The U.S.: A Balance Laggard, No Matter How You Cut It

By Rebeldad Brian Reid

The family-leave policies of the United States are generally the stock evidence used to demonstrate that we remain hopelessly behind the rest of the developed world in work-life policies, but thinking only about paid leave is actually a pretty crude yardstick to measure whether the federal government is really committed to policies that make work-life balance a reality.

So, I'm grateful to the Institute for Women's Policy Research and the Center for WorkLife Law at the University of California-Hastings, which last month pushed out a report (PDF) that compared the United States to 19 other countries on a whole bunch of other workplace flexibility metrics. The conclusions are no surprise: The United States is a laggard no matter how you look at things.

The survey found 17 of 20 countries have laws on the books governing alternative work arrangements for parents. We're one of the three without. In most countries, flexible schedules are protected by law so that workers can go to school. And a majority of the 20 countries provided for a gradual retirement. In both cases, the United States was in the minority.

In five countries -- France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Finland -- anyone can dial down their working hours for any reason at all without risking the ax.

This sounds like a fantastic idea and one that seems staggeringly unlikely to ever see the light of day in this country, where even the idea of mandating paid sick days is -- for some reason -- highly controversial.

A big part of the reason for the work-life disconnect is that most workers have two choices: 1) work full-time and fit everything else (family, hobbies, volunteering) around the job or 2) drop out of the workforce completely and suffer the financial consequences. Increasingly, the rest of the world is realizing that's an unproductive way for huge swaths of the economy to operate.

For those of you who are working for pay, would you take a reduced schedule -- say 32 hours a week for 20 percent less money -- if you had the chance? And (though it opens a child-care bag of worms) would anyone now staying home be more likely to re-enter the paid workforce if you could do it for just a few hours a week?

Brian Reid writes about parenting and work-family balance. You can read his blog at rebeldad.com.

By Brian Reid |  June 3, 2008; 7:00 AM ET
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Comments

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In my profession, nursing, most clinical staff are working 36 hours (3x12) as fulltime. But this came about as a result of the nursing shortage. Almost all of those working 36 are also working for a registry/agency on the side, to bring in more cash. When you add it all up, most nurses are working more, not fewer hours. I have a colleague who began working 32 hours a week when her children were small, and received nothing but scorn from her peers. Now that her children are grown, she is still viewed as a shirker who exploited her relationship with the boss to get that schedule. Sometimes it's less about legislation, and more about culture.

Posted by: babsy1 | June 3, 2008 7:40 AM

babsy1 is right - you can't legislate people's attitudes. In my office 90% of us work the alternative/compressed schedule and work flow/meeting schedules accomodate this. But I wonder if it were flip-flopped whether the 10% would be treated as well.

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | June 3, 2008 7:48 AM

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Posted by: Anonymous | June 3, 2008 8:06 AM

I'm especially glad to see the report put to rest the anecdotal view that "policies giving maternity leave to women result in fewer women being hired."

Nope, labour force participation by women is higher even in countries that provide long leaves.

Posted by: Shandra | June 3, 2008 8:34 AM

I have been pushing flexible schedules and creative uses of the part-time status in my group in order to retain employees. We work for a large corporation. It is working well for us and my employees seem to appreciate that I appreciate that they have lives outside of work. In our company, part time workers (above 20 hours/week) get the same number of holidays as FT and can participate in all benefits. The only downside is that they accrue vacation at a slower rate and get less sick leave.

Posted by: MaryB | June 3, 2008 8:40 AM

I have done exactly what rebel dad suggested: Down to 4 days a week and take home 20% less.
It works. I can't imagine not working. Neither can I imagine working full time now.
Of course, flexiblilty is a 2 way thing. So sometimes I put in a few extra hours in the evening when little one has gone to bed or field a conference call on my 'off' day. But on the hold, it works and my team knows exactly where I am on which day.
I, of course, have the luxury of living in Europe and work for a large corp.

