must sound. First of all there'd be the immediate one day a week pay cut in most instances (I'm imagining the negotiations in unionized operations right now to avoid that and it's a dead certainty for no-union workplaces) reduced contributions to CPP, to medicare in places like BC where premiums are charged and on it goes not to mention employers complaining about lost productivity (at least until the economy adjusts) and a host of other things that can't be fit into 700 characters. :-) It ain't as good as it looks.
    4 hours ago Kat West - Er . . . yes, Andre Lauzon. That would be the idea: more time with family, including your children. As for skating to work: for me it would mean broken legs, I suspect. Sounds attractive though, if one can skate. I've enjoyed the photos of commuting skaters on the Rideau Canal this past winter.
    5 hours ago Nancy Penny - Leave well enough alone. It is bad enough that employers are culling full time workers out of the mix...now they want to cut down on the number of days. Working part time doesn't cut it for most families, so, don't cut the number of days as well.
    5 hours ago M W - Why cant we work more productive hours and work more? Working 5 days a week isnt enough to get ahead. I am thankful I dont have children to support, and not sure how persons with kids do survive and abl eto give their children an opplortunity to excel at life.
    5 hours ago Gordon Nicholas - I agree with Andre The only way,in myopinion this would work is that all of the working force would have to modify their timings to a four day work week. This especially appies to those working elements that are international in nature,ie: Canada USA for instance.
    6 hours ago Randall Le-Fevre - We do 4-10's during the summer. Once the initial thrill of having 3-day weekends wears off, the lost family time, and having to take 2 hours of vacation time for statutory holidays starts to wear one down. My daily schedule for 5-8's looks like: wake up; 45m exercise; 45m get ready for work; 30m commute; 8.5h work; 30m commute; 30m playtime; 45m dinner/family chat; 30m playtime; 45m get kid ready for bed; 2h chore/project/wife time; 30m make lunch/get ready for bed; go to bed. For 4-10's, subtract exercise and playtime and increase work to 10.5h. The first day off becomes a recovery day, so it's really only a 2-day weekend anyway. My blood pressure is also higher when working 4-10's.
    6 hours ago J B - I think this question is all about our goals... If I wanted the company that I work for to get ahead, and I want more personal time, I would increase my productivity and work less days a week. It's that simple. I simply work harder, instead of taking coffee breaks, messing about on my computer or chatting to other people who work on my floor...
    7 hours ago Andre Lauzon - If you want a 4 day week it applies to everyone.............including teachers. You want your kids at home 3 days a week.? Will it be on your day off?
    7 hours ago Robb - the 4 day work week is a great plan but companies can abuse it A freind of mine was asked if they would like to sitch to a 4 day work week with a raise included to help of set the less hours what more can you wish for all the employees said ok we will do this Next thing you know they get a 4 days on 2 days off work week so they are mess as to getting stat holidays off cause they are care aide place that needs to be open 24/7 so all I can say is make sure before you jump in to the 4 day work week as to what you are getting into it may not be as good as it looks
    7 hours ago M J - I did 4 10's for a while. It sounds great on paper except as some point out, you go from 7 days a week being able to enjoy work/life balance to just 3 days being able to fit any personal time in. My 4x 10hr days weren't consecutive either, only once a month- thus rest & recovery from back to back 10hr days without social connectivity bleeds into one of the days off- which in turn only leaves you with a couple fully enjoyable days off in the end. I prefer 5 day work week & not having to feel locked in 4x a week only for work & nothing else.
    7 hours ago Marc Boucher - the coffee has spoken,4 days it is.Send it to Harper and the crew on the hill,maybe we could try asking for the same deal as our voted members get after a 4 year stint,our yearly salary!!
    8 hours ago Norm B - Rather than having 5 day coverage at our work, we ended up with 7 day coverage. Bonus for productivity and a smooth transition when you had competent workers. Basically a non-stop productive week especially when we had special projects like resurface and reconstruction of roads.
    8 hours ago Norm B - I worked 4/10's for years and it was excellent. Long stat weekends once a month(4 days off) and regular 3 day weekends which were either Mon-Wed or Fri-Sun. Gave us the extra time to attend to financial business while the institutions were open, do shopping and still have time with the family. We still had our regular pay, plus OT if the work load required it. Our union agreed, but we had to convince our administration that it was feasible....and saved the company (Yukon Government) money. We had a long trial period and the administrators eventually agreed to our 4/10's. For those employees with children, we arranged to give them the choice of the Fri-Sun off.
    8 hours ago Reg Leipert - Thinking that folks now a days, don't want to work, want big money, and live way beyond their means. A 4 day week would be nice, but most people would be using that extra day for another job so they can eat or keep a roof over their head. Or they would be looking for assistance from the working.
    8 hours ago bigmiike - I worked for the Gov't of Canada and they had offered a 9 day fortnight, (1 day off every 2 weeks), which they called the compressed work week. It required you to work an extra 50 minutes per day, which is much easier to work into your schedule. I found that most people were happy with a long weekend every second week. Most people were happy with the long weekends and reduced sick days. Most people took either a Friday or Monday off, I insisted that my staff take Fridays off as it was the least productive day.
    8 hours ago Dione Nahirnick - How many people just have Monday to Friday day jobs anyways? In my profession (Med Lab) the only people who do are managment/Tech 2 type people. We run 24 hours a day every day, so I do 7 shifts in a row almost every other week. Then I'll have Monday Tuesdays off, work 3, then a weekend off. I personally wouldn't want to work any more than 8 hours a shift. And I love having weekdays off, and working holidays and having a day off in liu.
    9 hours ago Fred - I agree with Rachel Bentley. A 30 hour work week would nicely create more employment with other part timers to fill the gap. Anything that would create more jobs while giving employees a life, and not screwing up the economy would be great.
    9 hours ago Ivan Palmer - Its not a question of working 4 days or 5 days, but rather would you be okay with getting 80% of your current pay.
    9 hours ago Hderek A - I like the 5 on 4 off 3 on 2 off cycle. 10 hr days.
    9 hours ago David Hill - The tourism industry would benefit greatly with 3 day "long weekends" every week as more people, families and groups would take advantage of the extra day...which seems to many to make a weekend away worthwhile. Of course those working in certain tourism related businesses would continue to work 7 days a week...but that's ok....we need the extra business.
    9 hours ago Rick Vanstone - I'd like to get to a 5 day week ,half the time I'm doing 6 days now
    9 hours ago Rachel Bentley - I have no interest in working 4 ten hour days as that would mean I would never see my kids awake at all for 4 days of the week. I would, however, love 5 six hour days. A 30 hour work week should be the norm in 2015. Too many people spending way too much of their lives working to fill the pockets of others. How about some more time with family and friends? How about some more time for hobbies?
    9 hours ago Ryan Jackson - I loved loved loved working 4 - 10 hr. days... now I work 4 - 12 hr. days.... and it sucks !!!!
    10 hours ago Case Balk - ten hour days did not work for me.
    10 hours ago Bettie Martindale - Part of my work life was four 10-hour days but then I felt so knackered on the fifth day that I couldn't enjoy it.
    10 hours ago Sarah Belbeck - it's probably more that we will HAVE to adjust to less hours, not that a preference or dream of "wouldn't it be nice to have more days off?" Automation and technology is going to leave lots of people with less hours (if any). AAAAND Keynes predicted this kind of thing a long time ago.
    10 hours ago 10 hours ago Andrew Eisan - with the state of our economy, realistically people would be better off to prepare for 7day a week jobs. Our national debt per person is higher than many countries who have gone bankrupt. I would be surprised to see how many of the government 4 day a week jobs are still here in five years time
    10 hours ago a Rumpled Stilskin - There seems to be a big push by private sector employers to hire only part time staff so they don't have to pay people benefits. Employees get paid minimal wages, no pension, no dental, no prescription coverage etc... Employees need 3 jobs to be able to survive, yet all 3 will result in the same lousy deal. I for one would prefer to see our government step up to the plate and end this practice.
    10 hours ago bill cunningham - For a good portion of my life, I have worked 4 ten hour days. I realize that this is impractical for all but it certainly is nice to know that you still get a 40 hour work week cheque with a three day weekend. It's the best of both worlds.
    10 hours ago Dave Johnson - If you don't want to work get a government job.
    11 hours ago 11 hours ago Kuawa Ia - I think the idea is to have 4 8-hour days and be able to live on that. Remember when they promised us machines and computers would give us a life of leisure? I'm still waiting...
    11 hours ago ripper3 Linda - We used to work 3 - 13 hour or 4 - 10 hour shifts which then allowed us to have more days off and it was fantastic. As my job was a 7 days a week work place there were more people hired to work. If we did have a 4 day work week it could perhaps help with unemployment.
    11 hours ago Charlotte Carter - Brad Cox, there's got to be something wrong if you are working 70 hours and are so miserable. People are picky about their cheese, you have to let it go. Maybe you should find something else? I worked for years in the service industry and as I said below, got tons of exercise and had some good relationships. It's frustrating, of course, people treat you like dirt. But I've been ***** on far worse in the office than in the service industry. I've been working been working full time for 20 years except 1 year right after the 2007 crash. I've never been on a luxury vacation. It doesn't make me hate everyone. Take a break, Brad. You're being used like a donkey and acting like one.
    11 hours ago Charlotte Carter - Four day work weeks would not apply to the service industry like the hard done by Brad Cox suggests. I worked a lot of hours when I was waitressing and even more when I started managing and being a catering director while still serving at restaurants I managed and at events. But I was happy because I was always on my feet and moving. It was great for me physically. But when I got into the office, I gained weight and got spider veins on my legs and was tired all the time. I now walk to hour to work to try to make up for it. Office jobs make us sick, and often so much time is wasted in admin jobs 4 days of solid work should get the same pay as 5 days with too many slack periods.
    11 hours ago Jim Stewart - I did not work a 5 day week in in over 30 years of working. It was nursing and either 12 hour shifts with 2 on/2 off and every second weekend a 3 day weekend. Or it was 8 hour shifts with never any more than 3 in a row and every second weekend off. After a while the weekend means nothing but rather it is the days off that matter. In health care, public safety, retail, and countless others working weekends is common and expected. I knew many who wanted their *weekend* to be Monday and Tuesday, or any two other days in a row other than Sat and Sun. And guess what? Sick call totals were the same no matter what schedule. The fact that you work makes you call in sick not the number of days.
    11 hours ago Hank Williams - I guess it's a moot point since I am retired. However I do have a part-time job which completely fills my Sundays but I guess a 4-day work week still wouldn't make much of a difference. Good morning Ms. Deveau!
    11 hours ago Jason Wedgerfield - @MG...our city garbage collectors here in Thunder Bay work 4 - 10's every week and they LOVE it! I'm not sure how long tat's been going on...I want to say 10 years...and its been a benefit to the city AND the workers! So, if my employer wanted to bring in a 4 day week at 10 hours per day, I'd fully support that!
    11 hours ago mark launspach - 4 day work week may work for some but that may hit hard some occupations. working outside in construction a 4 day work week would hinder the hours we would need to recuperate from the past winter and put away winter funds for the up comming winter when hours are scarce if any.
    11 hours ago Alan Shaw - I think we should get rid of Monday. Just have a 6 day week from Tue to Sun. That way we can have a 4 day working week, but still have a 2 day weekend. A 3 day weekend is excessive and with a normal 7 day week, you have to work too many excess hours to make up the shortfall. Facing only a four day week with less hours to make up because you have more weeks in the year (and of course, more weekends) means a more invigorated, productive, happy workforce and it wouldn't be as drastic a change for industry to adjust to as a 4 days on, 3 days off system.
    11 hours ago M G - I worked a four hour week most of my work career. Four ten hour days in construction trade is very common.
    12 hours ago Will W - Lol Alex Metcalf.....where else would a BEAR ****????
    12 hours ago Brian Garry - I the lowest of wages were worthy of a very comfortable cost of living then a 4 day work week could share jobs without bias and we could perhaps have a less stressed population and our health costs would reduce dramatically..to keep the economy going and the burden of folk who struggle would be wonderful....
    12 hours ago Kelly D - I've worked two different compressed work weeks in the past. One was adding 2 hours a week to an eight hour day and getting a day off every week; the other, was working a 9 hour day and getting a day off every 2 weeks. Both were good! As for Bran Cox's post... you are lumping a very large amount of people into your opinion. Remember, you need to walk a mile in someone's shoes eh... It's hard, but important to like where 'you are' and not worry about where everyone else is...
    13 hours ago Furston Biggs - Long overdue. We're a post-scarcity society that hasn't realized it yet. We throw out more food in NA than it would take to feed the hungry in Africa. Our productivity has skyrocketed, which means companies can hire fewer people to get the same amount of work done, which means that people compete for jobs instead of the other way around, which makes things worse for everybody except the richest few. Very soon automated vehicles will eliminate millions of jobs, and then what? Those in power are going to need to seriously reconstruct the job sphere if they intend to continue having customers long-term.
    16 hours ago Allan Bedry - When I was working 4 Ten Hour days and getting 3 off, I was just useless for My first day off and only enjoyed My last 2 anyways. Reckoned I may as well have worked the Five 8 Hour days and not bust My ***** in the process...
    16 hours ago Bruce Farrer - Sure, and where there's high unemployment give people fewer work hours and make everyone part timers. For a few years in a mainly small town/farming school division we had a 4 day school week. It saved a lot of money on heating, and school bussing, but since we have the nonsense pounded into us that bigger is always better we enlarged to include schools in higher middle class bedroom communities. As usual, we catered to them and went back to the five day week. Many nurses and police have what is essentially a 4 day week (10 hour shifts.) I feel that that is too exhausting, especially for people in those important roles.
    17 hours ago Brad Cox - Bleeding heart, liberal, blue collar attitude, all over these boards. Unions have nothing to do with anything, except the weak employee hides behind them. But you ALL go out and eat at establishments, vacation in exotic resorts and spend your hardly earned money in an attempt to have some fun. But the people behind the scenes, bust their butts to try and help you stuff your faces and expand your bellies, yet you give us NO respect. I work 70 hour work weeks, something anyone here couldn't even imagine, but you think your hard done by because the cheese is wrong on your salad. I would challenge any white collar worker who feels they are overworked to spend a week in the food service industry.
    18 hours ago Steve Kennedy - Well, a four day week would require 10 hrs/day to make up a 40 hour work week - I think just too fatiguing for the average individual. Coupled with this, is Ann B's observations about non-union employees being taken advantage of. No, keep the 5 day, 40 hour workweek. As far as a skateway goes, only if you are close to your place of employment, otherwise, you will be ready to rest just as you arrive at work.
    [Note the assumption, again and again, that the 40-hour workweek is an unquestionable and unchangeable fixture forever.]
    18 hours ago Marc Jackson - Think you hit the nail right on the head there Ann... your problem is you work non-union. Any gain that has been realized in our country's workplaces was brought to you by a union somewhere. They get a bad wrap for protecting 'doggers', but we wouldn't have weekends off, 8 hour days or 40 hour work weeks without them!
    18 hours ago zalia b - How about working the 8 hours a day we are supposed to be doing? And getting overtime pay or time off for it if we work overtime? How about bosses who care? For those of us who work these types of non-union jobs, we would be slammed with unbearable workloads in the four days we'd work. No thanks!
    18 hours ago extreme canadian - think.... day.... oops. See, we all need more time off to refresh and rejuvenate so we don't make as many errors.
    18 hours ago J B - But think about it this way Don... As long as a person splits a typical 40 -hour week over the 4 days, technically they should still get paid the same. I say yes!! Awesome!! I usually go to work for 7ish and leave around 5ish with a 30 min lunch break so I end up doing more than 8 hours per day anyway! Even if I had to go in for 6:30 and leave at 5, i would go gladly, if only every wknd was 3 days!!!
    18 hours ago extreme canadian - Yes, Don makes a point we all thing about so we should get a dau, with pay, off. I bet absenteeism would disappear.
    19 hours ago Don Schulz - Do I want a 4 day work week? yes. Do I want to loose over $1000 dollars a month? no
    19 hours ago extreme canadian - What work week? Oh, you mean that annoying schedule thingy that you're supposed to follow but no one does cause the work week is too long to have any kind of life so we make up creative ways to call in sick or actually get sick because we work too much?
    20 hours ago Alex Metcalf - Follow-up question: does a bear ***** in the woods?
    20 hours ago Margaret Bourgeois - Absolutely not ....but I'm all for a 3 day weekend every week.

