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Timesizing News, Dec.2-10, 2003
[Commentary] ©2003 Phil Hyde, Timesizing.com, Box 622, Porter Sq, Cambridge MA 02140 USA 617-623-8080


12/10/2003   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 12/09 via GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA, and excerpts & comments are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialled -

  1. Angry unions seek EU backing over 48-hour work directive, by Alan Jones, PA News via The Scotsman [UK].
    UK - Trade unions were becoming increasingly angry and frustrated at the Government’s attempts to block measures aimed at improving employment rights for workers, the head of the TUC [Trades Union Congress] said today.
    Brendan Barber complained about the [harping] from Government ministers about the importance of labour market flexibility.
    [Never mind the ability of employers in every other EU member to deal with it. And never mind the apparent downward inflexibility of the workweek in the "long hours culture" of the UK.]
    The general secretary made his comments after meeting European Commission officials in Brussels to press the case for an end to the UK opt out from the Working Time Directive, which aims to limit working hours to 48 a week.
    Mr Barber handed over a TUC dossier detailing a catalogue of cases where staff were working excessive hours or employers were flouting the directive. He also pressed for the introduction in the UK of another directive offering extra protection to agency workers, which he complained was being blocked by the Government.
    Commission officials shared the TUC’s “frustration” that the directives were not being implemented in the UK, said Mr Barber. He will press for a meeting with Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt to discuss the directives. “The Government is being unduly attentive to business lobbyists, against providing basic protection to workers,” he told PA News.
    “Trade unions are becoming increasingly angry and frustrated that our Government is at the forefront of blocking positive EU measures.”

  2. CBI rejects TUC long hours grumble, BusinessEurope.com.
    LONDON - Business chiefs have criticised a union-led campaign to strip the UK of its opt-out from laws limiting the working week.
    Too much time behind a desk takes its toll
    The Trades Union Congress (TUC) complains that employees are being exploited by unscrupulous managers and are forced to spend many more hours at work than they should. It wants the European Commission to force the UK into line with other EU countries by making it commit to the 48-hour week cut-off, and to toughen up other laws governing office hours. "It's about time we tackled Britain's long hours culture," said the TUC's general secretary, Brendan Barber.
    According to Barber, this 'culture' is a risk to health and safety, is bad for families where the parents are always at work, and limits workplace equality because people with responsibilities outside work find it harder to progress.
    The report, presented by the TUC to Anna Diamantopoulou, the EU's controversial social affairs commissioner, cites several examples of people in the UK working for long periods. In one example, a women contracted to work 35 hours a week as manager of a care hostel actually put in 80 hours, because she was required to sleep at the hostel four nights a week.
    Responding to the report, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) argued that losing the opt-out would be like denying workers the right to define their own hours at work. "People should have the right to say 'no' to long hours and the directive rightly gives them that protection, but they should also have the right to say 'yes'," Susan Anderson, CBI director of human resources policy. "Employees do not want the unions or politicians telling them when they can work or for how long."
    [This representative of employers belies her own reasoning - she is an employer assuming the right to speak for employees and say what they do or don't want. No wonder Scott Adams speaks of Catbert, "the evil HR director."]
    The TUC also says UK bosses should be stripped of their right to count bank holidays as part of the statutory 20 days off allocated to all permanent staff.

  3. [Here's an unexpected ally in employees' quest for better benefits - the insurance companies that provide some of them.]
    Benefits satisfaction declines among workers as companies focus on cost-shifting, *MetLife study shows; Gap emerges between employer/employee views on workplace satisfaction, Business Wire.
    NEW YORK...- As employers struggle with a challenging economic climate, rising healthcare costs and increased competition, many are forced to shift more of the burden of managing and funding employee benefits to their employees. As a result, less than one-third (32%) of today's workers are satisfied with the benefits provided by their employer - a decrease of 9% from one year ago, according to the recently released MetLife 2003 Employee Benefits Trend Study.... Job satisfaction has also fallen somewhat, with 44% of employees expressing satisfaction in 2003 compared with 48% in 2002.
    This trend is noteworthy given that workers' satisfaction with their benefits can greatly impact their attitudes toward their employer. Among employees who are highly satisfied with their benefits, roughly two-thirds say that their benefits are an important reason they stay with their current employer (69%), are satisfied with their job (64%), and feel strong loyalty toward their employer (64%).
    Interestingly, there is a significant gap between employer and employee views on workplace satisfaction. Whereas more than two in five (41%) employers believe that workers are satisfied with their benefits, fewer than one-third (32%) of employees agree. Similarly, 54% of employers believe that job satisfaction is high at their company, yet only 44% of employees concur....
    A balancing act
    While more than half (54%) of the employers surveyed rank "controlling health and welfare benefits costs" as their single most important benefits objective, "employee retention" (49%) and "increasing employee job satisfaction" (47%) follow closely behind. For employers with 10,000+ employees, employee retention is more important than controlling health and welfare benefit costs.
    Helping employees balance their work and personal lives (e.g., telecommuting, flexible work arrangements, job sharing, day care services) tops the list of strategies that employers rate as most important (43%) in meeting their benefits objectives....
    When asked to list the benefits they value most, more than two-thirds (68%) of the employees surveyed said "paid vacations and holidays," ahead of life insurance (42%) and disability insurance (38%), and employer-funded pension plans (42%)....

  4. [Flextime is not really on our beat, since it's usually just shifting around the workweek without adjusting its length. But this article compares the concepts of time in the Sociological Age (12000-3200 BC and carryovers to present-day) and the Economic Age (c.1670-1961 AD and carryovers to present-day). (See The Football of Time for all six evolutionary ages.)]
    The value of flextime, by Prof. Liaquat Khan of Washburn University Law School in Kansas, The Daily Star [Bangladesh].
    Most developed countries, including the United States, are adopting a flexible conception of time, called flextime, under which workers choose the hours they are at the workplace. This article demonstrates that flextime is indeed an Islamic value, which should be implemented in Muslim countries.
    It is no secret that the pace of development determines the conception of time. Time has one meaning in agrarian economies that respond to seasons, and another meaning in technologically advanced societies that count on seconds. In pastoral and agricultural societies, where the modes of living and the means of production are related to seasons, the people see little need to define activity in terms of hours and minutes. But as societies embrace technology, time is no longer a seamless poetic reverie but is broken into hours, minutes, seconds, and split seconds. This digitization of time is necessary to promote efficiency and speed. In America, for example, almost everything has been orchestrated in the digitized realm of time. Accurate watches, appointments, and schedules promote an infrastructure of mutual reliance. Everybody benefits when trains and planes arrive on time, workers and managers equally respect the clock, and scheduled events begin and end at the prescribed hour.
    While punctuality is indispensable for the synchronization of multiple actions, a rigid stratification of time is not. This distinction lies at the heart of flextime.
    In the United States and elsewhere, successful companies and some government departments have realized that flextime is superior to the traditional nine-to-five, forty hours, five days a week regimen. Fixed work routines ignore the complex realties of business needs and employee preferences. They also lead to unnecessary employment stress and enforcement costs as employers are constantly watching the arrival and departure times of their employees, and employees are constantly inventing excuses to defend time deviations. Lurking behind this facade of discipline is the irony that even if workers come and go on time, rigid routines do not necessarily assure more productivity.
    In contrast, employees are much happier if allowed to custom-design their workdays and workweeks. For example, early risers can begin their workday before others whereas commuters might opt for a late start. Working mothers with young children need more flexibility to carry out multiple tasks of the household. Some businesses allow employees to work from home. Some prescribe no time schedules but empower employees to decide what to do and when to do provided the assigned work is done by the due date. Under the innovative concept of flextime, work hours as well as the work itself are fluid entities that accommodate the differing needs of employees and employers - a win-win combination that leads to job satisfaction, loyalty, honesty, high morale, decreased absenteeism, and increased productivity.
    Respect for time, however, remains a core value even under flexible arrangements. Flextime does not repudiate appointments and schedules. Nor is it a license for anyone to come and leave at will. If anything, flextime outlaws arbitrariness or chaos at the workplace. It is a discipline that employees choose for themselves, though with the consent of the employer who must also be generous and understanding.
    Unfortunately, respect for time in many Islamic countries borders on anarchy. Punctuality in official appointments and social gatherings is uncommon. Clocks and watches serve as ornaments rather than instruments of time. Frustrated with constant delays at every turn of the day, some organizations want to impose rigid time-structures reinforced with penalties. The remedy however lies in turning towards flextime.
    Flextime is a value incorporated in the basics of Islam. Consider, for example, prayers and fasting. The Quran mandates that regular prayers be said at stated times (4:103). As a general principle, the five daily prayers are performed in congregations in mosques on scheduled times. This preferred method of discharging prayer obligation, however, is not rigid or oppressive. It is flexible. If needed, Muslims can pray at home. Under compulsion and necessity, prayers may be performed later than appointed times (qaza). Women are exempt from prayers during menstruation. Travelers can collapse five prayers into three for a more efficient use of time.
    Likewise, fasting prescribed for Muslims during the month of Ramadhan carries inherent flexibility, for according to the Quran, God burdens no soul beyond endurance. "Fasting is for a fixed number of days, but if any of you is ill or on a journey, the prescribed number (missed) should be made up in later days." This concession is repeated twice in the Quran to underscore that Islamic obligations are infused with pragmatism and flexibility. In addition, pregnant and nursing mothers may postpone fasting and fulfill their obligation later. The Quran promotes flextime on the ground that "God intends every facility for you; He does not want to put you to difficulties" (2:185).
    Flextime granted in Islam, however, cannot be abused. Prayers cannot be postponed for frivolous reasons such as laziness, gossip or fun. Feigned illness or traveling for the sole purpose of avoiding fasting is fraudulent behavior, not entitled to God's concession.
    These examples are not exhaustive but illustrative to affirm that flextime is a profound Islamic value that places obligations in the realm of facility, not difficulty. Muslims are comforted that developed countries, including America, are adopting flextime to achieve material success and promote agreeable working conditions. They must now consider how they themselves can use this beneficial Islamic value.

