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


7/31/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly 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. Changing the culture of long working hours key to increasing Japan’s female workforce, by Kanako Takahara, JapanTimes.co.jp
    TOKYO, Japan - The plight of Japan’s working women has improved dramatically over the past two decades. Maternity leave has become the norm, slots at nurseries have increased by more than 340,000 and the percentage of female executives or women serving as department chiefs at companies has tripled.
    But Kaori Sasaki, founder of ewoman Inc., a market research firm targeting working women, says that’s not enough.
    “In the past two or three decades, there have been numerous pieces of legislation to encourage women to continue working. But the fact is, it has created a sidetrack for women without changing anything on the main track,” Sasaki said in her opening remarks at the 20th International Conference for Women in Business, held Sunday in Tokyo.
    By the “main track,” Sasaki was referring to Japan’s male-dominated business culture, in which those who endure the notorious and often unnecessarily long working hours climb the corporate ladder. The legislation, according to Sasaki, has simply created a subordinate path for women who want to continue their careers after having children but who can’t put in long hours at the office.
    “But from now on, let’s make it a one-track system,” Sasaki said at the conference, which was supported in part by The Japan Times. “I want to make a future where whatever choice a person makes, he or she will be walking on the main track.”
    Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was a guest speaker at the event, said he is well aware of the problem.
    “In a society where long working hours is the norm, it is difficult for women to play an active role in a wide range of fields,” Abe said. “To resolve the issue of depopulation Japan is facing, reform of working hours is necessary.”

    [The good news is that Japan is groping toward workhour limits. The bad news is that the current PM of Japan regards less population in Japan as an "issue," instead of a solution to a lot of other problems like energy demand and the "need" for nuclear power plants like Sendai. And if he regards less population as a problem, why would he seriously want to shorten working hours and make it easier "for women to play an active role in a wide range of fields" instead of just staying at home in the kitchen reproducing like bunnies?]

    To encourage women to continue working, the government is taking various measures including increasing the number of teachers at nursery schools, and creating a system where workers can take leave flexibly to care for elderly parents, Abe said.
    The annual conference, with “Make History” as the theme, attracted more than 1,100 participants nationwide, from teenagers to those in their 70s. About 10 percent were men, which the organizer claims is a huge increase compared to the first conference held in 1996.
    Speeches and panel discussions in the morning were followed by roundtable discussions in the afternoon with topics ranging from board diversity and women’s reproductive life cycles, to how women’s investments are affecting the economy.
    Looking back at the 20-plus years of her career, guest speaker Seiko Noda, a Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker who served as minister on depopulation issues, talked about how she survived through one of the most conservative industries in Japan — politics.
    “When I was first elected as a Lower House member, I was told by many that for a woman to work in politics — a man’s career — she needs to sacrifice herself,” Noda said. “That means giving up marriage, giving up children and being married to politics.”
    Her role model was Takako Doi, former president of the Social Democratic Party of Japan, who remained single until she passed away last September.
    So that’s what Noda did. She focused on her career at the expense of having a family until the age of 50, when she gave birth to a boy in 2011 after receiving a donor egg.
    After 20 years in politics, she says the situation facing women in her line of work has yet to improve.
    “There may be more female politicians who have had children but we are still a minority,” Noda says. “People tell me publicly or behind my back that I shouldn’t have become a politician if I wanted kids.”
    Male lawmakers, however, aren’t asked whether they can juggle work and family, she argues.
    As Noda’s case shows, a healthy work-life balance has long been an issue of human rights and corporate social responsibility. But more business leaders are realizing that it may help bring about economic benefits, too.
    Among the Fortune 500 firms, those with three or more female board members had an average 15.3 percent return on equity for the five years until 2008, while the same figure for companies without a female board member stood at 10.5 percent, according to a report compiled by nonprofit organization Catalyst in 2011.
    In other words, companies with a number of female board members outperformed those without any women represented on their board.
    “The reality is that women, non-Japanese, LGBT, handicapped persons — they offer a different perspective in the decision-making process,” said Kathy Matsui, another speaker and vice chair of Goldman Sachs Japan Co. “This is not just optional for Japan but is imperative.”
    But at present, only 196 of the 1,858 firms listed on the nation’s benchmark Topix index have female directors, and 1.5 percent of all board members are women, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
    Japanese companies aren’t the only ones likely to benefit from adding more women to the higher echelons of the labor force.
    According to an estimate by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in 2012, gender parity in the workforce would push up Japan’s gross domestic product by almost 20 percent over the next two decades.
    “Japan’s future depends on whether we could create a society where women could shine,” said prime minister Abe.
    But the LDP’s Noda, who may become Abe’s rival in September’s LDP presidential race, was skeptical about how seriously the prime minister wants to pursue this goal.
    “If we have deliberated 120 hours in the Lower House (on security bills that would allow the Self-Defense Forces to aid an ally under attack), then we should put 120 hours on this issue at the same time,” she said. “That, I would say, would ‘make history.’ "

  2. Go tell the boss: let me work less and I'll produce more, Oliver Burkeman @oliverburkeman, TheGuardian.com
    The five-day work week is an artificial and outmoded idea. A shorter working week can boost efficiency and an employee’s happiness.
    ‘Pushing people past their natural limits actively damages work on the following days.’
    (photo caption)
    MANCHESTER, England, U.K. - Usually, I’m sceptical whenever some [momentarily] ultra-successful Silicon Valley firm gets held up as an example of how we’ll all be working in future. Sure, it’s possible that Google’s success is down to free yoga classes, napping pods and unlimited gourmet food consumed in “conversation areas designed to look like vintage subway cars”. But it’s surely equally likely that these are indulgences a rich company can afford, whether or not they help the bottom line – and they won’t be coming to call centres or council offices any time soon.
    The latest trend might have more going for it, though: more tech businesses are experimenting with four-day weeks. As Ryan Carson, co-founder of the education startup Treehouse, put it: “You get all day Friday off, instead of pretending like you’re working when you’re not.”
    The most important reason to work fewer days, of course, is that it’s good for families, friendship, hobbies and the human spirit.
    [No, the most important reason to work fewer days or at least fewer hours is that the economy requires it to be sustainable. Unless we continue our 100-year workweek reduction, 1840-1940 80hourworkweek cut in half, we'll continue to split into workers and drones, burnouts and dependents, more and more robots less and less burnouts and more and more dependents... Better to spread the yet-to-be-robotized or artificiallyintelligenced working hours around to everyone, keep everyone together on the same page, more job-secure free time and labor"shortage"-maintained money and spending, than continue on our current path to perdition.]
    But the most interesting implication of the current experiments, backed by some academic research, is that it appears to be good for productivity and work quality, too. Partly that’s because desk-based “knowledge work” relies on plenty of brain rest as well as exertion. Pushing people past their natural limits doesn’t just make them inefficient, it actively damages work on the following days. In other cases, employees aren’t working fewer hours at all, but simply rearranging them, from five days of eight hours to four days of 10. Yet even this provides a useful sense of constraint: knowing you’ve got to squeeze everything into fewer days seems to improve efficiency overall.
    A similar philosophy of less-is-more informs Josh Davis’s recent book, Two Awesome Hours, which begins by rejecting the premise that it’s worth trying to squeeze value from every moment of every day. To get more out of machines or computers, it’s almost always best to run them for longer. But they can’t get tired; humans can. Instead, to the extent that your job allows it, Davis proposes fighting hard to ringfence one two-hour period of distraction-free work each day, at a time of peak energy – during which you’ll probably get more meaningful stuff done than in two whole days at half-power.
    The big unspoken truth here is that we think about the work week in terms that might have outlived their usefulness. In the 1920s, the two-day weekend represented a major victory for workers’ rights, but that doesn’t mean five days of work is the right number. Even the seven-day week itself is a human creation: unlike the year, month, or day, it has no close connection to nature. (Revolutionary France had a 10-day week, and the Soviet Union tried a five-day “continuous work week”, with staggered days off, so production lines never needed to pause.) Besides, measuring work in hours, a legacy of the Industrial Revolution, makes little sense for knowledge work, save that it’s easy to quantify. If you can possibly get away with it, work less: you’ll find you get more work done.
    oliver.burkeman@theguardian.com


7/30/2015 – 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. Furloughs at United Taconite could last 6 months for hundreds of workers, AP via DailyJournal.net
    EVELETH, Minn., USA — More than 400 United Taconite employees on Minnesota's Iron Range are expected to be off the job for up to six months.
    Lower prices in an oversupplied steel market are blamed for the temporary layoffs in Eveleth and Forbes.
    Cliffs Natural Resources says about 400 hourly workers and nearly 50 salaried employees will receive partial pay during the furloughs.
    [Probably thanks to the Minnesota Shared Work program.]
    No severance will be paid because the company expects to rehire the workers later this year or in 2016.
    The layoffs follow a recent announcement by U.S. Steel that 400 worker will be recalled at Minntac, the state's largest taconite producer, based in Mountain Iron. The Star Tribune (http://strib.mn/1LZfwWQ ) reports hundreds of workers remain on layoff at three other mining operations in Minnesota.

  2. GAO report raps HOS research methods, FleetOwner.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - A U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report issued this week found fault with some of the research methods used by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to develop its revisions to hours of service (HOS) regulations back in 2011 – though the agency did conclude the rule changes are functioning as FMCSA intended.
    Congress requested that the GAO review the FMCSA’s January 2014 study regarding the “efficacy” HOS changes and found that while that study did follow “generally accepted research standards,” it did not completely meet several, such as reporting limitations and linking the conclusions to the results.
    “For example, by not adhering to these standards, FMCSA's conclusion in the study about the extent to which crash risk is reduced by the HOS rule may be overstated,” GAO said.
    The agency also found that FMCSA has not adopted guidance on the most appropriate methods for designing, analyzing, and reporting the results of scientific research.
    “Without such guidance, FMCSA may be at risk for excluding critical elements in research it undertakes to evaluate the safety of its rules, leaving itself open to criticism,” the report noted.
    Yet GAO did stress that its analysis of the FMCSA’s expectation for work schedule changes for certain long-haul drivers did hold true.
    “GAO's analysis of a limited sample of available data provides some insight into the rule's effects and the extent to which they aligned with FMCSA's assumptions and estimates,” the agency noted.
    “For example, some drivers at a sample of 16 for-hire carriers who worked the longest hours (over 65 hours per work week) reduced their work hours after the rule went into effect, a finding consistent with FMCSA's assumptions that drivers working over 65 hours were more likely to be affected,” it said.
    However, GAO's analysis added that drivers who worked less than 65 hours per work week also changed their schedules after the rule went into effect
    – a result not anticipated by FMCSA.
    Yet U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx concluded in a statement this afternoon that the GAO’s report overall “reinforces our belief” that that the HOS modifications are keeping people safe on the roads.
    “This GAO report provides further evidence that the changes FMCSA made to the HOS rules improve highway safety by saving lives and lowering the risk of driver fatigue,” he added in a statement. “We value the GAO’s independent review and will use their recommendations to further strengthen our Department’s research to ensure that we have the best data available to keep our roads safe."


7/29/2015 – 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. Older workers in Hong Kong prefer flexible working hours, HumanResourcesOnline.net
    [Especially flexibly shorter.]
    HONG KONG, HK.SAR., China - If bosses in Hong Kong want to retain members of their older workforce, they should consider offering them flexible working hours.
    A research by Regus revealed that 86% of respondents in Hong Kong see flexible working a critical factor in keeping older, experienced workers in the economy, higher than the global average of 84%.
    The research surveyed more than 44,000 senior business people around the world, including 365 respondents from Hong Kong.
    Pushing back the retirement age is a common practice to allow older workers to remain in employment and to ensure maintain the society’s productivity.
    In 2014, the government extended the retirement age of newly hired civil servants from 60 to 65 to tackle the problem of an ageing population and a shrinking workforce.
    According to predictions from the government, one in five Hong Kong people will be aged 65 or above by 2023, keeping elderly in the workforce has never been more crucial but the inflexible working hours and a long commute of Hong Kong workplaces are very off-putting to older workers.
    “Older workers often have caring responsibilities, potential health problems, and a desire to spend more time with their partner or family or to take up a new hobby or skill. Flexible working therefore is an ideal solution for those who want to remain in the workforce past traditional retirement age, but maintaining control of their schedule and reducing lengthy commutes to and from work,” said Michael Ormiston, Country Manager, Regus Hong Kong.
    Flexible working gives professionals greater choice over when and where they work, allowing them to better manage their work-life balance.
    “Flexible working can also provide older workers with a ‘bridge’ into retirement. Reports show that often the complete loss of professional work can leave retired workers feeling depressed and unmotivated, even to the point of affecting mental health. Flexible working can help older workers delay retirement without giving up too much of their hard-earned freedom.” said Ormiston.

  2. Wal-Mart to cut hours at several all-night supercenters, (7/23 late pickup) Bloomberg News via TribLive.com (finder's credit to patch.com/maryland/odenton)
    ODENTON, Maryld., USA - Wal-Mart Stores Inc. will start closing some of its 24-hour supercenters for at least a few hours each night, aiming to use the time to better stock shelves and organize stores for the peak shopping rush.
    The move will affect about 40 stores, including those in Philadelphia, New Jersey and Maryland, beginning next week, said spokesman Brian Nick. About two dozen 24-hour locations already had their hours reduced in the spring, and more stores are slated to go through the process later, he said.

    The change is a sign of retreat for a company that helped bring convenience and all-hours shopping to many parts of America. Chief Executive Officer Doug McMillon is taking the step as part of his drive to improve the shopping experience at Wal-Mart's U.S. stores, where customers have complained about empty shelves, long checkout lines and poor-quality produce. McMillon has raised starting wages and cut a layer of management in stores to try to improve the situation.
    “Based on a recent review of our customers' shopping patterns, we have made the decision to adjust hours at some of our stores,” Nick said. “This is the kind of decision we make on a store-by-store basis and will allow us the ability to reallocate resources to serve our customers during peak shopping hours.”
    Customers were notified about the change with signs at the entrances of the affected stores.
    The Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer has more than 4,500 stores in total across the country, along with 650 Sam's Club locations.
    While the change may frustrate night owls and parents who need to buy diapers at 3 a.m., it's not clear how much demand there is for 24-hour shopping.
    “I question if it is a test and could become a national rollout,” said Brian Yarbrough, an analyst with Edward D. Jones & Co. “There aren't that many shoppers there overnight. How many people are going to Wal-Mart at 2 in the morning?"


7/28/2015 – 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. Gainesville City Hall will be open five days a week, by Morgan Watkins, The Gainesville Sun via gainesville.com
    GAINESVILLE, Fla., USA - City of Gainesville employees won’t return to a five-day work week when the new fiscal year begins in October, but City Hall will be open on Fridays for citizens in need of service.
    The Gainesville City Commission on Monday approved the city's tentative general government budget for the coming year, although the board must give final approval in September.
    The city switched to a four-day work week in 2008, although Gainesville Regional Utilities and departments such as Gainesville Fire Rescue still operate five days a week.
    City commissioners debated this summer whether to return to a five-day work week but never made the change.
    However, City Manager Russ Blackburn said Monday that the charter officers who work at the City Hall complex agreed to stick with the city’s compressed work week — but also decided to open the first floor of City Hall to citizens on Fridays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., starting Oct. 2.
    Citizens will be able to pay a parking ticket and get general information and assistance, Blackburn said, and City Commission offices will be open.
    Right now City Hall is open Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., which will continue to be the city’s core hours of operation, he said.
    Having City Hall open on Fridays seemed to be the main concern citizens had, Blackburn said. An online citizens' survey indicated residents wanted services available at City Hall on Fridays, but some also like the longer hours Monday through Thursday.
    Meanwhile, a survey of city employees showed they prefer the compressed work week.
    The solution the charter officers agreed upon means that staff will be available at City Hall 52 hours a week instead of 40, he pointed out. The charter officers involved include the city manager, auditor, equal opportunity director, commission clerk and attorney.
    While a return to a five-day work week across the board would have cost around $223,000, Blackburn said officials aren’t sure yet how much this new plan to keep City Hall on Fridays will cost. But it will be less than going back to a fully-staffed five-day schedule, he said.
    The city's tentative budget includes money to open Sweetwater Wetlands Park — currently accessible to the public only on weekends and holidays — seven days a week.
    There is also money for two police officers to patrol Dignity Village, the homeless campsite next to Grace Marketplace, and to hire a Dignity Village operations manager, since the city recently took responsibility for its management, Blackburn said.
    Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Director Steve Phillips said the commission also approved reinstating a volunteer coordinator position that was eliminated after the former coordinator retired.
    The department will now have a full-time person who works with volunteers in various city programs and parks and also tries to expand volunteer opportunities, Phillips said.
    Commissioners discussed the possibility of exempting churches and nonprofits from having to pay the city’s fire assessment fee, which is slated to stay at $78 per fire protection unit, and plan to revisit the issue Aug. 6. If the board wants to make that change, it would need to be approved as part of the budget in September.
    Right now, the fire assessment fee applies to all properties in the city except government buildings, Blackburn said. The fee brings in around $5.4 million overall.
    Contact Morgan Watkins 338-3104 or morgan.watkins@gainesville.com

  2. Myer to lay off staff, cut hours as part of major rostering changes, by Helen Kempton, TheMercury.com.au
    HOBART, Tas., Australia - Staff at Myer’s stores in Hobart and Launceston will be asked to put up their hands for voluntary redundancy and move from part-time to casual or work less hours.
    A Myer spokesman said the Tasmanian stores were among 42 nationwide where staffing changes would be introduced to get more workers on the floor in busy times and fewer when it was quiet.
    It is understood part-time staff could see their hours cut by up to 20 per cent as Myer shifts away from a workforce dominated by full and part-time staff to more casual hours.
    [Shorter hours are happening anyway but not the best way that compensates by swelling markets for employers and raising hourly wages for employees.]
    How many Tasmanian staff the company hopes to shed through voluntary­redundancy is not clear. But the Shop, Distributive and ­Allied Employees Association said hundreds of Myer’s 12,000 workers across Australia could go.
    Myer told the Mercury that rostering changes did not mean fewer staff will be ­employed at its new Hobart store.
    “The change will not mean we will be hiring less. It just means they will employed under the new system,” a spokesman said.
    The retail giant said the staffing changes were part of its commitment to improve in-store customer service.
    “This new model will give Myer stores the ability to have more flexible hours available for peak periods such as Christmas and stocktake, while ensuring appropriate levels of service during quieter times,” a spokesman said.
    “This is critical to meeting the expectations of our customers.”
    The SDA said it was a sad day for workers, many of whom had spent their life working with the retailer.
    The union labelled the new staffing program a “temperature-taking” exercise to gauge the response to redundancies.


7/26-27/2015 – 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. County government has hit financial rough patch, by Frank Boyett, 7/26 (7/25 late pickup) The Gleaner via Evansville Courier & Press via courierpress.com
    HENDERSON, Ky., USA - July was a rough month for Henderson County government — and the next few months probably are also going to be rocky for Road Department employees.
    Employees who are paid out of the Road Fund, which also includes the Parks and Recycling operations, bore the brunt of salary cuts approved Tuesday by Henderson Fiscal Court. Their workweek is going from 40 to 32 hours.
    The average hourly wage of those employees is $15.28, so the average gross salary loss per month will be nearly $489 out of the $2,444 they had been getting.