Posted by: AtlanticMum | June 3, 2008 8:48 AM

I also wanted to point out that those in my group who are using flexible schedules, telecommuting, and doing part time work are largely not parents of young or school-age children. Most are, in fact, single or older.

Posted by: MaryB | June 3, 2008 8:51 AM

You're right that you can't legislate people's attitudes, but you don't have to care what they think! Usually, if you've got a flexible schedule, your boss is your champion. At the end of the day, if flextime is what you really want, that's the only person whose good opinion matters.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | June 3, 2008 8:55 AM

babys1 - I find your comment really interesting because I'm considering a career switch to nursing with the idea that it might be easier to work part-time or on a 12x3 schedule while my children are small (among many other reasons for wanting to change careers--that's far from the only consideration). Do you think that attitude is common or is localized to where you work?

Posted by: tsp 2007 | June 3, 2008 8:59 AM

It seems to me that a change is coming after the baby boomers leave the workforce. Fewer workers will be in higher demand and therefore better able to bargain for what they want. Change happens because there is a need, not just a want. I saw a report that the city of Birmingham has put all employees on a four day work week to help them cut the use of their cars and save some money on gas. The mayor was quoted as saying "We've been running for stupid so long in this country" now we are paying the price for it and have to adapt accordingly. A great quote that gets to the heart of these issues.

Posted by: FloridaChick | June 3, 2008 9:01 AM

My husband and I each have 32-hour work weeks and love them. I hope the US wakes up to the fact that there is nothing magical about the 40 hour week, and that companies and individual bosses understand that it is worth the 'bother' to create meaningful jobs that function otherwise.

Luckily, my company already understands this. And my husband endured an 11-month layoff in order to find a company that would do the same - turning down one job offer that didn't allow reduced or flexible hours and finally ending up in a terrific position that does.

It is a shame that our country is not more supportive of these options as a whole. But don't give up, don't wait for legislative changes to trickle down to your specific situation - fight hard for the schedule you want and the life that works best for you and your family. The effort, and even the financial impact, is worth it!

Posted by: equal | June 3, 2008 9:12 AM

I know that today's topic has been "beaten to death" on this blog but it is so relevant to me. I am hoping that come September I would be able to ask for 32 hours at my federal agency. Although there are clear OPM laws and regulations on the books that allow this, it is still very much up to a culture of a particular agency to allow this. So far, the anectodal evidence is that my agency has not supported this in the past. Hopefully I have built up my "reputation" to open their minds. I know that in other agencies, i.e. Commerce, there is a lot of flexibility.

As for comparing the U.S. to the rest of the world, or the OECD countries, we are off the charts! And not in the positive way. I am sick of hearing that the reason that Canadians and Europeans have such generous maternity/paternity leaves is because they pay so much taxes. Off course they do but the taxes don't go just to pay for these benefits. I think that we have a workaholic culture in this country. We are defined by who we are professionally (or maybe that's how we are defined in DC...) There is a also a huge desparity in salaries between the high demanding pressure jobs like investment banker or private sector attorney and, say, an office manager. So people in those high paying jobs are expected to work insane hours.

Posted by: dc reader | June 3, 2008 9:14 AM

@tsp: the scornful attitude I wrote about is specific to my facility. I haven't seen it elsewhere. In general, clinical staff who can work 3x12s are envied, especially by those of us who have to work 5x8. I know many couples who were able to avoid outsourcing their childcare by working 12s. However, if the cost of 12s was not offset by the advantages of being able to offer the shift as an inducement, I don't think nursing would have ever made the switch. 12s require more staff, and there is a great deal of research that implicates 12 hour shifts in fatigue and the errors that fatigue brings. When I worked in South Carolina in the 90s, in the midst of a nursing glut, there was a move to go back to 8s. It fizzled, but it was close.

Posted by: babsy1 | June 3, 2008 9:27 AM

I wonder how well small businesses do in these countries with these whack-job policies.