12/09/2003   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 12/08 via GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA (except #3 is from the 12/09 WSJ hardcopy), and excerpts & comments are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialled -
  1. Getting to work 30 minutes later? Xinhua via China Daily.
    It sure would make life easier for many Chinese who have to get up early, fix breakfast and send their children off to school before they rush to the office on time. "An extra half hour means a lot to office workers who want to look presentable at work," said Jin Xiaoxin, a young civil servant in Lanzhou, capital of the northwestern Gansu Province. "I'd have enough time to dress up and even treat myself to a homemade breakfast."
    Jin, whose home is a one-hour bus ride from the office, had to get up early to be at work before 8. "On cold, dark winter mornings, it's hard enough to get up. You simply forget about breakfast and makeup," she said.
    Lucky for her, Gansu is one of the provinces to adopt a new timetable on Dec. 1, which has cut office hours for government employees by 30 minutes so that work starts at 8. "Life is easier now and each day, I go to work basked in the morning sun," she said.
    "A half hour makes so much difference," said Han Renxiao, a civil servant with the city's education committee. "Now I feel more relaxed at home and at work."
    In addition to Gansu, the new timetable has taken effect in the northern Hebei Province, southwestern Chongqing municipality and some eastern cities including Nanjing and Hangzhou. Experts say it may even prelude the dawning of a long-awaited timetable that starts at 9:00 a.m. and ends at 5:00 p.m., one that is already working in several eastern and southwestern cities.
    The Chinese have experienced three major changes in their office hours since the People's Republic was founded in 1949.
    1. In 1960, the government ruled that nationwide employees should work no more than 8 hours a day, [6 days a week,] 48 hours a week.
    2. Working hours were cut to 44 hours a week in 1994 [5½ days a week]
    3. and further down to 40 hours in 1995, when the Chinese started to get two days off a week.
    In 1999, the Chinese started to enjoy more days off over public holidays including the Chinese Lunar New Year, the May Day Holiday and the National Day Holiday on Oct. 1. The three week-long holidays have improved the quality of the people's life, stimulated domestic demand and bolstered the tourism sector.
    [How about that. The Communist Chinese with three week-long holidays have more of the most basic freedom - free time - than most Americans with their grudging two weeks' vacation - if you even get to take that - "land of the free" no more.]
    All these changes have mirrored the rapid economic growth and higher quality of the Chinese people's lives, said Liu Min, a sociologist with the Gansu Provincial Academy of Social Sciences. "Shorter office hours is good for people's health and can improve efficiency at work," Liu said. "Besides, when they have more time at home, it's easier for them to balance between work and family."
    Liu expects the change will also help solve the bottlenecks on most urban streets. "Traffic will hopefully become easier with people of different occupations traveling at different hours."

  2. The productivity myth, editorial, Toronto Star.
    The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics keeps churning out new productivity figures that are the envy of the world. It reports, for example, that U.S. business productivity rose a whopping 8.1% in the latest quarter of this year. Since 2001, it grew at an annual rate of 5.4%. How to explain this American productivity miracle?
    The experts typically invoke all the "new economy" buzzwords, such as innovation and creativity, which can't be measured. So, for all intents and purposes, the miracle remains a secret.
    But is it a miracle? In a recent commentary, Stephen Roach, chief economist at Morgan Stanley, cast a skeptical eye on the productivity puzzle. Challenging a government estimate that sees no change in the average workweek in financial services since 1988, Roach points out that with the "profusion of portable information appliances (laptops, cellphones, personal digital assistants), along with near ubiquitous connectivity," people now can, and do, work around the clock. That's not productivity growth, says Roach.
    And neither is the increase in U.S. profits resulting from the growing reliance on cheap foreign labour. That's called higher unemployment in the U.S.
    If that, and the alchemy of growth "driven more by perspiration than by inspiration" underlie inaccurate U.S. productivity estimates, there is certainly no miracle to explain.

  3. [helping the U.S. productivity myth -]
    Overtime has been increasing, pointer (to D6), WSJ, front page.
    ...taking up the slack [ie: added work] at companies reluctant to hire new workers.
    [And the U.S. criticizes Germany for "rigid work rules" that make employers reluctant to hire???
    Here's the target article -]
    Overtime increases as employers remain cautious about hiring, by Kris Maher, WSJ, D6.
    ...Overtime at many companies has been spiraling upward lately as the economy picks up. Because increased overtime usually stems from an increase in demand for a company's products or services [or merely from staff shortages due to frequently short-sighted downsizing], growth in hiring normally isn't far behind.
    [But as the Age of Automation slides into the Age of Robotics, past "normalcy" doesn't apply.]
    Yet as companies remain cautious about hiring, overtime has taken up much of the slack..\..
    Earlier this year, Dan Osero, a shift maintenance mechanic at a Wisconsin papermill found himself working 40-50 hours of overtime every seven days on the job. Yes, overtime.
    [That's 80-90 hour workweeks - 1840s level.]
    "We've been running as fast as the machines will go for as many days as possible," says Mr. Osero, who is 68 years old and lives in Tomahawk, Wis....
    "I had some fantastic checks," says Mr. Otero. "It was very nice, but you don't have any life"..\..
    [And at 68, he better focus on life, rather than fantastic checks.]
    Mr. Osero says he knew he couldn't sustain the amount of overtime he was working, and in recent months he has trimmed his overtime to about 10-15 hours a week.
    Other workers resist working any overtime. Chris Willey, who owns an AlphaGraphics printshop franchise in Burlington, Mass., had asked his workers to commit to more overtime this year before deciding recently to increase his staff of about 7 workers. "We tried to instill the team [ie: grunt] attitude and (communicate) that we're not really trying to run a sweatshop [just a good imitation!]," he says. Yet several employees quit after being asked [ie: ordered] to work some [ie: a lot of] overtime, he adds.
    In recent months his own attitude about overtime has changed as he has worked 12-hour days during the week and then put in some time over the weekend. "It's not the best solution," says Mr. Willey.
    [No, getting some management skills is, and chief among them is time management and scheduling.]
    As overtime increases, so does the potential for accidents and injuries. Bill Sirois, a senior VP and COO of Circadian Technologies Inc., a Lexington MA consulting concern, argues that one of the legacies of widespread downsizing is that companies may rely on overtime to a dangerous degree. "You have fewer people doing more work, working longer hours, getting more fatigued," Mr. Sirois says. "You put that in an industrial setting, and it's a recipe for disaster."
    In some professions that have severe staffing shortages, such as nursing, workers have already been struggling to limit overtime. "It's a patient-safety issue when nurses are forced (to work) overtime," says Cathy Stoddart, a...nurse at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh. "In her 20th hour, she's going to be hanging the drip that can save your life or make a mistake that takes your life," she says.
    In hospitals...the demands of overtime can be compounded when workers are forced to work mandatory overtime. In 1999, nurses at Allegheny General joined the Service Employees International Union and earlier this year negotiated a contract that allows the hospital to only implement mandatory overtime in clearly defined emergencies or other extraordinary circumstances. According to Ms. Stoddart, the new overtime rule has boosted the morale of nurses at the hospital.

  4. Two people, one job - Readers weigh in on how to make job-sharing work, by Anne Fisher, Fortune.com.
    Many thanks to all who wrote me in response to the column two weeks ago on job-sharing. Turns out many of you have experience with this, and have learned by trial and error what works (and what doesn't) in keeping things from slipping between the cracks when two people are doing one job. One of the most popular techniques: Maria Power, who splits a CAD-manager job with Debbie Edwards-Miller at automotive supplier Visteon in Dearborn, Mich., has been job-sharing for 13 years. She offers these five tips for helping things run smoothly:
    1. Always have trade-off time. "We have an overlapping day each week for conducting staff meetings with our group and attending meetings with our management," Power writes. The rest of that day is spent catching up on information and working on budget and personnel issues.
    2. "Ask new faces to cc both partners on all correspondence. This can easily be done with e-mail, and I know of some teams that share a single e-mail account," notes Power. "It's each of our responsibility to alert the other to new assignments. Job-share partners need to be especially sensitive to timing and due dates, because the arrangement can easily be blamed for what in other circumstances would be seen as a common oversight."
    3. Keep common paper files and computer files. Explains Power: "We use the company server to access a shared drive that is accessible only by us, and we keep all of our electronic files there instead of on our individual hard drives."
    4. Work out a schedule that minimizes hand-offs. Power's favorite is a six-day cycle, where Partner #1 works from one Wednesday through the following Tuesday, then comes in for a shared day on Wednesday; Partner #2 then picks up the ball and runs with it through the following Tuesday, then hands it off during another shared Wednesday. "It's confusing at first, " Power admits, "but it works, because it often allows even major projects to be completed without a hand-off."
    5. Agree on a career path, and on common goals and objectives. Then, Power advises, "revisit regularly to avoid disagreements."
    Adds Mary Fitzer, a principal at MMF Consulting Services in West Springfield, Mass.: "Several years ago when working for a large insurance company, I had two part-time assistants. They were so seamless in their communication, planning, and keeping me updated that I am certain many of my colleagues and clients never realized they were dealing with two different people!...I heartily recommend job-sharing as a way to keep highly skilled and motivated staff, and to take advantage of more than one head to solve business problems!"

  5. The 2003 advertising industry survey - 56% of agencies plan no bonuses; 25% withold all raises, by Craig Endicott, AdAge.com.
    CHICAGO - Advertising agencies, their three-year trudge through a stagnating economy marked by frozen salaries and shelved bonuses, depressed job levels and reduced profitability, still need another year to break into the sunshine....
    Doing more with less
    Agencies say they've learned they can do more with less, referring to numerous flex measures taken to minimize layoffs. These have included job sharing and consolidation, voluntary time off, a shortened workweek, and freezes on raises and bonuses....