  2. Austria: Short-time working subsidy, by Irene Mandl, 4/19 (2010 late google pickup) European Foundation for the Improvement of Living & Working Conditions (Dublin) via Eurofound via ef1063en1.pdf
    VIENNA, Austria - [Table of Contents]
    Background and objectives of the report
    General information on the scheme
    Characteristics of the scheme
    Assessment and lessons learnt
    Bibliography
    Background and objectives of the report
    The global economic crisis hit Europe in mid 2008 and also had a considerable impact on the region’s labour markets.
    [This would more realistically say, "Austria naively induced an economic crisis similar to that in many other parts of the world in mid 2008 with the steeply uneven playing field of its labour markets."]
    Although almost all Member States have seen a decrease in gross domestic product (GDP) in the wake of the crisis, measures to protect labour markets from the effects of this have had varying success.
    The reduction of working time has played a major role in lessening the impact of lowered production output on employment levels, and this project aims to investigate short-time working and temporary layoff schemes which have been used as a means of avoiding redundancies by many Member States during the recession.
    To do this, the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound) conducted an in-depth analysis of public short-time working and temporary layoff support schemes available in nine Member States (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland and Slovenia) during the recent economic crisis, supplemented by an analysis of ProAct, a regional support scheme in Wales (Eurofound, 2010b). An emphasis was placed on those Member States offering public income support instruments for two types of reduced working time: those linked to a social security element, such as publicly supported social security contributions or dismissal protection during or after a period of short-time working or a temporary layoff; and those linked to a training element, such as a requirement to undertake training during non-worked hours in order to receive income support, or to receive an enhanced level of public financial support. The analysis encompassed a wide geographical mix and covered both short-time working and temporary layoff schemes.
    This is one of the individual country reports describing its national public support scheme. It is based on a literature and document review, as well as on qualitative semi-standardised interviews with national stakeholders conducted in the spring and summer of 2010. The main objective is to provide as detailed a description as possible of the characteristics and working methods of the scheme, and to assess its short-term effectiveness.
    A comparative analysis of the individual schemes forms the thematic part of the ERM Annual 2010 – Extending flexicurity – The potential of short-time working schemes. This is supplemented by a secondary analysis of European data on short-time working and temporary layoff schemes, and an assessment of the relationship between short-time working and flexicurity.
    General information on the scheme
    Short-time working in Austria refers to the temporary reduction of working hours based on a social partner agreement. The model would not be very attractive for workers without any compensation for the loss of income caused by the lower number of working hours, so they receive short-time working support (Kurzarbeitsunterstützung) from their employer for the non-worked hours to partly compensate their normal wage level. The employer receives a short-time working subsidy (Kurzarbeitsbeihilfe) for this from the Public Employment Service (AMS) (BMASK, 2010).
    The subsidy has a longstanding tradition in Austria and was initially based on the unemployment insurance law (Arbeitslosenversicherungsgesetz). Since the late 1960s it has been administered by the AMS in the context of its services for employers (Unternehmensförderung), focusing on supporting enterprises in their search for workers and fostering the adaptability of workers. This means that the Austrian short-time working subsidy amounts to a public aid, implying that employers and employees do not automatically have a legal entitlement to receive it but have to undergo an application and evaluation process.
    The aim of the instrument is to maintain jobs and avoid unemployment during temporary economic difficulties while also ensuring that companies will have workers at their disposal to continue their production after the crisis (AMS, 2009a, 2009b). The objective of the recently introduced qualification measures during short-time working is toeffectively use non-worked hours for education and training measures that are useful for the worker in the labour market as well as for the company. This should lead to higher adaptability for the companies and to increased employability for the affected workers.
    Since the mid 1990s, the Federal Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Consumer Protection (BMASK) has been responsible for designing the legal basis of short-time working and for its administration, which is done by the AMS. In 2009, the employment promotion law (Beschäftigungsförderungsgesetz) anchored the regulation of the short-time working subsidy in the public employment service law (Arbeitsmarktservicegesetz, AMSG, paragraphs 37b and 37c). Since then, the AMS has been responsible for drafting directives – Bundesrichtlinie für Beihilfen bei Kurzarbeit und Kurzarbeit mit Qualifizierung (KUA) and Bundesrichtlinie für Qualifizierungsförderung für Beschäftigte und Beschäftigte in Kurzarbeit (QfB und QfB-KUA) – and for determining the eligibility criteria for the subsidy, particularly the minimum and maximum duration and preconditions for extending it, minimum and maximum share of non-worked hours, eligible workers, the amount of the subsidy and employment obligations. BMASK still has a monitoring role. This recent restructuring of the system was not caused by the economic crisis but had already been planned and just coincided with that date.
    The Austrian regulation recognises two different forms of short-time working:
    • short-time working caused by economic difficulties, that is for companies with a drop in production/supplies or sales/demand;
    • short-time working caused by natural catastrophes, such as avalanches or floods, but also other disasters (such as the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States (US)).
    Both forms of short-time working aim to tackle temporary problems in the company requiring a reduced number of working hours. There is no short-time working support for seasonal or structural difficulties. Other public support instruments are available for these (like the bad weather compensation law in the construction sector) that are strictly separated from short-time working support.
    Although public short-time working subsidies have existed in Austria for decades, the instrument was not extensively used in the past. Only individual companies took advantage of the support in the event of unforeseeable economic drawbacks. On average, short-time working subsidies were provided for fewer than 1,000 workers a year before the current crisis (out of a total Austrian workforce of more than three million), resulting in a situation in which companies and employees had little experience with the instrument.
    Nevertheless, in light of the recent economic crisis, all the relevant stakeholders (BMASK, AMS, employer and employee organisations) realised that short-time working could be a useful instrument to support employers and employees in this difficult situation and to avoid immediate dismissals. The stakeholders were aware that many Austrian companies – including strong, sustainable firms with good, competitive products affected by the downturn in the export industry – will have to reduce production levels due to the crisis. They were also alert to the fact that short-time working support has proven to be a suitable instrument to support companies that temporarily experience economic difficulties (BMASK, 2010; AMS, 2009a, 2009b).
    At the same time, the parties assumed that the existing regulation was not sufficient to cope with the crisis and its effects, as it could be seen early on that the recession would last longer and affect the entire economy. Furthermore, they soon observed that the German short-time working support – from which several companies that have establishments in both Austria and Germany have already benefited – was more favourable for employers than the Austrian subsidy, and discussions with German institutions were initiated to learn more about the characteristics of their instrument.
    Consequently, in the framework of the labour market stimulation packages (Arbeitsmarktpakete), the existing short-time working support has been adapted to better suit the current needs during the recession (BMASK, 2009a). The amendments enacted in February and July 2009 were based on the results of the discussions of a taskforce consisting of representatives of BMASK and the Federal Ministry of Economy, Family and Youth (BMWFJ), the heads of the social partners and company managers. Furthermore, a joint draft was elaborated by the Austrian Trade Union Federation (ÖGB) and the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber (WKÖ). While budgetary adaptations could be quickly realised to equip the AMS with additional financial means in preparation for the anticipated higher demand for short-time working subsidies, negotiations regarding content-oriented changes were difficult, as employer and employee representatives had strongly differing interests on substantial issues. Nevertheless, in the end, the joint objective of guaranteeing sustainable businesses and jobs fostered the identification of commonalities rather than differences and the willingness for mutual concessions. Thus, an agreement that was acceptable for both sides could be reached.
    Short-time working subsidies are paid from unemployment insurance funds, which are covered by employer and employee contributions. Parts of the recently introduced coverage of training costs while short-time working are funded by the European Social Funds (ESF).
    Characteristics of the scheme
    Eligibility for income support
    In general, all employers are eligible for short-time working support. However, there are some exemptions (AMS, 2009a, 2009b):
    • the public sector;
    • political parties;
    • temporary work agencies (unless they can prove that workers sent to specific companies cannot be redeployed in other companies and that the company in which the workers have been employed registered its core staff for shorttime working with the AMS).
    Similarly, all employees (including part-time workers and workers on fixed-term contracts) experiencing an income loss due to reduced working hours are eligible. Exemptions are:
    • apprentices, as their time in the company is considered as training time that must not be reduced; this also has to be considered if apprentices’ trainers in the company are involved in short-time working;
    • employees working such a low number of hours that they are not obliged to make social security contributions (geringfügig Beschäftigte);
    • the executive board of a company.
    Temporary agency workers are eligible if they are affected by short-time working in the company they are currently working for and if a short-time working agreement has been signed with the temporary work agency.
    Preconditions for receiving short-time working support are outlined below (BMASK, 2010; AMSG, paragraph 37b; AMS, 2009a, 2009b, 2009c).
    • The necessity for a reduced number of working hours must be due to economic difficulties or natural disasters. The difficulties must be temporary and cannot be seasonal. They must be beyond the company’s control and caused by a drop in orders or supplies. The company has to prove that the difficulties are beyond its control and prove that they will end in due course.
    • The company has to have used all other internal company alternatives, such as working time accounts/reduction of accumulated overtime, holiday entitlements from previous years (for holiday entitlements for the current year, it is considered to what extent compulsory leave is socially feasible – for example, taking caring obligations into account) or other alternative working time models.
    • The company has to inform the regional AMS in time (six weeks before the planned start of short-time working or four weeks before the planned extension) about the employment effects of the temporary economic difficulties. It also has to undergo a consultation to investigate whether or not the application of short-time working is justified, whether other internal company solutions (such as using overtime, working time accounts or holiday entitlements) have been considered and whether other public support instruments could be used instead of applying short-time working. The company’s works council and the industry’s employer and employee organisations need to be involved with the AMS in this consultation.
    • Unless short-time working is undertaken due to natural disasters, there needs to be a social partner agreement by the industry’s employer and employee representatives (irrespective of whether a works council exists in the company). This collective agreement has to define the scope, duration and extent of short-time working, the amount of the shorttime working support, the number of affected workers and the period during which no dismissals during/after shorttime working are possible. In case of qualification during short-time working (see below), details of the qualification measures have to be given. A standard for this social partner agreement has been elaborated by ÖGB and WKÖ. It is applicable for all sectors and types of enterprises and in practice is generally applied as it is; individual adaptations are made in only a few cases.
    • The employer has to agree to pay short-time working support to the affected employees for the non-worked hours amounting to at least the level of unemployment benefits.
    • Since 2009, the non-worked hours must correspond to 10% to 90% of the collectively agreed/legally provided working time on average (or normal working time in the case of part-time workers). The reduction of working time may vary for different groups of employees. The non-worked hours may be organised regularly (for example, one day a week) or as a block period.
    The company’s application for short-time working (which can also be done electronically) has to be submitted to the regional AMS at least three weeks before the planned starting date of short-time working. Among other details, it has to contain the total number of employees, the duration during which short-time working is required, the number of affected employees and a justification of why short-time working is necessary. The application has to be signed by the industry’s trade union and either the works council or all short-time workers individually (if no works council exists in the company).
    Duration of income support
    If the application is positively evaluated, a public short-time working subsidy is granted. Initially, the income support is provided for three months, with the option of extending it for another three months (or longer in exceptional cases) if necessary. For short-time working caused by (natural) disasters, no limitation regarding the duration is foreseen by law.
    In 2009, the eligibility period was extended to six months, which can be extended twice for a further six months, therefore for a total of 18 months. In case of extraordinary circumstances, a longer total support period is possible (AMS, 2009a, 2009b). During the crisis, the total support period has been increased to 24 months – but not beyond 31 December 2012 (BMASK, 2009a, 2010). This means that if a company wants to take full advantage of the 24-month period of receiving the short-time working subsidy, it has to start short-time working by 1 January 2011 at the latest.
    Extent of income support
    The short-time working subsidy amounts to the level of unemployment benefits (including social security contributions) for the non-worked hours (about 55% of the net wage), whereby lump sums for non-worked hours are determined. This lump sum is based on the normal (legal or collectively agreed) working time, the worker’s monthly gross wage (including pro rata holiday and Christmas remuneration) and the number of children the worker has to care for. Furthermore, a short-time working subsidy is only provided for a monthly gross wage of up to €3,727.78 (that is, higher wage earners will only receive a subsidy for this part of their wage).
    The short-time working subsidy is paid for the actual number of non-worked hours as long as this corresponds to 10% to 90% of the normal working time. The justification for this is that in cases in which working time reduction amounts to less than 10% of standard working time, this should be dealt with in the framework of the normal possibilities of flexible work organisation without any public support. If working time is reduced by more than 90%, this is considered as ‘non-work’ rather than ‘short-time work’, which is not subsidised by the measure under consideration.
    The changed regulation operational during the crisis allows for overtime during short-time working, but this reduces the individual worker’s number of non-worked hours and hence the short-time working subsidy. No subsidy is paid for sickness leave or annual holidays, as the employer is legally obliged to pay for these.
    In addition to the legal regulation of the extent of the short-time working subsidy, it has to be mentioned that the social partner agreement and the short-time working agreement at company level foresee higher income support for nonworked hours payable by the employer, and that holiday or Christmas remuneration is based on the normal wage level in spite of the reduced working time (ÖGB, 2009). Consequently, in practice, workers receive between 80% and 90% of their normal net wage, irrespective of the level of working time reduction. It might therefore happen that the hourly net wage of the worker is almost doubled during short-time working (that is, if he or she works for 50% or less of the standard working time but receives 90% of the normal wage). In these cases (as in cases of short-time workers earning higher wages than the abovementioned thresholds), the higher support will not be matched by a higher public subsidy, so it has to be fully financed by the employer (AMS, 2009c), as do the administration costs related to short-time working. Consequently, the higher the number of non-worked hours, the more expensive short-time working becomes for the employer. If the non-worked hours amount to up to about 30% of normal working time, the additional (that is, not publicly reimbursed) costs for the company are not very significant.
    The employer has to pay the employees the total of their normal wage for the hours actually worked and the short-time working support for the non-worked hours. On a monthly basis, the employer has to report to the AMS the number of non-worked hours per short-time worker, the amounts of short-time working support paid to these workers and that no short-time workers have been dismissed (AMS, 2009a, 2009b). This report has to be signed by the works council, the industry’s trade union or the affected short-time workers. The AMS checks a sample of the reports corresponding to 5% of short-time workers based on wage accounts and working time records. If approved, reimbursement is supposed to take place within one month, but it is more common that it is realised within two months.
    The income support during short-time working is considered as normal income and therefore taxed like the wage (AMSG, paragraph 37b; AMS, 2009a and 2009b).
    Security aspects of the scheme
    The social security contributions (and benefits) during short-time working are based on the previous full-time wage before starting short-time working (AMSG, paragraph 37b; AMS, 2009a, 2009b). In general, it is agreed in the social partner agreement and the short-time working agreement at company level that the worker’s contribution to social security for the non-worked hours will be covered by the employer.
    Since in practice this results in a financial burden for employers and employees, the labour market stimulation package that came into force in July 2009 foresees that during the crisis the AMS will reimburse employers’ contribution to social security (unemployment insurance, pension insurance, accident insurance) from the seventh month of short-time working onwards (AMSG, paragraph 37b; BMASK, 2009a). This should help to avoid competitive disadvantages compared to Austria’s main trade partner, Germany, where the prevalent short-time working scheme also foresees public reimbursement of social security contributions under certain conditions.
    The decision to reimburse social security contributions from the seventh month onwards and not from the beginning of short-time working was based on two considerations. On the one hand, the public authorities did not want to make the instrument too attractive for employers to avoid deadweight loss. On the other hand, the aim was to avoid a scenario whereby a substantial number of companies stop short-time working after six months (and then dismiss workers instead) during the ongoing crisis due to cost reasons.
    The basis of the calculation for reimbursement (which does not include employees’ contributions, even if covered by the employer) is the monthly gross wage before short-time working minus the actual income for the realised working hours. All short-time working agreements that started between 1 July 2009 and 31 December 2010 are eligible for this support.
    The social partner agreements and short-time agreements at company level stipulate that the employment level (that is, the total number of blue-collar and white-collar workers as well as apprentices) of the establishment (understood as a technical and organisational unit) must not be reduced during short-time working and for a specified period afterwards (AMS, 2009a, 2009b). The affected short-time workers themselves must not be dismissed for two (in case short-time working was carried out for one month) to four months (in case short-time working continued for more than 12 months) after short-time working. Before the amended regulation came into force, the dismissal protection after short-time working referred to all staff, not only the short-time workers, and the envisaged duration corresponded to the duration of the short-time working period.
    If a company cannot abide by this obligation not to dismiss workers, it can apply for an exceptional authorisation from the AMS, whereby it has to justify why the maintenance of the current employment level would considerably endanger the company’s survival. Dismissals that have been announced before starting the short-time working period (even if they become operational only afterwards), justified dismissals, resignations and the expiration of fixed-term employment contracts are possible without influencing the short-time working subsidy. Dismissal of a worker due to personal reasons is also possible, but the employer then has to hire another worker to maintain the total number of employees.
    Periods of short-time working are considered as normal/full-time working hours regarding qualification periods for unemployment benefits. Furthermore, if unemployment is realised immediately after short-time working (which rarely occurred during the recent crisis), the basis of the calculation for unemployment benefits is the previous full-time wage (rather than the reduced income during short-time working).
    The social partner agreements and short-time agreements at company level also stipulate that for the two years following short-time working, the share of temporary agency workers in the company is limited to 5% to 10% of the total working time in the firm. This is done to avoid a situation where companies in recovery use temporary rather than core staff.
    Training element of the scheme
    Since April 2009, qualification measures during short-time working have been publicly supported. The non-worked hours that are used for education/training purposes are paid for by the qualification subsidy (instead of the short-time working subsidy) and the cost of training courses is covered by a qualification support. The aim of this measure is to sustainably increase workers’ employability (BMASK, 2010).
    Preconditions for public support of education and training measures during short-time working are as follows (AMS, 2009a, 2009b).
    • The abovementioned eligibility criteria for short-time working have to be fulfilled.
    • The employer has to draft a qualification concept specifying how many of the short-time workers will participate in training and whether the training measures will take place within the company or with external training providers.
    • The qualification measures need to be general – that is not only related to the current or future occupation of the affected worker in the current company. For instance, conferences and seminars that are only informative, product and work process induction training, as well as hobby courses will not be supported. Furthermore, the education/training courses have to comply with approved quality standards, meaning that they must be offered by appropriate trainers or training providers.
    • The qualification measure has to have a duration of at least 16 hours.
    • The qualification measures have to take place during the non-worked hours – in other words, during hours that normally would be working time (not spare time) if no short-time working was applied.
    • The social partner agreement has to ensure that the employer pays a qualification support to the worker for the duration of the qualification measure. This support has to be 15% higher than the short-time working support.
    The training can be conducted by internal company training centres (organisational units without a profit orientation that are separated from the production process) or by external training providers. It is up to the employer to decide which training provider to contract, but suitability and qualification have to be verified.
    The employer receives a qualification subsidy to partly reimburse the additional costs for the qualification support and contributions to social security. This qualification subsidy amounts to 115% of the level of unemployment benefits (including social security contributions). After the seventh month, employers’ contributions to social security are also covered, but only until 31 December 2012 (AMSG, paragraph 37c).
    Furthermore, 60% of the training costs invoiced by external training providers can be subsidised – up to €10,000 per participant (the remaining 40% must be covered by the employer). This is financed by funds from the AMS and the ESF (50% each). This support or qualification for employed persons (Qualifizierung für Beschäftigte, QfB) has been in existence for years but has been extended to short-time workers because of the recent crisis.
    For the federal state of Burgenland, qualification during short-time working can also be supported to a higher extent by ESF (AMS, 2010). The support amounts to 75% of the training costs; the remaining 25% has to be covered by the employer.
    Monitoring of the scheme
    To safeguard ongoing quality assurance, the regional AMS has to report to the central AMS, which is obliged to compile these reports within six weeks and submit the material to the board of directors (AMS, 2009a, 2009b). The board decides on further procedures (prioritised suggestions in case amendments are required).
    Currently, there are no evaluations of the short-time working subsidies, but it is planned to undertake these for the renewed scheme that came into force in 2009.
    Transparency of the scheme
    To inform the general public about the instrument and its recent changes, BMASK has conducted publicity activities, such as the dissemination of press releases, throughout the crisis.
    The AMS provides substantial information on its website targeted at employers and employees as well as practical material such as guidelines for drafting the monthly reports the employer has to submit to the AMS and a calculation tool for the short-time working support/subsidy.
    The Chamber of Labour (AK) as well as WKÖ and the Federation of Austrian Industries (IV) offer specific information sections dealing with short-time working on their websites, hold information events and disseminate information via newsletters. In addition to general information dealing with eligibility criteria, duration and extent of short-time working subsidies or the procedures to undergo when applying for the subsidy, they also provide practical tools for their target group, such as guidelines for employers and employees or examples of agreements for short-time working. Furthermore, the interest groups also provide advice and consulting services for their members (workers, works councils, companies) if they approach them with specific or individual questions or concerns.
    For the past two years, the issue of short-time working has also been extensively covered by the media. Literally thousands of newspaper articles provide information about the new/changed regulation, the positions of social partners, individual companies starting or ceasing short-time working, as well as the effects of short-time working. The provision and dissemination of information about short-time working was assumed to be highly relevant by the stakeholders. This is because, in spite of the longstanding existence of public short-time working subsidies, they were hardly used in the past, hence employers and employees lacked experience and knowledge about this relatively complex instrument.
    Impact of the scheme
    In October 2008, the first applications for short-time working as a result of the recent economic crisis were registered with the AMS. In the following months, a considerable increase in the number of applications was observed. The peak was reached in April 2009, when almost 57,000 workers were registered for short-time working. Since May 2009, a decrease in the number of applications has been noted. This decrease was slow in the beginning but gained momentum. By the end of 2009, about 35,000 employees were still registered. On average, 42,870 short-time workers (out of 3.2 million dependent employees) were registered with the AMS in 2009 and about 26,000 actually received public support.
    This shows that not all the registered workers were actually working fewer hours, but rather that only between half and two thirds of the planned and authorised short-time work was realised. This implies that companies also use the instrument as a kind of safety net. They apply for public support and register as many workers/non-worked hours as possible for a worst case scenario, but in the end do not use the maximum if it can be avoided. From the viewpoint of the public authorities, this does not pose a problem, as only the non-worked hours actually realised are subsidised, not the number initially registered.
    In 2009, 66,965 employees actually undertook short-time working, which peaked in April 2009 when 37,652 workers in more than 300 companies received short-time working subsidies. On average, about 26,000 workers were on short-time working in 2009. Of these, 19% were women, 10% were below the age of 25 years and 19% were aged 50 or more. The average reduction of working hours amounted to about 26% in 2009.
    Table 1: Planned and realised/billed short-time workers in Austria, October 2008 to December 2009
    Month   Planned   Realised/billed   Realised/billed as a share of planned
    October 2008 739 382 52%
    November 2008 5,705 3,267 57%
    December 2008 8,957 6,368 71%
    January 2009 22,411 11,367 51%
    February 2009 29,292 15,809 54%
    March 2009 47,158 22,046 47%
    April 2009 56,728 37,652 66%
    May 2009 56,626 33,920 60%
    June 2009 51,671 37,309 72%
    July 2009 53,911 34,107 63%
    August 2009 53,181 35,900 68%
    September 2009 38,937 27,233 70%
    October 2009 35,904 22,832 64%
    November 2009 33,481 20,366 61%
    December 2009 35,135 16,218 46%
    Note: Data as of 15 March 2010. Figures for realised short-time working may change due to later billing.
    Source: BMASK
    Since mid 2009, the importance of short-time working has been decreasing again as companies experienced an economic recovery accompanied by an increased order level, particularly related to exports. For example, by May 2010, short-time working subsidies were granted for about 14,000 workers in almost 149 companies, and only four new applications covering fewer than 1,000 employees were registered for June 2010.
    Short-time working was highly prevalent in the manufacturing sector, mainly in the automotive and machinery industry as well as in electronics. Furthermore, a regional concentration of short-time working in the federal states of Upper and Lower Austria as well as Styria (74%) could be observed (BMASK, 2010).
    Since July 2009, social security contributions were publicly supported for about 21,000 short-time workers, of which 13% were women. About 8,000 short-time workers (12% female) participated in subsidised training measures duringnon-worked hours. About 2,900 of them also received training costs support, according to BMASK.
    In 2009, €113.5 million was spent to finance short-time working (16% for female employees). Some 90.6% of this was spent on short-time working subsidies, 3.5% for qualification subsidies and 5.9% for covering social security contributions (according to BMASK, as of March 2010).
    The economic crisis, short-time working and unemployment also affected overtime. In 2009, about 314 million hours of overtime were worked in Austria (Statistik Austria, 2010). This constitutes a decrease of more than 41 million hours, or almost 12% compared to 2008 and the lowest since 2004. Even bearing in mind that not all industries and jobs were equally affected by the recession, this reduction is significant.
    Assessment and lessons learnt
    Short-time working is considered to have had a stabilising effect on the Austrian labour market. This is because it (together with other labour market instruments applied in the recession) provided an incentive for employers to maintain employment relationships and thereby contributed to Austria’s relatively low unemployment rate during the crisis compared to the majority of other EU Member States (BMASK, 2010; WKÖ, 2010). Consequently, it also contributed to a good level of economic confidence and the avoidance of panic, as workers experienced income stability and maintained their purchasing power and job security. This in turn avoided knock-on effects across the entire economy, namely along value chains, and thus had an important macroeconomic effect that cannot be estimated in figures.
    The short-time working subsidy is a targeted public support instrument that can be applied in specific crisis situations that are caused by external factors. For its application during the recent crisis, it helped that the scheme already existed before the recession as one of the support instruments of the Austrian welfare state and was quickly adapted to the changed framework situations. The instrument was able to be amended so quickly because the AMS and the social partners already had a good knowledge of the procedures, effects, advantages and disadvantages of the instrument and because there was a long-standing tradition of social partnership with a well-established negotiation culture in Austria. Employer and employee organisations clearly outlined their individual (and partly controversial) positions in the beginning, but then moved on and aimed to find a joint solution that could be advantageous and sound for both companies and workers, rather than insisting on their own viewpoints, which would have hindered the fast improvement of the framework conditions.
    There is also an indication that short-time working was done in companies in which works councils are active, as these advocated for the application of short-time working rather than other alternatives.
    An example of the outcome of good social dialogue at company level with regard to short-time working is outlined in the Plansee company case study below. [starting here -]
    Short-time working in the Plansee Group/Ceratizit
    The Austrian Plansee Group is one of the market leaders in high-performance materials produced by powder metallurgy. When the economic crisis hit the group in the second half of 2008, the management, works council and chamber of commerce agreed on a social plan offering different options to the group’s employees (such as the reduction and cancelling of overtime work, requesting workers to take outstanding leave, not renewing agency and temporary contracts, voluntary redundancy, early and partial retirement, vocational training leave, short-time working and the establishment of a labour foundation).
    In Ceratizit, one of the group’s divisions producing hard metals used in electricity transmission, vehicle manufacturing and other high-performance products, short-time working was applied between June 2009 and February 2010. During the first months, 400 to 500 workers (out of about 700 employees) took up short-time working. Short-time working was initially planned to end in April 2010, but take-up significantly dropped from November 2010, reaching zero in March and April (see Table 2). This is attributed to a significant expansion in demand (even if it is currently unclear how sustainable this recovery will be).
    Table 2: Number of Ceratizit workers (Plansee Group) on short-time working arrangements between June 2009 and April 2010
    Month   Number of employees working reduced hours June 2009   571
    July 2009   460
    August 2009   408
    September 2009   386
    October 2009   333
    November 2009   216
    December 2009   187
    January 2010   89
    February 2010   87
    March 2010   0
    April 2010   0