    [But they're still getting the same hourly wage, averaging a weekly income of $489 instead of $611, and they're getting 8 more hours a week of the most basic and fundamental freedom, job-secure Free Time. They're in a lot better position than the 103,000 employees who got laid off from Anglo American Mining in the last two months! Hourscuts, not jobcuts = timesizing not downsizing! No way we're going to get growth =UPsizing by downsizing.]
    Personnel in the office of County Clerk Renesa Abner, as well as most other hourly earners in the courthouse except for the Sheriff’s Department, will be furloughed one day a month. For the average clerk’s deputy, who earns $16.70 hourly, than means their paychecks will be $133.60 lighter per month.
    Unhappy Workers
    Some of the county’s 218 employees are unhappy, although none contacted by The Gleaner were willing to have their name used for fear of retribution.
    “Some of us struggle financially, something (Fiscal Court members) would know nothing about,” said one.
    [Evidently someone who hasn't noticed that employees have the best pay in economies with the shortest workweeks, the longest vacations, and the lowest immigration quotas and birth rates.
    “They were awful happy coming out of the courtroom after Fiscal Court to have just messed with people’s livelihood,” said another. “There is no one in our office happy.”
    Those good spirits probably could be attributable to relief. Interviews with Fiscal Court members this past week show they feel they narrowly dodged a financial bullet — one they had not expected.
    Judge-executive Hugh McCormick had been off work for about 10 weeks recovering from back surgery, so Magistrate Butch Puttman was acting judge-executive.
    The second week of July things began to go amiss, Puttman said. “The cash flow became an issue when Hugh was off and I was filling in,” he said. “I was in a panic. I’m not a numbers guy. There was a whole lot going on.”
    For several years the county has been dealing with severe cuts in coal severance tax and gas tax revenues More recently, it has seen an upsurge in health coverage, retirement benefits and operational costs
    Coupled with that was the usual lean times of June and early July, when relatively little revenue comes into county government, and the usual mid-year insurance premiums that had to be paid.
    There were more demands than there was money to pay the bills. The situation became so critical that the only way the county could meet its mid-July payroll was by dipping into its reserves and cashing a $500,000 certificate of deposit.
    But that was just a thumb in the dike; more needed to be done.
    A New Tool
    The financial software that Treasurer Brenda Rider uses is 25 years old, and has limitations. County Attorney Steve Gold was called in at an early stage of the discussions about how to deal with the crisis.
    He brought in his assistant, Kyle Evans, who “created an ingenious and robust spreadsheet that was capable of putting actual numbers to the various schemes that we were hearing about. We created that because I was afraid that decisions were going to be based more on conjecture than data,” Gold said.
    Gold said he was “pretty proud” of Evans’ work, and hopes the tool will be used in future budget preparations. But he made it clear “all we did was put spreadsheets together that showed the county financial picture and make it possible for people to run their own scenarios. We were not involved in the formulation of policy.”
    “They looked at our numbers a different way,” said McCormick. “They were showing the numbers were worse than we had anticipated. They looked at where we’ve been spending more than we had coming in over the years.”
    Overspending
    Not counting payroll costs, the county spent $371,769 more from the General Fund last fiscal year than it had budgeted. The largest chunk of that was $120,664 spent at the Judicial Center. Those costs are reimbursed by the state.
    But in nearly half of the line items in the General Fund the county had overspent its budget. Most of those expenses are not paid by the state.
    “The thing that amazed me was the amount of things we were over budget on last year,” said Magistrate Carter Wilkerson. “It was never showed to us that way. We’re going to try to get (the treasurer) to use that.”
    McCormick said the county has altered the way it does business so cash flows more smoothly. “We’ve changed … the way we’re doing these things all the way across the board,” he said. Where possible, payments will be made quarterly or monthly instead of annually or semi-annually.
    After the recession hit in 2008, the county froze its property tax rate for eight years, which he said was probably a mistake. When the loss of coal severance tax revenue became apparent the court should have taken the modest increase allowed by law.
    “I’m trying to keep from spending the way it’s been spent before,” he said.
    Squires Speak
    Some of the magistrates made similar comments.
    “We need to keep doing what we’ve been doing: Back off working on the parks, overtime, make sure we need what we’re purchasing,” said Magistrate Bruce Todd.
    [Amen to that, especially backing off on overtime while others are having their hours cut!]
    “They overspent last year on the blacktop and we’re a little bit heavy (in manpower) at the Road Department,” said Magistrate Carter Wilkerson. “It kind of caught up with us. We’re not broke. We’ve still got $4.3 million in the reserve fund, but it’s dwindling down too fast. We need to cut back.”
    Magistrate Charles Alexander said he thinks the county should have started cutting spending three or four years ago. During that time, he said, it has spent “a lot of money out at the parks, a lot of money at the recycling center. And we have not increased funding through taxes for eight years, and we lost a huge amount of coal severance.”
    Magistrate George Warren said projects and programs that used to be funded with coal severance tax money will have to be re-evaluated.
    The Future?
    Most court members, however, expressed confidence that county government is back on the right track to financial health.
    Alexander said the county will need to take a hard look at continuing to fund the recycling center and “it’s not a secret we’re looking at doing something about the ambulance service.” The county currently has budgeted $264,622 as its share of ambulance costs.
    But much of the cost cutting can be done through attrition, Alexander said. “The hiring freeze is going to be the crux of it.”
    “Hopefully it will work itself out in a couple of months and we’ll get everybody back to work,” said Puttman.
    “I think we can work through this,” said Warren.
    “We’re just trying to keep ahead of the game,” said Todd. “I think we’ll be all right.”
    “Everything’s going to be OK,” said Wilkerson. “We’ve got everything under control.”

  2. Fewer City firms singing 9 to 5 working hours, by Kasmira Jefford, 7/27 City A.M. via cityam.com
    LONDON, England, U.K. - City employers are loosening their ties and becoming less rigid over staff working hours, according to research that shows a jump in the number of workers being given more flexibility.
    A third of men working in the City (34 per cent) say they now have some flexibility over the hours they work, either through flexi-time – when staff can choose their start or finish times – or working a certain number of hours annually or working compressed hours.
    This is up from 28 per cent last year, recruitment firm Astbury Marsden said today.
    This is an even higher proportion than for female City workers – 30 per cent of whom now have more choice over their work schedules – up from 23 per cent in 2014.

    Just over half of both men and women in the City have the ability to work from home on a regular basis.
    And although women are more likely to work part-time or job-share, (26 per cent), 18 per cent of men said they also have this option.
    Astbury Marsden’s Adam Jackson said the move was partly driven by increased competition for talent: “[Firms] are having to show, that like the tech industry, that they can offer flexible working.


7/25/2015 – 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. Why Working Less Can Make You More Productive, by Chloe Della Costa, The Money & Career Cheat Sheet via cheatsheet.com
    STANFORD, Calif., USA - Wouldn’t you rather work fewer hours, if it meant the same level of output and the same level of pay? According to the Pareto principle, also known as the 80/20 rule, only about 20% of what you do each day produces 80% of your results. With that in mind, the hope is that there is a way to trim the fat on your workday, allowing you to cut hours without cutting productivity. That’s the contention of Timothy Ferriss in his book The 4-Hour Workweek. If you have a traditional full-time career, trimming your weekly hours from 40 to four likely won’t fly with your boss. But if you’re working well over 40 hours per week, there is evidence that those long hours don’t mean you actually get more accomplished.
    It makes sense if you think about it: A long work day or work week without a sufficient break to recharge is just going to leave you dragging your feet.
    Still, the culture of overwork in America is alive and well. In fact, it’s being fed by advances in technology, as more and more employees take their work home with them, even sacrificing sleep to work longer hours. Full-time workers in America average a 47-hour workweek, according to a 2014 Gallup poll. Of those surveyed, 21% reported working 50 to 59 hours per week and 18% reported working 60 or more hours. As millennials in the workforce increasingly demand a healthier work-life balance than their parents may have had, perhaps this will begin to change. And hopefully, with growing evidence of the impact of long hours on productivity, employers will be forced to start paying attention too.
    In 2013, data from the OECD showed what appeared to be a worldwide trend suggesting that more productive workers put in less time. The Economist published the following graph showing the relationship between GDP and annual hours worked.
    http://www.cheatsheet.com/money-career/why-working-less-can-make-you-more-productive.html/?a=viewall
    The above graph, though, only represents a correlation, a more recent article from the Economist explains. A 2014 study by John Pencavel of Stanford University more definitively shows that reducing working hours can be better for productivity. Interestingly, Pencavel’s data set goes back to World War I. He looked at research undertaken by investigators of the British “Health of Munition Workers Committee” (HMWC) and analyzed the effects of weekly hours on productivity. The following graph shows the study’s results.
    http://www.cheatsheet.com/money-career/why-working-less-can-make-you-more-productive.html/?a=viewall
    You’ll notice there is a certain point at which weekly output starts to level out. Pencavel found that below 49 weekly hours, variations in output are essentially proportional to variations in hours. However, when people worked more than about 50 hours, productivity rose at a decreasing rate. In other words, reducing a worker’s hours from 55 to 50 per week would have a minimal effect on weekly output. With extremely long hours, the disconnect is even more clear. Productivity after a 70-hour work week hardly differed from a 56-hour week. The additional 14 hours were basically a waste of time. Based on the HMWC data, the absence of a day off during the week also does significant damage to output.
    Of course, this is an isolated look at one specific job setting, but the general trend is clear. Sadly, this study doesn’t exactly justify reducing a 40-hour week, but if you are one of the many severely overworked professionals in this country, here’s evidence that you could be wasting your own time. At the very least, maybe it’s time to stop checking your work email from home.

  2. How national culture determines work hours, by Leonid Bershidsky, (7/26 early pickup) The Memphis Commercial Appeal via CommercialAppeal.com
    BERLIN, Germany - Why do people in some countries work more hours? The most common explanations have to do with labor regulations and taxes, but anyone who travels frequently will notice that work and leisure are valued differently in different places. If this sounds like prejudice, consider the findings of two U.S.-based economists in a new working paper for the National Bureau of Economic Research.
    In that paper, Naci Mocan and Luiza Pogorelova, both of Louisiana State University, show that among European nations, a "culture of leisure" is an important determinant of how much people work.
    In 2004, Edward Prescott, who was awarded the Nobel prize that year, showed that the higher the effective marginal tax rate on labor income — that is, the share of each next dollar earned that the government chooses to redistribute — the fewer hours people put in. Importantly, the tax rate in this equation includes the employer's part, and companies, too, are less interested in getting more work out of people if they have to give up more of the resulting income.
    The finding was unexpected even to Prescott. "I am surprised," he wrote, "that virtually all the large differences between the U.S. labor supply and those of Germany and France are due to differences in tax systems.
    I expected institutional constraints on the operation of labor markets and the nature of the unemployment benefit system to be of major importance."
    Because of its simplicity, Prescott's conclusion has often been challenged. Olivier Blanchard, chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, wrote a paper in 2006 showing that the tax theory didn't always explain labor supply variations: There was too much complexity.
    Mocan and Pogorelova's work focuses on the differences among European countries, based on recent statistics from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and they confirm the link between tax rates and work. For example, Belgians, burdened with a marginal tax rate of 57 percent, worked an average of 989 hours in 2012; the Portuguese, with a 41 percent tax rate, worked 1,237 hours.
    The researchers, however, managed to isolate something else in the complex web of motives that determines how much people work: attitudes toward work and leisure. To do so, they used an ingenious device: a sample of 7,000 second-generation immigrants living and working in 26 European countries. These people are in the same tax and regulatory environments as native-born workers, but they are likely to be "infected" with their parents' attitudes toward work and leisure, imported from their home countries.
    Mocan and Pogorelova relied on the data from the World Values Survey and the European Values Study, which has asked people in many countries about these attitudes over the years, with questions such as: "Indicate how important leisure time is in your life," "Do you agree with the statement: People who won't work turn lazy?," "Do you agree that work should always come first even if it means less spare time?" Comparing the difference in these attitudes and the difference in hours worked between the second-generation immigrants and the native-born workers, Mocan and Pogorelova found a statistically valid relationship between "leisure cultures" and the hours people put in at work.
    For example, if Belgians' taste for leisure was brought down to the level of the Portuguese, the number of hours worked in Belgium would increase by 4 percent.
    "Leisure culture" has a smaller effect than taxes on people's desire to work more, in part because the effect varies significantly for men and women, Mocan and Pogorelova determined. Apparently, men respond more strongly to financial stimulus, while for women, the rest of their lives are no less important.
    Mocan and Pogorelova's findings add a dimension to the way policymakers should approach growth. Giving people tax incentives to work more will probably help, but only until these incentives run into cultural obstacles. The number of hours worked will stop growing at some point simply because people value their leisure too much. Then, the economy can only grow faster if the population increases, if workers become more productive, or both.
    In countries such as France, Denmark, the Netherlands and Belgium, where productivity is 93 to 96 percent of the U.S. level and immigration is lower, economic growth is naturally slower because of the cultural constraint. That's fine: Going faster would hardly make people happier.
    Leonid Bershidsky, a Bloomberg View contributor, is a Berlin-based writer.


7/24/2015 – 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. Despite four-day work weeks, city crews on track to match 2014 pothole service, by Alex MacPherson, Saskatoon Star Phoenix via thestarphoenix.com
    SASKATOON, Sask., Canada - City crews have filled an estimated 100,000 potholes this season and are on track to match last year’s figure — 188,000 — despite limited working hours, according to Saskatoon’s director of public works.
    “We currently have eight pothole crews that are working Monday to Thursday, four days a week,” Pat Hyde told reporters on Friday. “We have those (crews) actively engaged fixing potholes.”
    Hyde said working hours are dictated by financing, and that the current level allows for four working days each week.

    “This is what our mandate provides for us, and we will get through the pothole patching, through every residential street and every city street, before the end of the season,” he said.
    City council approved $3.8 million for pothole repairs this year, an increase of approximately $144,000 over last year, Hyde said.
    “The streets have been consistently rated as the No. 1 priority for citizens and residents of Saskatoon through the civic survey process, and council has seen fit to ensure that they’re putting appropriate numbers in terms of the dollars in place (so) we can address these streets.”
    Hyde declined to speculate on how much faster crews working seven day a week could repair potholes.
    “That’s all relative to the number of potholes that materialize,” he said, noting that less moisture and less standing water means fewer potholes.
    However, citizens continue to report potholes, both online and by phone. Hyde said the city has received 2,250 such reports this year, of which 1,180, or 55 per cent, have been repaired.
    “It’s all a matter of balancing our priorities as well as our resources as to which ones we go to first, and which ones can we get to and which ones need the attention before another,” he said.
    amacpherson@thestarphoenix.com Twitter.com/macphersona

  2. Minimum Wage Hike Backfire: Some Seattle Workers Asking to Have Their Hours Cut, by Charlotte Hays, Independent Women's Forum (blog) via IWF.org
    SEATTLE, Wash., USA - There is a twist in how a segment of Seattle workers are responding to the city's new $15 minimum wage: they are asking to work fewer hours. They don't want to earn enough to cut into their public assistance. [Here's another reason for scrapping the arbitrary minimum wage approach in the first place and just converting chronic overtime into training and jobs and trimming the workweek to get as much convertible overtime as it takes for fuller employment and higher wages on a non-arbitrary basis determined by flexible market forces in response to the reduced labor surplus.]
    Fox News has reported:
    Seattle's $15 minimum wage law is supposed to lift workers out of poverty and move them off public assistance. But there may be a hitch in the plan.
    Evidence is surfacing that some workers are asking their bosses for fewer hours as their wages rise – in a bid to keep overall income down so they don’t lose public subsidies for things like food, child care and rent.
    Full Life Care, a home nursing nonprofit, told KIRO-TV in Seattle that several workers want to work less.
    “If they cut down their hours to stay on those subsidies because the $15 per hour minimum wage didn’t actually help get them out of poverty, all you’ve done is put a burden on the business and given false hope to a lot of people,” said Jason Rantz, host of the Jason Rantz show on 97.3 KIRO-FM.

    The minimum wage turns out to be a lose-lose for all too many people and businesses.
    While the state has seen almost no reduction in its welfare rolls since the hike occurred in April, businesses are charging higher prices. Some Seattle restaurants have added a 15 percent surcharge, and some restaurants discourage tipping. This has lead to a form of redistribution:
    Workers in the back of the kitchen, such as dishwashers and cooks, are getting paid more, but servers who rely on tips are seeing a pay cut.
    But the servers in these restaurants are the lucky ones: a number of established Seattle restaurants have closed their doors. Restaurants aren't the only affected businesses:
    Comix Experience, a small book store in downtown San Francisco, has begun selling graphic novel club subscriptions in order to meet payroll. The owner, Brian Hibbs, admits members are not getting all that much for their $25 per month dues, but their “donation” is keeping him in business.
    “I was looking at potentially having to close the store down and then how would I make my living?” Hibbs asked.

    How indeed? But are Democratic politicians rethinking mandatory minimum wage hikes in the light of real experience? Not a bit of it.
    A hike in the minimum wage remains a popular talking point for Democratic politicians, including presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, and other government localities are considering hiking their minimum wage. The already horrendously expensive city of New York could be next.


7/23/2015 – 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. How To Convince Your Boss To Give You Every Friday Off, Forever: The mythical four-day work week can be yours - Here's how to go get it, by Adele Peters, Co.Exist via fastcoexist.com
    BERKELEY, Calif., USA - When Henry Ford started giving factory workers Saturdays off, people were skeptical. Now, of course, few people in the U.S. work a six-day week at all. But we've struggled to take the next step—getting rid of Fridays—even though researchers [ http://groups.csail.mit.edu/mac/users/rauch/worktime/ ] have calculated that it now takes us just 11 hours to do the amount of work that took 40 hours in 1950.
    Treehouse, a learn-to-code tech startup based in Portland, Oregon, has successfully made the switch to a 32-hour work week and argues it's well worth it—even for a company working in an ultra-competitive space, where others might routinely work 50 or 60 hours. Here's CEO Ryan Carson's advice on how to do the same where you work.
    Make Sure You're Actually Doing Your Current Job Well
    "Before you even think about going to your boss, what you should do first is make sure that you're effective in your day to day role," says Carson. He recommends clearly measuring goals through a scorecard and checking out books on effectiveness like the classic 7 Habits of Effective People.
    "The basic method is to make sure you're getting your shit in order, first," he says. "Get really effective and prove your value to your manager. I think that probably a huge percentage of people out there aren't really being effective personally, and they're going to have a hard time going to their boss or their manager and saying 'Hey, I want to work less.'"
    Prove Your Value Over Time
    Once you've figured out how to truly be more effective, Carson suggests taking six months to prove how well you're doing. "Then you have this huge social capital with your boss," he says. "You've proven your effectiveness, you're making them look great, you're delivering huge amounts of value. Then I think you can approach the subject and say "You know what? What would make me even more effective is if I could allocate some of my time once a month to make my marriage better, making my relationships with my kids stronger. And I would like your permission just to try it once next month."
    Pilot A Shorter Week
    First, Carson suggests taking a single day off and showing, with hard data, that your work hasn't suffered for the month. Then you can make a case for trying a pilot with more coworkers, all based on the argument that all of you can still be effective, but now—with a more balanced life—you'll be more likely to stay in your job. "The big win is that retention increases," Carson says. "I'm much more likely to stay in this job because I have a well-rounded life that will allow me to stay here for the long haul."
    He suggests calculating exactly how much money the company can save by increasing retention by 10%, and then bringing that to your boss when you suggest a pilot for the team. "You're really breaking it in very slowly," he says. "And it's always data—you're always proving that you're actually increasing effectiveness and retention. Because no manager's going to agree to this, otherwise. They would be stupid to."
    If You Are The Boss, Invest In Efficient Work Before Making The Shift
    Carson first chose to change the rules at Treehouse when he and his wife realized how much the startup was taking away from the rest of their life. But he says that when he made the change, he should have spent more time training employees first.
    "I didn't do a good job of that in the beginning," he says. "I think I just kind of naively believed that people understood how to be effective. But the reality is I needed to teach them and help them. So I think now we have a strategy where we're going to start training people on how to be effective at work. I think that's kind of key."
    This Can Work Even For A High-Pressure, 24/7 Business
    Though it's still a startup, Treehouse has more than 100 employees, and well north of $10 million a year in revenue. This isn't a quirky business that has extra time on its hands. The company also has to offer customer support seven days a week, so employees take the week in shifts. "We have a lot of pressure to survive," Carson says. "We have a lot of competitors who want to to kill us. I don't want your readers thinking 'Oh, that's nice, that's cute.' No, we're here to win."
    Even for those who think a 32-hour work week is impossible, Carson says some of the same approach could be used to move back to a 40-hour week. In the U.S., nearly 90% of men and nearly 70% of women work over 40 hours, something that isn't helped by the fact that most of us get work emails on our phones in the middle of the night.
    "I think a way to do that is just to delete email off your phone," he says. "Just say hey, I'm not really effective when I'm in the grocery store checking my email anyway. What is the point? You can just literally cut out all of the context switching outside of work hours, and it would make you more effective during work hours."
    Carson says he just did this himself. "Literally last night, I was like fuck this, I'm done," he says. "Then I deleted email and Twitter and Facebook and Instagram off my phone. Because I'm done context switching."
    Now, he says, his evenings—and his three-day weekends—belong to his personal life, not his job.
    Adele Peters is a staff writer at Co.Exist who focuses on sustainable design. Previously, she worked with GOOD, BioLite, and the Sustainable Products and Solutions program at UC Berkeley. You can reach her at apeters at fastcompany dot com.