  6. US consumers working less, Daily Research News Online [UK].
    The Harris Poll at this time of the year asks US consumers how much time they spend working, including at school and housework, how much time they have for leisure and what their favourite pastimes are. In most years, the numbers do not change very much. This year's survey, however, shows a sharp drop in the average number of hours spent working (including housekeeping, studying and commuting).
    Interestingly, this is the only time since Harris Interactive first asked this question almost thirty years ago that the number of working hours has dropped significantly. According to Humphrey Taylor, chairman of The Harris Poll, Harris Interactive, ‘This surely reflects the weakening of the economy and the end of the boom years of the 1990s which saw a record number of hours worked.’
    [Humphrey Taylor should stick to his data gathering and avoid trying to interpret it. The fact is that if we had spread those hours around instead of allowing them to bunch up at pre-1940 levels, we'd have more consumer demand and the boom dba bubble would have been a boom dba sustainable growth.]
    While the number of hours spent working has dropped, there has been no change in people's estimates of how many leisure hours they have available for relaxation, watching television, taking part in sports or hobbies, and so on. The median estimate of 20 hours this year is the same as it has been every year since 1999. Indeed, it has not been higher than 20 or lower than 19 since 1989.
    [Guess that reflects more a gauge of anxiety than actual leisure hours - people don't feel leisurely when they're more anxious.]
    Reading, watching TV, spending time with the family, fishing and gardening are America's most popular pastimes. The largest number mentioned reading (26%) and watching television (15%). These two activities have topped the list every year that the survey has been carried out, although the numbers have fluctuated somewhat. Indeed, it is striking that those who say that watching television is one of their favourite activities has fallen from 23% in 2000 to 20% last year and is now down sharply to 15%.
    The Harris Poll is a nationwide telephone survey conducted by Harris Interactive with a sample of 1,011 adults from August 15-19, 2002.

  7. New rules, new flexibility, on both sides - Technology now allows many to work from home and to complete personal chores at work - Question is: How does the boss handle this new office reality?, by Carol Hymowitz, WSJ, ???
    In the months leading up to Anne Crum Ross' wedding last July, the Chicago resident found the line between her work and her personal life dissolving. ''For every five work calls I made at the office,'' she said, ``I made one wedding-planning call.''
    With just three months to go before the ceremony, she changed jobs in real estate, becoming director of corporate training at Sussex & Reilly. She made sure to take the wedding-guest and catering files stored on her Palm to her new office.
    ''As long as I was doing my work, my bosses didn't have a problem with me doing wedding planning,'' she said. ``It's all about knowing how to multitask.''
    The 10-hour workday now typical at many companies increasingly means having to blend professional and personal tasks.
    [Pathetic. Our great- and great-great-grandfathers fought and died for the 9- and 8-hour workdays 60-100 years ago and by our gullibility and time-cluelessness, we've thrown them all away, together with a sustainable consumer base.]
    Between meetings and memo writing, employees and bosses log on to the Internet to pay bills, manage their 401(k) accounts, shop for birthday gifts and plan vacations. While attending their kids' school events, they use their BlackBerry handhelds to answer colleagues, proof letters and make appointments.
    For managers, this overlap between work and life presents several challenges. Many who expect their employees to be accessible 24/7 on e-mail and/or cellphone now realize that they must give such employees the freedom to handle personal chores during regular office hours.
    But should managers also set limits? What overlap is productive? How should managers handle employees who abuse this new flexibility?
    Steven Centrillo, executive vice president of Grey Worldwide, an advertising firm, is one who expects employees to ``use the computers and other tools we give them to manage their work and to also manage their personal lives.'' In fact, he believes that doing so can boost workplace productivity.
    Avoiding bank lines
    ''If employees can access their bank accounts on the Internet while sitting at their desks, they're saving hourlong trips to the bank,'' Centrillo said.
    The same goes for their getting their work done at home. ''All I care about is if they are getting their job done on time and well, not where they are doing it from or what else they are doing at the same time,'' said Centrillo, who himself admits to relying on five computers, two cellphones, a BlackBerry, a Palm and a pager to get work done for his Atlanta and New York offices while seeing to his familial duties. ''With my pager, I can be at my son's high school football game on Friday afternoon and be available if a client needs me, and I don't have to choose between them,'' he said. ``The pager helps me handle my job and my life better. And if that's the case for me, I can't deny that to others.''
    Luke Visconti, partner and co-founder of DiversityInc, a New Brunswick, N.J., publisher and consultant on diversity issues, assures his employees that some personal business is permissible during work. He said he tells them: ``Don't cover your computer screen when I walk by and you're checking a personal travel reservation.'' But he does not allow his employees to multitask through lunch by eating at their desks. ''I don't want smelly food around,'' he explained. ``And I think it's healthier for people to get out for an hour.''...
    [It's certainly more creative, and one creative idea can trump millions of productive hours, especially the way the U.S. inflates "productive hours" on a per-employee, not per-hour basis.]

  8. Labor advocate predicts FLSA revisions will prompt numerous legal challenges, by Dave Gardner, Northeast Pennsyvania Business Journal.
    For business leaders, a strategic balancing act may become necessary to cope with proposed changes to the Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
    The revisions, which will redefine which employees are exempt from overtime, probably will take effect early in 2004. The United States Department of Labor (DOL) developed the revisions without Congressional approval by amending portions of the FLSA originally enacted in 1938.
    The changes to employee classifications will affect millions of workers. Because of the probability that certain employees will be reclassified as exempt and others as eligible for overtime pay, the effects of these revisions are being carefully studied by both management and labor advocates.
    Sheryl Fleming-Chromey, president of The Productivity and Performance Center, a business-planning center in Scranton, says that the FLSA was last revised in the 1950s. Because of this, the changes are of special interest to employers in highly competitive environments. "This is a time of great change in the way organizations do business, with things happening almost at the speed of light," says Fleming-Chromey. "I believe the FLSA changes are long overdue, but will not consistently lead to longer work weeks. What will change is the eligibility of many employees for overtime pay . . . I'm sure employers will do the right thing."
    Central to the new FLSA employee classifications are changes to the minimum employee compensation necessary to classify workers as exempt. The previous level was $155 per week for 40 hours, with the new weekly total is $425. Another change involves revisions to the employee "duties test," reclassifying many workers based on their primary assignments, training and skills.
    The DOL claims that 1.3 million additional low-wage workers will now gain overtime protection. It also states that overtime protection will be strengthened for 10.7 million hourly workers. Additionally, the DOL's position is that overtime litigation will decrease, and overtime rules will be easier to apply and enforce.
    For every employer, enacting the FLSA revisions will involve an internal study to examine their workforce for mandatory reclassification. Fleming-Chromey says this will be a formidable job, with potential DOL penalties for miscalculation. Changes will then be made to select employee classifications - "base plus overtime" or "exempt." As the new classifications are administered to each affected worker, the employer must consider how the changes will affect worker-management morale.
    According to Fleming-Chromey, to avoid workforce disruptions, the employer must be savvy and work with the employees who are no longer eligible for overtime. While work hours could rise for select employees, she believes most employees are already working the amount of hours they will under their new classification. What will change is the amount of paid overtime. "As employers administer the changes, they must be guided by the value of the people they must recruit, hire and retain," says Fleming-Chromey. "Employee morale always follows conditions in an organization, and most employees come to work wanting to do a good job. To compete in today's economy, employees at every level must have the necessary skills that can be leveraged to meet customers' needs. Because of this, administration of the FLSA changes must be highly strategic to avoid employee disruptions."
    Controversy has mounted about the effects of the FLSA changes. The National Center for Policy Analysis has stated that the changes will have a positive effect on lower income workers. Yet, the Economic Policy Institute has stated that eight million workers are likely to lose their right to overtime when the proposed rules take effect, because simplification of the Act will broaden the classes of workers that can be considered exempt, including many types of professional workers who are currently receiving overtime pay.
    Wendell Young IV, representative for the 22,000-member United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 1776, says he believes the FLSA changes are controversial and will inspire many legal challenges after they become law. We believe the DOL had no right to change the FLSA's overtime regulations without congressional approval," says Young. "Organized labor leaders across the country are waiting to observe the impact of the changes, which in the short run will have less effect on workers with skills that are in rising demand, or employees covered by labor contracts. Yet, in the long run, the FLSA changes will be a big item at the collective bargaining table."
    According to Young, workers reclassified as exempt should be wary of the potential for longer workweeks. This could disrupt childcare arrangements with parents no longer arriving home at a specific time because they are now exempt. Two-income families, particularly where one parent leaves for work when the other arrives home, will be especially vulnerable. Non-union workers that are reclassified as exempt will be the most vulnerable.
    Detailed information about the proposed FLSA changes can be obtained by viewing the "Federal Register" on the Internet.
    The changes in the workplace inspired by the FLSA revisions will unfold over time, but a member of a regional mental healthcare network is concerned about families and longer employee workweeks. Dr. Dave Brolan, director, Work-Life and Counseling Services at Moses Taylor Hospital in Scranton, administers an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) used by employers across the region. Businesses enroll in the EAP, and then make confidential referrals for employee counseling.
    "The United States is experiencing movement towards a longer work week, and this trend runs against the momentum in Europe and much of industrialized world," says Dr. Brolan. "As a modern society, this is increasing employee stress, particularly for women with families to care for. While our work has increased affluence and consumer buying potential, it has not generated more personal happiness."
    [The assumption that longer worktime increases affluence and consumer buying potential is based on the false assumption that spending is constant as money is funnelled to the affluent. It isn't. Though longer worktime has increased affluence, it has not increased consumer buying potential. Because while we may have thousands of new millionaires, we definitely have millions of new poverty cases. It's the factor our pundits love to ignore - concentration of spending power. As spending power concentrates on fewer people in the upper income brackets, it changes from spending power to investing power and moves more sluggishly. The velocity of monetary circulation slows down. Why? It's obvious. The upper brackets are already spending as much as they care to. Economists should know better because their profession went through a revolution of multiple independent discoveries on this issue in the 1870s and 80s - it's called the Neo-Classical Revolution of Marginalism and involves a whole series of statements about the declining utility of concentrated resources at the margin. Since then, economists have focused exclusively on marginal pricing and not on the much more important effects related to income and spending. But then, most economists have lost their quest for greater life-improving knowledge for everyone and turned into mere hyper-quantifying apologists for the status quo, including the existing wasteful and dysfunctional disparities. They are a disgrace to their profession.]
    Brolan says that mental health counselors are treating increased numbers of women who are suffering from work-related family separation issues. While men are also affected, women make up the majority of those requiring counseling.
    Intergenerational issues, such as caring for older parents who have become ill, and increased day care for children, have lowered the quality of life for many working women." "As the length of our work week has increased, the love/work/play axis has been tipped against families," explains Brolan. "For many workers, the only meaningful relationships they experience are at work. This all adds to up families under increasing stress, and increased needs for employee counseling."