    For the short-time workers, working time was cut by 15 hours a week for the duration of their participation in the measure. Based on an agreement between the management and the works council, the short-time workers received 90% of their previous salary (94% for low earners) as well as their additional benefits and pay-related entitlements.
    During the non-worked hours, training was offered at the company premises, mainly by internal but also external trainers. The training was based on a training plan agreed on by the unit managers and relevant employee representatives. In total, 14,600 training hours were provided in the form of short courses, mainly covering topics that were relevant to the employer and process, but also some general issues.
    The public subsidy comprised the short-time working subsidy as well as the qualification subsidy and 60% of the course fees. This covered about 50% of the costs incurred for the company. These costs implied that it was a temporary instrument to be phased out as soon as the economic situation improved.
    Short-time working is considered to be a helpful instrument to avoid redundancies among permanent staff and the associated loss of experience and expertise from the company, thus enabling them to start working immediately on any new orders that come in. Two key factors were identified that contributed to the company’s ability to implement ‘soft landing’ measures during the crisis rather than resorting to involuntary redundancies (Source: Eurofound, 2010a):
    • strong social partnership and consultation both within the company and with trade unions and the chamber of commerce as well as the regional Public Employment Service;
    • the framework of available public support instruments combined with the company’s willingness and financial ability to provide further wage compensation.
    [resuming main article here -]
    Furthermore, the substantial accessibility of the subsidy – almost all employers and employees are eligible – contributed to its success. It must be mentioned, however, that the employment structure and company characteristics considerably affect the take-up of short-time working – employers will only be interested in keeping workers in their company in times of crisis and accept the related costs if they consider them to be valuable for the company. This may be related to a general lack of labour, to a more specific lack of the workers’ skills (theoretical knowledge as well as company-specific expertise) and to the anticipated firing and rehiring costs.
    Short-time working is an instrument that deals with temporary external economic difficulties, whereby ‘temporary’ could be considered as a period of about three to 12 months. Short-time working serves a ‘bridging’ function for workers to remain in employment during comparatively short periods of economic downturn, during which it is hoped that they will be needed in the company again very soon. It is not suitable for longer periods or for structural reasons (for which other public support instruments, like outplacement foundations, are available). For this reason, a support duration extending over a longer period of time is not highly relevant.
    In the short term, however, the instrument succeeded in saving jobs in Austria, although an estimation of the number of jobs saved is hard to determine. The Austrian Institute of Economic Research (WIFO) estimated that about 8,400 employment relationships could be saved due to short-time working in 2009 (Mahringer, 2009). This calculation is based on the assumption that, on average, working time has been reduced by 30% for 65% of the workers who have beenregistered for short-time working and that no deadweight loss has occurred (that is, that the affected employment relationships would not have been maintained without short-time working subsidies). The most recent data lead to the assumption that the actual number is slightly lower (about 7,000 saved jobs). BMASK and the AMS believe that 10,000 to 15,000 jobs can be saved by the short-time working support amended during the crisis (Die Presse, 2010; BMASK, 2009a). With regard to these estimations, it needs to be kept in mind that they only map the direct effect, which should be supplemented by value chain effects – in other words, jobs that are affected in other companies/industries if workers are dismissed in one company.
    The main advantages of short-time working are the ability to react comparatively quickly to crisis situations and the cost reduction for the employer, who is able to maintain the know-how of the workforce (or even increase it if qualification is done during short-time working). In 2006 and 2007, the Austrian economy was characterised by good economic development and employers were eager to attract skilled labour as a precondition for competitiveness and further development. As such, they wanted to keep their workforce in the company during the crisis in order to be prepared for an uptake of production in recovery. It also gave the companies some time during which they could assess the current and future economic situation and their own perspectives and think about future strategies. Even if dismissals have to take place in the end, employers do not have to immediately decide who to release (mostly driven by cost reasons), but could do so from a more strategic point of view. This consideration is aided by the fact that the majority of companies that undertook short-time working did not dismiss workers, and those that did only did so to a small extent, but very selectively. It has to be noted, however, that while core staff remained comparatively stable, many temporary agency workers were dismissed during the crisis.
    For the workers, the short-time working subsidy resulted in a loss of income disproportionate to the number of nonworked hours as well as immediate job security. Due to the arrangements in the prevalent social partner agreements, workers in general experienced income stability (with a guaranteed wage level of about 80% to 90% of their normal wage), irrespective of the level of reduced working time. It must be noted, however, that the public short-time working support is related to many preconditions/eligibility criteria and administrative burdens as well as financial drawbacks for employers and the public funds (Gruber, 2009).
    Even if employers receive the public short-time working subsidy, costs arise. Firstly, these relate to the short-time working support payable to the employees that is higher than the public subsidy received due to the arrangements of the social partner agreement. These costs increase with the level of non-worked hours, whereby up to a 30% reduction in working time does not seem to constitute a burden for the employer. Secondly, social security contributions, holiday and Christmas remuneration and other bonus payments are calculated on the basis of the normal full-time wage. Thirdly, social partner agreements also foresee that employers have to cover employees’ social security contributions. These costs are not eligible for the public reimbursement of social security contributions. Finally, administrative costs also arise for applying for and managing short-time working. The latter are related to the way the finances are organised: the employer has to pay a short-time support to the workers (in addition to the wage for the worked hours) and is reimbursed by the AMS. Because of the costs that short-time working involves for employers, it is believed that companies will only apply it for a comparatively short period of time – for instance, only if they think that an economic upswing will be realised soon, thereby allowing them to return to normal production capacities.
    With regard to public funds, it is assumed that short-time working actually helps save public money, as unemployment is avoided. Calculations show that having three short-time workers incurs about the same costs as one unemployed worker in terms of benefits paid out. In addition, it brings cost savings in administrative terms (for example, no matching and advice activities for unemployed people are needed) as well as the psychological benefit for the affected workers, who are not segregated from the labour market but rather stay in employment. This also fosters their employability in the long term, as they do not have ‘bad track records’ (times of unemployment) on their curriculum vitae (CVs).
    The Austrian short-time working subsidy has been designed to be less attractive for employers than the German scheme in order to avoid deadweight loss (because of the higher costs accruing for the company) and to avoid hindering structural change. All stakeholders agree that if structural change (and related dismissals) has to be introduced, it should happen as soon as possible rather than spend (public) money in job-preserving measures that become void later on. There is little chance that companies in Austria will want to apply short-time working for a period longer than about one year, since by then their economic situation should have improved or because the instrument then becomes too expensive for a strategically-oriented employer, who will think of other alternatives (including plant closures and dismissal) rather than continuing short-time working.
    In general, the system as it is currently designed in Austria is less suitable for smaller companies and service firms than for their larger and manufacturing counterparts. The instrument is considered to be rather complex, complicated and lengthy, as a high number of different stakeholders have to be involved. In addition, the requirement for the social partner agreement constitutes a barrier for smaller enterprises that are not very familiar with dealing or negotiating with trade unions. Another challenge is the wage administration (Gruber, 2009). If several employees are affected by short-time working within a company, the acquisition of specific accounting software might be necessary, which is too expensive for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). For these reasons, short-time working has mostly been taken up by larger companies in Austria.
    Since social security contributions during short-time working have to be paid on the basis of a normal wage (that is, not considering the reduced number of working hours and thus the related lower income level), short-time workers do not experience a decreased level of social protection. However, this level of social security translates into high staff costs for the employer, particularly if collective agreements at industry or company level also foresee that employees’ contributions to social security have to be covered by the employer and other payments (like bonuses) are not limited. For this reason, the instrument was not attractive for some companies before the recent amendments that partly relieved employers of wage (related) costs (Grant Thornton Österreich, 2009). It is believed that the public coverage of employers’ social security contributions considerably contributed to the instrument’s success because it increased employers’ willingness to implement short-time working, particularly since it aligned with the German model. This was deemed to be necessary because of the close trade relationships between Austria and Germany. At the same time, it is not believed to be necessary to provide public social security support from the first month of short-time working onwards, as in the short run it is not efficient for employers to immediately dismiss workers anyway because of cost reasons; this would make the public subsidy too attractive and would provoke deadweight loss.
    From the viewpoint of the affected workers, the dismissal protection during and after short-time working is beneficial, although it is criticised by the employer organisations (IV, 2009). The AMS assumes that a quarter of the short-time workers will be laid off after short-time working in the longer term (Wirtschaftsblatt, 2010). However, this assumption is not confirmed by the trade unions.
    Furthermore, it should be noted that a number of companies did not adopt short-time working but applied other solutions to their reduced order levels, including immediate dismissals, because of the obligation to maintain the employment level over a certain period of time.
    If short-time working agreements are not only related to dismissal protection but also – as is often the case in Austria – to the obligation that increased demand for human resources is to be satisfied by core staff rather than temporary agency workers, the instrument may also have an important labour market effect in recovery – namely, the reintegration of workers into permanent employment.
    The newly introduced training element is appreciated by all stakeholders, as it allows companies and employees to use the periods of reduced working hours effectively to improve the quality of the workforce, which could foster a positive structural change for employers. However, it is important that training that enhances workers’ value in the labour market is offered, and not only training beneficial for the current employer. In practice, it turned out that courses were agreed upon that are generally beneficial for workers’ employability, either by enhancing general skills (such as quality management, creativity techniques, basic information technology (IT) skills, foreign language classes and time and stress management) or by providing for sector-specific vocational competences (for example, an industry-relevant theory basis, specific driving licences or sales training).
    Nevertheless, although any training encouraged by the support instrument should be appreciated since it would not have been conducted otherwise, it must be noted that training was not widely applied during short-time working during the crisis, as its practical implementation proved to be difficult and necessitated planning time. Establishing a training concept was often too time-consuming for the employers during the crisis, as they were mainly occupied with finding ways out of the difficult economic situation faced by their business. Furthermore, training courses not only incur additional costs for the company, but also a loss of flexibility, as workers engaged in training measures cannot be as freely approached as those who are not if order levels increase. It was also difficult for the companies and workers to quickly find suitable training offers, particularly if they were looking for regional measures. These aspects imply thatcombining training with short-time working may be easier for larger companies than for smaller ones, as they often have access to better-equipped infrastructure, such as a specialised human resources (HR) department and established contacts with training providers. Lastly, the fact that not all workers are interested in participating in training and prefer to use the non-worked hours for leisure activities must not be overlooked.
    [Although it's vital in the Timesizing Program, we never thought of trying to combine training with the emergency/temporary halfway step (worksharing alias short-time working) to sustainable-permanent Timesizing. However, we're glad that somebody did think of it because we can now claim that we got the idea from them for putting it into Timesizing and "credit out" one more piece of this big "synthesis of existing practices," thus reducing the potentially overwhelming and comatizing originality of the whole TS Program and its four major upgrades.]
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    Bundesministerium für Arbeit, Soziales und Konsumentenschutz (BMASK), Arbeitsmarkt im Jahr 2009, 2010, available at: http://www.bmask.gv.at/cms/site/attachments/4/7/0/CH0694/CMS1232983147579/der_arbeitsmarkt_im_jahr_20 09_(3mb).pdf.
    Die Presse, Amerikas Neid auf die Kurzarbeit, 11 January 2010, available at: http://diepresse.com/home/wirtschaft/international/532038/index.do?from=suche.intern.portal.
    European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound), EMCC case studies: Aiming for a ‘soft’ landing – Plansee Group (Austria), Dublin, 2010a, available at: http://www.eurofound.europa.eu/publications/htmlfiles/ef1057.htm.
    European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound), EMCC case studies: Upskilling in the recession – the ProAct short-time working scheme in Wales (UK), Dublin, 2010b, available at: http://www.eurofound.europa.eu/publications/htmlfiles/ef1056.htm.
    Grant Thornton Österreich, Kurzarbeit und Arbeitsmarktpaket II, June 2009, available at: http://www.grantthornton.at/files/newsletter_juni09_download.pdf.
    Gruber, B.W., Von Kurzarbeit bis Personalabbau. Personalmaßnahmen zur Krisenbewältigung, ARD Praxishandbuch, Vienna, LexisNexis Verlag ARD Orac GmbH&Co KG, 2009.
    Industriellenvereinigung (IV), Behaltefristen bedrohen direkt Arbeitsplätze, 20 February 2009, available at: http://www.iv-net.at/b1866.
    Mahringer, H., Der Arbeitsmarkt in der Finanzmarkt- und Wirtschaftskrise, WIFO Monatsberichte 12/2009, Vienna, 2009.
    Österreichischer Gewerkschaftsbund (ÖGB), Verlängerte Kurzarbeit, 17 February 2009, available at: http://www.oegb.at/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=OEGBZ/Page/OEGBZ_Index&n=OEGBZ_9.1.a&cid=12 33605916582.
    Statistik Austria, Arbeitsmarktstatistik. Jahresergebnisse 2009. Mikrozensus-Arbeitskräfteerhebung. Schnellbericht 5.8, Vienna, 2010, available at: http://www.statistik.at/web_de/static/arbeitsmarktstatistik_-_jahresergebnisse_2009_schnellbericht_045066.pdf.
    Wirtschaftsblatt, AMS rechnet mit steigenden Arbeitslosenzahlen, 2 February 2010, available at: http://www.wirtschaftsblatt.at/home/oesterreich/wirtschaftspolitik/406692/index.do.
    Wirtschaftskammer Österreich (WKÖ), Arbeitsmarktpaket II nutzt Arbeitslosen, Beschäftigten und Betrieben, 14 July2009, available at: http://portal.wko.at/wk/format_detail.wk?AngID=1&StID=492878&DstID=686.


4/18/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. MCA calls on govt to provide incentives to bosses offering flexi work hours for women, TheRakyatPost.com
    NILAI, Malaysia - The government should reconsider the proposal to give incentives and provide tax relief to employers who offer flexible working hours to their female workers.
    MCA [Malaysian Chinese Assoc.] president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the incentives and tax relief, if given, would encourage more employers to hire women and hence increase the participation of women in professional fields.
    [Do flexi work hours include shorter hours? Because if they don't, your labor surplus will mount and as a consequence your wages will sink and as a consequence your consumer spending will weaken and as a consequence your markets will shrink and as a consequence your marketable productivity will vanish and as a consequence your solid investment destinations will dry up.]
    “Wanita MCA will propose to the government to give incentives and tax relief to employers who offer flexible working hours to their female employees.
    “It is important for the government to take affirmative action in these two aspects to increase participation of women in the work force,” he told a press conference after opening the Malaysian Chinese Women Blueprint (2015-2018) Workshop, organised by Wanita MCA here today.
    Present were Wanita MCA chief Datuk Heng Seai Kie and Negeri Sembilan Wanita MCA chief Datuk Seri Lee Pit Chern.
    Liow, who is also Transport Minister, said the proposal was also in line with the government’s aspiration to increase the participation of women up to 30% compared with participation of men in management and professional fields.
    “The setting up of child nurseries at the workplace, as well as the freedom to work from home, can also help increase the participation of women in professional and administration fields, thus contributing to the increase in productivity and economic growth.”
    Meanwhile, Heng said all discussions in this workshop will be MCA’s input to improve the status of women in the economy, education, politics and social field. They will be forwarded to the Cabinet.
    “So, what is being discussed here is actually a three-pronged plan — to determine the direction of Wanita MCA in line with the MCA’s vision and mission to lead and develop the Chinese community, especially Chinese women, in the country; to be consistent with the 11th Malaysia Plan; and to formulate strategies to help Barisan Nasional face the challenges in the 14th general election.”