  2. The '9 to 5' job is going extinct, by Schuyler Velasco, The Christian Science Monitor via csmonitor.com
    Even in industries with traditional schedules, workers are more likely to do their job outside regular office hours and respond to work e-mails off the clock. That flexibility can lead to better work/life balance, but at the risk of blurring the boundaries between an employee's job and personal life.
    BOSTON, Mass., USA - A ‘9 to 5 job’ has been the default shorthand for a typical American office gig for generations, but the phrase is fast becoming more common than the people who actually have one.
    A CareerBuilder.com study, released Thursday, asked 1,000 US employees in fields that typically have traditional work schedules, including IT and financial services, about their work habits. Even in those industries, 63 percent of survey respondents said they thought a fixed, 9 to 5 workday was an outdated concept. Additionally, about half said that they check or respond to work e-mails outside of the office, and nearly two in five said they continue working when they leave the office.
    That doesn’t necessarily mean that employees feel pressure from their higher-ups to do so, says Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer of CareerBuilder, via e-mail. “Workers want more flexibility in their schedules, and there’s so much technology now that enables them to work remotely and check in.”
    Additionally, she says, increased globalization among companies means workers often need to stay connected outside of traditional US office hours, and that more flexible schedules could be an effective recruiting tool for companies hoping to attract in-demand talent and retain their best performers.
    Among all age groups, workers between ages 45 and 54 were the most likely to work outside regular office hours, and men were more prone to do so than women. Women, however, were more likely to say that work was the last thing they thought about before going to bed.
    A more loosely-defined work schedule “can help [employees] build a better work/life balance,” Ms. Haefner says, but such flexibility comes with the risk that “the boundaries between work and personal lives can blur, which can cause stress.” Seventeen percent of those surveyed, she notes, said they had trouble enjoying leisure activities because they were too distracted thinking about work.
    The findings line up with a slew of evidence supporting the notion that the typical workweek is vanishing. Full-time, salaried workers in the US log an average of 47 hours per week on the job, according to a 2014 Gallup poll. Among all workers (full and part time) the average workweek is about 34.5 hours according to the Labor Department, suggesting wide variation in what it means to work a regular day job. [So shorter hours are happening anyway, but not in the best way.]
    To boot, having a fixed workweek at all is becoming a bit of a luxury. Nearly one in three workers in the US are now considered freelancers, many reliant on a rotating series of gigs that offer little consistency in hours or level of income – not to mention benefits like retirement accounts, health insurance, and paid vacation days.
    Providing stability for workers on both ends of the employment spectrum is a burgeoning priority for the Obama administration. Last week, the Labor Department released a series of guidelines for determining whether or not a worker can legally be considered a contractor, coming to the conclusion that too many firms are using the distinction improperly to avoid the costs that come with designating someone a full-time employee. Earlier this month, the agency updated its rules regulating overtime pay for full-time salaried workers, raising the income threshold under which employees can earn overtime.


7/22/2015 – 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. Employee has a second job - Employers should check staff are not working more than the maximum legal limits for working hours in a weekEmployers should check staff are not working more than the maximum legal limits for working hours in a week, by Peter Done, SmallBusiness.co.uk
    LONDON, U.K. - Q: I have an employee who works 39 hours but he is planning to regularly work 12 hours in a second job over the weekend. Does his extra job pose a problem to the number of hours he is legally allowed to work?
    A: Technically, you have a responsibility, along with the other employer if the employee obtains other work, to check that he is not working more than the maximum legal limits for working hours in a week. The Working Time Regulations 1998 state that individuals should not work for more than an average of 48 hours per week, generally calculated over a 17-week period.
    The Regulations contain an exemption, however, meaning that you can ask employees to sign an opt-out form which effectively removes the 48-hour restriction and allows employees to work for longer in a week. The opt-out form does not apply to the other minimum entitlements provided in the regulations, for example, minimum break entitlement during the working day or weekly rest periods.
    The Regulations were effectively a health and safety measure put in place to protect employees’ wellbeing by forcing employers to ensure that they get a minimum amount of rest throughout the year. Some enforcement of the provisions is done by the Health and Safety Executive. However, the power ultimately comes down to the employee who can make the decision to sign an opt-out form and disapply the weekly limit on working hours to themselves. It is unlawful to force an employee to sign an opt-out form, or to dismiss him if he refuses.
    You should therefore ask your employee to sign an opt-out agreement to show that you have taken steps to stay within the law. If they refuse to sign the agreement, then you should take reasonable steps to ensure that their working hours do not exceed the limit. This may mean contacting the employee’s other employer to ensure that, between the two of you, the employee is not working too many hours. You need only take reasonable steps, however, and if they employee is not willing to pass information about their other employer to you, then your steps are limited.

  2. Key sectors get work-hours say, (7/23 dateline issue) Hong Kong Standard via TheStandard.com.hk
    HONG KONG, China - The Standard Working Hours Committee will consult six sectors with the highest working hours over the introduction of legislation on the issue.
    The six sectors are retail; estate management and security; restaurants and catering; land transport, homes for the elderly; and dry cleaning services.
    It will also liaise with four chambers of commerce as well as major trade unions.

    Committee chairman Leong Che-hung yesterday said no decision had yet been made following a review of a report prepared by government economic advisers.
    Further deliberations were held on the overall framework that a standard working hours legislation would have to fit into.
    The committee also discussed how to protect lower-income employees with lesser skills and weaker bargaining power.
    Leong said the committee will also promote the use of a legally-binding contract that specifies a standard working hours arrangement.
    The report, commissioned by the committee, looked into the impact of standard working hours on low- income earners.
    "We thought HK$15,000 is a good level because in Hong Kong the average income is around HK$20,000 to HK$30,000," Leong said.
    Stanley Lau Chin-ho, who represents entrepreneurs, said HK$15,000 is not the bottom line as the report has also looked at monthly incomes of HK$10,000 and HK$12,000.


7/21/2015 – 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. Extreme working hours: Why do people do it to themselves? by C.W., The Economist via economist.com
    LONDON, U.K. - It is well known that in America, "extreme" working hours (slogging for more than fifty a week) have been getting more widespread in recent decades. In a famous paper from 2005, Peter Kuhn and Fernando Lozano showed that the share of employed, 25-to-64-year-old men who usually work 50 or more hours per week on their main job rose from 14.7% in 1980 to 18.5% in 2001. But much less is known about people in Europe. New research from Anna Burger, of the Central European University, presents some interesting findings.
    The first chart in her paper clearly shows that, especially for the highly-educated, extreme working hours have been getting more popular [or pressured-into?] since the 1980s. For instance, in the Netherlands, often seen as a haven of sensible working practices, the proportion of full-time workers who slog for more than 50 hours has been rising in recent decades (see chart at bottom).
    [Charts appear on http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2015/07/extreme-working-hours ]
    But as the chart at the bottom shows, the move towards longer working hours is not straightforward. What factors affect the likelihood of long hours? Ms Burger has many hypotheses; but after conducting a series of regressions, she finds two things to be the most important. The first is what she calls "labour-market regulation". This is an index for labour-market regulation (comprised of things like how difficult it is to fire people and how rigid working-hour rules are). In her regressions she calculates that weak labour-market regulation has a consistently positive effect on extreme hours. Her hypothesis, which seems reasonably plausible [or plausibly reasonable? tautologous!], is that when workers have fewer rights, bosses find it easier to pressure people into staying late.
    The second really important thing, she suggests, is how much part-time employment is about. With more, she calculates, the prevalence of extreme working hours drops. To understand how that operates, you need to take it in stages. The idea is that part-time employment only gains ground thanks to state intervention; in the Netherlands, for instance, in 2000 the right for women and men to ask for a job to be part-time was written into Dutch law. All that encourages gender equality, which means it becomes less acceptable for one member of a couple to remain at work for many hours per week. Thus it becomes less acceptable to work extreme hours.
    The one thing that Ms Burger does not discuss is the "Veblenian" explanation for long working hours, which I rather like. The Veblenian argument says that as jobs have generally become more knowledge-intensive, they have become more interesting. There are more whizzy things like computer-programming around these days, and fewer really dull jobs, like elevator-operators. As a result, people (especially the well-educated ones, who can find those cool jobs) quite like being at work: hence longer hours (for a proper explanation of this, see our Free exchange column). Nonetheless, despite the woeful quality of the time-use data with which she has to contend, Ms Burger's paper is a pretty good attempt to explain what is going on.

  2. The future of work: Sharing jobs with your mates, news.com.au
    Joe Sio and Mekita Fuimaono see job-sharing as quality time together. (photo caption)
    MELBOURNE, Australia - It’s a lot of fun. We’re not going out, but we enjoy going because we have to travel a fair bit, and we have these long drives together. My parents often babysit as it’s only for three or four hours.”
    It might sound like a lot of effort, but it fits in with many different modern ways of living.
    Gary Lai, a full-time nurse, said he started doing odd jobs he found online while at university and enlisted his friend Therese to join him.
    “If I had a short day, I’d hop online and look for tasks nearby, and say I can be free in 20 minutes, or an hour.
    “Once I finished uni [=university] and did a new graduate internship I thought I’d take on bigger jobs, like end-of-lease cleans. I would calculate how much they were offering and go to my best friend. We decided to split the jobs two ways and it would still be pretty good money. She was happy to come and help.”
    The pair find that being a team means if they ever have a double-booking or a customer needs to change a day, they can split the tasks, although they favour working together.
    “The bonus is that a lot of people don’t want anything too fussy. It’s simple.”
    Gary says he’s met many “job-runners” who have made a business through it. A housewife called Alice set up a laundry service, for example, collecting clothes from a number of homes, and recruiting someone to help.
    Some professional cleaning companies use sites like Airtasker to find odd jobs, not asking quite as much as if they’d been telephoned.
    The jobs are becoming more skilled and technical. In Australia, people advertise for the services of marketing experts and lawyers, while in the US, young tech-savvy groups are sharing out roles according to their individual qualifications on sites like TaskRabbit.
    Australia may not [be] as far along, but both young and older people are already benefiting from this sort of work.
    Hermiese Constable, 60, a retired public service worker, puts in 20 hours a week on Airtasker — “sometimes more, sometimes less.”
    She recruits her retired husband Bob, 65, and a 68-year-old friend to help with the larger jobs.

    “It’s cleaning, leafleting, some gardening, repairs,” she told news.com.au. “It’s good to do it together. I can choose how much work I do. I play sport[s] on Thursday so I don’t work then. We can have a week off when we want.
    “You’ve got to be computer literate, but it’s just an app.”
    They plan to do it for as long as they still want to. “You’re your own boss, it’s not something you’re locked into.”
    Hermiese, who lives in Melbourne, even took on a three-week dog-sitting job in Sydney when she wanted to visit family there.
    She believes some people are hesitant because you [find] there’s an element of risk. The advantage for doing it as a husband and wife team was that Bob would be right by her side.
    “I think people worry about going out and meeting people you don’t know. If they’re new, they don’t have reviews.”
    In that way, it’s like other “sharing economy” start-ups — Uber or Airbnb — both of which have found huge success and apparently reasonably secure systems.
    Flexible job shares still have a way to go. As Gary says: “Technically it’s cash in hand, it’s not proper paid work, there’s no paperwork, contracts or tax.”
    [In short, it's working "under the table."]
    But that could soon change. For people like Joe and Mekita, this way of working is special.
    “It means we achieve something together, and we get paid for it,” said Joe.
    You can’t say fairer than that.


7/19-20/2015 – 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. GM's Opel to Cut Output in Germany After Leaving Russian Market, 7/19 Reuters via TheMoscowTimes.com
    BERLIN, Germany — General Motors Co.'s Opel division is to cut production at two German factories as it grapples with lost volume after exiting the plunging Russian market.
    GM had said in March it would idle its plant in St. Petersburg and wind down the Opel brand in Russia, whose economy has been hit by lower oil prices, a weaker currency and Western sanctions over the Ukraine crisis.
    Opel, which originally planned to sell more than 80,000 cars in Russia this year, said on Friday it aims to shorten hours at its main plant in Ruesselsheim and at a site in Germany's eastern town of Eisenach.
    "Inventories and related costs will be minimized with this step," the carmaker said, after first-half Russian sales plunged 73 percent to about 9,000 autos.
    The plants in question produce the Adam Opel and Insignia cars, targeted more at Western European buyers.
    Opel said on Friday demand in Europe was developing only "moderately," though it remains confident of continuing a growth trend of the past two years in 2015, after its pan-European first-half sales rose 3 percent to 582,300 autos.
    That contrasts with more bullish statements on the European market from Volkswagen and from industry association ACEA, which earlier this month upgraded its forecast for European car sales to 5 percent growth.
    Volkswagen on Friday reported "significant growth" in some parts of Europe, with group sales in the region as a whole up 3.7 percent, despite a 40.9 percent drop in Russia, though sales overall were dogged by downturns in China and Latin America.
    Opel said it will apply for subsidies under the German government's "Kurzarbeit" short-time work program for about 25 working days in Eisenach and 15 days in Ruesselsheim, without being more specific.
    The scheme allows companies to preserve jobs by reducing employees' hours when plant usage is low, with the government compensating workers for part of their lost wages.

  2. 19 ways to view 4 percent, by Joe Lane, 7/20 DailyIowan.com
    IOWA CITY, Iowa, USA - Earlier in the campaign season, Republican hopeful Jeb Bush made the assertion that he believes 4 percent year-after-year real GDP growth is possible for the entire country.
    Bush elaborated on this belief with comments he made last week. As Bush put it, according to the New York Times, “people need to work longer hours and through their productivity gain more income for their families.”
    The comment quickly attracted criticism. Most notably, Democratic hopeful Hilary Clinton got involved in the conversation by tweeting, “Anyone who believes American workers aren’t working hard enough hasn’t met enough American workers.” To which Bush quickly responded via Twitter, “Anyone who discounts 6.5 million people stuck in part-time work & seeking full-time jobs hasn’t listened to working Americans.”
    Since the original interaction between the two politicians, news outlets have been abuzz discussing the validity and sincerity of Bush’s statements, stating he was simply referring to the 6.6 million Americans seeking full-time employment but stuck in part-time positions.
    Few, if any, Americans — regardless of political allegiances — would argue against Bush’s desire for part-time workers seeking full-time employment to achieve it. Many economists agree that in order to achieve 4 percent growth, Bush’s comments would have to extend past this portion of the working population.
    As the Times points out, there would have to be an interesting shift for this increased number of labor hours to work (so to speak). According to a source from the article, the taxing of labor income distorts work-leisure preferences.
    Workers know they are going to have a portion of their income from labor taken away in the form of taxes. This means, that in order to force American workers to be interested in working longer hours, taxes would have to be created on leisure activities or through a decrease on income tax.
    If American workers are allowed to keep a greater percentage of their paycheck, they will be more inclined to work longer hours. The Times points out that the U.S. already has a relatively long work week when compared with other high-income countries, but it could handle an increase.
    The idea of increasing the working hours of Americans that are already working fairly long weeks is certainly tough to handle. Conversely, the benefits of a longer workweek in the grand scheme of things are hard to deny — with respect to overall economic health of the country.
    [No, the benefits of a longer workweek in the grand scheme of things during the age of robotics are easy to deny - there just aren't enough 40-hour/week jobs for humans that are naturally demanded by the markets for our existing population this year let alone next year. And the more anxious jobseekers willing to work for less, the less consumer spending, marketable productivity and solid investment. Joe Lane has some serious gaps in his grand scheme of things. Joe, are you remotely aware that we cut the workweek in HALF from 1840 to 1940 as mechanization and automation moved in, but haven't touched it for the last 75 years?! And if you think the amount of work to be done is infinite, well the willingness to pay certainly isn't, and without pay it ain't work and adds nothing to consumer spending, marketable productivity or solid investment.]
    Yet there are other factors to consider. As the workweek lengthens, individuals will spend less time with loved ones, relax less, and lose time to spend money that would be injected into the economy through leisure activities.
    According to the GOP website, there are 19 individuals in consideration for the Republican nomination. With an enormous number like that, Republican hopefuls must find any point of differentiation to stick out. The economy has been a common jumping-off point for Republicans.
    Republicans have taken to standing by two things more fervently than ever — the economy and immigration reform. Oddly, increased immigration is one of the few things that can achieve such economic growth. The other is increased productivity, which comes from increased labor hours.
    Come election season, Americans will have the difficult choice between Republicans adding labor hours to their week and Democrats accepting the average GDP growth of the past. Either way, this election season will be split in more ways than one.