If I had to provide a year off with compensation as maternity leave, I'd never be able to hire anyone. Or at least not hire any woman. I can't just absorb that. I'd go broke.

Posted by: Bob | June 3, 2008 9:30 AM

@tsp: by all means, become a nurse. But know what you're getting into: hard physical work which is intellectually challenging and emotionally demanding. I've been a nurse for 28 years, and I can't imagine doing anything else.

Posted by: babsy1 | June 3, 2008 9:30 AM

I think the legislature should typically stay out of a contract between an employer and an employee.

I asked for a part time schedule at work and they basically said no. So I quit. I don't believe they really think I was going to do that, and they have said they will hire me back in the fall part time, but we'll see. I know I'm in a good position that most people are not in that I was able to do that, but we structured our lives that way (no debt but the house, don't owe much, compared to it's value, on the house, etc).

Really, if my employer wants to do it, great, but forcing an employer to do things, based on legislation, doesn't make sense to me. Employers have it tough enough typically, trying to make ends meet. Really - cause most businesses are small businesses who have to keep up with ever growing legislation about how to run their business, put in place by people who have, typically, never run a business.

Posted by: atlmom | June 3, 2008 9:30 AM

babys1--thanks, that's good to hear. I'm only in the early stages of this thought process, I would have to go back to school and even that would probably not be until 2011, but I want to make sure I have gotten as much info as possible from as many people as possible.

FWIW, the topic of today's blog, beaten to death as it may be, is precisely why I'd consider making a career change. The field I'm in now cannot be done part time; it's not fair to either the full time staff or my family. Right now I get home far too many nights after my husband has already gone to bed and leave when he is still sleeping. I love him to pieces and I hate not seeing him. And my job would absolutely expect me to make the same sacrifices even if I had children, who physically need me far more than my husband does (evidence indicates he can feed himself). Meanwhile, for me to leave every day at 5 would be absolutely unfair to the staff who are staying until 10 pm every night. So this is a real issue for me and my husband as we think about starting a family.

Posted by: tsp 2007 | June 3, 2008 9:36 AM

I agree with those saying the change will come when the baby boomers leave. I floated the idea of an alternative working schedule to my direct supervisors. They agreed and thought it was a great idea, but the big boss, who is set to retire at the end of the summer, is dead set against it. So I plan to try again when there is a change in the 'regime' around here.

Posted by: fed worker | June 3, 2008 9:36 AM

"I know many couples who were able to avoid outsourcing their childcare by working 12s" Maybe it's just me, but the phrasing here sounds so cold and businesslike when thinking of my children.

The 3 12-hour days and 4 10-hour days are, indeed, appealing to many people. Personally, I feel like I am away from my children enough while working 8-hour days. If I were to switch to 10 or 12 hours, I may only see them while they are sleeping. Not a trade-off I am interested in. I would prefer paying daycare rather than losing the daily time I spend with them. Just sayin.

Posted by: lurker | June 3, 2008 9:38 AM

@babys 1 again--thanks for your second post; that's exactly why I am taking it slow, I want to make sure it's the right thing and that I can handle the work.

Posted by: tsp 2007 | June 3, 2008 9:40 AM

dc reader: I do think a big part of the problem is our puritanical attitude that work is what defines us. It's the first question you ask people: "what do you do?" and we speak with great admiration of those who work 80 hour weeks. We are the country that loves the Protestant Work Ethic. Makes me glad I'm Catholic and can work smarter, rather than harder.

Posted by: babsy1 | June 3, 2008 9:43 AM

lurker, you would miss seeing your children on the days you work, but your spouse would be home with them. When the spouse works, you would be home. One side benefit: birth control and fewer divorces, since the spouses are together less often. FWIW, is having someone else raise your children colder than having you and your spouse share it?