  2. McDonald's staff to go on strike, by NZME, (4/13 late pickup) Otago Daily Times via odt.co.nz
    OTAGO, New Zealand - Strikes and protests at McDonald's will go ahead this week after a union rejected a new employment offer from the fast food giant.
    McDonald's this morning said it had offered its workers more secure hours of employment -- a move that comes after rival company Restaurant Brands said it would do away with zero hours contracts.
    But the Unite Union this afternoon said the McDonald's proposal was not a genuine offer of secure hours, and the union would reject it.
    Union national director Mike Treen said strikes and protests would go ahead at McDonald's restaurants - as well as at Burger King and Wendy's outlets - as part of an international fast food workers day of action on Wednesday.
    Mr Treen said McDonald's had offered a guarantee of 80 per cent of "rostered hours".
    "This is a meaningless formula. Rostered hours are a long way from hours worked, which is the formula we have used at Restaurant Brands," he said.
    "Rostered hours are completely under the control of the company. They can go up and down at their discretion ... Workers will have no way of knowing whether the roster is fair and equitable.
    "We need a guarantee of hours based on the hours a worker usually works, not what they are rostered.

    [Consciousness is rising of the strategic importance of working hours and the necessity of taking control of overall workweek length away from short-term self-spoiling, long-term self-destructive employers.]
    That way, it also allows guaranteed hours to build up over time."
    Mr Treen said there was no commitment to regular fixed shifts in the future, which was a very important aspect of the agreement with Restaurant Brands.
    "Workers want to be able to plan their lives and with shifts that change week to week it simply isn't possible.
    "We have not accepted this so-called offer from McDonald's. We remain in dispute with all three companies."
    Mr Treen said bargaining continued, and he asked the public to "keep up the pressure on these three companies until we have genuine offers to end zero hours".
    McDonald's NZ earlier said it had reviewed the structure of contracts and presented an offer of 80 per cent security offer in its latest round of collective bargaining.
    The company said it had been in discussions on the employment contracts for several months, and understood that security of hours was important to people.
    Under the offer presented, all workers would receive 80 per cent security of hours up to a 40-hour cap, based on the average of the previous 12 weeks, McDonald's said.
    "We would note that the above structure has previously been common practice when it comes to scheduling in our restaurants, but it will now be formally written into employment agreements," McDonald's said in a statement.
    "We will continue to bargain in good faith and hope to reach a mutually acceptable agreement soon."
    Last week Restaurant Brands, which owns KFC, Pizza Hut, Carl's Jr and Starbucks, said it would do away with zero hours contracts.
    The Unite Union at the time called the move "a gigantic step forward for workers in the fast food industry".


4/17/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. K-12 school budget enough to eliminate furloughs, LOSD says - But bill signed by the governor won't restore recent program cuts, district officials acknowledge, by Jillian Dalely, (4/16 late pickup) Lake Oswego Review via portlandtribune.com
    LAKE OSWEGO, Ore., USA - Lake Oswego School District [LOSD] officials say the $7.255 billion K-12 education funding bill signed by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown last week includes enough revenue for the district to eliminate unpaid furlough days in the 2015-17 biennium.
    Stuart Ketzler, the district’s executive director of finance, said Monday that furlough days — three for teachers and other staff and four for administrators — will likely be gone in 2015-16.
    The unpaid days off were introduced in 2010-11 as a revenue-saving strategy,

    [furloughs, not firings! = timesizing, not downsizing]
    and Ketzler said it will cost the district about $700,000 to eliminate them. But the state’s newly approved K-12 budget won’t fix everything, he said.
    “While it will allow us to eliminate the furlough days, it does not allow us to add back any programs that were cut in the wake of the Great Recession,” Ketzler said, “nor reduce the student-to-classroom-teacher target ratios that were increased during that same period.”
    Still, Laura Paxson Kluthe, president of the Lake Oswego Education Association, called the state funding “a step in the right direction for public education.”
    “Students, their families and the employees of this district are all winners here,” Paxson Kluthe said.
    LOSD will receive $50 million in direct state aid in 2015-17, about $3 million more than in the current budget cycle, Ketzler said. The district will have about $110.6 million in total state formula revenue in 2015-17, which also factors in revenues such as local property taxes. That’s $5.6 million more than in 2013-15.
    The rate of state support per student will be $7,663 for 2015-16, up from the $7,410 allocated this year, state records show.
    For the current two-year cycle, the Legislature approved $6.55 billion for K-12 education; an additional $100 million was added in a special session to bring the total to $6.65 billion.
    The bill signed by Brown on April 9 provides $220 million in state funding for full-day kindergarten, which starts this fall. It also includes a provision that earmarks for the school fund 40 percent of any additional tax collections projected in the May 14 revenue and economic forecast — the final one before the start of the new budget cycle on July 1.
    “In addition to an historic investment in all-day kindergarten, passing the state school fund’s budget early provides some degree of budget predictability for local school districts,” Brown said in a written statement to The Review. “Although it is not all we might wish, it is an important first step in a broader conversation about strategic investments such as early childhood and career preparation programs that improve graduation rates and close the opportunity gap for students of color, low-income students and other underserved groups.”
    Educators had lobbied lawmakers for a $7.5 billion budget, saying the funding level Brown approved would not be enough to restore recent cuts. Paxson Kluthe said she has spoken with teachers about the cuts they’d like to see restored. Atop their list: a drug and alcohol counselor at the high schools, and more counselor time and librarians at elementary schools.
    “There has been a real sense of deprivation without full-time librarians,” Paxson Kluthe said. “Middle school classes are among the largest, and many of my colleagues at that level would really like smaller class sizes.”
    Target teacher-to-student ratios increased by one student per class from 2013-14 to 2014-15, although the numbers for core classes, PE and electives in grades six through eight remain at or below target levels.
    “Our failure to return valuable programs is a failure at the state level and at the community level,” Paxson Kluthe said. “Only 25 percent of Oregonians have school-age children. We as public educators have failed to make the case to all the voting adults without children of the vital importance in investment in public education.”
    Though the State School Fund may not be quite what education advocates had hoped for, it’s more than the $6.9 billion former Gov. John Kitzhaber recommended or the $7.235 billion the co-chairs of the Joint Committee on Ways and Means suggested.
    “That sounds like a lot, and it’s more than it was before,” LOSD Superintendent Heather Beck told the district-wide Parent Advisory Committee on Tuesday. “But we would actually be making cuts if we didn’t have a local tax levy and the (Lake Oswego Schools) Foundation. School districts will be making cuts at $7.255 billion. We’re just not one of them, so we have a lot of things to be thankful for right now.”
    In addition to an extra $20 million for “carve outs” to fund specific programs, the budget does cover the full cost of implementing full-day kindergarten.
    Even before the budget was approved, the Ways and Means Committee’s proposed $7.235 billion was heartening enough for the school board to omit furlough days from a calendar it approved in February. But the board hasn’t adopted a final budget yet.
    “We are doing the best we can to have no furlough days here,” said Liz Hartman, Lake Oswego School Board chairwoman. “I think that’s a great start.”
    Jillian Daley 503-636-1281, ext. 109, email: jdaley@lakeoswegoreview.com

  2. Hialeah will not cut swimming program, by Enrique Flor eflor@elnuevoherald.com, El Nuevo Herald via MiamiHerald.com
    Hialeah city leaders decided to reinstate work hours for the aquatic program at Milander recreational complex, following protests from dozens of parents, along with their children. (photo caption)
    HIALEAH, Fla., USA - The City of Hialeah will reinstate work hours for the aquatic recreation program, following protests from dozens of parents and their children.
    "We are very happy with the City for having made a commitment to keeping this program, which is so good for our kids," said Mirtha Camacho, whose 10-year-old daughter participates in the swimming program offered at the Milander Aquatic Center, 4820 Palm Ave.
    During a public session on Wednesday, Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez, assured the public that his administration will seek financial help from the private sector to reinstate the swimming classes and the hours cut.
    A similar situation took place in 2011 under Hernandez's leadership as well as that of Hialeah Council President Isis Garcia-Martinez. At that time, it also resulted in a search for funds in the private sector.
    Garcia-Martinez said there's already an existing public commitment on behalf of the mayor’s administration to maintain the aquatic recreation program in Hialeah in good standing.
    “The mayor has committed to cover the training hours, which were cut," said Garcia-Martinez. "Satisfying the needs of children and of the older generations in our communities is a priority for us as authorities."
    The team of nine swimming coaches, who work at Milander, have progressively had their work hours cut from 29 weekly hours to 21 and then 17. The average pay of each coach is $13 per hour. The monthly charges for Hialeah residents who register in the program is $45 and $55 for non-residents.
    The explanation offered to parents by a representative of Hernandez's municipal government indicated that the cuts faced by the program signaled a larger problem: balancing city finances and the strenuous obligations to the employee pension system.
    But in the face of public criticism, Hernandez took a step back and opted to find an emergency solution, just as he did four years ago.
    At that time, Hernandez — who had just become mayor following the resignation of Julio Robaina, who waged an unsuccessful bid to be mayor of Miami-Dade County — implemented a plan to reopen 11 city parks, which had been shut down because of progressive budget cuts faced by Hialeah's recreational programs.
    It was then that Hernandez and Garcia-Martinez led a successful search for funds, secured from eight private businesses to hire 15 parks and recreation employees. The decision allowed for the immediate reinstatement of a state subsidy that provided free meals for 500 children. It has been suspended.
    "We're happy about the city's decision,” said Hetty Rodriguez, mother of a 13-year-old boy registered in the swimming program.

  3. "Half-Time" Overtime: The Fair Labor Standards Act's Fluctuating Workweek Method (Wage & Hour FAQs/Insights), by Doug Hass & Franczek Radelet, jdSupra Business Advisor via jdsupra.com
    [The Timesizing Program uses fluctuating adjustment of the workweek against unemployment, but here's a different kind of fluctuating workweek to distinguish from that.]
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - In the past, we have discussed how to calculate paying overtime to salaried, non-exempt employees, including those employees who also receive commissions. One area that we have not touched on is a potentially employer and employee friendly method of calculating overtime that is nonetheless fraught with some risk: the fluctuating workweek. As you know if you read us regularly, simply paying an employee a salary does not mean that the employee is automatically “exempt” from the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) overtime requirements, or parallel requirements in state and (increasingly) local law. Paying an employee on a salary basis is just one part of the test for exemptions, as we have explained in our recurring Wage and Hour Basics series.
    What positions are often salaried, but classified as non-exempt? In the tech and telecom industries, network administrators, computer analysts (not programmers), installers, and technicians are often paid a salary but just as often do not meet any of the other requirements for exempt status. In the retail sector, front line supervisors and sometimes even assistant managers may fall into the same category. Even positions with titles such as “working foreman” or “manager” do not necessarily denote an exempt employee in practice.
    If you have a salaried, non-exempt employee, you must compensate them for hours worked in excess of 40 hours in a single workweek with an overtime premium. So, how do you calculate these rates? In short, you have two options. The first is the one we have described in the past. You pay the employee a rate of one and one-half times their regular rate of pay for each of those overtime hours. For simplicity’s sake, let’s assume that you pay your employee Chuck a salary only, which is intended to cover 40 hours per week (see this post
    http://www.wagehourinsights.com/wage-and-hour-faqs/calculating-overtime-for-salaried-employees-fmla-faq/
    if it covers more or fewer hours than that). Under this first method, you simply calculate Chuck’s “regular rate” by dividing his salary by the number of hours it covers. Assuming that Chuck’s base salary of $1,000 is intended to cover 40 hours of straight-time work, and that he works 50 hours, Chuck’s pay would be as follows:
    Regular rate = $1,000 / 40 hours = $25.00/hour
    Total pay = Regular salary + 10 hours at time-and-a-half (10*$25.00*1.5)
    $1,000 + ($375) = $1,375
    Now, let’s assume that you and Chuck both understand that his salary is intended to cover his straight-time compensation for all hours that he happens to work in any given week, regardless of how many or how few. That’s the more traditional view of how a salary is supposed to work (at least for exempt employees), but it presents a challenge for calculating overtime for non-exempt employees. In addition to the traditional overtime method, you have another potential option: the fluctuating workweek. The Supreme Court first recognized this method more than 70 years ago in Overnight Motor Transport Co. v. Missel, and the DOL later codified it in the FLSA wage and hour regulations.
    Often called the “half-time” measure of overtime, the fluctuating workweek is available if you can meet four tests:
    1. You must pay a fixed salary each week that does not vary based on the number of hours worked (a stricter test than the “salary basis” test for exempt white collar workers);
    2. You and the employee must share a “clear mutual understanding” that you will pay this fixed salary regardless of the number of hours worked;
    3. The fixed salary must be sufficiently large to provide compensation that at least equals the minimum wage; and
    4. Your employee’s hours must fluctuate from week to week both above and below 40 hours.
    If all four elements of the test are satisfied, you can use a “half-time” overtime calculation. Since you have already compensated your employee for all straight time hours, you only need to pay the overtime premium. Using the same example as above, Chuck’s fixed salary covers all the hours he worked during the week:
    Regular rate = $1,000 / 50 hours = $20.00/hour
    You calculate the overtime rate by dividing salary by the number of hours that Chuck actually worked in a week. Under the fluctuating workweek method, you have already paid him $20 of the $30.00 hourly overtime rate by virtue of his base salary, so you owe him just the half-time overtime premium:
    Total pay = Regular salary + 10 hours at half time (10*$20.00*0.5)
    $1,000 + ($100) = $1,100
    Are you thinking that this seems like a good way to avoid some overtime expenses? Don’t! That’s where employers tend to get tripped up. The fluctuating workweek is an alternative to the traditional method of calculating overtime compensation, not an excuse to cheat or oppress employees.
    The federal regulations are not clear about how often or how much an employee’s hours worked need to dip below 40 in a week, but just like rounding, the fluctuating workweek method must work in your employee’s favor sometimes, too. In that sense, #4 above is the most important part of the test. If their hours truly fluctuate, then in some weeks, your employee will get a full salary while working fewer than 40 hours. In others, the employee will receive that same salary for working more than 40 hours (plus the half-time overtime premium). The flipside calculation is simple. Let’s say that in week two, Chuck works only 25 hours. You will still pay him his fixed $1,000 salary (and not $625).
    If your employee always works 40 or more hours and rarely (if ever) works fewer than 40, then you cannot use this method. The fluctuation need not be unpredictable, and an employee’s hours do not have to be different every week. However, there must be some evidence of fluctuation—in the favor of both employee and employer—over a period of time to validly use the fluctuating payment method.
    The fluctuating workweek method also is not a mitigation strategy in litigation, either. If you have misclassified your employees as exempt, you likely will not have the fluctuating workweek method to fall back on. Remember #1 above. Employers who want to use the fluctuating workweek must establish a “clear mutual understanding” with employees (preferably in a written agreement or a job offer letter). If you have misclassified your salaried employees as exempt, it may be hard to show the required understanding. If you don’t have a mutual understanding with your non-exempt employee about what his or her salary covers, then courts will fill in the gaps for you, and almost always lock you into using the standard overtime calculation. For instance, in Black v. SettlePOU, the Fifth Circuit denied the employer’s claim to the fluctuating workweek method by relying on the company handbook, which defined “workweek” as a fixed number of hours. The court then determined that the fluctuating workweek was unavailable since there was no other “clear mutual understanding” between the employer and employee (having a policy of refusing to pay overtime did not help matters either). Accordingly, the court required the employer to compensate the employee for all of his unpaid overtime at the standard, time-and-a-half calculation.
    Employer Insights
    The fluctuating workweek ideally should be a win-win for employers and employees. It provides a guaranteed salary despite uncertain hours, a clear perk for employees, whether used for retention or as part of a promotion or other career advancement. For employers, it simplifies your overtime calculations and can eliminate some of the peaks and valleys in your weekly payrolls. On occasion, it might even save you some payroll expense, but that should not be your primary goal (unless you really like defending yourself in wage and hour litigation).


4/16/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. Some library branches are slated for closure, by Bud Foster, (4/14 late pickup) TucsonNewsNow.com
    TUCSON, Ariz., USA - Pima County may close four libraries and cut hours at eight others to help close its budget deficit.
    [Maybe if it cut hours deeper at all libraries it could keep all twelve open? Hours cuts, not closures! Timesizing, not downsizing! How come cities, counties and states are willing to give taxcuts to corporations to induce them to stay and create jobs, which bumps up debt on their taxpayers, but they're not willing to do deep enough hourscuts, or upfront debt bumps, to do something easier and surer than private-sector job creating and keeping = keeping the jobs they already have?]
    The library system is $5 million in the red and while a modest increase in secondary taxes will shore up some of the deficit, it appears more drastic measures will be needed.
    The four libraries which are slated for closing are the Santa Rosa on the South 10th, the Geasa-Marana Library, Dewhirst-Catalina and Dusenberry-River. Santa Rosa will likely be converted to a computer lab more in line with its original purpose.
    Closing those four and cutting hours at eight others would save more than $1.5 million.
    The county is cutting its budget to help fill a $23 million deficit created by more than expected state to county transfers.
    [Does this mean more-than-expected state-to-county COST transfers? Unclear!]
    Libraries are funded from a dedicated secondary property tax which presently does not generate enough revenue to pay for operating costs.
    Those libraries have been targeted for closure because they do not generate sufficient traffic and their services are duplicated by operations which are generally only a few miles away.
    It's hoped the library system will be restored to a balanced budget within the next budget cycle.