7/18/2015 – 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. This Portland Company Honors 35-Hour Work Weeks and Says, Less is More, by Esha Chhabra, Forbes.com
    PORTLAND, Ore., USA - Grovemade’s co-founders Ken Tomita and Joe Mansfield have found a niche in making wooden accessories for your desk, iPhone, and computer. True Portlandians, they give their staff a 35-hour work week and believe in doing less, not more.
    Back in 2009, Tomita, a furniture manufacturer, joined forces with Mansfield, a digital artist, to build a company that focuses on craftsmanship, design, and natural materials. They define themselves as a “family of creators — close knit and a little crazy.”
    Despite the success of Grovemade with natural materials, Tomita says that he’s not into buzzwords like “sustainability” or running a company that’s typecast as “eco-friendly.” And he admits, manufacturing in the US is tough: “There are no shortcuts.”
    Here’s our chat.
    Q: When you started the company, did you think about the materials that you wanted to use given that you were already working in furniture?
    A: Back when we started, we used exclusively bamboo. My previous business tomitadesigns.com focused on contemporary bamboo furniture with a Japanese twist. Since I was so familiar with the material it was natural to use bamboo.
    Q: And was using recycled materials or natural materials a really important part or was it more because of the design element?
    A: Using natural materials was an intentional choice.
    My mission in furniture design was to bring the warmth of tradition to modern design. With Grovemade, we started by making accessories out of natural materials for technology products. The juxtaposition of the warm material against cold materials like glass and metal are what initially interest people. With an Apple product even the slightest imperfection or scratch will make people unhappy. With our wood products, they are intended to wear intentionally–quite a different philosophy. By using natural oil finishes that are in the wood (rather than a plasticky clear coat) you can still feel the wood for what it is and our products develop a wonderful patina over time, just like your grandma’s nice furniture.
    Q: How are you managing waste today? Are there new products or changes that you’ve made recently to reduce waste?
    A: Our products evolve every day. Through years of continuous improvement our iPhone case has evolved from being made from a primarily reductive process to additive. Our old designs involved taking a block of material and machining out most of it. Now, our cases involve gluing together components that we first laser cut, kind of like a picture frame. We then machine that frame. This process is more additive and reduces a ton of waste while also making our cases significantly stronger.
    Q: You switched from using imported bamboo to American walnut and Maple. Why?
    A: When we used bamboo as our primary material, it always bugged us that it was only available imported from China. We heard rumors of American manufacturers attempting to do it domestically but still to this day nobody makes the material here.
    The switch happened naturally when our cases changed to our new construction method. When building it like a picture frame, the bamboo was too prone to splitting. The new method simply did not work in bamboo, too weak. This was the catalyst to taking the leap into switching materials to American hardwoods. The fact that the material is domestic is an added bonus.
    Much of the walnut is in fact sourced from our own state!
    Q: Are you using any reclaimed materials like reclaimed wood?
    A: We don’t use any woods other than walnut or maple. People both inside and outside the company are constantly asking for more woods. We resist the temptation to complicate our product offering by offering more variations to maintain focus on our products themselves.
    Oftentimes it’s what you don’t do that matters. There are a lot of things we don’t do!
    Q: You said that you’re not an eco-friendly company. But you’re clearly using materials that are long-lasting and natural. Is it simply for aesthetics?
    A: We don’t label ourselves as an eco-friendly company or otherwise use buzzwords that might manipulate a customer into buying our product. We just say what we do and let people make their own judgements.
    In reality, we are conscientious and do what makes sense. We make sure our way of life is healthy for us and that includes being aware and proud of what we do. We just don’t advertise the eco side because it will distract from our core. We have more value than that.
    Our core is that a small team that leads a meaningful life will naturally develop great products and experiences.
    Q: Are you personally interested [in] sustainability issues and the environment?
    A: Not really beyond being reasonable. My primary passion is in people. What is a meaningful life for people? Why do we do what we do?
    Q: Who is your customer? What distinguishes them?
    A: I think our unique culture churns out products that are a step beyond normal. We care a little bit more and it shows, basically. Our customers are in turn, people who care a little bit more. They care about who makes their product, where, and the little things that make our products a little bit better.
    Now, our niche is small. We know who we are. We aren’t appealing to the masses or even attempting to compete on price. We do what we do and are grateful that there are people out there that care about the same things we do.
    Q: Much has been written about how expensive it is to manufacture products in America. What has been your experience running a manufacturing business?
    A: It is extremely challenging to manufacture in America.
    A big reason we do most of our manufacturing ourselves is we can’t find anyone to do it for us and definitely not to our level of quality that we demand. Being a manufacturer is not a glorious business plan. The margins are small and to put it simply, it’s really hard. Actually making things is hard so no one wants to do it. Manufacturing also does not scale like a technology business. More quantity means more work.
    Our motto is “Made the Hard Way.” There are no shortcuts. We don’t mind the grit though. We take pride that we will do things the hard way to get the best possible product. When things are hard we think of it as a blessing- that is why we can exist here in Portland doing what we love.
    Q: What is the vision for Grovemade going forward? You’ve hinted at moving away from tech to more household products. Why so?
    The vision is to strengthen our company internally with the belief that the rest will follow. We’ve learned a lot in the last six years. Our team is capable of doing pretty much anything. We hope to use our strengths to break into new product categories. Typically, a company like us will strengthen their brand and then leverage that brand strength to become a lifestyle company by adding products from other companies. These brands can grow quickly because they don’t have to develop those new products.
    What is unique about us is that we are going to attempt to break into the new categories ourselves. No doubt it will be challenging to learn about new genres and be very slow but we believe that if we succeed it will be better. By doing it ourselves our brand, design, and unique manufacturing capabilities will have strong continuity and we will not lose our authenticity.
    Q: How does being an entrepreneur in Portland affect your style, design, ethos?
    A: I think our location affects our culture. Work/life balance is really important to people here. People value how much they enjoy a job and how much meaning they derive from it.
    We are not a hard driving bay area startup. People work about 35 hrs a week.
    Me personally, as an entrepreneur, I think I grew up in the perfect place. Portland is about new ideas, cooperation and collaboration, free thinking. Im sure who I am as a person has been influenced by Portland, having lived here for 30 years. I am also originally from Japan and there are influences there in the way I think about work and design.

  2. Opel Plans to Introduce Short-time Work at Two German Plants, by Natascha Divac, (7/17 late pickup) Dow Jones Newswires via nasdaq.com
    FRANKFURT, Germany -- General Motors Co.'s German unit Adam Opel GmbH said Friday it plans to introduce short-time work at two German plants to take into account the only moderate pace of growth in the European vehicle market as well as its withdrawal from the Russian market.
    The auto maker will approach the German labor office on whether it can implement short-time work at its Eisenach and Ruesselsheim plants for about 25 and 15 days respectively by the end of 2015. Short-time work is a German program designed to avoid job cuts, under which the state compensates employees for unworked hours.
    Implementing the measure will "minimize inventories and related costs," Opel said.
    Opel said that regardless of this decision, it is confident that it can "continue the growth trend of the last two years." Last year, the combined Opel and Vauxhall brands sold 1.08 million vehicles.
    Between January and June, the company sold 582,300 vehicles, an increase of 3% on the prior-year period.
    GM said in March it is closing its plant in Russia and stopping the sale of many of its products in that market.
    Write to Natascha Divac at Natascha.Divac@wsj.com


7/17/2015 – 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. Haggen markets reportedly laying off workers and cutting hours, by Shan Li, Ventura County Star via vcstar.com
    VENTURA, Calif., USA - Haggen Inc., the supermarket chain that bet big on California, is laying off employees and cutting worker hours as it struggles to make headway in the highly competitive Southland grocery market.
    The Pacific Northwest chain this year bought 146 Albertsons, Vons, Pavilions and Safeway stores, including 83 in California, mostly in the south, including in Ventura County.
    [Haggen or Hoggin'?]
    It has spent the last few months converting them to the Haggen brand and keeping most of the store employees.
    Seven Albertsons and two Vons stores in Ventura County converted into Haggen stores with the first transformations beginning in April in the Conejo Valley. Store employees were excited at the time, but now it’s not known if they’ve been impacted by the layoffs and cuts. Managers at area markets referred calls to company headquarters, where a spokeswoman declined to say which stores are being impacted.
    “We’re currently focused on working through this transition with store teams and leadership so, out of respect for the process and our employees, no additional information will be shared at this time,” said Golan Moran.
    Bill Shaner, Haggen’s executive in charge of California, Nevada and Arizona, has said that Haggen will win over shoppers with higher-quality products at low prices. But this week, the Bellingham, Wash., company acknowledged that Haggen is dealing with “unprecedented” competition in the Southwest.
    “To ensure we’re operating as efficiently as possible, we have made the difficult decision to temporarily cut back on staff hours at our stores,” Shaner said.
    Haggen, which has about 10,000 employees overall, did not specify how many workers would be affected, nor did it confirm that there have been layoffs.
    Local employees said some workers have been laid off, including store clerks.
    [Markets and retail ain't gonna get more customers with layoffs, but cutting hours to avoid cutting jobs & breadwinners & dependents, yes = timesizing, not downsizing.]
    The layoffs and reductions in hours indicate that Haggen is having problems winning shoppers, analysts said.
    “Clearly they are underperforming,” said Jim Prevor, a food analyst and founder of PerishablePundit.com. “This is a clear sign that their sales expectations are not being met.”
    Haggen is introducing its brand to California at a time when grocers are facing heightened competition for food shoppers.
    Farmers markets are springing up all over the Southland. Smaller chains, including Trader Joe’s, also have been expanding while big-box retailers such as Walmart and Target have been scaling up their food offerings.
    Online players Google and Amazon.com also have been pushing grocery delivery. Last month, German discount grocer Aldi said it planned to open 45 Southland stores starting next March.

  2. Cauvery outlets withdraw draconian working hours, BangaloreMirror.com
    BANGALORE, India - The state-owned Cauvery handicraft showrooms have withdrawn the May 21 order imposing 9.5 working hours for their staff.
    In violation of labour laws, the staff were not even allowed a break during work. After several petitions by the workers' union, the Karnataka State Handicrafts Development Corporation [KSHDC], which runs the Cauvery brand arts and crafts emporia has rescheduled the working hours.
    On May 21 this year, a directive was issued by KSHDC that two (of the four) showrooms in Jayanagar will function from 10.30 am to 8 pm. It was particularly specified that there would be no break. The employees' union opposed this increased time slots.
    President of the Cauvery Handicrafts Noukarara Kshemabhivruddhi Sangha, N P Amrutesh contended that in the face of a written order, all employees were at risk even if they went out for lunch on oral permission. The employees' union made petitions to the ministers concerned and labour officers stating a law that prescribed shifts for employees when an enterprise worked for more than eight hours a day. The 9.5 hour work schedule came into effect from June 1.
    Due to the efforts of the union, the general manager (marketing) of KSHDC issued an office order on July 13 introducing two shifts for the overworked employees. The two shifts are between 10 am and 4.30 pm and from 2 pm to 8.30 pm. This way, the two shifts have a work duration of 6.5 hours each.

    The memo states, "Heads of the above emporia are required to distribute existing staff over two shifts in such a way that it will ensure smooth functioning of the emporium."


7/16/2015 – 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. Robots Appear To Raise Productivity Without Causing Total Work Hours To Decline, Mil Tech via military-technologies.net
    WARSAW, Poland - Hallie Siegel writes:
    We often read about the economic impact of robots on employment, usually accompanied with the assertion that "robots steal jobs".
    [Or the opposite assertion that "technology creates more jobs than it destroys."]
    But to date there has precious little economic analysis of the actual effects that robots are already having on employment and productivity. Georg Graetz (Professor of Economics at Uppsala University) and Guy Michaels (Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics) undertook a study (abstract)
    http://www.cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=10477#
    of how robots impacted productivity and employment between 1993 and 2007, and found that "industrial robots increase labor productivity, total factor productivity and wages."
    [i.e., wages of fewer continuing employees? And there are also several surveys out showing wages have not increased nearly as much as productivity. And let's not forget the spread of lights-out manufacturing where they don't even have to turn the lights on because there are NO human employees in the factory or factory system.]
    And while there is some evidence that they reduced the employment of low skilled workers, and, to a lesser extent, middle skilled workers, industrial robots had no significant effect on total hours worked.
    [- "total hours worked" by humans, robots or both? If robots increase efficiency and productivity without increasing markets, something has to give and that something has to be human-employee headcount (the usual), or human-employee working hours (=the ideal because pay will be maintained if number of anxious jobseekers is not increased).]
    This is important because it seems to contradict many of the pessimistic assertions that are presently being made about the impact of robots on jobs.
    [Not necessarily. And pessimistic for whom, employees or employers, and in the short or long term?]
    What I am especially curious about is post-2007 data, however, because it's just in the past few years that we have seen a major shift in industrial robotics to incorporate collaborative robots, or co-robots. (Robots specifically designed to work alongside humans, as tools for augmenting human performance.)
    [All robots augment human performance.]
    One might reasonably suspect that some of the negative impact of industrial robotics on low and middle skilled workers pre 2007 could be offset by the more recent and increasing use of co-bots, which are not designed to replace humans, but instead to make them more efficient.
    [Any increase in efficiency that is translated into human-workforce downsizing by employers cuts consumer spending and therefore, directly or indirectly, the markets for whatever the robots or co-bots are producing. So the real question is, where is the sustainability in downsizing workforces and markets instead of timesizing and at least maintaining current employment and consumer-demand levels?]

  2. Thoughts on 'Rise of the Robots', by Matt Reed, (7/15 late pickup) InsideHigherEd.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - In what feels like a previous life, I used to read a lot of midcentury social theory. Some very smart people -- I’m thinking here of folks like David Riesman -- used to argue that the great crisis of the coming decades would be the sudden abundance of leisure. Given the outsize productivity gains of the previous decades, and the declines in the average workweek, it seemed reasonable to look forward and suggest that the future held ever-shorter workweeks. In that scenario, what to do with so much “found time” seemed like a burning issue. (Riesman titled one of his books Abundance for What?, which gives a pretty accurate idea of what he took as given.) No less an economic thinker than Keynes believed that workweeks would get steadily shorter, freeing people up to pursue more interesting things.
    Somewhere along the way, that didn’t happen.
    [Because it doesn't happen by itself and never did. It took a lot of pressure from organized labor, and after halving the workweek from 80 to 40 hours between 1840 and 1940 when labor was successfully distracted from shorter hours onto higher pay regardless of skill supply and demand, the 40-hour workweek froze and has been with us ever since, with ever mounting labor surpluses and creativity in hiding them: welfare, disability, homelessness, prison, suicide...]
    Productivity is much higher now than it was then, though living standards for middle-class Americans peaked somewhere around 1970.
    [when the babyboomers entered the job market, replaced the labor surplus of the Great Depression, and put an end to rising wages.]
    We’ve become astoundingly good at coming up with ways to consume leisure time. My kids have trouble believing that there were once only four channels on tv, and the idea that we didn’t have the internet strikes them as horrifying. I’m old enough to remember when seeing a movie meant hoping that it came to the local theater, or that it would be “movie of the week” on one of the four channels. Now, I have to explain to the kids why they shouldn’t stream Netflix over 4G. The “abundance of leisure” problem has been solved.
    [without the "abundance" part. The leisure part, in the sense of more job-secure free time, is going in reverse -]
    But the “how to make a living” problem is real. Rise of the Robots, by Martin Ford, makes a strong case that technology-driven job elimination is outpacing technology-driven job creation, and it isn’t confined to blue-collar jobs anymore. As robotics and artificial intelligence have advanced with increasing speed, they’ve been able to displace humans in progressively higher-skilled occupations. Over time, human labor is split: a small elite either owns or designs the machines, and makes an absolute killing. A majority is shunted into work that’s both idiosyncratic -- and therefore hard to automate -- and low-value, making it not worth automating. (Much low-end service sector work fits this description.) And the rest are pushed outside of formal employment altogether.
    In the world predicted at midcentury, this wouldn’t have been a problem. Many critics at that time assumed that increased wealth would be spread evenly across society [another thing that requires pressure and does not happen by itself]; they assumed a de facto decoupling of ownership from profits [whaaat? no they didn't! but maybe they assumed a balance of labor and employment instead of a labor surplus, but that balance would require overtime-to-job conversion and shorter hours]. Instead, we’ve doubled down on the tight connection between ownership and profits. In many fields, we’ve increasingly decoupled work from meaningful income.
    [But then it's not really "work" - as in unpaid internships; it's just "happy slavery" masquerading as training.]
    Ford notes that healthcare and education have been relatively immune to the rise of the robots so far, with a few exceptions. (He claims that pharmacists have taken it on the chin; I don’t know whether he’s right about that.) By the logic of Baumol’s cost disease -- which he briefly outlines but never names -- we should expect cost increases in healthcare and education to continue to outstrip most other sectors, simply because their productivity is increasing much more slowly than everyone else’s. As that happens, we should expect the pincer movement of higher prices and internal austerity to tighten. (Ford may be more right than he knows; for example, he places far greater faith in robo-graders for papers than I do. If I’m right, then the productivity nut is even harder to crack than he thinks it is.)
    What Ford gets right, and the midcentury critics got wrong, is that a strong middle class is neither inevitable nor natural.
    [Well, insofar as the alternatives are less sustainable, a strong middle class is inevitable and natural but not necessarily in any particular economy like the U.S. or on any particular timetable like "the coming decades."]
    It’s a relatively recent, and fragile, development,
    [- well, "recent" if 1348 (the Black Death) is recent, but certainly fragile if the plagues and wars that previously achieved wage-level-increasing labor shortages are not replaced by workweek reduction and overtime-to-job conversion now that plagues and wars have been ineffectualized by modern medicine and drones -]
    and it was the result of a set of conscious political choices [wars yes, plagues no]. As those choices are reversed, the conditions under which a middle class can thrive go away, and the middle class struggles to reproduce itself. The savvier members engage in “opportunity hoarding,” or pulling up the [skills-acquisition] drawbridge behind them; the less savvy ones gradually (or quickly) lose ground, and wonder just what the hell happened.
    From the perspective of someone working in the community college world, Ford’s diagnosis is bracing. Community colleges are designed to create a middle class for a society that’s increasingly moving away from a middle class economy.
    [No, they're designed to make post-secondary education a little more practical, i.e., more like job training.]
    The task is getting objectively harder. Jobs that once seemed like sure bets for long-term economic security come under attack, one after the other. Yes, some still exist, and I’m happy to prepare students for them. But if you compare, say, the number of people who work at Amazon to the number of people who used to work at Borders, you can see the problem.
    [And what are those numbers?]
    Perversely, I actually draw some hope from the staggering wrongness of Riesman’s and Keynes’ predictions.
    [That's why they call him Matt "Pollyanna" Reid!]
    They were very smart people who wrote books that captured important truths about their times, but they got the future badly wrong.
    [Not badly wrong - just the closer timing and possibly an inadequate appreciation on how much deliberate effort it took to reduce the workweek between 1840 and 1940.]
    As smart as they were, they couldn’t capture the entire picture, and the cracks in their systems let in so much water that the whole thing sunk.
    [Not the whole thing - 28 states now have the halfway step of worksharing.]
    If we’re lucky, fifty years from now, someone will say the same about Martin Ford.


7/15/2015 – 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. Call to limit long working hours in aviation sector, by Phil Davies, Travel Weekly UK via travelweekly.co.uk
    LONDON, U.K. - A call to limit long working hours in the aviation sector has been made after investigators highlighted fatigue as a contributor to engine problems which prompted an emergency landing at Heathrow.
    The British Airways Airbus A319 bound for Oslo with 75 passengers and five crew had to return to the airport four minutes into its flight with one engine damaged and another on fire.
    The Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) pointed to a maintenance error which had led to fan cowl doors being left unlatched on both engines. Both detached from the aircraft, damaging the Airbus and a number of its systems.
    Leaking fuel from a damaged fuel pipe on the right engine ignited and an external fire developed, meaning that the aircraft had to be flown back on a single engine.
    “A number of passengers saw fuel leaking from the right engine. One passenger highlighted the leaking fluid to a member of the cabin crew, stating that it appeared to be fuel, but was told that it was not. Photographs taken by passengers show a significant fluid leak from the right engine,” according to the AAIB report.
    The aircraft was met by fire crews having landed safely and passengers were evacuated using emergency escape slides.
    “A number of organisational factors were contributory to the maintenance error. The operator has since taken action to address these issues,” the AAIB said while making five safety recommendations in the wake of the incident which occurred in May 2013.
    Both technicians working on the aircraft the previous night were on overtime and it was not their regular shift.
    The AAIB found that “there were no other means of assessing the level of fatigue in maintenance workers, based on their actual attendance record including any overtime worked”.
    The report said: “Both technicians were working in compliance with the company’s working time policy. However, analysis of their working time records showed that there was an increased risk that their performance could be compromised by fatigue.
    “This was induced by the significant level of planned and overtime working that they had carried out prior to and including the shift in question.”