  9. Two careers crushing relationships, by Christine Jackman The Australian.
    AUSTRALIA - Nine out of 10 Australians believe work – particularly the drive for both partners to have careers – is threatening to destroy relationships.
    Almost half of those surveyed for the 2003 Relationship Indicators survey called for more government support for families, with 40% saying at present they had no real power to balance work and family.   90% said the trend towards dual careers was putting relationships in jeopardy because too many people were not prepared to compromise their individual goals for their relationship or family.
    But Dianne Gibson, national director of counselling agency Relationships Australia, which commissioned the survey, said there was good news as well. A large majority (93%) of respondents said that being a good husband or wife was the most important determinant of their identity, followed by their role as a parent (91%). "We are defining ourselves in terms of the way we relate to each other rather than how much money we make or what we do," she said. "Also, it's positive that almost one-third of Australians rate the companionship or friendship aspect of their relationship, which is much higher on the agenda than romance."
    Lack of time as couples struggled to juggle work and family was nominated as the most negative influence on relationships (38%), followed by lack of understanding (27%) and failure to communicate (21%).
    But the increased work hours appeared to have a benefit as well: money worries had dropped significantly as a negative influence in most people's relationships, with only 20% nominating finances as a factor in 2003, compared with 28% in 1998.
    [Increased work hours only drops money worries short-term. Longer-term, increased hours increases funneling of workload onto fewer people, increases exclusion of people from higher paid jobs or any jobs at all, increases desperation and willingness to work for less, and decreases income and relationship-benefiting financial security. In short, a scarcity of labor hours, even an artificial one achieved through rationing or sharing, increases personal income in the longer run, while a surplus of labor holds down pay and decreases personal income in the longer run.]
    When asked what could be done to redress the work-family balance, 46% wanted more flexible working hours and 39% wanted more part-time work for women....
    Ms Gibson said.."..What is more important to me, earning more ... so we can get wall-to-wall carpeting done, or spending more time with my family?"

12/06-08/2003   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 12/05-07 via GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA, and excerpts & comments are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialled -
  1. 12/05   Reaction mixed among local manufacturers, by Sarah Roberts‚ Rockford Register-Star [Illinois].
    ROCKFORD, Ill. — President Bush's decision to rescind the steel tariffs imposed last year is either wise, long overdue, inconsequential or a combination of all three, Rock River Valley manufacturers said Thursday.... The declining value of the U.S. dollar, frustration with multinational corporations that move operations overseas, and apprehension about raw material shortages tempered any celebration over the tariff decision..\..
    The majority of local manufacturing companies unleashed a collective outcry when Bush imposed the tariffs in March 2002. Designed to right the flailing U.S. steel industry, the tariffs took a toll on smaller companies that rely on the metal. Steel prices soared while supply dwindled. Steel-consuming businesses were forced to lay off employees and shorten workweeks.
    As news of Bush's decision circulated Thursday afternoon [however,] area manufacturers responded not with relief but with uncertainty and fresh concerns about the nation's free trade policy. "I don't think it's going to make a difference now," said Larry Liebovich, executive vice president of Liebovich Bros. Inc. in Rockford, which buys steel from mills and cuts it to the specifications of heavy-metal users. "There might be a psychological effect for some companies, but at the end of the day, it's not going to make a difference unless our dollar goes up."... Liebovich managed to avoid laying off workers.
    Mark Keller, owner of A-American Machine in Rockford, was forced to let go four of his 20 workers in the summer. His company shortened its workweek and severely reduced manufacturing orders. Lifting the tariff is "not going to repair any of that," Keller said. "It's too late."...

  2. 12/06   Striking remuneration balance - Money is important but it isn't everything - Job seekers today weigh value of other benefits, by Stephanie Whittaker, Montreal Gazette.
    MONTREAL, Que...At IMS Health Canada, the raft of alternate work arrangements is...a drawing card [to attract quality job candidates]. Flexible options include compressed work weeks, job sharing, part-time, telecommuting, voluntarily reduced time allowing a gentle re-entry into the company after an absence and summer hours, says Jennifer Benoit, an administrative assistant at IMS....

  3. 12/07   A growing number of law firms let attorneys work part-time - But few lawyers appear willing to do so for fear of falling behind their peers, by Joyce Gannon, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
    PITTSBURGH, Pa. - Litigator Alice Johnston is a frequent speaker on how to craft a part-time legal career after childbirth. And she often gets calls from lawyers seeking her message but fearing their firm may learn they want to cut back. "Sadly, they're afraid to come to the meeting so they ask me to meet them somewhere to talk," said Johnston...who worked full time for 10 years at two other firms before she joined Downtown law firm Buchanan Ingersoll in 1996 on a part-time schedule. Four years after she launched her part-time job, Johnston became a shareholder, or partner, at Buchanan. With both of her daughters now in school all day, she's recently resumed full-time status.
    Johnston is somewhat of a rarity in legal circles, and not just because she's among a few part-timers to achieve partner status but because she's one of a few attorneys who pursue part-time careers, period. A recent study of 1,305 law offices nationwide by the National Association of Law Placement found that while 96% of those firms offered part-time positions, only 4.1% of attorneys took advantage of reduced schedules. Of 14 Pittsburgh firms in the study, all offered part-time options but only 3.3% of their lawyers took them up on it.
    As other professionals seek ways to achieve balance between work and life, lawyers are largely bucking the trend. Legal and economic experts say that's because so many law firms still support cultures where long, grueling hours are accepted as the only way to advance. Many lawyers fear they won't earn partner status or be taken seriously if they don't conform to that standard - even if it means sacrificing a lot of personal time.
    "There's a social stigma ... many lawyers don't want to [work part time] because they don't want to look like a slacker," said Linda Babcock, a professor of economics at Carnegie Mellon University's H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management. "If it became more of a social norm, they would."
    When Johnston was considering a part-time job, "What I heard from the conventional wisdom of the Pittsburgh legal community is that part time would be suicide for your career if you want a rewarding, long-term career." Johnston gave birth to her daughters in 1993 and 1996 while working as an associate at the Downtown firm Klett Lieber, now called Klett Rooney Lieber & Schorling. After having children she continued a full-time schedule that required her to bill more than 2,000 hours a year. After her second maternity leave, Johnston realized the long hours were taking too much of a toll on her personal and family life. "I just didn't want to work like that." So following "a lot of soul searching" and long discussions with her husband, who also is an attorney with his own practice, she decided to approach some other firms that might be receptive to a part-timer. The first place Johnston pitched her part-time proposal was Buchanan, the city's third-largest firm, which already had an alternative work schedule policy in place. Within weeks of her interview, Johnston was offered a job.
    She continued to work five days a week as a part-timer and even traveled when her case load required it. "I didn't want to be stuck in a closet doing scut work; I didn't want to be marginalized." But with fewer hours to bill, Johnston cut back drastically on the number of evenings and weekends she had to work and for the first time in years, was able to take vacation days. "I told them I loved the workplace and wanted to be in the office 9 to 5 every day and that I would never walk out in an emergency. But I wanted a lower billable hour requirement."
    The issue of billable hours is a big reason law firms aren't a hotbed of flexible work schedules. Lawyers are expected to bill a certain number of hours annually to generate revenue and profits for the firm. Once they earn partner or shareholder status, they get a piece of those profits. "The struggle that law firms have is that they make money based on people's time," said Karl Schieneman, managing director of Legal Network, a Pittsburgh legal staffing and consulting business. "And it's very important for firms to make money." Most firms expect a full-time attorney to bill between 1,800 and 2,000 hours per year, he said.
    A part-timer might be expected to bill between 1,100 and 1,200 hours, said David Blaner, executive director of the Allegheny County Bar Association. "So the traditional sense of part time where someone works 20 hours a week doesn't necessarily equate itself to that in the law," said Blaner. "Part time could result in someone working 30 to 35 hours a week to hit their [annual] billable-hour mark."
    While firms that offer more scheduling options may have more success recruiting a variety of talented attorneys, they also have to carefully consider the impact part-time workers will have on their bottom line. Likewise, in exchange for fewer hours and more flexibility, part-timers have to live with the reality they won't earn as much as their full-time colleagues, even if they become shareholders. That's why most attorneys who work part time are women with children who want more time at home and can usually afford to reduce their salaries because their spouses work full time.
    Sandra Mihok, 34, and the mother of children ages 7 and 2, has earned "member" or partner status while working four days a week at the Downtown law firm Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott since 1999. She's the first part-timer to become partner "but that's not to say it won't happen again," said Mihok, who describes her firm as "a very flexible environment because they understand that everyone has a different situation." Despite a reduced schedule, Mihok often works more than eight hours on her days in the office. But she works hard to keep Fridays free. "I now have time to devote to other things in my life."
    While most big Pittsburgh firms have part-time attorneys in their ranks, not all have formal policies in place that spell out how to manage alternative and flex schedules. Among them is Downtown law firm Reed Smith, the city's second-largest, which is currently assessing its work-life balance issues. The initiative will likely result in a formal policy for part-timers, said Mike Lynch, chief human resources officer. "We have unwritten policies and practices that have evolved over time and now we're coming up with ways that the firm can help our personnel with the work-life challenge."
    Of 1,000 attorneys in 18 offices, Reed Smith has 48 part-time attorneys. Only three of them are equity partners. The rest include associates; nonequity partners who have part of their base compensation tied to the firm's profits but who don't get to vote as equity partners; and several "of counsel" who have a base salary that isn't tied to the firm's profits but who participate in a profit-sharing bonus plan.
    Courtney Horrigan, 36, is "of counsel" at Reed Smith and has worked two days a week for several years. An insurance coverage litigation specialist with three children ages 8, 5 and 9 months, Horrigan worked full time after her oldest son was born but after her second child, "I felt stretched too thin." "I thought cutting back on my schedule would not only be good for me for personal time, but for my practice development. I'd be able to concentrate more attention on my clients." Horrigan gradually reduced her schedule from five days to four and now spends two full days in the office. She responds to e-mail and handles calls as needed on her days at home. She can change the days she's in the office or work extra days to accommodate clients and cases. Often, clients don't even realize she's talking to them from home instead of her office. "In this profession, you have to be flexible. And with today's technology, you don't need to be sitting at your desk to handle your practice." Horrigan, one of the first attorneys at Reed Smith to reduce her hours, said she's benefited from "great support from my department at a time when it wasn't that common in the legal profession" to work part time. "They know that even though I'm part time, I'll be available when they need me and [part time] won't interfere with any of the matters we're working on."
    Flex-time schedules are becoming a pressing issue for law firms as more women earn law degrees and there's more competition to recruit top talent, said Deborah Epstein Henry, a Philadelphia lawyer. Henry, 35, is a mother of three who founded the networking group Flex-Time Lawyers after she had her second child. She had reduced her own working hours and "felt relatively isolated," because so few of her peers worked part time. She began having lunch regularly with three other part-time litigators at her firm, Schnader, Harrison, Segal & Lewis, and in 1999 organized a brown-bag lunch group for other part-time attorneys in Philadelphia. It's been growing ever since and in 2002 she launched a New York chapter of the group.
    For recruiting purposes, a firm's image is also becoming more dependent on alternative schedules and work-life issues, said Henry, who is of counsel at her firm. Offering more alternative arrangements "is seen as a symbol of the employer being progressive. Even for people without kids, or who aren't sure if they will have kids, they want to know if the [firm] looks progressive."
    Columbus attorney Sheryl Clark Stoll, 55, was a part-time pioneer of sorts when she worked at Buchanan in the mid-1990s. She became a partner in 1989 and a year later adopted a daughter. She maintained full-time hours until her daughter started kindergarten and she wanted to be more active in school events. So she split her time between the office and working at home and took a cut in earnings. But the firm allowed her to keep partner status. "A number of people questioned whether it would work." Among her colleagues' biggest concerns, she said, were whether she would be available to clients when they needed her, whether she'd be available to other lawyers in the firm and whether her new schedule would result in a flood of other lawyers seeking reduced hours. "There were a handful, at least in those early years, with petty jealousies ... they thought I was home with my feet up on the coffee table." Stoll moved to Columbus, Ohio, in 1997 after her husband took a job there and she's now of counsel with Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Peas. She still works part time. "If you've got people with outside commitments trying to juggle two lives, you don't have happy and calm lawyers. If you have happy and calm lawyers, everybody wins."