  2. Courts continue to seek funding from Legislature, by Mike Corn mcorn@dailynews.net, The Hays Daily News via hdnews.net
    HAYS, Kans., USA - Throughout the day Monday, the justices of the Kansas Supreme Court were on something of a public relations campaign, taking advantage of a full day before court hearings to bring the state’s legal system to the public.
    Chief Justice Lawton Nuss was confident a big crowd would show up for Monday evening’s hearing, providing attorneys the opportunity to present arguments in cases from Ellis, Rawlins and Sherman counties.
    Nearly 700 people listened intently.
    “We’ve been pleased every place we’ve been with the size of the crowd,” Nuss said during a press briefing early Monday afternoon.
    That’s evidence, he said, that “Kansas supports the court system.”
    That support, however, isn’t so evident in Topeka, where legislators and Gov. Sam Brownback have introduced legislation seeking to strip away some of the court’s power.
    There’s also the issue of adequately funding the courts, which Nuss said remains in limbo, awaiting the April 29 return of the Legislature, when the state’s budget will be addressed.
    In a meeting with The Hays Daily News, Nuss said the House has broached the court’s budget, but it remains more than $4 million less than needed. The Senate, he said, is still working with the budget proposed by Brownback, which has an even bigger shortfall.
    The biggest cost for the courts is manpower, accounting for approximately 97 percent of the total budget, Nuss said. Every day the state’s courts are open, he said, costs about $250,000.
    So far, the answer to meeting shortfalls has been to furlough clerical personnel. Nuss said he can’t cut judge’s salaries because that’s set by the state’s Constitution.
    [Furloughs, not firings! Timesizing, not downsizing! But preferably furloughs and timesizing for EVERYone, not just the many lower-paid people who spend, recycle & circulate the biggest percentage of their income in order to totally protect the few higher-paid people who spend, recycle & circulate the smallest percentage of their income, only to "invest" the rest = save, store & decirculate it. THAT is what's stopping real recovery.]
    This year’s budget looks OK.
    “It’s getting awful late in the session,” Nuss said of the legislative session, and he’s told court employees “we are in pretty good shape, providing nothing else happens.”
    Next year’s budget is the big uncertainty.
    Furloughs remain a possibility if the Legislature fails to adequately fund the courts.
    Nuss, however, declined to answer a question about the possibility of actually going to federal court, contesting the Legislature’s failure to provide the funding needed.
    “I should probably not answer that question,” he said.
    But he did say if funding issues prove to be such a stumbling block to ensuring criminal defendants’ constitutional rights, such as the right to a speedy trial, are protected, some civil cases might have to be put off.
    Those cases could include the likes of divorces, personal injury cases and mortgage foreclosures.
    Those cases, which have no constitutional deadlines, might simply have to be held off.
    That’s not yet happened, but dockets for judges have become so crowded that criminal cases are barely meeting some of the speedy trial mandates.


4/15/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. Shorter Work Hours Could Create Jobs, Study Shows, The Chosunilbo via english.chosun.com
    SEOUL, S.Korea - Shortening work hours could have the effect of creating up to 150,000 jobs over the next six to seven years, according to a study by the Labor Ministry.
    [And that's conservative when you see the level of hours and number of exemptions they're talking about. I'm beginning to understand what happened to their 2004-2011 workweek reduction from 44 to 40 in seven steps by company size, larger to smaller.]
    The ministry studied 23 companies to find out the most effective way of creating jobs.
    The most jobs would be created by shortening weekly working hours from 68 to 52 and limiting the kinds of business that can extend working hours beyond the legal limit from 26 categories to 10.
    A ministry official said, "Some 18,500 jobs can be created in the first year of cutting working hours and up to 150,000 in six or seven years."
    By contrast, leaving working hours as they are would lead to just 13,700 new jobs being created in the first year.

  2. Guardian sustainable business: Bold bets - For some startup employees, less time spent at work is more, by Alison Moodie, Manchester [UK] Guardian via theguardian.com
    An unconventional group of small companies is putting the ‘life’ back into work-life balance with a 30-hour work week. They say employees are as productive as ever. (summary)
    Workers can punch in less than 40 hours a week and actually increase productivity, some US startups claim. (photo caption)
    LOS ANGELES, Calif., USA - Working at a startup is a bit like being a medical student – you clock in long hours, abandon your social life and dedicate yourself with single-mindedness to surviving those first few painful years. That’s how a lot of startups succeed. But maybe there’s another path.
    Eschewing the traditional model of the 80-hour or even 100-hour work week, a new renegade crop of companies is turning the idea of work-life balance on its head. A small but growing number of these businesses across America are challenging the conventional wisdom that slavish dedication to long hours is required for entrepreneurial success.
    Borrowing from the French work model, technology startups from Silicon Valley to New Jersey are implementing shorter but more intensive and, perhaps, more efficient work weeks in an effort to increase productivity and permit their employees to establish a better work-life balance, while meeting the needs of demanding customers.
    “The sheer amount of work we complete is astounding,” said Sonja Rasula, the founder and CEO of UniqueLA, a large market selling local goods. She’s a staunch advocate of the four-day work week. “My employees are well-rested and actively enjoy ‘time off,’ which results in higher productivity during those four workdays and an increased happiness level.”
    Rasula’s employees clock eight hours a day, Monday through Thursday. Fridays are reserved for leisure and personal time, which Rasula believes makes her employees perform better. “My staff are ‘out there’ more, like going to museums, reading books, seeing movies, eating at new restaurants, which means we actually know what is happening in the streets to understand and predict trends long before the masses know about them.”
    A recent study from the Families and Work Institute found that flexibility in when and where employees work is on the rise, particularly in small companies, defined as employing between 55 and 99 people. Small companies were more likely than large companies (1000 or more employees) to offer their workers more flexible hours, the study found.
    Proponents of a shorter work week say it makes intuitive as well as business sense. Employers report their employees are more dedicated when they’re on the job because they value the extra time that they have off to pursue other interests.
    Matthew Davis, vice president and operations manager at RevPart, a rapid prototyping manufacturer for plastic parts, was wary at first about offering employees fewer hours. But the company hired someone for a test run of the 30-hour week, offering her the same health care and other benefits given to staff members who work 40 hours.
    To his surprise, Davis said: “Something really great happened – she is so productive we cannot get her enough work.”
    Most countries have shorter work weeks than the US, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. Twenty-two of its 34 member countries work fewer than 40 hours per week. According to a 2014 Gallup poll, half of all US full-time employees say they work more than 40 hours a week, while nearly four in 10 say they clock in more than 50 hours.
    The notion of a shorter work week isn’t new, and in fact was seen as the ideal before the middle part of the 20th century, says Benjamin Hunnicutt, a professor of leisure studies at the University of Iowa and the author of Free Time: the Forgotten American Dream. The more that technology and industry advanced, conventional wisdom went, it would be possible to work less. And indeed, after the Great Depression, working hours did generally decrease.
    Hunnicutt argues that in recent years a fetish of work for work’s sake has overtaken the 19th-century hope of work being a means to an end. Hunnicutt says Americans have a “religion of work, a modern fetish, work for more work, wealth for more wealth”.
    Interestingly, though, extra desk time doesn’t always translate to more work product. According to a recent study from Stanford University, productivity typically drops after 50 hours of work, and someone who works 70 hours gets no more done than one who works 55 hours.
    “In our experience, the shortening of the work week has increased our productivity and morale within our small company,” said Greg Chan, founder of the Hydro Carbon Group, a six-person startup based in Utah.
    When Chan founded the company in 2012, he and his colleagues regularly put in 60 to 80 hours a week, including Saturdays, but found they weren’t getting as much accomplished as they would have liked. In fact, it was quite the opposite. “People were working more hours and thus spreading their workload over those hours, reducing productivity,” Chan said. “Morale went down.”
    Not everybody agrees with the 30-hour week. Angelo Kinicki, a professor at the WP Carey School of Business at Arizona State University and an expert in organizational culture, says a shorter week is an unrealistic model for a startup because of the sheer amount of work that needs to get done. “While working long hours can erode job satisfaction, the thrill of working in a startup can typically overcome any negativity associated with work hours,” he said.
    On the other hand, some startups go a step further by offering “total flexibility,” says Tomar Galzberg, a self-described “growth hacking consultant” who helps startups and small businesses attract more customers.
    “One of my contracts is at a startup with no restrictions on work hours,” he said. “They have staff that work 9 to 5, and staff that work remotely from home, in transit and internationally, with no questions asked.”
    Some work cultures, in the meantime, evolve as startups grow. When Koby Kasnett founded e-commerce repricer Appeagle three years ago, a shorter work week wasn’t a priority. But Kasnett soon realized his 22 employees needed more work-life balance, so he implemented a policy of half-day Fridays every week.
    Employee satisfaction and productivity – at least on Fridays – shot up, he said. “We believe in autonomy. Someone doesn’t need to put in 80-plus hours a week in the office to prove they’re doing their job."


4/14/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. Aldi's bid to change the 38-hour work week, 3AW.com.au
    The discount retailer is hoping to change the standard work week. (photo caption)
    [The good news is that their current standard workweek is shorter than 40 and that this union, for one, is focused on labor's power issue, workweek length: longer, less power; shorter, more power.]
    CANBERRA, A.C.T., Australia - A union head has slammed Aldi's push to make its workers work longer.
    The discount supermarket chain is arguing for enhanced legal powers to allow employees to work more than a 38-hour work week.
    [Oh yeah, employees want so badly to be "allowed" to work longer hours. Always this bogus focus on workers' "right" to work longer hours, boost labor surplus, and ease upward pressure on pay - nevermind the weaker consumer base that results. Hopefully the head office in Germany will give the Australian boss a good gobsmack, because the number 38 sounds like the standard workweek in the unionized sector of eastern Germany - while the unionized sector of western Germany was down at 35. (Don't tell 35-heure-basher Merkel!) ]
    Aldi has made a submission to the Productivity Commission calling for the legislation to be changed.
    [Productivity without marketability is meaningless, and more we reraise the workweek in the robotics age, the more we weaken wages, defund our consumers and weaken our markets.]
    Tony Sheldon, National Secretary of the Transport Workers Union, said on 3AW Mornings [TV/radio show?] employees would be much worse off.
    "Everyone loses out except Aldi," he told Brett McLeod.
    Mr Sheldon said Aldi is a very profitable company and turns over $6 billion a year.
    "The real question is we need to get the balance right," he said.
    "Aldi wants the balance completely one sided in their favour."
    [Hopefully Ostdeutsch Aldi ain't as "short sided" as Aussie Aldi.]

  2. Private school students have no academic edge over students in the public system, study finds, by Nick Grimm & David Taylor, ABC.net.au
    ST. LUCIA, Qld., Australia - Australian researchers have confirmed a growing body of international research that finds the high cost of private school education does not give students an academic edge over their public school counterparts.
    The study, which has been published in the Australian Journal of Labour Economics, found that once the more privileged backgrounds of private school students are taken into account, they fare no better in the education system than other children.
    The research from the University of Queensland, the University of Southern Queensland and Curtin University examined the vexed issue facing many parents when choosing between a public or private education for their children.
    Co-author of the study, Professor Luke Connelly, said primary students do just as well academically in either system.
    "We're looking at primary school kids here, these are kids in years three and five," he said.
    "And so this is the first study of its kind for Australia that shows at this young age that there are no differences between Catholic, independent and public schools.
    "There's actually some poorer outcomes for kids at Catholic schools interestingly. That's also been mirrored in the international literature. There are some slighter poorer outcomes.
    "An exception for kids in Catholic school is that some of the behavioural issues that we also look at, including in this case peer to peer relationships, the performance seems slightly better for Catholic school kids.
    "But other than that, we don't actually see any appreciable differences in academic performance."
    Parents paying for choice, not advantage: association
    Some in the independent education sector dismissed the research while others argued the research took an "overly simplistic" view.
    Yvonne Luxford, executive director of the Independent [ie: private] Schools Council of Australia, questioned the results.
    [Of course!]
    "Even the preschool testing that they did in the paper, it shows that on the raw results there, the children in independent schools did score higher," she said.
    Ron Gorman from the Association of Independent Schools of Western Australia said one survey that looked at academic merit did not go far enough.
    "When looking at results, it can be an overly simplistic view of what constitutes success because the measures are actually quite narrow," he said.
    David Robertson from the Queensland Independent Schools Association said the choice to send your child to a private school was centred on the individual needs of the child and not primarily academic results.
    "The reason they make that sacrifice is they believe what those independent schools provide, in educational opportunities and educational programs, is what is in the best interests of their child," he said.
    Mr Robertson said parents of private school students were not paying to give their children an advantage but rather the "right" education.
    "That money is parental contribution. That is what parents contribute to the costs of schooling," he said.
    "Well they're paying to get an education they think is right for their child - that's the point."
    Socio-economic backgrounds also a factor in performance
    The choice between public and private education may not make a difference to child performance but other factors like baby birth weight and who their parents are, is crucial.
    Children with a birth weight of less than 2.5 kilograms achieve significantly lower test scores later in life, particularly in grammar and numeracy.
    Professor Connelly said the study found other factors that contribute to classroom performance. "The other things that matter are the level of education of the parents, the number of books in the home, also the area - the residential neighbourhood and its characteristics - the household income, and interestingly enough as well the working hours of the mother," he said.
    "So as working hours increased for the mother, some of these test scores also decline a bit.
    "And I guess that latter result really just shows some of the importance of the parental time input in relation to kids' success at school as well."

    Meanwhile the working hours of fathers had no impact.
    "We didn't find any similar result for the males' working hours and that's an interesting point of difference," Professor Connelly said.
    The research also finds poorer results for school children from Indigenous backgrounds and those whose parents had not completed Year 12 at school themselves.


4/12-13/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. You know what rusts my anchor? The 40-hour work week, by Victor Martelle, 4/13 R.I.College Anchor via TheAnchorOnline.org
    PROVIDENCE, R.I., USA - "What? You have to!” my mother said to me. I was sitting down eating dinner with her and we were on the conversation of what my plan was for work in the future. I mentioned a few types of jobs, and said that I could never work forty or more hours a week, it’s too much. As soon as I said that, she looked at me like I was nuts.
    Like most people I know, I come from a family of hard-working, lower and middle class individuals. I watch every day as my parents work eight to ten hours a day, usually including the weekends, only to come home to quickly do house duties, head to bed, and repeat it the next day.
    Call me crazy, but isn’t working for over 90 percent of your waking time insane? Aside from the small number of people who enjoy their job, when was the last time you actually got to live and appreciate life, or even got the chance to spend quality time with your kids, partner or friends? For most people reading, it has probably been some time.
    The economy sucks, I know. Hard work and long hours may give a slight chance of moving up in this rat race. Nonetheless, I think this shows just how badly our system of work is screwed up. To give a brief history: The eight hour per day of work has its origins from the industrial revolution, where it seemed balanced to have eight hours of work, eight hours of recreation, and eight hours of sleep per day. If only this was actually true!
    Unfortunately, for many, it may be necessary to work long hours to sustain their lifestyle. What I do notice, however, is that it’s common to think that you have to work forty hours per week, otherwise you won’t move up or be able to save for retirement, or maybe you’ll struggle with money. I say to this: Thanks for proving my point. This system sucks! I’d rather genuinely enjoy life; spend more time with my family and friends than slave over a desk for eight plus hours a day while a boss glares over me. Research has been hinting that people are more productive and concentrated on tasks when working shorter work days. It’s less stressful and may even help you live longer. So, if you have the ability to cut a few work hours to enjoy life, then give it a try!
    Victor Martelle has been with The Anchor for the past two years. As opinions editor, Victor is responsible for leading a team of writers in providing thought-provoking articles about national, local, and campus events.