    Responding to the report, Dr Rob Hunter, head of flight safety at the British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa), said: “Balpa has been highlighting the prevalence of fatigue amongst pilots in recent years.
    “The AAIB’s report makes it clear that the problem goes beyond pilots and could well be affecting other workers in safety-critical roles in aviation.”
    “We hope EASA [the European Aviation Safety Agency] takes full notice of the fatigue elements in this report and implements the AAIB’s safety recommendations. EASA should also bear in mind our continual warning that fatigue is an insidious problem in aviation which must be taken seriously.”
    BA executive chairman, Keith Williams, said: "The safety of our customers and crew is always our highest priority.
    [oh SURE!]
    "The changes we have already made to our procedures, along with the safety recommendations for EASA and Airbus, will prevent occurrences of this type of incident in the future."
    Although the hours of technicians were compliant with working time legislation, the company had restructured its overnight engineering teams, BA added.

  2. EMS Hiring Outside Help to Rethink Medics' Marathon Schedules - Workloads for Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services paramedics taking their toll, by Philip Jankowski, TNS via Austin American-Statesman via Emergency Management via emergencymgmt.com
    AUSTIN, Tex., USA - Tony Marquardt remembers sitting in his car staring at a stop sign, so overcome with fatigue that his tired mind thought he was stopped at a red light.
    It happened after his shift as an Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services paramedic had stretched beyond 24 hours. Having an active workload for such a long time had taken its toll.
    "It was overwhelming," said Marquardt, president of the paramedics union. "When put into a situation where you have exceeded the human capacity to function responsibly, I think you revert to self-preservation."
    With work shifts that last as long as 24 hours and mandatory overtime each week, Austin-Travis County EMS is taking a hard look at paramedics' schedules, hoping to curb employee exhaustion.
    The agency recently hired the fatigue management consultation company Circadian to examine several aspects of how it conducts business. EMS will pay $19,500 for Circadian's analysis.
    Circadian is a consulting firm that specializes in businesses that operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They have worked with several EMS agencies, but a spokeswoman declined to name them because of client confidentiality policies. The company has worked with other industries, including airlines, pipeline companies and trucking firms.
    Circadian worked with Austin-Travis County EMS before, conducting studies in 2006 that showed paramedics had above-average rates for the amount of consecutive hours they went without sleep and higher instances of nodding off while on the job. The company's work resulted in schedules that the agency still uses.
    "Our goal is to optimize the health, safety, efficiency and quality of work-life balance for those individuals engaged in shift work or that work 'extended hours," said William Davis, Circadian's vice president of operations and the consultant handling Austin-Travis County EMS.
    [oh SURE!]
    The 24-hour shifts that Austin paramedics work are not uncommon. Paramedics in San Antonio and Dallas also work for 24 hours straight. But unlike Travis County paramedics, they have required days off.
    Dallas paramedics are required to have two full days off before working another 24-hour shift, spokesman Jason Evans said. In San Antonio, paramedics must have at least 72 hours off, spokesman Christian Bove said.
    On top of that, neither of those departments require overtime, unlike Austin-Travis County EMS, which requires eight hours of overtime each week.
    Changes are in the works. Both Austin-Travis County EMS administrators and the union acknowledge that 48 hours is too many hours to work in one week. The tentative goal is to drop it to 42 hours a week, officials said.
    Several years ago, the department mandated a 56-hour work week. Circadian performed consulting work for EMS then as well. At the time, more than half of the department worked about 60 hours a week.
    With the transition to a 48-hour work week, Circadian created optimized schedules to reduce the amount of hours worked.
    When they created schedules in 2006, it led to 12-hour shifts for many stations in densely populated areas that are the busiest in the county. Of EMS' 33 stations, 11 have 12-hour shifts.
    Those 12-hour shifts have helped, Marquardt said. But they can create "cumulative fatigue" when paramedics work too many days in a row with those shifts, he said.
    Though 48 hours of work are required, an American-Statesman review of records showed many paramedics work far more each week.
    For instance, field medic Michael Shipley worked 1,585.75 hours of overtime (mandatory time included) in 2014. That averaged out to about 70 work hours a week. Those hours netted Shipley $138,486.
    That comes near the salaries for some of EMS' leading administrators.
    "We have some OT hounds," EMS Captain Rick Rutledge said. "There's a lot out there, and they're getting it. You've got to be younger than me to handle that."


7/14/2015 – 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. Why Jeb Bush is Wrong to Focus on Growth Alone, by Matt Bruenig, (7/13 late pickup) Policyshop via demos.org/blog
    TALLAHASSEE, Fla., USA - Jeb Bush has made it clear that growth is going to be a big part of his campaign. Before the thinkpieces start flowing on whether he can achieve it and how he hopes to achieve it, we should take a step back and ask ourselves what exactly we mean by growth, and why we think it's important.
    1. Overall GDP
    When politicians and media people talk about growth, they are normally referring to increasing the size of the country's overall Gross Domestic Product. Since 1970, US GDP has increased by 233% in inflation-adjusted terms. Here is that growth alongside growth in the Nordic countries during the same period:
    graph on http://www.demos.org/blog/7/13/15/why-jeb-bush-wrong-focus-growth-alone
    On average, US GDP grew 2.9% per year over the period, more than every Nordic except oil-rich Norway.
    graph on http://www.demos.org/blog/7/13/15/why-jeb-bush-wrong-focus-growth-alone
    Despite the fixation on this metric among economic pundits and the Bush campaign, it's very hard to understand what's important about it. Because it does not take into consideration population dynamics, it's trivially easy to run up GDP by simply adding population at a fast rate, either by having a high birth rate or having a high net immigration rate.
    And, in fact, this is precisely what the US does.
    graph on http://www.demos.org/blog/7/13/15/why-jeb-bush-wrong-focus-growth-alone
    I am all for reasonably adding population through immigration and basically neutral on birth rates, but increases in GDP that result from these things do not really reflect much on the success of a country's economic institutions (tax levels, distributive policies, etc.) or the average well-being of those in the society.
    2. GDP Per Person
    To correct for differences in population dynamics, a better growth metric is GDP per person. Since 1970, US GDP per person has grown 116%.
    graph on http://www.demos.org/blog/7/13/15/why-jeb-bush-wrong-focus-growth-alone
    On average, US GDP per capita grew 1.8% during this period, putting it slightly above Denmark and Sweden, but below Norway and Finland.
    graph on http://www.demos.org/blog/7/13/15/why-jeb-bush-wrong-focus-growth-alone
    This is a far superior metric to overall GDP. Because it tracks output per person over time, it also tracks something significant about the average well-being of people in a society. Additionally, by controlling out population changes, this metric will more closely track how successful a country is at increasing its productivity, not just its number of people.
    Yet, this metric too has its problems. Most importantly, it does not do a good job of reflecting differences in work hours over time. A country that finds ways to be more productive on an hourly basis may use that extra productivity to take home more income. Or, it may use it to buy extra free time away from work. Which is the right thing to do depends upon how much you value longer vacations, shorter workdays, and more leisure time more generally. The GDP per person metric effectively penalizes the countries that go the leisure route, even though that's a perfectly defensible decision.
    3. GDP Per Hour Worked
    To correct for differential leisure dynamics, we can track growth in GDP per hour worked. Since 1970, US GDP per hour worked increased 102%.
    graph on http://www.demos.org/blog/7/13/15/why-jeb-bush-wrong-focus-growth-alone
    On average, US GDP per hour worked increased 1.7% over this period, less than every Nordic country.
    graph on http://www.demos.org/blog/7/13/15/why-jeb-bush-wrong-focus-growth-alone
    The reason the Nordics do better here than the per-person metric is that they have reduced work hours more over this period than the US. In fact, if we divide total hours worked by total population, the US has actually increased work hours on a per-person basis since 1970.
    graph on http://www.demos.org/blog/7/13/15/why-jeb-bush-wrong-focus-growth-alone
    Over this period, US hours worked per capita increased by 52 hours, or 7%. For comparison, Finland's hours worked per capita decreased by 225 hours, or 23%.
    graph on http://www.demos.org/blog/7/13/15/why-jeb-bush-wrong-focus-growth-alone
    There are many reasons for this change in hours. For instance, the US significantly increased its female employment-to-population (EPOP) ratio over this period, which greatly added to total hours, while the Nordics (whose female EPOP in 1970 was already near where the US female EPOP got to in 2013) did not add as many female work hours (though female EPOP grew there as well). Demographic shifts contributed also.
    The main reason for this difference though is that Nordic workers simply cut their hours by a much greater magnitude than US workers.
    graph on http://www.demos.org/blog/7/13/15/why-jeb-bush-wrong-focus-growth-alone
    Over the period, US workers cut their work time by 123 hours, or 6%. In Norway, work time was cut by 427 hours, or 23%.
    graph on http://www.demos.org/blog/7/13/15/why-jeb-bush-wrong-focus-growth-alone
    It's common for US pundits to puzzle over Keynes failed prediction that increased productivity would deliver us greatly increasing leisure, but it isn't actually a failed prediction everywhere.
    In an ideal world, discussions of ideal work levels would be detached from discussions of unemployment, growth, and distribution. But in our narrow political frame, all of these things are mushed together, and tend towards the view that we must have more work hours to solve all the other stuff. This, of course, isn't true. You can reduce overall work hours (through longer vacations and more paid leave) while reducing unemployment, increasing GDP/hour, and even boosting the incomes of the poor and working classes (despite reducing work hours) by increasing transfer incomes. Yet, because of market income fetishism and simplistic discussions of GDP growth, we don't seem to have the political imagination to even consider such a program.

  2. Shorter working hours for clinics during Eid break, (7/13 late pickup) Gulf-Times.com
    DOHA, Qatar - Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) has announced the operating hours for its hospitals during the Eid al-Fitr holidays.
    Hamad General Hospital (HGH)’s Outpatient Department (OPD) clinics and pharmacy will be closed from July 16 to 20 and reopen on July 21. Patients booked for some clinics will be contacted individually to confirm their appointments and those clinics will operate from 7am to 3pm.
    The OPD pharmacy will be open when any clinic is open. The laboratory, radiology and other diagnostics services will have appropriate coverage daily. HGH’s medical records department will continue to operate 24/7.
    Al Wakra Hospital (AWH)’s OPD clinics and pharmacy (including women’s pharmacy) will be closed from July 16 to 19. Some outpatient clinics (morning and evening) will resume from July 20 to 23, 7am to 3pm. Opening of clinics will be based on the total number of patients booked for each clinic. The hospital’s main OPD pharmacy will be open from July 20 to 23, 7am to 3pm. Normal operation will resume on July 26.
    AWH’s emergency department, including the adult see and treat unit, paediatric emergency as well as emergency and inpatient pharmacies, will remain open throughout the break. The labour room, neonatal intensive care unit and paediatric intensive care unit will continue to operate fully while the paediatric OPD will open from July 20 to 23 (date subject to change).
    The obstetrics/gynaecology OPD will be open on July 22 and 23 while its emergency section will run as usual. Operating theatres will be available for emergency elective surgeries after the Eid holidays.
    Women’s Hospital’s OPD clinics will operate from 9am to 1pm from July 19 to 23. The hospital’s pharmacy will operate as usual 24 hours throughout the holidays.
    The Cuban Hospital (TCH)’s OPD clinics and pharmacy will be closed from July 16 to 19 and reopen on July 20. Some outpatient clinics will open with restricted working hours throughout the holidays; patients booked for those clinics will be contacted individually to confirm their appointments. The OPD pharmacy will be open when any clinics are open. TCH’s emergency department, including the pharmacy, will remain open 24/7, including dispensing of urgent prescription refills. After-hours emergency dental services will be available but provide only emergency dental work and temporary fillings. Operating theatres will be available for emergency cases over the holidays.
    Al Khor Hospital’s OPD clinics will be closed throughout the Eid break. The accident and emergency department pharmacy will be open 24 hours. All urgent cases, including medications refill, during this period should proceed directly to the emergency units.
    Heart Hospital (HH)’s OPD will be closed from July 17 to 25 and resume operations on July 26, including evening clinics running from 3.30pm to 7.30pm. However, HH’s OPD will operate a limited number of clinics (two consultations and one warfarin clinic) on July 22 and 23.
    Rumailah Hospital (RH)’s OPD clinics will be open as follows: the dermatology clinic will open only on July 19 and 20, 9am to 12noon. The communicable diseases clinics will operate throughout the break, every Sunday to Thursday, from 7am to 3pm. The dentistry clinic will be open only on July 21, 22 and 23, 8am to 2pm.
    The Psychiatry Department’s OPD clinics will be closed throughout the Eid break. The clinics will resume from July 20 to 23, 7am to 3pm. The community mental health services adult outreach will operate as usual from 7am to 3pm and old-age outreach services will function as usual.
    All services in the National Centre for Cancer Care and Research will run as usual during the Eid holidays with some exceptions. The day care unit will be closed on July 18 and 19 while the OPD will be closed on July 19 and 20. The urgent care unit will operate 24/7 and continue to provide assistance and assessment to any patients who visit during the holidays. The Referral and Booking Management System and the Hamad Patient Contact Centre will cover most OPDs operational hours throughout the break. The contact centre will continue to remind patients of their appointment through phone calls and text message.


7/12-13/2015 – 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. David Cameron 'trying to exempt UK from EU laws on working hours and agency staff'.., by Lizzie Dearden, 7/12 (7/11 late pickup) The London Independent via independent.co.uk
    Downing Street dismissed the claims as 'speculation' but said the Prime Minister would try and cut back on 'unnecessary EU regulation' (photo 1 caption)
    Mr Cameron is reportedly seeking opt-outs from the Working Time Directive and Temporary Agency Work Directive (photo 2 caption)
    Tony Blair's administration signed the working time directive soon after coming to power in 1997 (photo caption)

    LONDON, U.K. - Downing Street has dismissed claims that David Cameron is set to push for the UK to be exempt from European Union employment laws as “speculation”.
    Reports last night claimed the Prime Minister was attempting to restore legislative opt-outs from rules governing time limits on working hours and rights for temporary workers.
    The Times and Daily Telegraph claimed the move was part of the Government’s attempts to redefine Britain’s relationship with the EU ahead of the in/out referendum by the end of 2017.
    They said the social chapter which covers areas including equal opportunities and working conditions was being targeted.
    The working time directive joined by the last Labour government imposes a 48-hour limit on the working week [including overtime], with specified rest periods and regulations on annual leave, which can be ignored by workers.
    Mr Cameron is also believed to be seeking an exemption for the UK from the directive on temporary agency work, which guarantees people working through employment agencies equal pay and conditions to permanent workers doing the same job.
    A senior Tory quoted in The Times said: “A big item is the return of the opt-out from social and employment legislation that would include the working time and temporary worker directives.
    “For later on, we want a protocol and line in a future treaty saying employment conditions are the responsibility of member states.”
    Labour said the mooted demands appeared to be aimed at keeping the Conservative Party happy, rather than improving Britain's relationship with the EU.
    “Tearing up rights at work is no basis for winning support to stay in a reformed EU, which is what the Prime Minister claims is his objective,” said Pat McFadden, the party’s spokesperson for Europe.
    Mr Cameron's demands ahead of the vote on whether to sever ties with Brussels include measures to restrict welfare for EU migrants, an escape from “ever-closer union” in Europe, greater powers for national parliaments and protections for countries without the Euro.
    Britain had previously secured the right to opt out of some legislation covering social and employment rules but it was given up by Tony Blair during his tenure as Prime Minister.
    A spokesperson for Downing Street said the reports were more of the “speculation” it had expected during negotiations.
    "The Prime Minister has set out the four priority areas for reform and made clear that cutting back on unnecessary EU regulation is part of making Europe more competitive,” he added.
    "As the PM has said before - Europe if necessary, national when possible."
    [And uniformly meaningless: "Yes Prime Minister."]
    Additional reporting by PA

  2. Telkom offers non-union workers voluntary severance packages, by Thabiso Mochiko, 7/13 Business Day via BDlive.co.za
    JOHANNESBURG, RSA - Telkom has offered its non-unionised employees voluntary severance and early retirement packages, and may implement a wage freeze as part of its plans to cut costs.
    This comes after last week’s court order preventing the group from retrenching employees. The company said on Monday it had withdrawn the retrenchment notices given to employees in the technology division and centre for learning.
    In addition to voluntary packages, and wage freezes, Telkom will investigate flexible working hours for its employees, cutting working hours in the form of a shorter work week, and outsourcing divisions. Early this year, Telkom outsourced three business divisions to third parties.
    "We have to take decisive action to curtail further business losses and have therefore decided to look at a number of cost containment options," said CEO Sipho Maseko.
    The group said it would engage with organised labour and would be seeking the consent of the unions to extend the voluntary severance packages offer to union members.
    "We must take urgent steps to place the business on a stable footing," said Mr Maseko.
    "My executive team and I believe these measures are necessary as our business is simply not sustainable in its current form," he said.
    He said Telkom would only remain relevant if it "becomes a more agile, competitive organisation than the one it is now".
    "We have to make the difficult decisions now to safeguard the future livelihood of the majority of our employees and to ensure the company remains an important contributor to economic growth, an attractive investment for shareholders, and a vehicle for social transformation," said Mr Maseko.


7/11/2015 – 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. Startup says 32-hour-work week encourages 'epiphany moment', by Teresa Blackman, KGW-TV via USAtoday.com
    A Portland, Oregon tech company that's instituted a 32-hour work week says the policy encourages employees to have that valuable "epiphany moment." (photo caption)
    PORTLAND, Ore., USA -- A Portland, Ore. tech company that's instituted a 32-hour work week says the policy encourages employees to have that valuable 'epiphany moment.'
    Treehouse put an end to the traditional 40-hour (or more) workweek and switched all the employees to 32-hour schedules instead. Even though their hours were cut, their pay and benefits stayed the same.
    CEO Ryan Carson told NBC's TODAY show the change has actually improved productivity, despite the fewer hours people put in at work.
    "We've proven that you can take it from an experiment into something that's doable for real companies and real people in highly competitive markets," he said.
    "I think that when people aren't overworked, the chance for that light bulb or epiphany moment or whatever you want to call it is increased," added Treehouse CFO Michael Watson.
    He said that ultimately, it's about living a more balanced life.
    [No, ultimately it's about having a sustainable economy.]
    Treehouse is an online school that trains students for high-tech jobs like computer coding, through a series of courses led by an instructor on video.
    Earlier this year, Treehouse was one of just 20 companies honored at the White House as the best in the nation for training regular people to become high tech workers.