  4. 12/05   Business backing work life balance, Online Recruitment [UK].
    UK - More than 60% of human resource professionals have given their backing to European Union measures which aim to restrict company employees’ working hours to a maximum of 48 a week. A survey carried out by Croner, one of the UK’s leading providers of business information, advice and support, found that 61% of respondents thought their employers should not be able to ask employees to work more than the set limit of hours. The survey, carried out via Croner’s www.humanresources-centre.net website, comes as the EU is investigating the UK’s opt out clause on the Working Time Directive, which, in the UK has allowed employees to opt out from the 48 hour weekly working limit since the Directive came in to force in October 1998.
    Employment law expert at Croner, Richard Smith, says: "It’s perhaps surprising to find that a large proportion of businesses we surveyed are happy to see a wholesale limit imposed on the length of time they can ask their employees to work. "A lot of companies tell us they feel they need to be able to ask certain essential staff groups to work more than the suggested maximum number of hours in order to keep the business viable. “However, our survey also shows that many firms are increasingly keen to support the rights of employees to go home at a reasonable time and enjoy their private life. "This a positive indication that work-life balance is being taken seriously by employers, and there is a strong case to say it could make employees more productive and motivated."
    Richard comments that, even if employers had this right, they would need to think carefully about whether it would be the right way for them to get the results they want. He continues: "UK workers already average the longest working hours in the EU, and giving employers the right to ask their staff to work more than the statutory number of hours could make staff feel like they have no option but to agree. "Even if employers aren’t consciously exerting any pressure and would accept workers rejecting the request, employees could easily feel that would lose status within the company if they didn’t agree and would look uncommitted in front of both bosses and colleagues. "The subsequent fear might then be that if, in the future, a downturn in business meant that redundancies were necessary, the employee’s refusal to agree to work longer hours would be remembered and they would be first in line for being let go. "The Directive does state that the 48 hour week should be ’on average,’ and employees are usually aware that, in today’s business world, a degree of flexibility can be required to ensure business success. They know that,occasionally, they may need to put extra hours to get an important job done and are usually happy to do so.
    "Croner often receives calls to its helplines from employers concerned if employees can be expected to work longer than their contracted hours. "Hours of work should clearly be stated in the contract of employment, but employers can stipulate in the contract that flexibility of working hours may sometimes be required. We would also advise employers to possiblystipulate maximum weekly working hours in the contract.
    "It will be interesting to see whether employees will continue to be able to opt out of the Working Time Directive. In any case, we would advise employers to keep a record of the hours employees are working and assess whether this could be reduced through careful management. "If the requirement for extra hours becomes a regular or permanent occurrence, it could indicate that employers need to reassess their staffing needs or working procedures."

12/05/2003   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 12/04 via GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA, and excerpts & comments are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialled -
  1. Possible overtime changes concern officers, by Sue Watson, Holly Springs South Reporter [MS].
    MISSISSIPPI - Local law enforcement, fire department and emergency medical services are not likely to be affected by proposed changes in federal overtime regulations, according to expert attorneys in labor law. However, the Police Benevolent Association is taking no chances. PBA staff attorney Joni J. Fletcher, in an article in the association magazine, said proposed changes in the Fair Labor Standard Act regulations of the Department of Labor - now under review - could "hit thousands of law enforcement officers squarely in the pocket." Current regulations exempt most lieutenants and captains from overtime pay, but do not affect most sergeants. However, that could change and even patrolling officers with some supervisory responsibilities could be exempt from overtime pay by the proposed regulations, Fletcher wrote.
    The Marshall County Sheriff's Department could be the most affected if overtime rules change, as opposed to the Holly Springs and Byhalia Police Departments. Patrol supervisor David Cook, said if sheriff department employees were limited to a 40-hour work week, public safety could be at risk.
    The department relies on compensatory time pay for employees to make the best use of staffing, according to sheriff Kenny Dickerson. He said his officers are highly trained and must patrol a 710 square mile area including 11,000 households. He will continue to pay compensatory time unless regulations change. The sheriff's budget has an extra 10 percent cap which can be used to pay compensatory time and other emergency expenses, he said. "We have no option but to pay now or pay later plus penalties," he said. "The bottom line is, until some firm ruling comes down, I'd rather pay as we go until they make a ruling otherwise," he said.
    Some departments in other counties recently were forced by the labor board to pay compensatory time and fines, he said, as a result of employee complaints. Dickerson said departments with strapped budgets for staffing must pay compensatory time to get the job done. Law enforcement work is an around the clock job, he said, and officers cannot drop investigative type work to clock out. Further, Dickerson said his employees deserve pay for the risks they take. "Police officers' work is very stressful because of the chances they take putting their lives on the line," Dickerson said. "The advantage needs to be given to the officers. Dickerson said officers must continually undergo training and are frequently subjected to abuse in the apprehension of suspects, not to mention the traffic situation they must drive through to do their duties. "It is just a constant danger," he said. "We are unfortunate we do not have the tax base (to hire more officers); we have to do the best we can."
    Dickerson said it could easily cost a million dollars - which includes providing a patrol car, insurance, uniforms, and equipment - or more to hire and outfit 10 new patrol officers.
    The sheriff's office pays compensatory time which allows his department to work employees legally for longer hours to get the job done. It would cost much more to add more positions, he said.
    Marshall County budgets $1.5 million to $2 million a year to the sheriff's department whereas DeSoto County, which has much less area to patrol, enjoys a budget of from $9 to $10 million a year, Dickerson said. "They are well funded due to a very high tax base and I am proud for them," he said.
    Byhalia Police Chief Mike Novay said he is watching the proposed Fair Labor Standards Act regulations with regard to overtime pay. He is the only salaried employee in his department and runs the department from time-to-time on a skeleton crew. He has no supervisory personnel, he said. But if his department builds rank up, it would put some supervisory personnel at risk for overtime exemption if the proposed regulations go forward, he said. Novay said at present his department is small and lacks the layers of management required for larger agencies.
    Proposed new F.L.S.A. regulations could eliminate overtime to executives, administrative and professional personnel or personnel who direct the work of two or more other employees and who have authority to hire or fire, to recommend advancement or promotion or other changes in status of other employees. Fletcher said there is a potential for lower level officers to fall under these tests for overtime exemption.
    Another way the federal government enforces federal guidelines - such as to restrict speed limits or reduce traffic fatalities - has been to withhold federal funds to states if they do not comply with new regulations, Novay said. "If federal funding is linked to overtime, you could not qualify for certain grants if you don't comply with all their policies," Novay said. "I have seen it play out through the highway projects that didn't comply with the federal speed limit laws." Some states opt to forego the federal grants rather than meet strict government guidelines, he said.
    Holly Springs Police Chief Robert Burby said he carefully monitors the overtime hours his officers turn in and discourages them from relying on overtime to make their family budget work. "We allow people to make overtime on necessity," he said. "Officers should never try to use overtime to supplement their pay. But when I need them, I need them."
    His policy states that officers cannot work more than 12 consecutive hours. "After that your body starts to shut down and you become a safety hazard," he said. "I have to watch their health. If something happens to someone and we are found to be liable, it could be putting ourselves at risk."
    Only Burby and Captain Patricia Selman are salaried employees at the police department.
    Burby said his officers accrue overtime by working special events such as parades. When officers put in overtime, he reduces their regular shift hours when possible to contain costs, he said. "I will send them home if I do not need them," he said.
    Overtime goes down during January, February and March and goes up during summer when staff take vacations and when more special events are scheduled, he said.
    City Clerk Sandra Young checked the overtime hours and salaries paid out from the year beginning January 1, 2003, to November 21, 2003. She said overtime rules do not kick in until a police department employee works 43 hours a week or until a fire department employee works 53 hours a week. Overtime pay is set at time and a half, she said.
    The police department logged 1,432 hours of overtime from January through Nov. 21, paying $40,000. Taking out police department clerical employees, the overtime for police officers totalled 1,395 hours and cost $39,884, Young said.
    Starting salary in the cityfor an untrained police officer is $1,400 a month, she said. After certification the officer's salary goes up to $1,600 a month and after one-year's experience a new officer is paid $1,850 per month. After that salary increases for officers depend on yearly cost-of-living increases,Young said.
    Chancery Clerk Johnny Taylor and Dickerson said compensatory time logged by the sheriff's department is not readily available. Young used new software to quickly provide the figures she provided.
    Commenting on the proposed regulations, which the department of labor has not implemented in final form, some changes could result from comments received from the public, said Alan S. Kaufman of Chamberlain, Kaufman and Jones.
    "My personal opinion is that the proposed regulations, if implemented as is, will have very limited impact on law enforcement," Kaufman said. "Based on the proposed regulations, there should be absolutely no change of any kind for law enforcement officers who are not supervisors or administrators. "I also do not believe that the regulations will have any significant effect on who may be considered exempt supervisors or administrative employees. Those who are currently exempt will continue to be exempt and it is difficult to see that anyone who is not exempt now will be made exempt."
    The salary level required for exemption is being raised from $250 a week ($13,000 a year) to only $425 a week ($22,100 per year), Kaufman said. Overtime exemption in the proposed regulations for white-collar employees is based on job duties and salary caps.
    To file an e-mail letter to save overtime pay, go to www.saveovertimepay.org or direct your comments to Senator Thad Cochran and Trent Lott at U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C. 20510-2402.