  2. Company going onto work sharing program - Nervous about the future and could use some insight and advice, by specimenyarp, 4/12 Reddit Personal Finance Canada via reddit.com
    [Here's a long-awaited posting on the federal worksharing program in Canada [scan past US states & down to 10th economy], with emphasis on employee impact.]
    CALGARY, Alta., Canada - As my title [=headline] says, my company has just announced that they are implementing Service Canada's work sharing program. We are an engineering company that specializes in oil & gas in Calgary, and I can't say I'm completely shocked, though all we've heard the past couple months is that prospects for new work were good and we were still busy with other projects, so this news was pretty upsetting as it seems they've been suddenly put on hold. We are going to a 3 day work week and the other 2 days I will be receiving EI payments [employment insurance] as if I had been laid off. I have a lot of questions about what this means for my financial situation and how to best deal with this.
    I'm 25 years old and an engineering technologist. I have 5 years of very good experience with a lot of work exposure within oil and gas but also exposed to water treatment and chemicals manufacturing as well.
    My finances are currently as follows
    - 70k annual salary
    -No debt
    - 80k in savings account, ~5k in checking account
    -3 months into new lease on a 1 bedroom for 1400/month everything included but electricity (~40 month) Just moved out of my parents house
    [So that's how he saved so much money!]
    -Gas 150
    -Cell 60
    -Insurance 200
    -Groceries 400
    Total monthly cost to live is approx. 2250, give or take as a bare minimum.
    -Own a 2011 car no payments worth approx 22k
    My questions are:
    Has anyone else had this experience before? Did the company eventually recover to normal operation? Should I be looking for a new job in this volatile economy? They say they are optimistic that this will last only a few months, but no one knows what the price of oil will do, or if they can pick up work in another industry.
    What should I do financially? What does my reduced workload salary plus EI look like?
    Stand pat and live as cheaply as possible? Make the call to cancel my lease and move back with parents to save?
    Any advice will be greatly appreciated, my head is spinning from this bad news. There are a lot of people in worse shape than myself in Calgary and I'm grateful for what I currently have, though it has quickly become a source of stress.
    all 23 comments
    sorted by: best
    [permalinkparent]
    [–]aughhhhh 10 points 2 days ago
    Your cost of living is less than half your after-tax wages. So they can cut your work in half, not pay UIC and you can still pay your expenses. The oil price tanked a long time ago now [& has stayed tanked]. If anyone was telling you 'no problem' a month ago, your common sense should have told you otherwise. No business is going to tell their staff before they absolutely have to that 'Houston we have a problem'. That is just the way a business is run.
    permalink [–]specimenyarp 1 point 2 days ago
    This is true, but the way I see it you can't put your life on hold because of maybes. We did have a fair bit going on in the past few months, and I've even been working on preliminary stuff for jobs that were looking like a go and are now on hold. Hopefully we can just ride this thing out okay
    permalinkparent
    [–]skeetlodge 7 points 2 days ago
    "my head is spinning from this bad news"
    First of all, I would try not to stress yourself out about it. Focus on the things you can control and try not to worry about the things you cant. You can control your savings rate, your discretionary purchases (electronics, toys, trips, etc), and your employability (polish the resume, network, etc). You have no control over whether the company goes under or they let you go, and no amount of worrying is going to change that... so try not to worry (easier said than done, I know).
    "Stand pat and live as cheaply as possible? Make the call to cancel my lease and move back with parents to save?"
    You already have pretty substantial savings (~3 years of expenses), but if that would make you feel better it's worth considering. Or at least talk to them [parents] and keep it open as an option if you do end up losing your job. That's a pretty big lifestyle change too though, so maybe just focus on minimizing expenses for now. I'm in tech, not O&G, but several years back after an acquisition and multiple rounds of layoffs I was sure it was just a matter of time before I got the axe. I totally stressed myself out over it, but when the dust settled I was fine, and ended up leaving on my own terms a year or so later. I know it's not really the same situation as what's going on now in Calgary, but my point is you don't know what's going to happen, so spending too much time focusing on the worst possible outcome is not particularly useful. And like you said, could always be worse. You have massive savings, no major liabilities and what sounds like a good safety net (parents). Now, if you were the sole income earner in a house that you had <10% equity in, no savings, two kids, and your monthly expenses were 95% of your current salary... that would be a time to be freaking out. Though oddly I've noticed people who get in to those kind of situations don't seem to worry much about things.
    permalink [–]specimenyarp 1 point 2 days ago
    Thank you so much for the awesome response, it has already calmed me a bit. I usually don't stress myself ever, especially about things out of my control, but this hit me hard. I just started living independently of my parents and life was grand and now BAM, my budget and job that I'd worked so hard for the past 5 years to build seemed to crumble. You are completely reassuring what is in the back of my mind, and that's the fact that I have nothing to worry about. Worst case I go a few months, get laid off, can't find work and move back home for a bit to try and reload. Thank you.
    permalinkparent
    [–]Ikeren 3 points 2 days ago
    I didn't know about that program, that's cool.
    [=Confirmation of suspected inadequate publicity for Canada's federal worksharing programme.]
    Good on your company for d[o]ing that rather than laying everyone off.
    [Absoverylutely! Better worksharing than workforce slashing, timesizing than downsizing!]
    Maxed out EI payments is around ~1400$/month (17000/yr). Assuming you're getting flat 3/5ths salary and 2/5ths EI, that's a salary reduction to ~49000$ --- plenty for you to live on, even after taxes and such. But ask your HR department [human resources/personnel] for actual numbers, as best they can generate them. Keep working with them, decide if you want to look for another job/more work.
    permalink [–]specimenyarp 2 points 2 days ago
    Yes I think it's good that they [the company] are doing this, and leaving layoffs as an absolute last resort. They had it implemented in the 2008 downturn as well, and they were just getting off it before I got hired there. My plan is to ride it out as long as possible with them, they have treated me really well over the 5 years I've worked with them and I hope they will continue to show me the same kind of loyalty which is so hard to find these days. As for the numbers, I'm very happy as long as I don't have to dunk into my savings. Thank you for the response
    permalink [–]Ikeren 1 point 2 days ago
    You should be good. Also, there are probably some ways to clean up your budget a bit if things start going wrong (like Gas: 150$ --- are you going to spend as much on gas if you don't drive into work 2 days a week? Maybe take the time to get an old cheap bike, learn to fix it up, and cycle some errands instead, cheaper cell bill, etc)
    permalink [–]specimenyarp 1 point 2 days ago
    I don't know about the gas, though i think it will save some. Though I do intend on spending the extra time I have on my hobbies, such as fishing which will also use some of that gas, but keep my psyche healthy! Cell bill could probably be cut in half if I get rid of my data plan, but it isn't significant to worry about right yet in my opinion.
    permalink [–]Ikeren 1 point 2 days ago
    Yeah, see how the actual numbers break down first. I suspect you'll be fine.
    permalinkparent
    [–]fourgoals 2 points 2 days ago
    yes, do whatever you can to cut your expenses. Money saved in your bank account is better than money spent.
    [Maybe on the micro level, but on the macro level it's the massive black hole of money stored in the financial sector and the topmost tiny population that's killing the circulation of the money supply and the whole body economic.]
    And yes, start looking for work, not just in Calgary but across Canada and, if you're interested, internationally. All the best!
    permalink
    [–]specimenyarp 1 point 2 days ago
    I've toyed with the idea of moving to either saskatchewan or bc to try out potash mining or the pulp and paper industry in BC as my skill set should transfer over decently well if there is no work in Calgary whatsoever for an extended period of time. Have you heard anything about this? It will be an absolute last resort as I do not want to leave calgary.
    permalink [–]fourgoals 1 point 2 days ago
    how do your expenses change if you move back in with your parents?
    permalink [–]specimenyarp 2 points 2 days ago
    No Rent payment of 1400/month. But this would take a huge dump on my social life though. [Touché!] Not going to consider until the end of this lease and only if I lost my job I think.
    permalink [–]fourgoals 1 point 2 days ago
    fair enough. Have you looked at future education as a backup strategy to invest in your future in case employment opportunities appear challenging?
    [ah, the ol' education makework program - realm of modern makework #4!]
    permalink [–]specimenyarp 1 point 2 days ago
    I've been looking at doing some night school courses to expand my knowledge on code books and specific equipment use and design. This is definitely something I am going to do anyhow, now I just have a bit of extra time to be able to put some proper focus on it. I don't think I'd consider going back to school full time though, at least not yet as I've been really happy with my career path thus far.
    permalinkparent
    [–]DreamMeUpScotty 2 points 2 days ago
    So the good news: your company's managers had a meeting and decided that instead of laying off 40% of people, they're going to cut your work by 40%. This means they're expecting the situation to turn around and want to retain their skilled employees. Take this for what it's worth. Lots of companies lost a huge chunk of skilled employees in 2009 when oil tanked - they don't want that to happen again. Which leads me to another point - this has happened before. There is no guarantee that it will recover, but it has before. Again, FWIW [for what it's worth]. Take a deep breath and realize that this risk is exactly why you're making $70k at 25 after doing a 2 year diploma - that's risk pay. I was recently told by some family friends who've worked in Calgary in O+G [oil+gas] for 30 years that you should assume you'll get laid off 1 year in every 5. Budget accordingly. As to what you should do financially, here's a thread about that from a month ago.
    http://www.reddit.com/r/PersonalFinanceCanada/comments/2xtcby/hypothetical_situation_oil_and_gas_engineer_faced/
    People's opinions were pretty split. As a technologist, what are your options for getting out of the office and into the field? Many of my engineer friends are doing that - projects already in place are still running. You've got a good chunk saved. If you're really nervous about it, you could always break your lease and move back with your parents. I wouldn't do that yet though. I'd recommend waiting it out while trying to cut your expenses as much as possible. Plan that you're going to get laid off next month. Be prepared to take a shittier job for a year or so if you do get laid off. Are there any qualifications you can work on getting to make yourself more valuable? Good luck :)
    PS: you've got a lot in savings. If you get laid off, get rid of your apartment and go travel for a year. Spend a lot of time in cheap places (SE Asia, Central America, eastern Europe, Portugal). You'll never get such a good chance again - make lemonade [ref.to saying: "If life gives you a lemon (sour), make lemonade"].
    permalink [–]specimenyarp 1 point 1 day ago
    Yes my normal salary is decent, however it is still competitive [ie: comparable] with friends who have 2 year diplomas in other industries. So it isn't high for the oil industry. My plan is to just wait it out, and maybe if there is no work and I've been laid off I will move back home at or near the end of my lease. If I do get laid off and the job prospects are still bleak, my plan is definitely to do some traveling. I've always kind of wanted to get a longer trip or two in and that would be a good time to do it. Thanks for the response
    permalink [–]DreamMeUpScotty 1 point 1 day ago
    For comparison, architectural technologists make 40k in calgary. You re[ally]doing quite well.
    permalink [–]specimenyarp 1 point 1 day ago
    Yes that would be a starting salary for an architectural tech, which is still good. I'm fortunate to be where I am, but I also know that compared with other engineering techs such as people in distribution etc. it's a competitive [ie: comparable] salary.
    permalinkparent
    [–]AlbertaCalGuy81 2 points 2 days ago
    Oil and Gas is feast or famine, so you need to be prepared for these rough times. I was in O&G up until a couple of years ago, and our company tended towards massive layoffs. We did have one period in 2008/2009 where they had everyone taking every other Friday a[s] an unpaid day off, as well as anyone making over $100,000/year took a 10% paycut. We were back to a normal schedule within a year, but wages were frozen for a few years - though when they did unfreeze the wages everyone got an across-the-board increase to make it up.
    [Sounds like a company that despite the layoffs was really trying...]
    permalink [–]specimenyarp 2 points 2 days ago
    What did you change your career too? I'm curious as to what other industries one with good oil and gas design experience can transfer to. I know there are plenty of opportunities out there in other industrial type fields, but not sure what.
    permalink [–]AlbertaCalGuy81 3 points 2 days ago
    I'm in the power transmission/distribution sector now, but that's slowing down as well - and I'm in project controls which is more transferable across industries.
    [Well-skilled AmCan employees, wriggling on the hook of an obsolete economic-core design! and a solution is soooo obvious and easy. There are of course difficulties but they are The Right difficulties that resolve in something immediately sustainable and permanently sustainable because it is upgradable.]


4/11/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. Jobs saved in meatworks miracle: JBS defies odds to re-open, TheMorningBulletin.com.au
    Glad to be back: JBS employees Reginaldo Elias and Lee Dodd are relieved to be back at work this week after a seven-week break following Cyclone Marcia. (photo caption)
    [Here's a new category of "timesizing not downsizing" = the de-facto disaster-response furlough! -] ROCKHAMPTON, QLD., Australia - When Brian Codd first saw the damage that Cyclone Marcia caused to Rockhampton's JBS facility, there was "no way in the world" he expected them to be open seven weeks later.
    But less than two months later the processing facility has enjoyed its first week of operation, and is back to full production.
    Yesterday Mr Codd, the state disaster recovery co-ordinator for Cyclone Marcia, was part of a meeting at the facility to discuss the re-opening with the JBS management team.
    "I've been thoroughly impressed by what JBS has been able to do in just a short amount of time after the devastation they experienced to where they are today, back to full production," he said.
    "After I saw the initial damage to this place, particularly when you consider the health and safety aspects of the asbestos damage, no way in the world (did I expect them to open so soon)."
    JBS Rockhampton plant manager Bill Sauer said morale was high this week, with everyone relieved to be back at work.
    At the moment they're sharing the site with contractors who are still working to finish the extensive repairs needed, which Mr Sauer said could take two to three months.
    The main buildings have been repaired but there are still some no-go zones.
    Mr Sauer said basically every building had needed a new roof, and some structures had to be refitted to get back up to code.
    Livingstone Mayor Bill Ludwig also joined the management meeting.
    "This one facility produces $34 million in wages alone," he said.
    "The knock-on effects that the closure has had from the primary producers through to the transporters and all the other sub-contractors has been phenomenal.
    "I've got to commend JBS in the way they've looked after their staff and the way that they were able to get this plant back up and running so quickly after the initial projections were saying it could be six months."
    JBS HR manager Christie Horstman said employees were their first priority.
    "It was about hitting the ground running and giving them some confidence that JBS was always going to be here and back up and running as quick as we could," she said. "We needed to keep our employees informed, because what we didn't want to do after the disaster was come back and have no one here to process beef." There were only 27 employees of the 530 staff who found new work and didn't return after the site re-opened.

  2. Shumlin Administration Presses for Workforce Savings, SevenDaysVT.com
    MONTPELIER, Ver., USA - Some high-earning state employees would likely get little or no pay raise next year — a move that the Shumlin administration proposed this week to obtain $2 million in personnel savings. The move would affect nonunion appointed employees, especially those making more than $100,000.
    That was a sign of progress in the governor's search for $10.8 million in personnel savings to balance next year's budget. But as for the other $8.8 million?
    The administration made a new push Thursday, asking the state employees’ union to agree to furloughs, wage freezes and other changes.
    [Better furloughs than firings!]
    Keep looking elsewhere, said Steve Howard, executive director of the Vermont State Employees' Association. “We’ve been very, very clear. We’re not opening the contract," he said. "I don’t know how many more times we can say it. The support is just not there.”
    In discussions Thursday with the VSEA, Administration Secretary Justin Johnson laid out the $2 million he can cut from nonunion — or “exempt” — personnel. Pay raises for exempt employees would be limited, mileage reimbursement rates cut in half and vacant positions would not be filled.
    “That’s encouraging,” said Howard, who's been negotiating with the administration over cuts Gov. Peter Shumlin proposed in January.
    But on Thursday afternoon, Johnson sent the union a memo listing options for finding the remaining $8.8 million. Among the suggestions were five unpaid furlough days, a six-month delay in a scheduled 2.5 percent cost-of-living salary increase and a 50 percent reduction in mileage reimbursement rates for employees who don't use state vehicles, if they are available.
    Howard called the proposal an unwelcome surprise. “I thought we were making progress,” he said. “Yesterday’s memo wasn’t helpful.”
    The union has made a series of suggestions, Howard said, which have included reducing “massive growth” in the number of exempt employees, temporary employees and contracted workers. “We think there are opportunities to find savings there,” Howard said.
    Johnson said the governor believes the bulk of state employees have to be part of the savings too. “The challenge at this point is the union is pretty comfortable at telling me things I can do to nonunion members,” Johnson said.
    Johnson said cutting contract workers sounds good at first blush, but the increase in contracts came largely because of rebuilding from Tropical Storm Irene. The $94 million state office building project in Waterbury can’t be completed with existing state employees, he said, but also can’t be halted just to balance the budget this year.
    The union also proposed offering retirement incentives, which it estimates would save $3 million. Johnson said he has yet to figure out whether that would save any money. Savings in salaries could be offset by a hit to the retirement fund, he said. “We’re still looking at it,” Johnson said. “I’m hopeful we can get some savings from that.”
    Saturday, the union plans a Fight Back Rally outside the Statehouse. The union and administration plan to continue their talks next week.
    Terri Hallenbeck is a Seven Days staff writer covering politics, the Legislature and state issues.


4/10/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. MAN ends its short-time work, by Mox/DP/jha, (4/09 late pickup) Reuters via Frankfurter Allgemeinde via faz.net
    [Machine translation by translate.google.ca & cleanup by PH.]
    MUNICH, Germany - Thanks to improved orders, the truck manufacturer MAN (MAN.ETR) can forego short-time work at its production plants from next week on.
    After the Steyr and Salzgitter plants, then short-time work will also end at the Munich plant,
    a company spokesman said Thursday, confirming a report in the "Handelsblatt" (Friday).
    Altogether 6900 employees were repeatedly affected in the three plants since last October.
    MAN has had to log a significant business setback in the trucking business in the past year.

  2. Jobless rate drops despite franc decision, swissinfo.ch
    BERN, Switzerland - The Swiss unemployment rate dropped slightly in March, suggesting that as yet there has been little impact on the economy from the shock decision by the Swiss National Bank to scrap the cap on the value of the Swiss franc against the euro.
    The cap move, announced on January 15, caused the franc to surge against the euro and dollar and had repercussions for the both the Swiss and global financial system. For exporters and the tourism industry in Switzerland, the move led in the aftermath to a near 18% rise in the franc against the euro.
    On Friday, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) said that the Swiss jobless rate had fallen by 0.1% in March compared with February to 3.4%. Oliver Schärli, head of the labour market section at SECO, said that the often cited “appreciation shock” after the fall of the cap had not affected unemployment in March and that the Swiss job market was robust.
    The fact that the number of people out of a job fell in this month by 4,813 to 145,108 was down to the normal seasonal change: for example more jobs became available in the building industry.
    Less positive, said Schärli, was the comparison with March 2014. This year’s rate for March was 0.1% higher than last year’s. Higher jobless rates could be seen especially in the export industry and also in the building sector.
    Patience needed
    A signal that the jobless situation could worsen in Switzerland is to be found in the [lessening?] number of vacant positions: although there was a small change on last month, there was a 4,500 difference on March 2014.
    Short-time working also showed a change. Compared with December 2014, 26% more Swiss firms had started using more short-time working, the figures showed. Nevertheless, experts say figures were higher during the economic crisis in 2009.
    Schärli concluded that patience would be needed to see the far-reaching effects of the cap decision, as job figures typically needed a few months to catch up with events. SECO predicts that mid-2015 will give a clearer picture. But it is sticking to its calculations of a slightly higher jobless rate this and next year.
    The Swiss rate nevertheless remains low compared with its neighbours: 10.6% for France (February); Germany 4.8% and Italy 12.7%.

  3. Private sector employees want reduced working hours, (4/11 early pickup) ArabNews.com
    JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia - Seventy-nine percent of private sector employees have asked that working hours be reduced to between 35 and 40 hours instead of the current 48 hours per week, according to a survey conducted by the National Center of Dialogue.
    Surprisingly, some 21 percent of the employees asked for an increase in working hours on the grounds that the current working hours are not sufficient to accomplish the required work, the report, carried by a local daily, said.
    [Ever heard of better management and job-description adjustment?]
    On the other hand, 83 percent of the employees asked for two days off whereas 13 percent asked for one day off for their weekends, the survey said.
    The survey was originally meant to explore opinions of private sector employees over working hours. The opinion poll comprised 64 percent males and 36 percent females, of which 89 percent were Saudis. Samples of the survey were collected from 13 regions of the Kingdom.
    Some 36.7 percent of respondents said working hours from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. (seven hours) are ideal, whereas 15 percent and 48 percent of the respondents supported eight- and nine-hour work shifts respectively, the survey found.
    According to the latest data released by the Ministry of Labor, the number of employees in private sector companies stood at 6.2 million, of which 829,000 were Saudis, or 13.3 percent of the total work force.


4/09/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. Alstom furloughs 38 employees, by Jason Jordan, (4/08 late pickup) EveningTribune.com
    HORNELL, N.Y., USA — Just as Alstom in Hornell seemed to be rebounding, promising a continuation of a recent stretch of hiring through 2015, the rail transit company announced Wednesday that it will temporarily furlough 38 employees.
    The decision was made due to "a short-term decline in workflow at the plant", according to a statement issued by the company.
    [Better furloughs than firings, timesizings than downsizings.]
    When confronted last week about the looming furlough, company officials denied that it was being considered. "We do not comment on rumors," said Alstom Communications Manager Fallon McLaughlin.
    The furlough comes just one day before Alstom in Hornell is set to host a national event celebrating "Stand Up for Transit" day. High company officials including Alstom North America President Jerome Wallut and a number of city officials are expected to be in attendance.
    The furlough is expected to end in four to six weeks. Some employees may be assigned to projects at other Alstom facilities in the meantime.

  2. Q&A: When Does the Administrative Workweek Begin? posted by Wayne Coleman, FedSmith via blogs.fedsmith.com
    [The real question is, when does the "full time" workweek begin and end? If we protect the Frozen Forty (40hrs/wk) by sacrificing employees and associated consumers with every new technology, we'll never have a real recovery. But at least we'll get the administrative workweek straightened out -]
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Q: First, your article on Sunday premium pay answered a number of questions. However, it raises a question that is always cropping up and for which I always receive different answers. When does the regularly scheduled work week begin? Is it always on a Sunday or is it Monday? What if you are scheduled to start work at 0800 hrs on Monday and your supervisor changes your schedule at 0745 hrs on Monday morning? Does that meet the definition of having your scheduled changed before your regularly scheduled work week was to begin? What if he or she did it on Sunday morning or Saturday night? Also, what about a person who works Tuesday through Saturday instead of Monday through Friday, when does their regularly scheduled work week begin? Is it Tuesday morning or is it Sunday?
    A: Thanks for the question. Perhaps if we define a couple of terms first, the answer to your question will make a little more sense. First is the administrative workweek, which is defined as any period of 7 consecutive 24 hour periods designated in advance by the head of the agency. In most Federal agencies the administrative workweek has been designated as Sunday through Saturday.
    The second is basic workweek that is defined, for a full time employee, as the 40 hour workweek typically established on 5 days of 8 hours each unless one is either on a compressed or on a flexible work schedule. And third is the regularly scheduled administrative workweek that is defined, for a fulltime employee, as the time within an administrative workweek the employee has been scheduled to be at work; this includes the 40 hour basic workweek and any regularly scheduled overtime. See 5 C.F.R. § 610.102 for these definitions.
    So to answer your question, the administrative workweek in most Federal agencies begins at 0001 Sunday morning and ends at 2400 Saturday night. I’m not sure if your agency has chosen to do so, but whatever the agency director has determined, the administrative workweek will always begin at the same time for all employees in your agency. And this probably is early Sunday morning. This means that if your supervisor before Sunday morning sets your basic workweek as 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with 1/2 hour for meal break on Monday through Friday with two hours of overtime on Tuesday and Thursday starting at 4:30 p.m., then all that time is regularly scheduled.
    However, if on Monday morning the supervisor says, “Oh, by the way, I also need you to work two hours additional on Wednesday and Friday starting at 4:30 p.m.” then that time is not regularly scheduled, but is irregular or occasional overtime because it is added to your regularly scheduled administrative workweek after it began. The actual days of each administrative workweek on which you are scheduled to work, for example, Tuesday through Saturday, do not change the day on which the administrative workweek begins.
    About the Author - Wayne Coleman is a senior consultant with Dennis Hermann & Associations, a veteran owned small business with a cadre of seasoned and proven trainers and consultants with a passion for helping agencies build expertise in premium pay, labor relations, performance management and related human resources areas. Wayne is available to help your agency avoid premium pay claims through training at your agency. Contact him for more information.