  2. How many hours should Americans work in a week? by Kaitlin Goslee, (7/10 late pickup) WWLP 22News via wwldp.com
    SPRINGFIELD, Mass., USA - During a visit to New Hampshire on Wednesday, Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush said, “Workforce participation has to rise from its all-time modern lows. It means that people need to work longer hours and through their productivity gain more income for their families. That’s the only way we are going to get out of this rut we’re in.”
    [Oh no it isn't. If the decreasing number of people who still have jobs work longer hours, there will be fewer market-demanded working hours left for others, and more anxious jobseekers driving wages down because they're willing to work for less money, and no one besides Jeb Bush is trying to claim that productivity increases with longer hours or that wages increase with productivity in the age of robotics!]
    A sentiment shared by one Springfield resident, Edgar Guerra. “The more you work the more you want to invest to buy a home and a car and stuff like that,” Guerra said.
    But others argue Americans are already working hard and long enough.
    A recent Gallup study found Americans actually average more work hours each week than some of the world’s other major economies. The study found nationally full-time employees average about 47 working hours a week, up about an hour and half from a decade ago.
    Employment experts told 22News hourly workers mostly in production type jobs here in the greater Springfield area are averaging about 40 hours per work week with salaried employees working even more hours than that.
    “I’m sure that there are some people that leave at 5 o’clock but then go home and check their emails and respond to those emails. They could be putting in an additional 4 or 5 hours per week and it might not be accounted for,” Jennifer Brown, from United Personnel, in Springfield said.
    Jennifer Brown from United Personnel also told 22News there is an ongoing culture shift by employers to try and allow more work from home options, but that they also face budget challenges to meet mandates on healthcare and paid sick time.
    As for Jeb Bush, he argued his comment were about workers stuck in part-time positions wanting full-time employment.


7/10/2015 – 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. 'Work-Sharing' helps retain staff in Alberta's economic downturn - More employers using Work-Sharing to avoid layoffs, CBC News via cbc.ca
    Jason Elvy, Canadian business manager with JAB recruitment, says using programs to retain staff can save money when the Alberta economy improves. (photo caption)
    CALGARY, Alta., Canada - More Alberta-based companies are looking to a federal government program to avoid layoffs.
    The *Work-Sharing (WS) program supplements the income of employees through Employment Insurance. The workers must agree to a temporary reduction in their work-week over a specified time until the employer recovers.
    "By having people stay within the business, first of all, they're showing faith to their employees that they're doing everything in their power to keep them employed and that's going to be rewarded when the market does change," said Jason Elvy with JAB Recruitment.
    Companies see the program as a money-saver because they won't have to recruit and train new staff down the line, he says.
    "It's a huge cost and very time consuming to have to retrain people into those roles," Elvy said, adding the federal program can save a company 10-15 per cent in wages.
    Work-Sharing numbers up
    "It's kind of something that's outside of the box and it also sends a really clear message to employees that we're going to do something a little different because we recognize that you are loyal and valuable to us," said Edmonton recruiter Jessica Culo.
    She says she's seeing more businesses apply during this downturn than back in 2009, which is reflected in Service Canada's numbers. The government says there has been an increase in the use of the program for Alberta-based businesses from 2013 to 2015.
    In addition to Work-Sharing employers are also opting to impose mandatory holidays — paid or unpaid — as a way to hang on to valuable staff members, according to Culo.
    And Elvy points out that company loyalty works both ways, especially when the economy picks up.
    "The market is very competitive and when the market does turn and they get a call from another organization that says, 'Hey come and work for us,' they're going to actually think twice about moving because of the, I suppose, the commitment that their employer has made to them," Elvy said.
    Fiscal year                                   Number of Work-Sharing Agreements
    April 2013 – March 2014 [1 yr]         22
    April 2014 – March 2015 [1 yr]         23
    April 2015 – June 2015 [3 mons]     104

  2. City addresses work hours issue for DDA employee, by Shawna McManus, Cheboygan Daily Tribune via CheboyganNews.com
    CHEBOYGAN, Mich., USA - The city may be able to allow its downtown enhancement administrator to work additional hours this summer, according to a report given at this week's Downtown Development Authority, DDA, meeting.
    City Manager Tom Eustice said he consulted with the Michigan Municipal League and determined that because the city has less than 50 employees, there was no penalty for working a part-time employee more hours.
    He said the city does not have to offer the employee health care if they do not average more than 29 hours a week during a nine-month period.
    He said this should allow the city to have Downtown Enhancement Administrator Kirsten Guenther work more than 29 hours a week if required, particularly for events such as the Downtown Music Fest during the summer. Eustice had previously thought that Guenther was limited to no more than a 29-hour work week due to Obamacare.

    [This is the first specific case we've come across where all these exemption numbers have come into play: less that 50 staff, equal to or less than 29 hrs/wk, and lasting at least 9 months.]
    "I think we can increase her hours for the events coming up this summer," Eustice said.
    He said in speaking with other municipalities the size of Cheboygan, there is much confusion as to what cities can and cannot do. He said many are unaware of the regulations.
    It was noted that the increase in hours would help Guenther income-wise, but would not get her insurance.
    City Council member Winifred Riddle said the City Council denied a DDA recommendation to increase Guenther's hours and provide her with health insurance benefits based on the fact that the DDA's budget could not support the added expense. She said it was a difficult decision.
    Members of the DDA asked if having Guenther serve as an assistant to Eustice would be an option. Eustice said that issue is still being reviewed, and said the city would need to look at multiple departments to see if there was a way to decrease his hours.
    DDA member Billie Livingston said she was concerned the city would lose Guenther as an employee.
    In other business, the DDA:
    • Heard a report from Eustice on the sound system/stage housing structure for Festival Square. He said design firm, H2A Architects, is drawing up plans for the structure for free, and there should be a rendition and estimated cost by the next DDA meeting.
    • Heard a report from Guenther on the Downtown Music Fest and sidewalk sales. Guenther said the Downtown Cheboygan Music Festival is set for July 24-25, and sidewalk sales are set for August 6-8.
    • Heard a report from Eustice on the Cheboygan pedestrian bridge elevators. He said Otis Elevator Company, which has a branch in Gaylord, repaired the elevator on the west end of the bridge, which was leaking hydraulic fluid because of a bur on the elevator shaft that was deteriorating the packing and making the fluid leak. He said the city is getting estimates on heating the elevator shafts in winter, which Otis recommended to make the elevators last longer, but said that it would be a significant cost.
    • Heard a report that Keweenaw Excursions would be bringing two separate lighthouse tour groups to stay overnight in Cheboygan on July 15 and July 20. Each tour would include 80 people, who would be dining at Mulligan's Restaurant and staying at the Fleetwood Inn. There was a discussion about how to get the tour groups to the downtown area if retailers wanted to keep their stores open later on those nights.


7/09/2015 – 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. Portland company commended for 32-hour work week, by Teresa Blackman, KGW.com
    PORTLAND, Ore., USA -- A Portland company got national attention Thursday morning, when it was featured in NBC's Today show for its policy on a 32-hour work week.
    Treehouse put an end to the traditional 40-hour (or more) workweek and switched all the employees to 32-hour schedules instead. Even though their hours were cut, their pay and benefits stayed the same.
    CEO Ryan Carson told Today the change has actually improved productivity, despite the fewer hours people put in at work.

    "We've proven that you can take it from an experiment into something that's doable for real companies and real people in highly competitive markets," he said.
    "I think that when people aren't overworked, the chance for that light bulb or epiphany moment or whatever you want to call it is increased," added Treehouse CFO Michael Watson.
    He added that ultimately, it's about living a more balanced life.
    Treehouse is an online school that trains students for high-tech jobs like computer coding, through a series of courses led by an instructor on video.
    Earlier this year, Treehouse, was one of just 20 companies honored at the White House, as the best in the nation for training regular people to become high tech workers.

  2. North Providence, firefighters reach new 3-year deal - Savings from HSAs pays for raises; workweeks stay the same, by Ethan Shorey, ValleyBreeze.com
    NORTH PROVIDENCE, R.I., USA - Mayor Charles Lombardi and town firefighters reached agreement last week on a new three-year contract that Lombardi says will save the town money on what it is spending on fire services while avoiding an extended workweek.
    Under terms of the pact, signed on July 1, firefighters have agreed to switch from a standard health insurance plan to a high-deductible Health Saving Account [HSA]. The savings from the switch to an HSA gives the town more than enough money to give firefighters 3 percent raises in each of the three years of the deal, according to the mayor.
    Lombardi said the annual cost of the raises for firefighters will be about $70,000, a number that is more than offset by the savings in the contract. He said he didn't have exact numbers on what the overall savings are.
    Negotiations between Lombardi's administration and members of the North Providence Firefighters IAFF Local 2334 lasted six months, according to the two sides. The new contract, which went into effect the day it was signed, will run through June 30, 2018.
    Union President John Laurie said the contract is a good one.
    "This mutually beneficial agreement addresses the concerns of the firefighters, the needs of the community, and is the product of extensive contract negotiations," he said.
    The agreement between the town and its firefighters puts off the controversial 56-hour workweek issue for now and keeps the 42-hour week in place. The longer week was taken off the table after the union brought concessions to the table that will provide "concrete savings" for taxpayers in the form of reduced time off and switching to the HSA form of health care, according to the mayor. He said the firefighters "really stepped up to the plate" by signing the deal.
    The new HSA plan would provide similar coverage benefits to firefighters at an average of 23 percent overall savings to the town. Coupled with a three-day net reduction in paid time off for each firefighter per year, the savings exceed what they would save by implementing a 56-hour work week at this point, said Lombardi and Chief Leonard Albanese.
    "After crunching the numbers, we decided to take the guaranteed savings now and the positive effect it will have on our bond rating," said Lombardi. "We will continue to monitor the climate around the state and take a pragmatic approach to exploring the possibility of a three-shift work schedule in the future. At this point, this deal made the most sense for the taxpayers."
    There are many variables to consider with the 56-hour workweek, said Lombardi and Albanese. The town would pay an additional 24 percent on the higher salary for pension contributions, 7.65 percent more for Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) tax, and firefighters would receive higher compensation for "injured on duty" time.
    "We would still pay 20 salaries, 24 hours per day, 365 days per year on the line. That isn't changing," said Albanese. "There is a case for overall savings on a lower number of benefits packages and the probability that a municipality could garner savings by increasing the workweek by 33 percent yet only compensate at 20 percent for example."
    There are many three-shift schedules available, said Albanese, and not all are based on 56 hours.
    "In the end the 42-hour or the 56-hour schedules might not be the answer," he said. "The right balance might fall somewhere in between. It may be 48- or 52-hour weeks."
    Lombardi said officials will continue monitoring staffing levels to see if a switch to three platoons instead of four and a longer workweek is warranted.
    In addition to the 3 percent raises and overtime pay accommodations, some of the perks included in the contract include:
    • A $600 clothing allowance and a $550 clothing maintenance allowance each year.
    • An extra five sick days if a firefighter doesn't call in sick for the whole year.
    • An additional 6.5 percent of a firefighter's gross salary in longevity pay for five years served.
    • An added 3 percent per year in longevity pay for eight years served.
    • And an additional 2 percent per year in longevity pay for anyone who's served 15 years.
    All employees who have basic emergency medical certification receive an extra $10 every other week and any who have an emergency medical technician certificate get an extra $50 every other week.
    According to Lombardi, the town was able to save money in the new contract by making some fixes to the system for the management and oversight of medical disabilities. A clause that in the past presumed that a firefighter who got sick contracted the illness while on the job has also been struck, for further future savings.
    "In combining our collective efforts, we were successful in achieving a package that will be mutually beneficial to both firefighters and taxpayers in order to provide the highest rated public safety services at a reasonable cost," said Lombardi.


7/08/2015 – 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. Brazil unveils plan to encourage cutting hours rather than jobs, by Jeb Blount, (7/06 late pickup) Reuters via TheFiscalTimes.com
    BRASÍLIA, Brazil – It is the latest measure from a Brazilian government struggling to reduce spending, increase revenue, fight inflation and kick-start a rapidly slowing economy.
    Budget cuts, changes to social security and other measures introduced in recent months face stiff criticism from the union allies of President Dilma Rousseff's Workers' Party-led coalition. The plan aims to ease those concerns.
    Under the plan, employers will be able to cut the regular hours of employees by up to 30 percent, with an equivalent reduction in their wage bill. The government will use a labor-stimulation fund known as FAT to make up half of the workers' lost salary, up to a limit of 900.84 reais [sic, should be reals] ($287.12)
    Employers will also see payroll-tax obligations, such as for the FGTS unemployment and housing fund and for social security, fall to 85 percent of the previous level, the government said.
    The decree, the government said, will allow Brazilian companies to reduce wages without resorting to layoffs. Under Brazilian law, firing employees can bring heavy severance payments, making layoffs, even in economic downturns, prohibitively expensive.
    Workers will be able to maintain their jobs and work less with only a slight decline in wages.
    While the plan was issued as a presidential decree, Congress must approve the measures for the decree to remain in force.
    Editing by Leslie Adler

  2. 32 is the new 40! What happened when this company adopted a 32-hour workweek, by Brooke Sassman, Today.com
    PORTLAND, Ore., USA - One Saturday night on the couch, Ryan Carson's wife finally questioned the workload they'd created for themselves after starting a successful company together.
    "What is this?" she asked her husband, the CEO of Treehouse, an online school for adults based in Portland, Oregon.
    Carson had been constantly working in overdrive because that's what he thought it took to be successful. But then it hit him.
    "There's no rule that you have to work 40 hours, you have to work more to be successful," he said, in a video [http://www.theatlantic.com/video/index/396527/case-32-hour-workweek/] for The Atlantic.
    So, Carson put an end to the standard 40-hour schedule and tried something different, for both himself and his family: the 32-hour workweek.

    "Every moment that I have with my kids I realize is something that I can't — I can never buy back," he said. "No matter how much money I make or how powerful I get, I can't buy time."
    So far, his method has been successful. Carson says the decrease in time spent in the office has actually led to an increase in levels of productivity: "We've proven that you can take it from an experiment into something that's doable for real companies and real people in highly competitive markets."
    And all of Treehouse's employees are on board with the schedule, especially CFO Michael Watson.
    "I think that when people aren't overworked, the chance for that light bulb or epiphany moment or whatever you want to call it is increased," Watson said.
    In the end, Carson says it's more about living in a period of history where it's possible to work less.
    "It's not about more family time, or more play time, or less work time — it's about living a more balanced total life."


7/07/2015 – 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. Brazil Temporarily Introduces Reduced Work Hours and Salaries, by Lisa Flueckiger, The Rio Times via riotimesonline.com
    RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff has signed a temporary measure allowing companies to reduce working hours and employees’ salaries in order to avoid layoffs. Through the Programa de Proteção ao Emprego (Program to Protect Employment) companies in dire financial situations in designated sectors can reduce salaries by up to thirty percent.
    President Rousseff signed the law on Monday, July 6th after meetings with ministers and union representatives. But even though the measure becomes law immediately, it will need analysis and approval by Congress. The temporary measure will then be in force until December 31, 2016.
    Half of the salary loss suffered by employees will be compensated through the Fundo de Amparo ao Trabalhador (Workers Protection Fund) and in return participating companies will not be able to let any employees go until two months after the end of the program.
    “It’s more important to use public resources to maintain employment than to fund unemployment.
    [This is a good halfway step to designing for full employment and resulting rising wages, consumer spending and maximum marketable productivity to provide solid investment targets. To get this "worksharing" approach beyond waiting for an economic recovery to CREATING an economic recovery, we need two things: vigorous conversion of chronic overtime into training&hiring, and downward workweek-adjustment to create as much convertible overtime as it takes to produce full employment. See fullemployment.biz for details.]
    It’s a win-win program, clearly focused on keeping jobs in a period of crisis,” Chief Minister of the General Secretariat of the Presidency, Miguel Rossetto, stated.

    In order to define, which companies and which sectors will be able to introduce the measure and be covered by the fund, an inter-ministerial group has been created. The decisions will be based on economic and financial indicators and announces within fifteen days. Companies will be allowed to introduce the measure first for six months and can then extend it for another half a year.
    The unions welcome the measure. “The program is welcome, it comes at a good time. An expense with higher quality and important economic return for the country, for the workers. It encourages dialogue between workers and companies,” Rafael Marques, President of the Metalworkers, told Agencia Brasil.
    The temporary has been introduced after several industries had to go through mass layoffs. Almost 37,000 people had been fired or their work temporarily suspended in Brazil’s automobile industry alone according to ANFAVEA, the national car production association.

  2. Working 9 to 5: Upgraded Overtime Rule Could Help Restore 40-Hour Work Week for Millions of Americans, by Michell McIntyre, Center for Effective Government via foreffectivegov.org
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Last week, the White House announced a long-anticipated new rule that upgrades Americans' access to overtime pay. Worker advocates, economists, and unions have been working with the Obama administration and U.S. Department of Labor for years to modernize the rules on overtime, and thanks to their efforts, millions of salaried employees will be paid for the work they do beyond the standard 40 hours per week.
    What are the problems with the current overtime rule?
    Americans are working harder than ever while corporate profits are skyrocketing, yet incomes are stagnant. A substantial portion of the increased hours that salaried workers spend on the job seems to be in the form of uncompensated overtime.
    The current overtime rule requires that any employee (paid hourly or salaried) working more than 40 hours a week be paid time-and-a-half if they fall under a specific federal earnings threshold or work certain jobs. But the current threshold – $23,660 ($455 a week) is so low that it would leave a family of four living in poverty. The upgraded rule will more than double that threshold.

    [A good ministep. But this overtime design still incentivates OT for employees with time&ahalf, and disincentivates employers away from overtime less and less as more and more benefits get loaded onto each employee. We need a more efficient OT design that cuts right to the chase of converting chronic overtime into jobs - and training whenever needed. If that isn't enough to create full employment and its desirable results of rising wages and spending and sales and marketable productivity (= the sole source of investment solidity), then we adjust the workweek downward step by step as far as it takes to create as much convertible overtime as required for full employment.]
    According to economists at the Economic Policy Institute, almost two-thirds of salaried workers were eligible for overtime in the mid-'70s, but today, only eight percent of salaried workers were guaranteed overtime pay. The Department of Labor hasn't adjusted the pay threshold for overtime work to account for the rising cost of living since 1975. So inflation has eroded overtime protections for millions of workers. About half these salaried workers are women; many have children.
    Unscrupulous employers also take advantage of the weakened overtime protections and slack enforcement of the law to deny employees who already qualify from receiving overtime pay. Unethical employers classify some workers as “managers and supervisors” and pay them a salary instead of an hourly wage to avoid paying overtime. But many assistant managers spend a majority of their time doing work that is not managerial. When these employees are expected to work 50 or 60 hours a week, they may end up working for less than the hourly employees they nominally supervise.
    Unpaid overtime is legalized wage theft. An assistant manager in a store or a restaurant who is paid an annual salary of $25,000 and routinely works 60 hours a week is working for just $8 an hour, less than the minimum wage in most states like Connecticut, Oregon, Florida, South Dakota and Ohio.
    Who will benefit from the stronger overtime rule? Everyone.
    The updated overtime rule will raise the threshold for overtime for salaried workers to $50,440 – meaning millions of workers will either be paid 50 percent more per hour of their ordinary wage for work beyond the normal 40 hours, and have more money for their families, or have more time to spend with their families. Overtime rules also ensure employers think twice before demanding long work hours from their employees.
    Anyone who isn’t a boss – an “executive or administrator” – or a “professional” and earns an annual salary of less than $50,440 (or $970 a week) will be eligible to receive overtime pay. An estimated 5 million new workers will immediately qualify for working overtime. With a shift to restore the traditional 40-hour work week, millions can spend more time with their families, volunteer in their communities, take a second job if so desired, and more.
    The workers most likely to benefit from the updated rule are women, minorities, people under 35 years old, and workers with less education. But the children of these workers could be the biggest beneficiaries of the rule because their parents will now have more time to spend with them or more money to support them and be less stressed.
    More money in the pockets of American workers can stimulate the economy. People may spend more at local stores and restaurants. And some employers will hire new staff instead of pay overtime, reducing unemployment.
    You can help push the overtime rule across the finish line.
    The overtime rule is a change that the Department of Labor can make without legislation – it simply sets new rules for overtime. People have the opportunity to tell the Department of Labor how they feel about the rule and staff there are supposed to respond. We know opponents will send in negative comments. If you support the change, please talk with everyone you know about the proposed overtime rule and how it could improve the lives of people they know and others in your community – especially young workers and working parents.
    And ask people to send a comment to the Department of Labor to let the agency know that you support the new rule and why. Explain how your life and your family’s life would be different if you only worked 40 hours a week or how your life would be better if you were actually paid time-and-a-half for all your extra hours worked. Check out the overtime calculator to figure out how much more you would make each week with the new overtime rule.
    Big business and their lobby groups will try to turn the tide against the rule, but even they admit that the updated rule will create tens of thousands of new jobs. We need your voice to push back against big corporate interests and bring the overtime rule across the finish line.