  2. Fewer people working long hours in Dundee, Evening Telegraph [UK].
    SCOTLAND - Fewer people in Dundee are breaching European legislation by working more than 48 hours a week, according to a UK league table of workers. The figures show 15% of men (4460), and 3.7% of women (2184) in Dundee are failing to comply with EU legislation and working at least 49 hours a week, potentially putting their health at risk.
    The GMB analysis of the most recent census data found one in four men in Britain are working longer than the 48-hour weekly limit, from which the UK negotiated large-scale opt-outs. The figures show Dundee has the lowest score among the 32 local authority areas in Scotland and two places off the foot of the UK table in 227th place. This may be [put] down to fewer people working long hours in Dundee because there are fewer jobs that require them to do so.
    The number breaching the EU limit in the UK has broken the three million mark. Across Scotland 22.4% of men (266,962), and 4.9% of women (110,803) work at least 49 hours a week. A total of 36,751 men and 15,319 women in Tayside and Fife are working more than the limit specified in the EU’s working time directive, according to the Burn Out Britain study.
    Fife was also below average, finishing in 165th place in the UK table, with only 20.3% of its men (16,657) and 4.3% of its women (6595) breaching EU regulations.
    Angus just missed out on a top 10 spot in the Scottish table but finished 64th in the UK table with 25.5% of men (6884) and 4.7% of women (2321) doing 49 hours plus.
    Perth and Kinross finished in 10th place in Scotland and 58th in the UK with a score of 25.8 % (8750 men) and 6.7% (4219 women).
    Working weeks of 49 hours-plus tend to be strongly associated with managerial and professional posts. They are also common among blue collar workers on overtime.
    Women’s average hours are far lower, with many working part-time.
    GMB General Secretary, Kevin Curran, said, “You simply can’t be at your best if you are continually working more than 48 hours a week.”

  3. [Business] mandarins reject holiday productivity claim, by Rob Hosking, National Business Review [New Zealand].
    NEW ZEALAND - Claims by ministers that an extra week's holiday would boost productivity have been rubbished by the government's own officials.
    Official documents not only pour a bucket of cold water on the Beehive spin about the mandatory extra holiday ­ they also reveal minister's determination to avoid hearing any advice they might not like. In particular, the Treasury was kept well out of the loop until literally the last moment.
    The paper outlining the change went to the cabinet on October 14 this year: the Treasury was only given a copy at 4 pm the previous Friday. It's a tendency to perform the ministerial equivalent of putting fingers in the ears and humming very loudly when faced with contrary advice.
    When Labour introduced the Employment Relations Act, it gave the Ministry of Economic Development ­ the agency charged with watching compliance costs to business ­ only three hours to analyse and comment on the bill.
    In this more recent case, the Treasury told ministers they would have to either find more taxpayer money for social services, or cut those services to meet the higher costs. The main pressures for the government will be salaries for teachers, nurses, corrections staff and Winz case managers, the Treasury told the cabinet.
    And both the Treasury and the Department of Labour rubbished claims by Prime Minister Helen Clark and Labour Minister Margaret Wilson that the extra week's entitlement would mean more productivity. "No comprehensive studies have been identified that suggests productivity increases will result directly form increased annual leave," Labour Department officials told Ms Wilson in September.
    The Treasury referred to studies showing that the mandatory 35 hour [w]eek in France has seen a decline in productivity in that country. While popular with employees, employers have reported an even bigger problem with skills shortages ­ something most New Zealand employers are already reporting.
    Ministers had also not taken into account the likely "knock-on effect," as employees who already get four weeks leave bid for another extra week so as to maintain relativities. That lack meant the likely cost would be more than double the initial estimate of $350 million a year.
    The advice also emphasises how much of the worst impact would be on those the Labour Party claims to represent.
    As well as pressure on government services such as health, welfare and education, in order to meet the increased wage bill, those in the private sector are also likely to be hurt. Low paid employees with less bargaining power are likely to lose out as employers try to meet the extra costs, the Treasury told ministers.
    Overall the policy makes a mockery of ministerial claims to want to boost New Zealand's economic growth rate to the top of the OECD. "In the long run, the effect of the policy ... would lower the level of the output of the economy," a memo to Finance Minister Michael Cullen said.
    GMB General Secretary, Kevin Curran, said, “You simply can’t be at your best if you are continually working more than 48 hours a week.”

12/04/2003   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 12/03 via GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA (except #1-2 is from the 12/04 NYT & WSJ hardcopies), and excerpts & comments are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialled -
  1. Productive, but tired, letter to editor by Joseph Stern of Auburndale MA, NYT, A34.
    Re "The productivity paradox" by Stephen Roach (op-ed, see 11/29-12/01/2003 #6):
    At 10:30 pm when I finally shut off my home computer after having spent a good part of the Thanksgiving weekend catching up on office work and getting ready for the new workweek, I decided to spend a half hour perusing The New York Times.
    On reading Mr. Roach's article, my reaction was, "Yes, finally someone got it right!" I then went off to bed so I could get up at 5:30 am, download my email messages and take care of that chore before heading off for the office.
    These activities may add to measured productivity [especially since the time they take is not counted in the measuring process], but they also add to my feeling of exhaustion!
    [Compare -]
    'Productivity' rises at 9.4% rate [our quotes] - Best performance in 20 years bolsters corporate profits, but may not be sustained, by Greg Ip & Joseph Rebello, WSJ, A2.
    [Never mind all the decay we score as growth in the lethally flawed GDP measure, note this derivative US 'productivity' measure is not real productivity (output per employee per hour). This is an outdated, pre-industrial, duration-neglected measure that no one else uses -]
    ...output per worker at nonagricultural businesses in the third quarter..\..
    [By this measure, happy slaves who worked a 168-hour workweek would be the most productive of all, till they burnt out in about 2 weeks. Then the Wall Street Jounral includes the ludicrous claim that this measure has -]
    ...bullish implications for Americans' standard of living....
    [as if working 1840s-level 70 or 80-hour workweeks is an upward movement in living standards.]