4/08/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. Appeal for flexible working hours - A mum-of-two who runs an accountants in Backwell is calling for more businesses to offer flexible working hours to enable parents to go back to work, NorthSomersetTImes.co.uk
    BACKWELL, Som., UK - Della Hudson set up her own firm after having children as she was unable to find a company which would offer flexitime.
    Hudson Accountants, in West Town Road, is now manned by a team of four* and Della is keen to promote flexible working hours.
    Della, aged 46, said: “I didn’t want to be a stay-at-home-mum, but there were no jobs which offered the flexibility needed to spend time with my children and have a fulfilling career.
    “I often see mothers at the school gates who are unable to work in their chosen fields because they cannot carry out 9 to 5 jobs and flexible working hours simply aren’t available.
    [So does 'flexible working hours' include shorter working hours? Because if not, the additional jobseekers are going to drive down wages. Shorter hours and vigorous conversion of chronic overtime into reskilling and hiring is becoming an increasingly urgent System Requirement in the age of robotics and A.I. We just can't go on responding to more productive technology by downsizing the workforce instead of the workweek, and ending up with fewer & fewer consumers for all the extra productivity the robots are churning out. We must move on from emergency short time working, alias Kurz-arbeit in the successful German version, to permanently sustainable timesizing(dotcom) - this is no longer a lahdeedah lifestyle option but a Kant-style Categorical Imperative if we want to shift from our current dangerous entropy dump of megamoney to minipopulation, to a safe entropy dump of more financially secure Free Time for everyone. But doesn't "the Devil find work for idle hands to do"? Only if they're poor and starving. If they've got good jobs, however short the workweek, the leisure industry finds work for idle hands to do. But if you cut hours, don't you cut pay? Not if you do it systemically so that cutting the wage-depressing labour surplus harnesses market forces in maintaining and even raising pay, regardless of reduced workhours. "Impractical!"? Check your economic history. We DID it successfully for over 100 years: USA 1840 workweeks over 80 hrs, pay in the toilet. USA 1940 workweek 40 hours, better pay due to fewer anxious jobseekers, even though Lend Lease (to help you Brits) didn't start till 1941.]
    “I think this is such a shame and companies are missing out on great talent. I think it would be in the interest of all parties if small to middle-sized companies offered adjustable hours.”
    Last year, workers were given the right [by Parliament?] to ask for flexible hours, but few positions are actively advertised as flexible.
    Della added: “I try to offer flexible working hours to my team, whether they are mothers or not. I think it helps bring in a high calibre of staff and I believe the adaptability is reciprocated.”
    Della also offers free money matters seminars where entrepreneurs can get advice and ideas on how to grow their businesses.
    *Dawn Bettney, Holly Bailey and Della Hudson at Hudson Accountants. (photo caption)
    [That still leaves one of the four unnamed.]

  2. Bill on shop hours sent to House, by Angelos Anastasiou, Cyprus Mail via cyprus-mail.com
    FAMAGUSTA, Cyprus [love that name!*] - The labour ministry yesterday forwarded the regulations for the working hours of shops to the House of Representatives, after Parliament decided to remove the minister’s right to settle the matter through the issuance of decrees.
    [*"I'ma nevah disgustah, with good ol' Famagusta!"]
    According to the regulations, working hours for shops in Nicosia, Limassol, Larnaca, and Paphos, would be from 5am to 10pm, Monday through Saturday, and 11am to 7pm on Sundays.
    Famagusta was afforded a slightly expanded schedule – shops may remain open from 5am to 11pm from Monday to Saturday, and 7:30am to 11pm on Sunday.
    The government’s view, recorded in the report accompanying the proposal, is that the implementation and expansion of the working hours of tourist areas across Cyprus has achieved the goals of stimulating the market and increasing employment.
    The report claimed that the expansion has resulted in the creation of over 7,000 jobs since July 2013.
    Meanwhile, in a letter to parliament, the labour ministry’s permanent secretary said a bill safeguarding employees’ rights will be brought to the House on April 15.
    Deliberations with stakeholders are ongoing before the bill can be finalised, the letter said.
    “The bill is inextricably linked to the content of the [working hours] regulations, and aims at safeguarding the rights of employees in shops affected by the aforementioned regulations,” he said.
    Passing the proposed regulations would continue a policy measure that has proven successful for the past two years, the government argued.
    “The labour ministry feels that the measure should be extended through the voting of the proposed regulations,” the report read.
    Since initially imposed in July 2013, the measure has been resisted by various left-wing organisations, including small-business association POVEK and employee union PEO, who have deemed it a flagrant assault on employee rights aimed at benefiting large companies at the expense of employees and small businesses.
    So it was no surprise that PEO issued a statement on Tuesday, urging deputies to vote against the government’s proposal.
    “The regulations essentially aim at legalising the existing unacceptable practice of turning the whole of Cyprus into a tourist area,” the union said.
    “With regard to the repeated claim that the proposed regulations create jobs, it is misleading and false,” it added.
    [No it is not. Omg, this is another suicidal union undermining its own power by getting suckered into RHRP Fallacy = rising hours, rising pay, nevermind the constant introduction of worksaving technology and the diehard response of downsizing instead of timesizing! We created jobs for over 100 years by cutting from 80- to 40-hour workweeks. We doubled the employed population that we would otherwise have. Population-employed is a heavily weighted variable, because it increases the frequency and diversity and velocity of money-supply circulation and engages the Multiplier Effect. Employee union PEO is naive and self-disempowering. Puhleez wake up to the age of computers, automation, robotics, and artificial intelligence!]
    “The new working hours have essentially turned full-time employees into part-timers
    [hooboy, more True Believers in the Lump of Time Fallacy, as if there's anything eternally Full Time about 40 hours or any other fixed level of the workweek],
    and distributing the employment hours they lost among other employees. Employment has not increased – it has merely been shared."
    [There is nothing "merely" about employment sharing in the age of robotization and A.I. It is impossible to "increase" employment in the age of robotics because the whole point of all technology except medical is worksavings, which if taken in terms of downsizing for a few (and a few more and a few more...) instead of timesizing for all, is a ticket to weakening markets and recession. It is a system requirement to have markets for all the output of automation, robotics and artificial intelligence and this does not happen by downsizing (and defunding) employees and associated consumers. And it's a bandaid form of employment sharing that saved Germany in the last downturn ("Kurzarbeit") and that's now operative in 28 U.S. states (bringing the total up to 56%) who have saved hundreds of thousands of jobs by means of these programs, even in Washington State alone.]


4/07/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. Japan Inc says sayonara to long hours working culture, by Kana Inagaki, Financial Times via CNBC.com
    TOKYO, Japan - Japan’s salarymen are saying sayonara to the country’s culture of overwork — with the backing of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
    Long days in the office followed by long nights drinking with colleagues are as much a symbol of Japan as sushi or manga comics. But the culture has been blamed for several of the country’s ills, from its dearth of babies to lacklustre productivity [to averaging 19 karoshis a year (deaths by overwork)], while a tight labour market is shifting the balance of power from companies to workers.
    So, in a break with the past, Japan Inc is making a virtue of what is normal practice elsewhere in the world.
    Trading house Itochu hopes to lure recent graduates with earlier starting and finishing times, while printer maker Ricoh is banning work after 8pm. Fast Retailing, operator of the Uniqlo clothing chain, is looking to introduce a four-hour day for employees who want a better work-life balance.
    “Even if working hours are "short" [our quotes], we will pay more to the employee who produces a higher result. Long hours of work do not necessarily lead to higher performance,” said Tadashi Yanai, chief executive of Fast Retailing.
    Robot maker Fanuc, meanwhile, plans to woo recruits to its “inconvenient” headquarters at the foot of Mount Fuji by doubling the size of its gym, and building a new tennis court and a baseball field.
    [Compare 3/28/2015 Economist p.71 article "Fanuc stoops to conquer" - ...On March 13th the firm caused surprise with news that it would consider returning some of its massive reserves of cash, earned from fat profit margins on a rapidly expanding {robot} business, to its shareholders." Most companies with many employees would be better off "returning" some of their massive cash reserves indirectly to their markets...via their employees. It would be interesting to run an experiment between two similar economies, one requiring companies to "return" at least half of any cash distributions indirectly to their markets via their employees, and the other not. Since there's a lot of truth to the quip that instead of handing over the money it's printing in huge amounts to the financial sector, similar would be the Fed distributing it in small amounts to every citizen - and it would be back in the financial sector within two weeks anyway because of all the ratcheted money flows that keep funneling to the topmost brackets any moneys that aren't marketforce-spread by labor shortage into wages.]
    The corporate efforts to improve conditions chime with Mr Abe’s campaign to shake up the country’s labour market, seen as a key plank of his growth agenda. And civil servants will also get a break.
    Employees in the health ministry will be banned from working after 10pm from October after an attempt to clear offices by switching off the lights failed. The government last week also submitted a bill making it mandatory for workers to take at least five days of paid holiday a year.
    Chart: Vacation days taken
    http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/2/6749bab6-dc25-11e4-b70d-00144feab7de.html#axzz3Wit2GNii   [scan down 1/3 page]
    More controversial is an element of the bill requiring high-income employees in certain sectors — such as banks and brokerages — to be paid according to performance rather than the number of hours worked. Proponents say it would enhance productivity, but critics say it would increase overtime, as it need no longer be paid for.
    In addition, past attempts in Japan to improve the working environment for employees have largely failed. Japan still has instances of karoshi — death by overwork — and many employees still feel guilty leaving the office early.
    Japanese employees only took up half their holiday entitlement last year, unlike the French and Germans who used their entire allowance, according to online travel agency Expedia. The only country that ranked lower than Japan is South Korea.
    The new policies signal an erosion of long-held social norms — such as company loyalty — in Japan and changing attitudes toward work, especially among young employees.
    With the notion of lifetime employment fading, one-in-three recent graduates from universities switches jobs within three years.
    For Nanami Kobayashi, a 21-year-old university student searching for a job, “the most important thing is a comfortable working environment”. That means an open culture where she can speak out, decent overtime pay and guarantees on the availability of paid holiday, she says.

  2. ASTI demands abolition of extra work hours and pension levy - Conference told additional hours has led teachers to withdraw from after-school activities, by Martin Wall, (4/08 early google pickup) IrishTimes.com
    Delegates at the ASTI conference in Killarney vote unanimously in favour on a motion calling for the rescinding of the “Croke Park hours”. (photo caption)
    DUBLIN, Ireland - Second-level teachers who are members of the Association of Secondary Teachers of Ireland (ASTI) are to demand the rescinding of the additional 33 hours per year they have to work under Croke Park and Haddington Road agreements as well as the abolition of the public service pension levy.
    At its convention in Killarney, delegates described the pension levy as unfair and unjust as private sector workers were not affected.
    The pension levy, which averages about 7.5 per cent, was put in place in 2009 and represented the first reduction in earnings of public service staff following the economic collapse.
    The 33 additional hours – dubbed “after-school detention for teachers” – are used mainly for planning and meetings outside of regular teaching hours.
    Proposing the rescinding of the additional “Croke Park hours” Séamus Meskill of the union’s Desmond branch said the then government had used the financial crisis to implement a radical restructuring of the education system and to dismantle pay and working conditions of teachers.
    Savings generated
    He said imposition of the 33 hours had generated savings of about €43 million per year in the education sector.
    “The upturn in the economy has been under way for some time and Ministers are constantly reminding us of this.”
    He said it was time for a review of the Croke Park/Haddington Road productivity measures, as provided for in the accord in the event of an improvement in economic conditions.
    “As the Haddington Road deal expires in July 2016, we need to state now to our negotiators as well as to the Government that we want our hours back.” He warned if the union did not make its case now, the hours could become a recognised part of teachers’ jobs.
    Siobhán O’Donovan, a teacher in Mallow, said everyone was agreed that Ireland was in a state of dramatic economic recovery and this was one reason why the additional hours should now be rescinded.
    “That is not to say I do not want a cut in the crippling universal social charge, or a reduction in tax or dare I say it a pay increase. But I take these in line with all other public service workers. But these hours are far more teacher-specific. They are more personal, petty and I want them back.
    Time taken
    “I do not wish to sound over-dramatic, but it is as if whole chunks of my life have vanished recently. They have been taken from me since the beginning of the agreement.”
    Ms O’Donovan said the requirement for the additional 33 hours had a negative knock-on effect with many teachers withdrawing from time previously given for extra-curricular activities.
    Mark Walsh of Dublin North East said there was no doubt the Government would seek to roll the Croke Park and Haddington Road deals into a new agreement.
    “We have to be steadfast and say this cannot be continued into the next agreement. The Croke Park hours must die with the Croke Park agreement.”


4/05-06/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. Flexible working hours make workers happy: Study, 4/06 (3/31 late pickup) IANS via Zee News via zeenews.india.com
    LOUGHBOROUGH, Leics., UK: Allowing workers to choose the slot of hours they want to work in is good for their well-being, says a study from Loughborough University, England.
    The study found that people who become overworked are less satisfied with their lives and experience lower levels of psychological well-being.

    [and lower levels of productivity? (and higher levels of employee pilferage?) (and sabotage +/- petty?) ]
    The key factor to happiness, according to the study, was whether the hours people work reflect the hours they want to work.
    The study, published in the journal Human Relations, examined the working time patterns and well-being levels of 20,000 individuals over an 18-year period.
    The researchers found that more than 55 percent of workers who regularly work 50 or more hours a week would like to work less, as would around 40 percent of workers who work between 40 and 49 hours a week.
    "When workers are overworked -- working more hours a week than they would like -- life satisfaction and psychological well-being deteriorate," said lead researcher professor Andy Charlwood.
    "Thankfully, most workers who experience overwork are able to rearrange their lives so that the hours they work and the hours they want to work come back into balance."
    But around one in eight workers who become overworked are in the same situation two years later, and this appears to be a significant source of worry and unhappiness.
    "To help protect our well-being levels, government and employer policies need to give workers greater flexibility to choose the hours that they work," Charlwood explained.

  2. NCW seeks flexible working hours for married women, 4/06 Daily News & Analysis via DNAindia.com
    NEW DELHI, India - The corporate sector should introduce flexible working hours for married women and it cannot be an excuse for any company to remove women employees after they have children, NCW Chairperson Lalita Kumarmangalam said on Monday.
    [Flexible and shorter?]
    Addressing a CII event [Confederation of Indian Industry], she said it cannot be an excuse for any company to drop women employees after they get married and have children.
    "Flexi-working hours should become a norm..." she said. NCW [National Commission for Women] called upon the corporate sector to impart skill-based training to women for inclusive growth rather than being sympathetic to them.
    "Inclusion means invest in women. Don't look on us as you are doing us a favour," she said while addressing a session on 'Inclusion and Gender: Building India'. Kumarmangalam said that women in India lack access to skills.
    "May be we are very good at multi-tasking, but we often lack the skills that would increase our productivity and make us contribute in a better manner or in what is expected from us," she said.
    Kumarmangalam said that the agriculture sector has the highest concentration of unskilled women labourers who account for 70 to 80 per cent of the total workforce.
    "Women own less than five per cent of the property in the agricultural sector. Think about the profits that we could achieve in agricultural exports if products are actually developed to help women increase their productivity," she said.
    "Empowerment is not merely economic empowerment or financial inclusion. Women are not yet skilled enough to become totally a part of this movement," she said.
    Speaking on the influence of patriarchal society in making women drop out of work, she said it is more often about 'women vs women' than 'men vs women'.
    "Men are not always at fault. It is often women keeping other women down too," she said.


4/04/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. Court reporters get reprieve from governor - State officials wrestling with $1.6 billion deficit, (4/01 late pickup) The Edwardsville Intelligencer via theintelligencer.com
    EDWARDSVILLE, Illin., USA - Furloughed court reporters were back in the county’s courthouses [Madison County] on Monday after state lawmakers approved a short-term fix that shifts money from existing funds.
    Gov. Bruce Rauner signed the agreement and issued a statement thanking Republicans and Democrats for “leadership in fixing this year’s fiscal crisis.”
    Court reporters were scheduled to begin furloughs on Monday following an announcement by Chief Judge David Hylla that they would be furloughed three days a week until the end of the pay period, on April 15.
    The Third Judicial Circuit has a dozen court reporters in Madison County and a full-timer and part-timer in Bond County.

    Hylla was not available for comment Friday.
    The immediate problem was the result of a $1.6 billion shortfall caused by then-Gov. Pat Quinn and legislators who failed to put in enough money make it through the current fiscal year.
    That left a shortfall for not only court reporters – who are required to take a word-for-word account of what goes on at jury trials and other hearings – but other essential areas such as day care and prison guards.
    The problem stems from a $14.3 million shortfall for the fiscal year that ends June 30. In last month’s state budget address, Rauner mentioned the problem, along with similar scenarios for day care centers and prison guards.
    The crux of the problem lies in the fact that, by state statute, criminal defendants have a right to a speedy trial. In Illinois’s case, that means that a trial must start within 120 days of arrest. If it doesn’t start by the deadline, “the judge has to dismiss the case and the person goes free,” Hylla said in a previous interview..
    State law requires that court reporters be present at criminal trials as well as juvenile delinquency hearings and family court proceedings.
    Until lawmakers plugged the gap in funding for court reporters and others, Hylla put a priority on felony cases and put civil cases – where court reporters are not mandated – on the backburner.
    The agreement followed months of negotiations between the governor and lawmakers. Later this spring, lawmakers will have to begin working on the state budget for the fiscal year that begins on July 1.

  2. Dubai's RTA to review taxi drivers' long working hours, by Neil Halligan, (3/31 late pickup) ArabianBusiness.com
    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) is to undertake a review of the current working conditions of taxi drivers in the city, where most are driving for 12 hours a day, seven days a week.
    [= 7x12= 84 hours/week = 1840 level in the USA, and definitely a brake on the number of cabbies, but maybe demand is real low?]
    The National reports that UAE Labour law stipulates that workers should work a maximum of eight hours a day and have at least one day off each week. Any hours over and above that should be classified as overtime, and earn each worker 25 percent extra on his or her basic pay.
    [Hmm, why is wealthy Dubai not at least up at 50% extra for overtime ("time and a half"), the standard in the rest of the world?]
    Taxi drivers in Dubai, however, say they often work seven days a week, 12 hours day for 10 months a year and do not receive a salary or overtime payments, but are paid in commission.
    “My shift starts at 4am and I go through until 4pm. I get tired but what can I do?” a Bangladeshi taxi driver told The National. “The company offers no help. Out of every AED500 [$136], AED100 is fuel and I get 35 percent of the rest.”
    Dr Yousif Al Ali, chief executive of the RTA’s Public Transport Agency, told The National that it was currently reviewing the drivers’ working conditions.
    “The RTA is studying working conditions of taxi drivers from different aspects and considering the coordination with the applicable laws to ensure the working conditions of taxi drivers are enhanced,” he said.
    “Each of the operating companies establishes its business model within the applicable rules and regulations. Taxi drivers work with their corresponding company under the labour contract.”
    Drivers, who earn in the region of AED3,500 and AED4,000 a month, also incur any costs of fines and vehicle repairs following a collision if police find that they are at fault.


4/03/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. Brazilian automotive industry furloughs over 7,000 workers, (4/01 late pickup) SteelOrbis.com
    SAO PAULO, Brazil - Automotive plants in Brazil have temporarily laid off 7,354 workers, according to a media report this week. In addition to the furlough, Brazilian automakers are also implementing voluntary layoff programs and programmed stoppages in order to balance production with demand.
    FIAT’s plant in Betim, in the state of Minas Gerais, welcomed 2,000 workers who returned to work this week after a 20-day break, but the same day, Volkswagen granted collective vacations to some 4,200 employees at its Taubate plant, in the state of Sao Paulo, according to media reports.
    [Better furloughs than firings, timesizing than downsizing!]
    Meanwhile, Ford has 137 workers in a temporary lay-off in Taubate. Mercedes-Benz, in the city of Sao Bernardo do Campo, in the state of Sao Paulo, has another 750 metal workers who are not currently working.