7/05-06/2015 – 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. Abe’s work early, leave early program sounds premature, by Vox Populi Vox Dei columnist, 7/06 The Asahi Shimbun via ajw.asahi.com
    TOKYO, Japan - The protagonist in Natsume Soseki’s novel “Mon” (The Gate), a government employee named Sosuke, is in the habit of going to a bathhouse after returning home from work.
    Here is the passage in the novel describing Sosuke’s daily routine: “Usually he went to the baths after his return from work, at twilight, just before the dinner hour, when other customers came pouring in.” (Translated by William Sibley)
    Referring to this passage in the novel, a senior government official said, “Working until late at night is by no means part of the traditional culture of Japan.”
    The official made this observation at a meeting of vice minister-level officials of ministries and agencies held last month. The topic of discussion at the meeting was “Promoting effective use (katsuyo) of the sunset (yuyake) hours,” or “yu-katsu,” for short.
    It is a campaign designed to encourage government employees to start work early so they can call it a day earlier than usual and enjoy their evenings. The campaign is intended to shorten the long work hours among Japanese government employees.
    A program to ensure earlier work hours for central government employees, introduced under the leadership of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, started on July 1. It will last through August.
    Returning home early means “you can take a bath and enjoy dinner in a more relaxed and leisurely way,” said a statement announcing the government’s program. “You can play catch with your child in a park.” The announcement stresses the program can help improve the quality of life for government employees.
    I recently had dinner with a central government bureaucrat after the program began. The official asked me to meet him a little after 5 p.m.
    “The yu-katsu campaign is proving effective,” I thought.
    But the official did not appear to be convinced of the benefits of the program. Working overtime has been the norm in Kasumigaseki, Tokyo’s administrative quarters. Starting work earlier could lead to even longer work hours among members of the central bureaucracy.
    How is the government ensuring that its employees actually leave the office for home early?
    The prime minister’s office is demanding that senior officials in each ministry and agency make the rounds of the building and urge employees who have stayed late to leave.
    A schedule has been made showing the job titles of the officials who should make the rounds in each ministry and agency as well as on what days and at what time they should do so.
    I gazed in amazement at the schedule, realizing the government is really serious about this program since it is going this far to make sure it works.
    It is probably good for the government to review the way its employees work. But will this not shift the work burden to others?
    Moreover, the administration is keen to expand this campaign into a national movement toward shorter work hours.
    Personally, I don’t want to be either the guy who makes the rounds or the employee who is urged to leave for home.
    Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that takes up a wide range of topics, including culture, arts and social trends and developments. Written by veteran Asahi Shimbun writers, the column provides useful perspectives on and insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.

  2. Inspectors will make sure companies abide by reduced hours, by Ramola Talwar Badam rtalwar@thenational.ae, 7/05 TheNational.ae
    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - Inspection teams will be sent to companies accused of flouting the Labour Ministry’s reduced work timing rule during Ramadan.
    “Violating it might pose sanctions, warnings and suspensions, but no fines,” a ministry spokesman said.
    Employers would first be called to meet with officials at the ministry where the reasons and benefits of reduced hours would be outlined after which a warning issued for immediate compliance.
    Inspection of worksites and awareness campaigns help curb irregularities, said the spokesman.
    The ministry has the authority to suspend the work visas of staff employed at companies that continue to disregard the rules, placing an additional financial burden on the firm to find new workers.
    “The ministry may terminate the employment relationship between the worker and the owner of the offending company if found violating,” said the spokesman, adding this would give employees the right to find work in another company.
    Details were not available about the number of complaints received so far this Ramadan.
    Disgruntled employees can complain at labour service centres, call the 800 665 helpline or send a letter signed by staff to the Labour Disputes department at the ministry.
    According to article 65 of the UAE Labour Law, the maximum number of working hours is eight per day or 48 a week, which could increase to nine a day for hotels, supermarkets and other commercial businesses.
    During the month of Ramadan, normal working hours are reduced by two hours for all employees in all enterprises, institutions and private sector companies in the country without a wage cut.


7/04/2015 – 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. Ramadan hours are not ‘lost hours’ Ministry of Labour warns companies, by Ramola Talwar Badam rtalwar@thenational.ae, TheNational.ae
    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - Staff should not be forced into making up “lost hours” because of the reduced working day during Ramadan, recruitment experts and the Ministry of Labour have warned.
    The Ministry has ordered that the working day be cut by two hours during the Holy Month, for Muslim and non-Muslim staff.

    Companies that do not comply face punishments including having employees’ visas cancelled, which would be a considerable financial burden.
    Staff who are forced to work extra hours can register a complaint with the Ministry, said Hamza Zaouali, chief executive of Emirati recruitment company Iris Executives.
    “The Ministry is only one call away,” said Mr Zaouali. “My advice to companies that do not treat this seriously is watch out for complaints.
    “Muslims and non-Muslims have equal rights before the labour law and Ramadan hours apply to everyone and are not time that should be recovered.”
    A Ministry spokesman said work was reduced by two hours for all employees in all enterprises, institutions and private sector companies without a wage cut during Ramadan.
    Some staff said they worked normal hours after making compromises with their employer, such as having other holidays off.
    “To balance it out we don’t work on Christmas and New Year,” said an advertising agency employee, who did not want to be identified. “We don’t work less hours during Ramadan when our Muslim friends leave early, so taking the other holidays evens it out for non-Muslims.”
    Experts urged consistency to avoid any feelings of discrimination or favouritism.
    “The labour law should be implemented rigorously,” said Zack Abdi, managing director of human resources consultancy Provectus Middle East.
    “There should be no different treatment based on religion and nationality because this sows the seed of disunity in the workplace.
    “If you want to create a team, don’t treat staff differently. Ramadan hours are for all, whether a doorman or chief executive, whatever their religion or nationality.
    “Companies must treat staff as assets. This will not happen if some are let off early.”
    In some cases, non-Muslim staff have been told to work an extra day to make up for reduced hours.
    “Everybody is talking about it being unfair to work on Saturdays but nobody has the guts to take it to the Ministry,” said a staffer at a building company where employees work 10-hour shifts.
    “Our contract is for a five-day week and an extra day is against labour laws. Muslim workers are allowed to work as per labour law so they work seven hours and have an hour off for prayers. But it’s unfair on the rest.”
    Hotels, small businesses and hospitals adjust their working day around Ramadan with flexible hours, said Murali Warrier, who runs a consultancy in Sharjah.
    “It’s about keeping up company morale and respecting the country’s religious feelings,” he said.
    “Reduced shifts are arranged in hospitals, hotels and industries where everyone cannot leave at the same hour.”
    Cutting back work hours helped workers to prepare for Ramadan gatherings, Mr Zaouali said.
    “Ramadan is a special time for prayer, reflection and gatherings. That time is given back to people with shorter working hours.”

  2. Bank CIOs Find Solutions to 'Mobile Guilt', by Penny Crosman, (7/01 late pickup) AmericanBanker.com
    [or AmericanBanker.cor for cor-ruption?]
    NEW YORK, N.Y., USA - Americans are feeling guiltier than ever about working when they're at home and dealing with family matters when they are at work.
    [Why? They cancel each other out.]
    Just over half [51%?] of U.S. consumers [uh, shouldn't this be U.S. employees?] automatically feel guilty when they get a work-related communication outside of working hours, according to a study conducted by Harris Interactive and sponsored by MobileIron; 49% feel badly when they respond to personal communications at the office.
    At the heart of all this guilt is the notion of stealing. Working at home or on vacation can feel like its stealing time away from family and friends [it is! but it's theft by employers' pressure on employees] while conducting personal affairs during work hours could equal stealing from an employer.
    [It does, but employees have no choice with control-freak employers who assume they have a blank check on employees' lives.]
    The issue is becoming more important for bank chief information officers and IT departments.
    "The 'always-connected' world we live in today is both a curse and a blessing," said Bruce Livesay, CIO of the $24 billion-asset First Horizon in Memphis. "It definitely creates an additional challenge and opportunity for employee behavior. Sometimes it's important to turn it off so you can focus on the most important matter at hand. On the other hand, these devices enable you to stay on top of work activities beyond the boundaries of your desktop and office."
    So-called "mobile guilt" may intensify if smart watches take off and employees get in the habit of constantly checking their watches as well as their phones for text messages, phone calls and emails.
    "It's a continued march toward distraction," said James Gordon, chief technology officer at $1.7 billion-asset Needham Bank in Needham, Mass. "I saw a study that said the average human attention span is less than eight seconds. The Apple Watch aids that constant sense that something else is going on."
    (Gordon is correct in his stats. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the average attention span of a human being has dropped from 12 seconds in 2000 to eight seconds in 2013.)
    Gordon feels the pressure in his own work life.
    "It's the guilt of being completely connected all the time," he said.
    For example, he's been using the VIP-list feature Apple released in iOS 7, which causes text messages, emails, and other communications from a certain set of people pop to the top of the log screen.
    "It's good, you're now more responsive to the people you say are more important in your life," he said. "But it does create a sense of urgency. Some people can take a couple of deep breaths and think, it's not urgent, I don't have to respond to them until tomorrow. My fear is by tomorrow, it will be 50 messages deep and I will have forgotten about it and they'll think I'm neglecting them."
    He recently set his iPhone to a silent, do-not-disturb mode from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
    Livesay said he's found it helpful to designate certain times, such as the family dinner hour, free of mobile devices.
    "There are times where you want to have access to the device in case of a crisis situation, but you need the discipline to set it down and focus on other matters
    as a general rule," he said.
    It's not clear whether or how IT departments should address the issue. Locking down employees' mobile devices so that they can't be used for personal matters is not an option, executives agree.
    "Over 60% of workers said they'd quit their job if they weren't able to do work on mobile and mix and match personal and professional stuff," said Ojas Rege, vice president of strategy at MobileIron. "If you want to attract and retain these workers you have to be able to support their lifestyle and workstyle."
    But the IT department can set an example around appropriate mobile messaging outside work hours.
    "Managers shouldn't create a culture where mobile guilt can thrive," Gordon said. If an emergency occurs, then it's reasonable to contact employees on their mobile devices and expect a quick reaction. But other than that, managers should be judicious about contacting employees at home.
    "There comes a level of trust to not abuse it, not to send out superfluous messages on the weekends or nights of hey, what's the status of that patch management server you were working on today?" he said. "That's not what somebody wants at 8:00 p.m. IT should set a tone and an example."
    Earlier in his career, Gordon would fire emails off to staff on nights and weekends about what to do for the coming week.
    "I didn't think anything of it at the time, but in hindsight that was the wrong thing to do," he said. "It stresses people out, when they should be recouping and relaxing for the coming week. If you wouldn't call them on nights and weekends, should you email them?"
    Now, he sometimes uses delayed delivery, so that even if he writes emails to staff over the weekend, they don't see them until 8:00 a.m. Monday -- "not to be sneaky but because I don't want to stress them out."
    Livesay agrees that companies and their IT departments can provide guidance to their employees about what is acceptable and appropriate. His bank doesn't have formal policies around time restrictions on emails, instant messages, phone calls or voice mails. But it does have guidelines around the use of personal communication at work and communications with employees at home after hours. Generally speaking, the guidance is to keep it brief.
    "In the end, however, each person must learn to use the tools appropriately for their own situation to try to strike an appropriate balance," he said. "If mobile devices are not managed properly, they can encourage behaviors that are unhealthy and all-consuming."
    At the same time, IT has to resolve the related privacy issues. Thirty-five percent of workers surveyed said they'd quit if their employer could read their personal emails and texts, or see their photos and videos on their personal smartphone or tablet.
    To provide privacy, the tech team can set up containers on mobile devices to keep personal and work files separated.
    "Corporate information can have a high degree of sensitivity and customer protection needs to be a constant consideration," Livesay said. His bank recently invested in mobile device management software that enables the separation of personal information from work information.
    At Needham Bank, Gordon said he lets people know what is being monitored and managed, such as corporate email, versus things that are not, such as text messages.
    "We don't want to get to the point of being Big Brotherish," he said. "We have a BYOD policy that's reasonably clear."


7/03/2015 – 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. On the Effectiveness of Short-time Work Schemes in Dual Labor Markets, by Victoria Osuna & J. Ignacio García-Pérez, Springer via link.springer.com
    BERLIN, Germany - Abstract
    This paper evaluates the effectiveness of short-time work (STW) schemes for preserving jobs and reducing the segmentation between stable and unstable jobs observed in dual labour markets [high-wage and low-wage].
    [Crap-cutting definition from Michael J. Wachter's Primary and Secondary Labor Markets: A Critique of the Dual Approach - The model of the dual labor market rests on three general hypotheses. First, the economy contains two sectors, a primary high-wage and a secondary low-wage sector, and the behavior of firms and individuals in the two require different theoretical explanations. Second, the important distinction for economic analysis is that between good and bad jobs rather than between skilled and unskilled workers. Third, workers confined to the secondary sector develop a pattern of job instability, moving frequently among jobs and into and out of unemployment and labor force participation.]
    For this purpose, we develop and simulate an equilibrium search and matching model considering the situation of the Spanish 2012 labour market reform as a benchmark.
    Our steady-state results show that the availability of STW schemes [uncombined with vigorous overtime-to-job conversion] does not necessarily reduce unemployment and job destruction.
    The effectiveness of this measure [without intentional OT-to-job conversion] depends on the degree of subsidization of payroll taxes it may entail:
    with a 33 % subsidy, we find that STW is quite beneficial for the Spanish economy because it reduces both unemployment and labour market segmentation.
    We also perform a cost-benefit analysis that shows that there is scope for Pareto improvements when STW is subsidized. Again, the STW scenario with a 33 % subsidy on payroll taxes seems the most beneficial because more than 57 % of workers improve. These workers also experience a significant increase in annual income that could be used to compensate the losers from this policy change and the State for the fiscal balance deterioration. This reform saves the highest number of jobs and has the lowest deadweight costs.
    We gratefully acknowledge the support from research projects PAI-SEJ513, PAI-SEJ479, P09-SEJ4546, ECO2012-35430, P09-SEJ688 and ECO2013-43526-R. The usual disclaimer applies.

  2. Resident doctors won't give in, strike to continue, AsianAge.com
    MUMBAI, India - The 4,500 resident doctors from the state will continue their strike. The decision was taken late on Thursday afternoon after a meeting was convened between the resident doctors and state human resources department minister Vinod Tawde.
    The Maharashtra government is still hoping that doctors will withdraw their strike at the earliest, as the government is ready to accept 95 per cent of their demands. Mr Tawde announced that the government would hike the stipend of resident doctors by Rs 5,000 per month with immediate effect. Also, enough security arrangements would be made to prevent attacks on doctors.
    On Thursday, some 4,000 resident doctors of Maharashtra went on strike demanding a hike in stipend, specific working hours, security issues, relaxation in bond conditions and many such demands.
    Ten demands were made by the resident doctors in a meeting last month. However, no action was taken with regard to the demands and the doctors felt that the state was procrastinating and hence decided to go ahead with the strike. “On Thursday, everything they were saying was verbal while we wanted written assurances. They have called us again on Friday and have assured us that the promises would be given to us in writing. Before we get anything concrete, we refuse to take back our strike,” said Dr Amit Lomte, vice-president, Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD).
    The doctors have made demands of improvement in security in the government and civic hospitals, reduction of working hours, provision of better hygienic living conditions, timely declaration of bond services, creation of senior resident (SR) posts for non-clinical and paraclinical branches amongst others.
    Reacting on the issue, Mr Tawde said that the government was ready to accept all demands, except a few, as per the discussion being held between the state government and representatives of resident. “Today, we will give them our assurances in writing. Implementation of all the assurances will be on me as the human resources development minister,” he said, adding, “The doctors of Maharashtra are getting a stipend of around Rs 43,000 to Rs 45,000 per month. They want it to increase to Rs 52,000, while the government is ready to give an immediate hike of Rs 5000 per month,” he said.
    He clarified that the government could not scrap the bond of doctors in case there was no vacancy for super specialty doctors.
    Mr Tawde said the demand for fixing working hours at either eight or twelve hours was not practical, as the medical education department has a limited budget. “If working hours of resident doctors was fixed to eight hours, then the government will need to increase 8,400 additional doctors. This would be an additional burden of Rs 352 crore for the government. If working hours for resident doctors is fixed at twelve hours, then the government will need 4,556 additional resident doctors and the state will have to bear an additional burden of Rs 253 crore,” he said.


7/02/2015 – 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. Obama to speak on 40-hour work-week at La Crosse appearance today, WSAU-Wheeler News via WHBL Sheboygan via whbl.com
    LA CROSSE, Wisc., USA - President Obama is expected to get a rousing welcome today when he speaks at U-W La Crosse [University of Wisconsin]. The president is expected to highlight his plan to make 5-million more American workers eligible for overtime [O-T] pay, by raising income thresholds to let salaried workers get O-T.
    It will be Obama's first appearance in La Crosse since he first ran for the White House in October of 2008. The La Crosse Tribune notes that Obama chose a back-drop that has fared better than most by his policies -- including more people insured under the Affordable Care Act, and an unemployment rate which was the lowest for an April in 15 years. The La Crosse paper also pointed to booms in business construction and neighborhoods during the Obama years.
    House Democrat Ron Kind of La Crosse said the presidential visit has been planned for the past couple [of] weeks.