  2. Econ online: Where to read the tea leaves, by David Wessel, WSJ, D1.

  3. Top Ten Forecasts: Workforce and Workplace: 2004, Business Journal of Tri Cities [Tennessee].
    1. Employment market turbulence. Pent-up energy among employees who have felt trapped in their current positions will stimulate unprecedented churning in the labor marketplace.
    [Not with continued downsizing and mounting un(der)employment and labor surplus.]
    The turbulence in the employment market [caused only by employers downsizing!] will threaten corporate stability and capacity to serve customers. Some companies will go out of business because they are unable to retain a sufficient number of qualified employees to get the work done. As the economy picks up, employers that treated employees badly during the tight economy will be in serious trouble. More workers will leave, laid-off employees won't return, and fewer applicants will choose to work there.
    2. Shift to [jobseekers'] market in labor. As the economy picks up, employers will face the most severe shortage of skilled labor in history....
    [What a laugh! These Chicken Little's are determined to see themselves as victims. The economy can't possibly do more than have a brief uptick in the midst of a vast secular downspiral, due to continued downsizing instead of timesizing in response to technology, and downsizing to accommodate short-sighted outsourcing.]
    Workers who are fortunate enough to have found their preferred work environment will tend to stay longer....
    [As labor surplus, workers' expectations drop and they put up with more and more problems in their current jobs, chief of which is, they may get laid off at any moment.]
    People will seek stability, but may change jobs more frequently in their search for their personal Employer of Choice®.
    [This is a self-contradicting sentence where the second clause is evidently included only to advertise some otherwise unexplained product or service.]
    3. Fluid international job movement [ie: outsourcing]. Economic issues and skilled-labor shortages in the United States [HA! this should read "low-wage skilled-labor shortages in the U.S."] will move even more jobs to other countries, where workers will improve their skills to perform new tasks. In some cases, US employers will discover that foreign workers are not performing satisfactorily and jobs will be returned to this country [negligible!].
    4. Retirement will evaporate.
    [This is not a forecast. This is de facto. And it also contradicts the above nonsense about unqualified skilled-labor shortages and shift to jobseekers' market. If jobseekers could get whatever they want, the secure retirement (ie: good pensions) they want would not be evaporating.]
    Retirement, as we have known it for two generations, will continue its metamorphosis. Fewer people will [be able to afford to] retire completely. Retirees will move into jobs in other fields, start their own businesses, and engage in other activities to remain active [active shmactive - to remain solvent!] and productive into their seventies, eighties, and even nineties.
    [The American retirement plan has become dying on the job or dialing 800-KEVORKIAN.]
    5. Training and education will accelerate.
    [Not unless we implement overtime-to-training&hiring conversion. Otherwise, more and more training costs will be sloughed off onto employees and employees will be able to afford less and less.]
    Workers will discover that their skills are obsolete or insufficient to gain the jobs they want.
    [So they will just continue to sink into underemployment, welfare, disability, homelessness, prison and suicide, as they are now.]
    Employers will place greater emphasis on education and training.
    [Ridiculous. Why should they? In a labor surplus, it's an employers' market. Employers can pick and choose. These so-called forecasts are determined only by what short-sighted employers think they need to keep doing, like complaining about skills shortages to justify whining for subsidies and outsourcing.]
    Corporate development programs will accelerate to accommodate new employees and the redevelopment of existing staff.
    [Ridiculous. Why should they? With thousands of resumes for each job opening, they can select the perfect fit for each newly created position.]
    The demand for vocational education will begin to grow, as people realize the increasing need - and higher income paid to skilled workers.
    [Note that "education" is overwhelmingly the financial responsibility of individuals, not corporations.]
    Educators will be challenged to make major changes to the current system to produce graduates ready to cope in a faster-moving world.
    [And why the constant hype about "faster-moving"? Because it's an employers' market and they can continue to drive employees harder and harder, right back beyond the sweatshop toward slavery.]
    6. Leadership deficit will be crippling.
    [True, because as labor surplus mounts, employers needs fewer and fewer skills.]
    As employers discover serious inadequacies [infrequent, when the inadequacies are increasingly in themselves], leadership development will take on new importance. Senior executives not demonstrating leadership qualities will be asked to leave.
    [Only in a minority of highly publicized cases.]
    Up and coming managers will be expected to learn and practice leadership skills - before being moved into senior or even mid-level positions.
    [All things are relative.]
    7. Flexible employment will gain popularity. As more people work flexible hours, work from home, and use technology to work for employers in distant locations, the traditional workday and workweek will further erode.
    [They're probably trying to say the workday and workweek will shorten, but as labor surplus drains labor leverage, fewer people, not more, will be offered flexible hours - why should employers be bothered?! - and if more employees work from home (because employers have cut costly office space), it means they're on-call 24/7 with no boundaries between work and home, public and private. Others work from home because they've been forced into "self-employment" regardless of lack of clients.]
    Part of this movement will be driven by parents - male and female - who want to spend more time with their children.
    [As labor glut and overpopulation mount, there will be less and less accommodation of parenting, as indeed there is now, with the commoditization of childrearing and its transformation into both parents working and paying for childcare by strangers.]
    8. Casual is here to stay....
    [Trivial.]
    9. Advantage of agility....
    [i.e., desperate, wild, instant course-changes. This merely attempts to make a virtue out of the desperate 'necessity' of the race to the bottom occasioned by unregulated competition.]
    10. Workers becoming independent.
    [This should have been number 8 or folded right in with number 7.]
    More people will become [driven by downsizing!] independent contractors, selling their services to employers on a project, contract, or set-term basis. This movement will stimulate the development of specialized staffing firms and electronic communities to connect individual workers with employers.
    [11. Consumer markets will continue to weaken until timesizing replaces downsizing, taking down the whole economy despite shouted tiny goodnews (Recovery! Recovery!) and whispered gigantic badnews (underemployment next to megahours), and all the above-mentioned dimensions of deterioration will deepen.]

  4. Labour and sovereignty: Speech...November 15, 2003...presented...as part of the Labour: International Solidarity or Popular Sovereignty [huh?] panel...at the Parkland Institute conference "Challenging Empire", by Richard Harding, Vive le Canada.
    [Richard is still pretty unfocused but he's brushing against some of the central strategic issues in his copious venting. Reminds us of ourselves in the 60s at our national SCM of Canada conferences in Aurora, Waterloo, Saskatoon, Edmonton.... What a relief that we've finally sorted through all the economic noise from both right and left. We'll cut to the chase - kindof -]
    ...Sam Gindin, CAW former advisor to Bob White and Buzz Hargrove...has argued that: "The issue therefore, doesn’t lie so much in pointing out that something [ie: long hours and labor surplus] is wrong, but in developing a confidence to do something about it [ie: shorten hours], developing an understanding of what that entails [a 5-phase program], and developing the organizational commitment to go ahead and do it." This suggestion, in my view, points to creating new institutions [automatic, employment-set workweek adjustment and overtime-to-training&hiring conversion] as a pillar in a popular sovereignty project and creates space to inject the crucial element of internationalism [non-sequitur]; thus I would like to draw your attention to an example in...Venezuela.
    While living in poverty despite the vast natural wealth of their country (mainly in the form of oil), a majority of Venezuelans elected a left-nationalist government in 1998. Since this time, a new constitution has been written and given popular assent by a referendum in 1999. This constitution declares that “sovereignty resides untransferable in the people….” The...constitution goes on to declare that “every person has the right to adequate, safe and comfortable, hygienic housing, with appropriate essential basic services….” Health is declared a “fundamental social right….” Hours of work are “not to exceed eight hours per day or 44 hours per week.” Night work “shall not exceed seven hours per day or 35 hours per week.” A commitment to the further reduction of work hours is also included “to make better use of free time for the benefit of the physical, spiritual and cultural development of workers.”... All of this stands in stark contrast to the modern-day Family Compact which inhabits all levels of Canadian government, not to mention the will of the American government.... Canadian workers have experienced attacks on labour rights, such as the introduction of a 60-hour workweek in Ontario, and legislation making it difficult to organize trade unions in their workplaces....

  5. Bus operators told not to overtax drivers, The Star [Malaysia].
    KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - Express bus operators, with immediate effect, will have to ensure their drivers do not take on more trips than they can handle. The drivers are also required to have sufficient rest after a day’s work before hitting the road again.
    Entrepreneur Development Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz said he would make a proposal at the next Cabinet meeting that all express buses be fitted with speed-control mechanisms. “These are some of the measures my ministry must implement to prevent fatal road accidents such as the one at the Jalan Kuala Lipis-Merapoh road in Pahang on Sunday,” said Nazri during his ministry’s Hari Raya open house here yesterday. Fourteen people lost their lives in the crash, which involved two buses.
    “We will direct all express bus companies to ensure that the number of trips taken daily by their drivers does not exceed the legal stipulation and that they are able to rest for at least eight hours before they drive again the following day. “They must not be allowed to drive after merely resting for an hour or two,” Nazri added.
    In Putrajaya, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy said the ministry will conduct a comprehensive study to reduce fatal road accidents. He said the study would also look into limiting the working hours for commercial vehicle drivers and introducing mandatory training in commercial vehicle safety standards. “The Government is studying all proposals submitted, including the ones to be made at the open forum to be held soon. We are also seeking the views of those involved in the industry as well as academics. “The Cabinet has also directed a study on each fatal road accident during the period, including a profile of drivers, to start a database,” he said after a post-Cabinet meeting.
    Commercial vehicle drivers would be required to undergo training in areas such as defensive driving and vehicle mechanics before they were issued their licences, he said. “They will be reassessed, maybe after two or three years to ensure their competency,” he added.
    On limiting the working hours of commercial vehicle drivers, particularly those driving express buses, Chan said the Government had not decided on the maximum hours and there was no such limit now. “I had been told that some commercial vehicle drivers drive up to 18 hours during festive seasons. This is ridiculous. We must put a stop to this. “The lives of some 40 people can be in their hands,” he added.

12/03/2003   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 12/02 via GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA (except #1 is from the 12/03 NYT hardcopy), and excerpts & comments are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialled -
  1. Lieberman proposes paid leave for workers, by Diane Cardwell, NYT, A23.
    CONWAY, NY...- Seeking to appeal to parents caught between the pressures of work and family, Sen. Joseph Lieberman [D-Conn.] is proposing a new payroll deduction to finance a program that would allow workers to take paid leave to care for themselves or family members, his advisers said. The proposal...would expand on the Family & Medical Leave Act...that guarantees employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for family medical emergencies.... The plan is politically risky because it involves some type of payroll deduction or tax at a time when pResident Bush is running hard on an antitax platform.
    Under the plan for paid leave, [all?] employees would have to contribute some part of their income to a fund that would finance leaves at half-salary for up to a month for workers needing time off to care for themselves or relatives. The payment would be capped at a certain level. ...Each state would be responsible for designing its own program.
    [But Lieberman is running for a federal office. Why's he talking about state-level responsibilities? Or would this be yet another unfunded federal mandate burdening the states?]
    The cost to each employee would be roughly $30 a year, said Mr. Lieberman's advisers, who outlined the proposal. Businesses with fewer than 50 employees would be exempt because of the potential disruption to small enterprises.
    [Number of employees per business is irrelevant since employees are being taxed, not employers. Relevant would be an exemption for employees below a certain income level, which isn't mentioned. This proposal sounds poorly thought-out and designed, and runs into the standing ecological objection against subsidies on reproduction during mounting over-population. Better reproduction-neutral, economywide worksharing based on a self-adjusting unemployment-determined workweek ceiling and plenty of on-the-job training & hiring financed by taxes on overtime and overwork.]