  2. Calculating FLSA Overtime Pay for Non-exempt Employees—Doing it Correctly to Avoid Costly Fines and Penalties, (4/02 late pickup) PRweb.com
    Calculating Overtime pay for non-exempt employees under FLSA needs to be done correctly in order to avoid costly penalties and fines. AudioSolutionz is conducting a session on April 7, 2015 which helps you understand the process of effectively calculating overtime under FLSA.
    DURHAM, N.C., USA - The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) expects employers to pay overtime to nonexempt employees at the rate of 1½ times their regular pay rate for every hour worked exceeding the 40 hour mandated work time in a workweek. However, the FLSA does not required [sic - editor!] that exempt employees be paid overtime for hours worked in excess of 8 hours daily or on weekends and holidays.*
    [Note the current lethally flawed U.S. overtime design - is it focused vigorously on converting chronic overtime of all kinds into OT-targeted hiring, and training whenever needed? No way. It mildly disincentivates employers from overworking some existing employees (and less and less disincentivizes them as costly benefits get piled on full-timers); it doesn't disincentivate them at all from overworking other employees, if they can just slap the label "management" on them; and it positively incentivates all employees to work overtime for the "time&ahalf" whenever offered. No mention of busting chronic bottlenecks of workhours/person +/- skills and spreading the market-demanded employment at all. No wonder there are at least 5-6 jobseekers for each job opening, and sinking real wages and consumer spending - and sinking velocity of $circulation and engagement of the multiplier effect - and sinking marketable productivity and sustainable investment destinations. No wonder the once-great USA is sliding into the Third World. Even France has a less-than- optimal overtime-to-jobs conversion design and it don't matter how short you set your workweek, if you ain't convertin' thet chronic OT into T&H, you is whistlin' in dee wind!]
    Employers have been burdened with several FLSA overtime claims recently and it is ever more important that they get familiar with the reasons that invite a claim and take steps to prevent that from happening.
    Common reasons that invite FLSA overtime claims:**
    • Employees being mistakenly treated as ‘exempt' by their employers from FLSA overtime requirements
    • Failure of employers to record, compensate or identify employees who have performed job-related/compensable activities in ‘off-the clock' hours.
    • Failure of employers to include employees who don't have ‘wage augments' in their overtime rate calculation (e.g. longevity pay).
    Here are [a] few important points that should be noted while calculating overtime:
    ‘Overtime' vs. ‘FLSA Overtime'
    Overtime under FLSA means the amount of time worked beyond a prescribed period. According to FLSA, normal work period is a work week, i.e. 7 consecutive days and 40 hours per week in total. Thus, time worked over and above 40 hours per week is to be calculated under FLSA (N.B: some jobs use the term ‘overtime' in a different way). The employer is free to pay their employees according to their wish, but it should not be lesser than the minimum wage requirements as mandated by FLSA. So, nothing happens till the nonexempt employee has worked more than 40 hours within a work week. All time worked over and above is to be taken into consideration and the first step in calculating overtime is to ascertain the actual period of time an employee has worked in the work week.
    Working ‘Off the clock'
    A number of lawsuits involve employers who have failed to include the time spent by employees who perform work activities over and above their prescribed shifts. Some employees come early and start working. Those work hours are also to be counted under hours worked, provided the employer had knowledge about this case [which case? should this read "about this situation" or simply "about them" meaning "those hours"?]. Things such as ‘pre-shift roll calls', ‘setting up equipment before work', ‘staying late after work hours to finish work', all come under work time. Even when employees take work home, that may be calculated under hours worked.
    On-the-job Training
    Most of the training time comes under work time. If the training time comes under the regular work shift of the employee, or is required by the employer – it is to be calculated as work time. Training time need not be counted under work time, if:
    • It occurs outside the normal work schedule of employee
    • Is voluntary without any pressure
    • Not directly related to the current job profile of the employee
    • Employee does not work during the training
    Various Problems in Calculating Overtime Under FLSA***
    The following are the problem areas in calculating overtime under FLSA.
    • Deriving a Fixed Sum for Varying Duration of Overtime: If the employee is already paid in lump sum for the work performed overtime, it is not calculated as overtime premium even if the paid amount is equal to or more than [the] sum owned [ie: owed?] on per-hour basis.
      [Vas reeten by Czechoslovok?]
    • Workweek Salary Exceeding 40 hours: The FLSA statutory obligations aren't discharged even if there is fixed salary for a regular workweek that exceeds 40 hours
    • Overtime Pay May Not be Waived: Overtime requirements cannot be waived even with mutual discussion or an agreement between employers and employees.
    In light of recent FLSA regulations and litigations, AudioSolutionz, the country's leading industry information provider is conducting a Live Audio Conference on Tuesday, April 7, 2015 where expert speaker Vicki M. Lambert, CPP will provide an effective way in which employers can compute overtime pay under FLSA for their non exempt employees. The session will provide tips to calculate overtime correctly so that costly fines and penalties are avoided.
    For more information, visit
    http://www.audiosolutionz.com/hr-compliance-employment/calculating-overtime023453.html
    About AudioSolutionz - AudioSolutionz is the country's leading provider of industry information, knowledge and training on various trending industry topics, since more than a decade. With its panel of industry veterans and experts, AudioSolutionz provide participants with much needed information, advice and training directly from the speakers. The unique Q&A sessions at the end of every session is a perfect opportunity for industry professionals to get their queries solved directly from the experts. The organization provides conferences, webinars, DVDs and transcripts on more than 12 industries across the US.
    Source(s):
    *http://www.blr.com/compensationtips/overtime-calculation
    **http://www.flsa.com/overtime.html
    ***http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs23.pdf (Revised: July 2008)

  3. Hong Kong's biggest trade union is failing workers by giving up on working hours legislation -...The pro-Beijing union [is] not protecting the rights of Hong Kong workers, whose bargaining power is already weak, by Albert Cheng, (4/02 late pickup) South China Morning Post via scmp.com
    Labour group representatives demanding working hours legislation at a rally earlier this year. (photo caption)
    HONG KONG, HKSAR, China - Many in Hong Kong hadn't the foggiest idea who Stanley Ng Chau-pei was until he proposed, in his capacity as a deputy to the National People's Congress, that the mainland should impose its own national security laws on Hong Kong.
    Ng, who is chairman of the Federation of Trade Unions [FTU], was in the limelight again two weeks ago when he appeared in a press briefing by the government's Standard Working Hours Committee. After months of meetings, the committee said it had failed to reach consensus on a "one size fits all" formula and left the issue to individual employers and their staff. The two sides are now supposed to set out terms in their private employment contracts.
    It is ironic for the head of the biggest union in Hong Kong to raise the white flag on such an important labour issue. Even Chan Yuen-han, one of two FTU honorary presidents, has lambasted both Ng and Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying in public for failing the workers.
    [This is exactly what happened in the USA in the late 1930s and afterward. Trade unionists let employers distract them from their power issue, labor surplus avoidance via shorter hours, by immediate-but-unsustainable employer blandishments such as higher pay and benefits. So labor sold its birthright for a mess of pottage and though its membership peaked in the 1950s at around 35% of the workforce, it began a secular decline that continues to this day, when its membership is below 13% and concentrated mainly in the private sector. Thus unions lost their vital evolutionary function within capitalism, which always and only runs sustainably under an employer-perceived labor shortage, which functions to maintain and raise wages and spending and circulation and marketable productivity and sustainable investment. No labor "shortage" and job "surplus"? Third World here you come! Trade unionists need to get it through their thick heads that of their two historic goals, higher pay and shorter hours, if they can only get one and it's higher pay, they wind up with neither because they're fighting market forces by tacking an artificially high price on a surplus commodity, themselves - but if they can only get one and it's shorter hours, they wind up with both because they're harnessing market forces to reward a shortage, themselves. "Human capital" is not exempt from the law of supply and demand.]
    Founded in 1948, the FTU claims over 341,000 members. It supported Leung in the last chief executive election. This is not the first time that the FTU has betrayed the workers. Before the 1997 handover of sovereignty, legislators rushed to enact a law to recognise labour unions' right to collective bargaining.
    After the special administrative region was established, the FTU sided with the new government to have the law repealed by the then Provisional Legislative Council. The regressive move severely undermined employees' bargaining power.
    Industrial actions in Hong Kong are few and far between. In a recent case last October, deliverymen at Coca-Cola's production line in Sha Tin went on strike to demand better working terms. Collective bargaining was on their wish list.
    Beijing has always kept a close eye on the labour movement in Hong Kong. One of the key jobs for the Communist Party's Hong Kong and Macau work committee was to steer the FTU. The federation played a pivotal role in the campaign against the British in the 1960s. After the unrest, some of its best brains quit. The second- and third-liners who took the helm gave up their political struggle and instead focused on providing welfare and job training to workers.
    During labour disputes, the FTU has often refrained from resorting to militant tactics. It has acted primarily as a go-between for the workers and their bosses. In 2007, bar-benders in construction sites were upset by the way the FTU had failed to represent their interests.
    The Confederation of Trade Unions, led by legislator Lee Cheuk-yan, stepped in and supported the workers, negotiating for them an acceptable wage level, and ended the historic 36-day strike.
    Since then, the CTU has been gaining a foothold in industries that used to be traditional strongholds of the FTU.
    The FTU has one member in the Executive Council and six legislative councillors. They are pro-establishment and seldom confront the government. On critical issues, the best they have done is to abstain. The FTU leaders have in effect grown into a breed of blue-blood unionists who act in the name, rather than the interest, of the workers.
    Hong Kong has been hit by two financial crises. Employment conditions have worsened. Even the government has taken the lead in contracting out jobs. The number of openings with fixed salary and working hours has dwindled.
    Workers are often paid an hourly or piece rate. In the service industry, pay is usually pegged to sales performance. Employers may also require their "service providers" to be "self-employed" so as to shed their legal liabilities for benefits.
    That is why not many people will benefit even if a law is put in place for standard working hours. Yet, such a piece of legislation would still be a major victory for the workers.
    There are many advocates for working-class interests on the Standard Working Hours Committee, with some of them doubling as members of the Labour Advisory Board, including Ng. It is mind-boggling that they would have agreed to the idea of writing overtime, break and meal arrangements into individual employment contracts.
    Hong Kong's economy seems to have maintained sustained growth. Unemployment has been low. There is even an acute labour shortage in specific industries, such as civil construction.
    This is, however, an illusion. Most workers are not regular full-timers as we know it. They lack job security. Overtime with meagre or even no pay has become the norm rather than the exception. In the absence of legalised collective bargaining, employers have a freer hand to write whatever exploitative terms they like.
    That explains the urgent call for a law on standard working hours. Leaving the terms to be negotiated between employers and employees will never work out for the latter.
    [Absolutely correct when, far from a level playing field, the market is steeply sloped for employers and against employees and jobseekers by high overt and covert un- and under-employment, and few or no job options to enable the vital discipline of management via job mobility. So management skills deteriorate further - who needs management skills when employers are flooded with resumes? - wages and spending sink, and the whole economy subsides into officially denied and disguised recession and depression?]
    Albert Cheng King-hon is a political commentator. taipan@albertcheng.hk - Ir.[?] Albert Cheng is the founder of Digital Broadcasting Corporation Hong Kong Limited, a current affairs commentator and columnist. He was formerly a direct elected Hong Kong SAR Legislative Councillor. Mr Cheng was voted by Time Magazine in 1997 as one of "the 25 most influential people in new Hong Kong" and selected by Business Week in 1998 as one of "the 50 stars of Asia".
    This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as FTU is failing its members by giving up on working hours legislation
    .


4/02/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. Guest Column: Finding Business-Friendly Programs is as Easy as ESD, by Chad Pearson, (4/01 late pickup) Small Business Administration Reporter via SBA.gov via content.govdelivery.com
    OLYMPIA, Wash., USA - The Employment Security Department (ESD) isn’t just “the unemployment office” anymore. A full suite of business programs is available to help employers be successful, including the following:
    • Find your next employee of the month through our partnership with WorkSource
    • Dial the employer help line to find information on your taxes and wages
    • Discover a wealth of labor market data on our Employment and Economic Information website
    • Sign up for the Shared Work Program to keep employees you thought you had to lay off
    These and many more services are available through Employment Security and its partners.
    Take, for instance, the Shared Work Program. The business climate is improving and unemployment is down in Washington. Yet, participation in the program is up 31 percent over last year because employers like you are learning about it. Watch this *short video to see how the program helps both businesses and workers win.

    WorkSource offices around the state can help you recruit and interview prospective employees. Upgrades to the WorkSource website will soon bring a dynamic job-match system to help you recruit employees. Plus, many WorkSource locations are currently hiring Career Pathway Navigators to connect mid-career professionals and graduates to jobs and provide you with the talent you need.
    Make use of the employer help line (888-836-1900) to find information on tax and wages. Get answers to questions or request forms with the touch of a button.
    On the Employment and Economic Information website, find data about current wages, benefits and other industry-specific information to help you plan for the future.
    You always have prided yourself on staying two steps ahead of the competition through innovation, management or great employees. The Employment Security Department can help you keep climbing. Visit www.esd.wa.gov for more information.
    Chad Pearson [is the] Shared Work Marketing Manager, Washington State Employment Security Department.

  2. The Chinese people want to implement a four-day work week, sputniknews.com
    The Peak Tower is a leisure and shopping complex located at Victoria Gap, near the summit of Victoria Peak on Hong Kong Island, Hong Kong. (photo caption)
    BEIJING, China - According to a new Sina survey, 88% of those polled support having a three-day weekend, to improve their personal standard of living with China’s socio-economic development.
    Advocators pointed to several European countries that have successful four-day work weeks, such as the Netherlands that has one of Europe’s highest labor productivity level while enjoying 29-hour work weeks.
    Renmin University of China’s expert in leisure economics, Professor Wang Qiyan, also cited Denmark, which works only 37.7 hours per week, yet is ranked "the world’s happiest country."
    Critics argue, employees in China are given only five days of paid leave within a year, on average. And when they take national holidays off, they must make them up by working through the weekends prior to the following holiday, Global Times reported.
    Twenty years ago, China implemented five-day work weeks, down from six-day work weeks prior to 1995.
    People were only able to take one-to-three-day vacation, which evolved to seven-days holidays, known by the “Golden Week,” by the year 2000.

    By then, holidays became more of an opportunity to consume rather than an occasion to relax, according to Global Times.
    Professor Wang hopes to achieve an official four-day work week by 2030, calling on China’s leaders to reward the people for their “collective exhaustion” that played a major role in the country’s economic growth.
    [Here's something collective that capitalists never dared to knock communists for - cuz they were just as guilty = “collective exhaustion”!]


4/01/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. What's up doc? Strike a healthy work/life balance, by Jeff Hersh, HeraldNews.com
    FALL RIVER, Mass., USA - Q: My wife says I work too much and it is bad for my health. Isn’t that just an old wives’ tale?
    A: When Henry Ford started the five-day 40-hour work week to allow his employees time to spend with their families, the stage was set for having a work/life balance. There have now been many studies that have shown that working much more than that can have negative health effects.
    So how much is too much? The exact number is not known, but three hours of overtime a day (translating to a 55 hour 5 day work week) has been shown to double the risk of developing depression and increase the risk of heart disease 50 to 75 percent (one study showed 1 to 2 hours overtime did not carry the same risk).
    There are many other health issues linked to working too much.
    • Overwork increases stress, which can manifest with many negative ramifications such as pain syndromes (headaches, backaches, others), concentration issues, memory issues, non-optimal judgment, mood changes, sleep problems, high blood pressure, increased risk of heart disease, digestive issues, social issues (including increased risk of substance abuse, relationship issues, decreased social interactions) and premature death.
    • Sitting too many hours a day, even if you get regular exercise, has significant negative health effects. This alone, even without working excessive hours, has been shown to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease as well as overall premature mortality. One study showed that over 10 hours of inactivity during waking hours, whether sitting at a desk, in front of a computer or in front of a TV, increased the risk of premature death by over 10 percent. Many experts note that even 6 to 8 hours of inactivity per day has detrimental effects.
    • “Type A” people (highly competitive individuals, often with a constant sense of urgency and even hostility/anger issues) are more likely to work long hours, and type A personality is a risk factor for many of the health issues noted above. Whether stress is a common factor or the long hours themselves increase other risks is an interesting question. Since some research has shown that when workaholics cut down their work hours, some of their health issues improve. The increased work hours themselves are likely at least partly to blame.
    How big is the upside to working so much? Not as much as people think. Overwork diminishes productivity and quality of work. One study showed that as people approach 11-hour days, the decrease in productivity outweighs the extra hours worked. Another study showed that people who worked 55-hour weeks had degradation of vocabulary and problem-solving skills.
    So, how can a better work/life balance be achieved?
    • Step one is identifying that too many hours are being spent at work and not enough at life; equating work with life is the extreme example of this.
    • Plan, schedule and follow through with down time (including vacations), and engage in regular activities.
    • Consider meditation, yoga, tai chi, massage therapy or other relaxation activities.
    • Ensure you get regular exercise and follow a healthy diet and lifestyle (specifically avoiding smoking and drug abuse and limiting caffeine, alcohol and sugar consumption).
    • Identify the stressors in your life and address them:
      • Avoid it: Learn to say no and/or become better organized so you can avoid becoming overwhelmed and overextended.
      • Alter it: Adjust your goals, specifically getting away from a perfectionist approach. Compromise in stressful situations when that is a realistic option. Be assertive when that is an appropriate strategy.
      • Adapt to it: Share your feelings with trusted coworkers. Reframe the stressful situations so you can look at them in a better light. Work on looking at the positive side of things. Keep a diary to allow you a place to ‘vent’ and address your feelings.
      • Accept it: Learn to “let things slide” and do not take them personally. Do not try to control the “uncontrollable.” Learn to forgive. Utilize the support system you have, both at and outside (friends and family) of work.
    If none of this helps, consider seeking help from a counselor.
    So, take a look at your work/life balance; if the hours you are logging, your travel schedule and the stress of your work are interfering with your sleep, exercise time, diet, and/or other aspects of your life, then the balance is not right.
    Striking a healthy work/life balance is not only good for you, it also improves the quality of your work.
    Jeff Hersh, Ph.D., M.D., can be reached at DrHersh@juno.com.

  2. Picking Your Work Hours Could Pick Up Your Spirits, iStock/Thinkstock via kmbz.com
    LOUGHBOROUGH, Eng., UK — Choosing your occupation is one thing. Choosing the number of hours you work is an entirely different matter altogether, which may not be in your power.
    [And until you get it back in your power by replacing downsizing with timesizing, your workhours will continue creeping up and your spirits down, because you will have more and more job insecurity and fewer and fewer job options.]
    However, Andy Charlwood, a professor of human resource management at Loughborough University, says if workers did get to pick the amount of hours they spent on the job weekly, it would improve their spirits and probably their performance.
    In studying the working-time patterns of 20,000 adults over 18 years, Charlwood and his team discovered that over half of those working 50 hours or more weekly and 40 more percent working 40-to-49 hours preferred to put in fewer hours.
    The obvious drawbacks of being overworked, according to Charlwood, are deterioration of life satisfaction as well as added stress.
    Ultimately, he says that “government and employer policies need to give workers greater flexibility to choose the hours that they work."




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