  2. Regulating working hours through legislation, by Simon McConnell and Michelle Lai, Clyde & Co LLP via Lexology.com
    HONG KONG, HKSAR, China - The Standard Working Hours Committee has recently agreed in principle to recommend introducing legislation to regulate the working hours of employees in Hong Kong. However, an ‘across the board’/uniform standard of working hours will not be imposed on all industries so as to provide the necessary flexibility in view of the varied work nature and requirements of different sectors and occupations.
    There is currently no general statutory provision which prescribes standard or maximum working hours in Hong Kong.
    [They've been working on this forever and this is all they've come up with - everybody's disgusted with them. The current lack of even a standard workweek means they're behind every other advanced economy and specifically at the 1938 level in US economic evolution when the first nationwide standard workweek was enacted at the 44-hour level. But at least they've "agreed in principle to recommend" (...advising the support of advocating a positive hope for...). And these gents have been collecting wages for this timid, dragged-out performance?]
    The Government conducted the Report of the Policy Study on Standard Working Hours (SWH) in November 2012.
    In April 2013, the Committee was formed by the Government for the purposes of:
    • Following up on the Government’s policy study on SWH
    • Promoting understanding of this subject
    • Advising the Government on the working hours situation in Hong Kong, including whether a statutory SWH regime, or an alternative regime should be introduced
    In late March 2015, the Committee proposed a mandatory requirement for employers and employees to enter into written employment contracts specifying working hour arrangements such as overtime pay, to protect employees. The possible working hours employment terms, however, are still subject to further studies and consultation. The Committee is also considering whether there is a need to impose additional measures to protect grassroots employees who tend to have less bargaining power.
    The Committee’s proposals were made following dedicated household and self-administered surveys and extensive public engagement and consultation on working hours. Some of the interesting findings from these surveys, which were completed by over three million employees in Hong Kong, included:
    • The average and median total working hours over a particular seven day period were 43.5 hours and 44 hours respectively
    • Those employees with lower educational achievements had longer median weekly working hours of 48 hours
    • Just over a quarter of employees had worked overtime, with 7.3% compensated for overtime work while 18.4% had not been paid for overtime
    • The top three working hours policy objectives of employees were:
      • “Better work-life balance for employees” (37.5%)
      • “Protecting occupational safety and health” (27.7%)
      • “Specifying compensation for overtime work” (19%)
    • The top three working hours policy objectives of employers were:
      • “Protecting occupational safety and health” (32.7%)
      • “Better work-life balance for employees” (26.1%), and
      • “Maintaining a favourable business environment” (10.9%)
    The public’s views on whether there should be a statutory SWH regime in Hong Kong are mixed. Some employers are concerned about the shortage of manpower in some specific industries and the potential increase in the wages bill which will potentially have the greatest impact on small and medium sized companies. However, others believe that standard working hours can boost productivity, create job opportunities and improve employees’ working conditions.
    Going forward, the Committee noted that it should consider carefully various factors in formulating a suitable working hours policy for Hong Kong, including overtime work, as well as the possible impact of SWH on employers, employees, enterprises and the Hong Kong economy.
    [A related story today -]
    LD [Labor Dept.] launches exhibition on Employment Ordinance, Minimum Wage Ordinance, working hours issues, and friendly employment practices for mature persons and family, HKSAR Government via 7thspace.com
    HONG KONG, HKSAR, China - Members of the public are invited to visit an exhibition on the Employment Ordinance, the Minimum Wage Ordinance, working hours issues, and friendly employment practices for mature persons and family organised by the Labour Department, to be held in Tsz Wan Shan on July 4 and 5.
    The exhibition will feature the main provisions of the Employment Ordinance and the Minimum Wage Ordinance, friendly employment practices for mature persons and family, and the rights and benefits of foreign domestic helpers. In addition, as part of the education and promotional activities of the Standard Working Hours Committee, background information on working hours issues will also be displayed. Related publications and souvenirs will be distributed and short videos on friendly employment practices for mature persons and family will be shown.
    The exhibition will be held at Sales Venue B, 5/F, Tsz Wan Shan Shopping Centre, 23 Yuk Wah Street, Tsz Wan Shan, Kowloon, from 11am to 6pm on July 4 and 5.
    Admission is free.


7/01/2015 – 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. Voluntary Shared Work Program, IowaWorkforceDevelopment.gov
    DES MOINES, Iowa, USA - The Voluntary Shared Work Program (VSW) is Iowa's version of Short Term Compensation (STC).
    The VSW program is intended for use as an alternative to layoffs and has been an effective tool for Iowa businesses experiencing a decline in regular business activity. Under VSW, work reductions are shared by reducing employees’ work hours and Unemployment Insurance (UI) partially replaces lost earnings. By avoiding layoffs, employees stay connected to their jobs and employers maintain their skilled workforce for when business improves.
    VSW Program vs. Unemployment Insurance
    Currently, laid off employees can receive UI benefits for up to 26 weeks at a maximum of $511.00 per week. This amount is charged against an employer’s UI tax account. With the VSW program, employees receive a fraction of regular UI benefits which is equal to the percent of their work hour reduction.
    The employer sets the duration of the plan (with agency approval), along with the percent of the full weekly UI benefit payment the employee receives. Workers can receive a portion of their UI benefits even if hours are reduced by as little as 20 percent.
    Employer Advantages
    With VSW, employers can:
    • maintain productivity and quality levels (because the same experienced employees are doing the same work)
    • keep the ability to expand operations quickly when business conditions improve
    • reduce training costs by keeping the workforce intact
    • avoid costs related to hiring and reassignments
    • avoid transfers, demotions and tenure-based layoffs
    Employee Advantages
    With VSW, employees can:
    • keep job skills sharp
    • maintain a higher family income than with UI benefits alone
    • keep health insurance and retirement benefits
    • continue building job tenure
    VSW Requirements
    To participate in VSW, the employer must submit a Voluntary Shared Work Plan Application [available by clicking on corresponding text on *iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov/voluntary-shared-work-program] that:
    • provides an estimate of the number of layoffs that would occur without VSW
    • lists the percent of reduction in affected employees’ work hours (must be between 20 percent and 50 percent and be the same for all affected employees)
    • certify that the reduction in hours is in lieu of layoffs
    • includes written approval from the affected employees’ collective bargaining representative (if applicable)
    A VSW plan must affect at least five employees. VSW cannot be used for seasonal work reductions. A participating employer’s quarterly UI reports must be current and UI taxes paid in full.
    To be eligible to participate in VSW, affected employees must:
    • qualify for UI benefits
    • not have an existing UI claim in another state
    • be able and available to work their regular hours of work for the VSW employer
    Instructions for Enrollment of Employees and Reporting Procedures
    Following approval of VSW, the employer will complete an excel spreadsheet [available by clicking on corresponding text on *iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov/voluntary-shared-work-program] to enroll the employees into the program. Most of the information needed can be transferred from payroll records. Employees will need to complete the data collection form and tax withholding form [both available by clicking on corresponding text on *iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov/voluntary-shared-work-program]. These forms are used to determine the number of dependents, method of payment and desired tax withholding which will be of assistance when completing the spreadsheet. The spreadsheet should be submitted no later than Wednesday of the first week that the employees will be active in the program. If the employer has been approved to backdate the application, then it should be sent in as soon as it is ready. Employees cannot be paid until they have been enrolled in the program. UI payments are deposited to a state issued debit card unless a direct deposit form is submitted [available by clicking on corresponding text on *iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov/voluntary-shared-work-program] .
    Each week that the VSW plan is in operation, the employer will submit the number of hours that each employee enrolled in the program has worked. Regardless of the company pay period, the employer will report for weeks that run from Sunday through Saturday. For example, if the employer had enrolled in the program effective Sunday, October 5, 2014, the workers' hours for the period of October 5th through October 11th would have been submitted on Monday, October 13th. This would have allowed employees to receive their first benefit payment by Friday, October 17th.
    Hours worked by employees are submitted using an excel spreadsheet, in one column with a single data line for each employee (see instructions [available by clicking on corresponding text on *iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov/voluntary-shared-work-program]).
    Call or send an email to the VSW coordinator at vswclaims@iwd.iowa.gov (link sends e-mail) if:
    • hours for an employee were under or over reported (include the employee's name, last 4 digits of the social security number, the week and the corrected number of hours in the email)
    • changes need to be made after the program has started, such as putting employees on indefinite layoff, adding more units to the program or adding exempt employees
    • employees participating in the VSW program are discharged or quit (include the employee name to be removed from the VSW program, the date and reason for separation and the completed [available by clicking on corresponding text on *iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov/voluntary-shared-work-program] form [available by clicking on corresponding text on *iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov/voluntary-shared-work-program] )
    Cost of the Program
    UI benefit payments for the VSW program are charged to employer accounts in exactly the same way. Employers should be aware that, just as when laid off employees collect regular UI, use of the VSW program may affect the employer’s UI tax rate.
    For More Information on the VSW Program
    Visit our *frequently asked questions page or email   vswclaims@iwd.iowa.gov

  2. Long working hours? Taking a nap in office helps reduce fatigue, ANI via HindustanTimes.com
    Taking a power nap at work helps improve productivity and tolerance for frustration. (photo caption)
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - If you have to stay up long nights working, taking a nap increases your productivity.
    A nap at work can keep frustration at bay and improve productivity in employees, finds a new study published in Personality and Individual Differences journal.
    [Uh, wouldn't it be simpler and smarter just to quit staying up long nights?]
    Taking a nap can also counteract impulsive behavior and boost tolerance for frustration in people who stay up long hours at night, says the study conducted by University of Michigan. Researchers also say that napping can be a cost-efficient strategy to increase workplace safety.
    Employers may find their employees more productive when the workplace has nap pods in the workplace or extended break times are offered.
    [= another way to achieve Shorter Worktime, sortof, while accommodating control-freak employers who want Face Time regardless? - though there still looms the issue of pay: is the employer willing to pay for these periods of employee unconsciousness in the workplace or does s/he begrudge them despite their being presumably continuously on call? Compare discussions about firemen in the article immediately below.]
    It's becoming increasingly common for people, especially adults, to not sleep an entire night. This can negatively impair a person's attention and memory, as well as contribute to fatigue.
    Researchers examined how a brief nap affected adults' emotional control. The study's 40 participants, ages 18-50, maintained a consistent sleep schedule for three nights prior to the test.
    In a laboratory, participants who napped spent more time trying to solve a task than the non-nappers who were less willing to endure frustration in order to complete it. In addition, nappers reported feeling less impulsive.
    The study indicates that staying awake for an extended period of time hinders people from controlling negative emotional responses, says lead author Jennifer Goldschmied.
    Goldschmied adds that the results suggest that napping may be a beneficial intervention for individuals who may be required to remain awake for long periods of time by enhancing the ability to persevere through difficult or frustrating tasks.
    [An article mentioning sleep time of firemen on call (also affects physicians or at least interns, see another article, immediately below) -]
    Soaked by the firefighters unions, by Steven Frias, ProvidenceJournal.com
    PROVIDENCE, R.I., USA - Recently, the Rhode Island Supreme Court ruled that the North Kingstown Town Council could implement a new fire department platoon structure that increases firefighters’ workweek from 42 to 56 hours. According to North Kingstown Town Council member Carol Hueston, Rhode Island taxpayers could save $75 million to $100 million per year from this reform. However, General Assembly legislation was quickly introduced to give firefighters a 42-hour workweek. Firefighters said this legislation guaranteed them a workweek which they have enjoyed in the past. Rhode Island history shows that firefighters did not always have a 42-hour week and that the shift to one was partly the result of intimidation and binding arbitration.
    In 1967, the Cranston firefighters union wanted higher pay and fewer hours. Cranston Mayor James DiPrete Jr. offered the firefighters an 8 percent raise but resisted the request to reduce their workweek from 56 hours to 42 hours because firefighters “spend part of their workweek sleeping.” As a result, the firefighters union began picketing City Hall and the fire station. When some city employees crossed the picket line, they reportedly became the victims of threats. Frank Montanaro, leader of the Cranston firefighters’ union, called the dispute “combat” and picketing spread to all public construction sites in Cranston, thereby disrupting school construction. Cranston Herald editorials noted that the “56-hour workweek” was the “norm” for firefighters “all over the country” and called the picketing a “way to make the residents come to their knees.” The picketing at the schools only came to a halt after a Superior Court judge ruled that it was designed “to coerce, compel, force and bludgeon” officials into submission.
    The next year, DiPrete relented. In the spring of 1968, an agreement was reached that gave the firefighters union a 13 percent raise and a reduction in work hours from 56 to 48. Montanaro called the contract “one of the best firemen’s agreements in New England.”
    Pleased but not appeased, Montanaro obtained more a few months later. Right before the 1968 election, a new agreement gave the firefighters another pay raise and further reduced their workweek to 42 hours as of July 1, 1971.
    DiPrete considered the contract a “milestone.” It soon turned into a millstone around the neck of taxpayers. The reduction from a 56-hour week to a 42 hours helped increase the staffing at the Cranston fire department by about 25 percent in less than five years. At the same time, the pay of firefighters increased by about 35 percent and fire department personnel costs nearly doubled.
    Montanaro considered the deal “one of the best in the United States” and indicated he would “send copies of the contract to unions in other cities.” One by one, like a row of dominoes, Rhode Island communities gave way before the firefighter unions’ march to a 42-hour workweek. In 1970, a binding arbitration decision led to Providence adopting a 42-hour workweek. In 1971, Warwick agreed to implement a 42-hour week, after its legal challenge to Rhode Island’s binding arbitration law failed. Those who could have stopped them would not. Those who would have stopped them could not. By 1989, nearly all of Rhode Island’s paid fire departments had gone to a 42 hour workweek.
    Soon thereafter, The Providence Journal reported that a United States Commerce Department survey showed that Rhode Island had one of the highest levels of per-capita spending on fire protection in the nation. More recent analyses show Rhode Island is still among the highest.
    High firefighter personnel costs are a major reason for Rhode Island’s high property taxes. To help lower Rhode Island’s property taxes, firefighters’ work schedules will need to increase to a 56 hour workweek, like that of many of their peers across the nation. Unless a change is made, Rhode Island taxpayers will continue to get soaked by the firefighters unions, as they have been for more than four decades.
    Steven Frias, a twice-monthly contributor, is a regulatory attorney, Rhode Island’s Republican National Committeeman and the author of "Cranston and Its Mayors: A History."
    The Real Problem With Medical Internships - It's not the long hours. It's the scut work and heavy patient loads, by Sandeep Jauhar, New York Times, A25 & nytimes.com
    [No, it's the long hours. Shorter hours would force the lightening of patient loads and more streamlined training and hiring.]
    NEW HYDE PARK, N.Y., USA - Approximately 26,000 newly minted doctors across the United States will begin their internships today. For many, this legendarily grueling year will be the most trying time of their professional lives. Most will spend it in a state of perpetual exhaustion, as near ascetics with regard to family, friends and other pleasures. I was an intern nearly 20 years ago, but I still remember it the way soldiers remember war.
    Fortunately for today’s interns, regulations have since reduced some of the misery. Most interns now are not permitted to work shifts longer than 16 hours. They are also encouraged to nap while on overnight duty.
    At first glance, such reforms make sense.
    [And at second and third and fourth... glance too!]
    Studies have found that doctors who got no sleep during a night on call scored lower on tests of simple reasoning, response time, concentration and recall. Indeed, a single night of continuous sleep deprivation has been shown to be roughly equivalent to having a blood alcohol level of 0.10 percent — that is, being drunk.
    But there is a downside to these regulations. Limits on work hours lead to frequent patient handoffs [between well-rested doctors with the presence of mind to deal with them?!], which are susceptible to breakdowns in communication between doctors [with the presence of mind to deal with them], thus potentially creating errors [though among well-rested doctors with the presence of mind to deal with them]. In aviation, most crashes occur on takeoff and landing, and in medicine, too, most mistakes happen during transitions [between poorly doctors wihtout the presence of mind to deal with them?].
    Is it better to be cared for by a tired intern who knows your case or a rested intern who does not?
    [A rested intern of course, who has the presence of mind to inform him/herself quickly and with less proneness to error.]
    Though some studies have shown that interns working traditional long hours (shifts of 24 hours or more) make more mistakes than those working reduced hours, others have shown that work-hour limits cause delays in tests and other preventable complications.
    [Better delays in tests than errors in testing.]
    In fact, a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found no evidence that new reductions in work hours improved the quality or safety of patient care.
    [The AMA is a notoriously neanderthal group dedicated to the sick, self-martyring, skill-bottlenecking, pay-inflating past of American medicine.]
    Patient safety is also heavily influenced by the number of patients that interns are responsible for. Because interns’ patient loads have not decreased (and have probably increased) in recent years, rigid work-hour restrictions [note the gratuitous and prejudiced prefixing of "rigid" in each occurrence of this phrase] may also be aggravating safety problems by compressing work into shorter shifts.
    [Work compression is a different issue that is addressed wherever American medicine has any management skills.]
    Long hours and hard work have been features of medical training since the modern residency program had its beginnings at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore in the late 19th century.
    [And the "dark Satanic mills" of Dickens were features of the early 19th century, so should we reinstate and perpetuate them too? Can you believe this moron is arguing for long hours and hard work in the age of robotics and smart work - even after admitting that being attended by a sleep-deprived physician is like being attended by a drunk?! What is WRONG with this guy?!]
    As the medical historian Kenneth M. Ludmerer details in his recent book “Let Me Heal,” an authoritative account of the residency system in the United States, teaching hospitals and medical residents have always had an implicit contract: Hospitals provide patients (often indigent ones) on whom young doctors learn their craft; in return, young doctors provide cheap labor to keep these institutions running.
    [Cheap labor is irrelevant to long-hours labor. Stick to the point!]
    “The only thing that has changed,” Dr. Ludmerer told me recently, “is the nature of the exploitation.” [So isn't it high time that you physicians healed yourselves and put an end to the exploitation, instead of just changing its nature?!]
    In earlier generations, he explained, young doctors were saddled with considerable manual chores — drawing blood, inserting intravenous lines, transporting patients and so on. In the past two decades, these chores have been replaced by a new kind of scut work: treating a large number of patients (to help maintain hospital “throughput”) while juggling an expanding load of administrative chores.
    This workload has become even harder to manage because of rules — designed to provide respite — that mandate that interns must leave the hospital immediately after completing a shift. Rushing to finish their work can cause interns to make mistakes and order unnecessary tests to compensate for a lack of time to think through a difficult case.
    These enforced work shifts also interrupt learning and create a kind of clock-watching mentality that is antithetical to the ideals of doctoring. I once worked with an intern who refused to take a patient having an acute stroke for a CT scan [and enter upon another blank check on her time?] because it was the end of her shift and she was ready to leave [and exhausted and accident-prone?].
    [What a simple-minded and ill-advised physician this writer makes, so partial to glorious-sounding heroic measures and delusions of omnipotence, messianism, holierthanthouness, and self-assumed invulnerability to the limits of ordinary mortals. And whining managementskill-lacking medicos don't have her relief ready and able to take over? Shame on them, pathetically overpaid and under-rested self-glorifying masochists! God save us from these unnecessarily self-martyring heros. They are like drivers who come to a dangerous unexpected dead stop, hold up any traffic behind them (they don't check) and wait for pedestrians to cross the road even though there's no stop sign or red light and said pedestrians are still on the sidewalk 10 feet away from the corner.]
    Interns and residents must experience a broad range of clinical situations before they can become competent, independent physicians. I believe that they should be allowed to stay at a sick patient’s bedside or attend a teaching conference after completing a work shift if they are so inclined. Compressing a heavy workload into fewer hours serves no one’s interests. Combining the complexity of today’s patient care with work-hour restrictions may actually lead to more burnout among trainees.
    Of course, we must end the exploitation of interns and residents by teaching hospitals. Hospitals should hire more physician assistants to relieve young doctors of the routine work and heavy patient loads with which they are still burdened. Residency directors should give interns more research opportunities to foster scholarship so that postgraduate training doesn’t devolve into mere vocational instruction.
    But rigid work-hour limits are not the answer to the ills of internship. In trying to get interns a bit more rest, we may have come up with a cure that is worse than the disease.
    [We have a serious problem with our medical professionals, half of whom think they are supermen unjaffected by the limitations of ordinary mortals. Medical professionals in Europe are a lot more realistic, well-rested and SAFE for patients.]
    Sandeep Jauhar, a cardiologist and a contributing opinion writer, is the author of “Doctored: The Disillusionment of an American Physician” and “Intern: A Doctor’s Initiation.”




Click here for spontaneous cases of primitive timesizing in -
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2003
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For more details, see our laypersons' guide Timesizing, Not Downsizing on Amazon.com.

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