  2. UK staff 'forced' to work long hours, BusinessEurope.com (UK).
    LONDON - Employees in the UK are being forced to opt-out of EU laws which [limit] the number of hours they work a week, unions warned today.
    Too many clocking off late
    The EU's Working Time Directive prevents employers from forcing staff to work more than 48 hours in a week. But the UK has held onto an opt-out clause, meaning that employees can sign away this right.
    ["Options" for employees during a massive labor surplus are meaningless because of fear of job loss and prolonged unemployment.]
    Employers argue that the opt-out gives them the flexibility to increase working hours when deadlines are near, and reduce them when things are quieter.
    But the Trades Union Congress (TUC) says many companies are abusing the rules and forcing workers to work long hours on a regular basis. To back up its claim the union group referred to a study drawn up for the European Commission a year ago, but never published. The report is based on 13 case studies and cites examples of bosses exploiting the rules.
    The TUC says the report uncovered compulsory signing of opt-outs of the 48-hour rule - which are supposed to be voluntary - and employees being pressured into waiving rights to breaks and night work limits. "Even in this small and unrepresentative sample there is widespread abuse of the rules," said TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber. "Much of the long hours working appears to reflect bad work organisation and poor productivity. "Staff may say they want the long hours to earn the overtime [pay], but it is possible to work shorter hours, be more productive and still earn the same pay as workers across Europe know."
    Last week, the union group published a report suggesting that employees work almost 7½ hours unpaid overtime a week, saving employers around £23B every year.

  3. Majority of firms see flexibility as unworkable, HR Gateway [UK].
    Brief details
    According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development [CIPD], firms have found offering flexibility to parents a workable solution; however, new figures suggest that this is not prompting many to stretch the benefit to others.
    Nearly 75% of organizations in the UK see flexible working as impractical for their business, with cost and the organization required for admin being seen as prohibitive, suggests a new survey.
    The latest Business in Britain report from Lloyds TSB Corporate, suggests that while only 11% of firms do not think they would benefit from flexible working, 72% see it as unworkable.
    Cost and organisation required to co-ordinate and administer flexible working were seen as the major barriers, with 82% of companies employing over 51 people claiming that these barriers made it unworkable.
    According to findings from the CIPD, when it comes to parents’ right to request, employers are warming to the idea, with 68% of employers saying flexible working had improved attitudes in their organisation.
    Today’s survey suggests that a third of firms currently offer work options for all full-time employees, with 37% of these claiming that morale has improved and 49% saying that being more adaptable has allowed them to retain staff.
    Despite the [gradual] progress being made towards UK PLC becoming more flexible, only 4% of firms offer more creative employment solutions such as personalised hours or a compressed working week....
    ‘Flexibility is now a vital recruitment tool that can give employers the edge in an environment where the competition for quality staff is intense. ‘Any company that can rise to the challenge and see flexible working as an opportunity, rather than a threat, can seize advantage,’ says Lloyds TSB Corporate’s Peter Navin.
    For those firms that do offer flexible working options, flexi-hours appear to be the most popular chosen by 25%, followed by job shares (9%). Of the 2,000 firms contacted only 1% offered home working.

12/02/2003   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 12/01 via GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA, and excerpts & comments are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialled -
  1. Your disappearing overtime pay, by Dustin Zahrt, MarketCritic.com.
    The power of money. It controls more aspects of our life than we care to imagine. Money is what gets us to work on time each and every day in the earliest hours of the morning. Through hard work and long hours millions of Americans are able to enjoy the fruits of their labor.
    [How pre-automation, how 18th-century these quaint sentiments.]
    To many, the extra overtime on a paycheck signifies that yearly vacation to white sandy beaches. To others it means that junior will be able to go to college when the time is right. To some, extra overtime pay decides whether or not they will be able to pay rent and have enough food on the table.
    Changing overtime standards
    Unfortunately millions of people may be at risk to loose their overtime benefits. According to the Dept. of Labor's (DOL) new proposal, what was once considered overtime for many (any hour accrued over the standard 40-hour work-week) should be considered a normal workweek. The Senate initially voted 54-45 against the new overtime regulations, but recently reversed its decision in a non-binding vote. The Bush administration seems set on pushing these new standards through.
    Confusion best describes the feelings surrounding this issue. The DOL claims that its new policy will add more overtime paying jobs at the bottom of the pay scale. The DOL wants to raise the salary level of overtime protection to $425 (salaried employees earning less than $425 are eligible for overtime pay). An employee earning $425 a week grosses approximately $22,100 per year.
    The DOL also proposes changing the way it classifies workers. Current law stipulates that employees who do not have adequate job status and authority may be opted out of the, "professional," "administrative," or "executive," job classifications, and would therefore be eligible for overtime pay. The DOL's changes would loosen the guidelines for the job classifications, thus making many more people exempt from overtime pay. Education levels that are used to determine exemption from overtime would also be lowered, as a result, many middle earning profession such as, draftsmen, surveyors and paralegals would have their overtime pay ceased.
    But how does it affect me?
    The proposed changes by the DOL will hurt workers of varying income levels. Let's say that you average 45 hours per week at $14 per hour. If you are not exempt from overtime you will receive a paycheck for $665 per week. If this you are then exempted from overtime your paycheck decreases to $630 per week. The widespread loss of overtime in a small town also means less for local businesses and the local economy as a whole.
    Not a big deal?
    A decrease of $35 per week might not seem like a lot but it can add up. Over the course of a year you would miss out on $1825 in overtime pay. During the span of a career that amount comes in at over $72,000 in missed overtime pay. Remember, this calculation only assumes 5 hours of missed overtime pay. Imagine how much money will be lost if you work miss out on 10 or even 20 hours of overtime pay. The amount is very substantial, and it often harms those who need the money the most.
    Be an informed employee
    The elimination of any overtime pay by the Government is not a smart move. Consumers have fueled the current economic recovery. There is no doubt that any worker missing out on overtime pay will consequently have less money to contribute back into our economy. With this cost of living continuously increasing, overtime pay is increasingly necessary to allow people to meet their obligations. If you feel that you are at risk of losing your overtime compensation, ask your employer how you may be affected if the DOL's new policy is enacted. Your hard work and long hours give you the right to be an informed employee. Do not let a disappearance of overtime pay take you by surprise.

  2. Long working week 'burning out Britain', by Alan Jones, The Scotsman [UK] via PA News.
    [British (and American!) employees are working their economy into permanent recession.]
    Almost one in four men [25%] in England and Wales are working longer than the 48-hour weekly limit set by the European Union, new figures showed today.
    The longest hours are worked in the City of London, Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster, according to research for the GMB union. The commuter belt of the South East and Eastern England are the regions where workers put in the longest hours, with more than one in four doing at least 49 a week.
    GMB general secretary Kevin Curran said: “It is the CBI and UK businessmen who are dragging British productivity down by working the kind of hours which burn out their enthusiasm, creativity, innovation and forward planning. “Long hours in the City of London mean stressed out investment bankers and venture capitalists looking anxiously over their shoulders while strung out on overpriced cappuccinos making tired decisions. “You simply can’t be at your best if you are continually working more than 48 hours a week.”
    The GMB said it was disappointed that the new Employment Bill, to be tabled this week, did nothing to address the growing problem. Mr Curran added: “By persisting in allowing people to work longer than they are capable of we are holding back our competitiveness with Europe. By practically encouraging longer working hours, the CBI and the Government is burning out Britain.”

  3. Firms 'ignoring EU working hours rule', by Alan Jones, The Scotsman [UK] via PA News.
    Widespread abuses of a directive aimed at limiting working hours have been revealed in unpublished European Union research, it was disclosed today.
    A report by academics from Cambridge University found workplaces across the UK where the law was being ignored and workers were being illegally asked to opt out of the directive which sets hours at a maximum of 48 a week. In a series of studies evidence was uncovered of workers being pressured into opting out of their rights.
    The TUC [Trades Union Congress], which has obtained a full copy of the report, said the evidence confirmed that the UK’s opt out from the directive had “blown a huge hole” in protection against working long hours. The UK is the only EU country that allows workers to sign away their right to work no more than 48 hours a week, although this opt out is being reviewed.
    The report details the use of the individual opt out through interviews with employers and unions and studying 13 companies drawn from sectors where long working hours were common.
    The European Commission received the report last December but did not publish it.
    The report says: “An objective observer may conclude that excessive reference to the need to work long hours and the availability of the opt out could influence employees.” At one health service employer, 15% of workers were averaging more than 48 hours a week, while a hotel chain asked its staff to sign a form opting out of the regulations.
    The report revealed low productivity in companies where staff worked long hours. One manager said: “I think we get lots of unproductive time in our working week because they are so knackered.” [i.e., exhausted?]
    Some of the businesses complained that a straightforward 48 hour limit might be better for them to manage because the current rules were so complex.
    Brendan Barber, General Secretary of the TUC, said most of the employers surveyed had been put forward by trade bodies so were probably above average. “Even in this small and unrepresentative sample there is widespread abuse of the rules, law breaking and confusion about the regulations. “Much of the long hours working appears to reflect bad work organisation and poor productivity. “Staff may say they want the long hours to earn the overtime, but it is possible to work shorter hours, be more productive and still earn the same pay as workers across Europe.”



Click here for spontaneous cases of primitive timesizing in -
Nov.21-30/2003 + Dec.1
Nov.11-20/2003
Nov.1-10/2003
Oct.25-31/2003
Oct.21-24/2003
Oct.15-20/2003
Oct.10-14/2003
Oct.8-9/2003
Oct.4-7/2003
Oct.1-3/2003
Sept.27-30/2003
Sept.18-26/2003
Sept.10-17/2003
Sept.1-9/2003
Aug. 28-Sep.1/2003
Aug. 16-27/2003
Aug. 8-15/2003
Aug. 1-7/2003
July 29-31/2003
July 22-28/2003
July 16-21/2003
July 5-15/2003
July 1-4/2003
June 28-30/2003
June 21-27/2003
June 14-20/2003
June 6-13/2003
June 1-5/2003
May 27-31/2003
May 20-26/2003
May 1-20/2003
Apr.11-30/2003
Apr.1-10/2003
Mar.21-31/2003
Mar.1-20/2003
Feb.15-28/2003
Feb.1-14/2003
Jan.16-31/2003
Jan.1-15/2003
2002
2001
Y2000
1999
1998 and previous years.

For more details, see our laypersons' guide Timesizing, Not Downsizing, 'flung' into print as a campaign piece during the 1998 race for Joe Kennedy's empty Congressional seat. The handbook is available online from *Amazon.com.

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