Posted by: babsy1 | June 3, 2008 9:45 AM

Not to mention that most employers aren't willing to think about change for many reasons, one being I think they like employees tied to their jobs - i.e., if *I* have to work 60 hours a week, why should *you* only work 30 (or fewer)?

I think this might have been the attitude at my previous employer. They want you to NEED the job. Which is fine, I will pursue different opportunities - so they are losing a trained employee, which will only cost them in the end.

Posted by: atlmom | June 3, 2008 9:46 AM

babsy1: "We are the country that loves the Protestant Work Ethic. Makes me glad I'm Catholic and can work smarter, rather than harder."

BWWAHHH! Enclosed please find a bill for one (1) keyboard, to replace the one ruined when I spewed coffee all over it upon reading this. :-)

Posted by: ArmyBrat | June 3, 2008 9:50 AM

AB, no need for the bill, I will just say a rosary for it's soul.

Posted by: babsy1 | June 3, 2008 9:52 AM

dcreader -
The grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence! I work at Commerce -- while some offices provide some telework and flextime, it's not a given in every office. In fact, in my office it's not an option, based on my boss's attitude. We have another problem brewing with telework -- the security of our computer system and the inability to assure the security of an employee's home computer. The way things are going, I would suspect several people that now telework may have that option taken away.

Posted by: 12SP34 | June 3, 2008 9:58 AM

Reminds me of the tougue in cheek definition of a Protestant.

That vague feeling that someone, somewhere, is having fun!

Posted by: to babsy1 | June 3, 2008 10:03 AM

DC Reader:
I work for the feds in an office that handles fast paced complicated issues. We have a lot of parents in our office and they have proven themselves to be valuable and loyal employees. Our office allowed a 32 hour schedule or one day work at home, but wasn't willing to go farther than that. 2 employees in good standing with the management respectfully approached the managers and asked for an opportunity to explore whether more flexibility was possible without sacrificing the high quality work product. After a lot of work researching what other similiar offices (gov and private) allow, researching all of the rules governing these issues, talking to all factions of the office and client, we proposed a more flexible program. Since the program was balanced and fair and had buy in from all employees -- even those who would be full time in the office, the group of managers who hadn't been willing to be more flexible adopted it as proposed. If you want change you need to do your homework and make your case in a way that is respectful of all people in your office, and ensures that high quality work continues to get done. Then, once you have flexibility in place it is imperative that you make it work by going the extra mile abd not burdening the full timers or the managers. Like Atlantic Mum, I've found my willingness to work on my day off or after hours buys me more goodwill and future flexibility than the inconvience it costs me.

Posted by: Fed worker | June 3, 2008 10:03 AM

Atlmom: I think you nailed it with this statement: if *I* have to work 60 hours a week, why should *you* only work 30. My question is why does somebody HAVE to work 60 hours a week? I can't imagine that they will be very productive with an exhausted brain.

I remember when I was single and childless a lot of friends of mine who were also single and childless went to work on the weekend when they had nothing to do! Not that they accomplished anything either. They just wanted to be able to brag about it on Monday.

Posted by: dc reader | June 3, 2008 10:05 AM

Who are all these mysterious people working every hour of their lives? I've never met one and I certainly am not one! Where I work, it's not uncommon to stay an hour or two late a day or two a week, but no one is here until the wee hours every night all the time. The only people I ever knew that worked that much were military people on ships. What else are they going to do? :) Not to say that it doesn't happen, I just haven't seen it. I guess they're like ghosts or aliens; plenty of people claim to have seen them, but I'm still waiting for one to tap me on the shoulder and say "Hey! I exist!"

Posted by: FloridaChick | June 3, 2008 10:14 AM

"lurker, you would miss seeing your children on the days you work, but your spouse would be home with them. When the spouse works, you would be home. One side benefit: birth control and fewer divorces, since the spouses are together less often. FWIW, is having someone else raise your children colder than having you and your spouse share it?"

babsy1, I know how it works, you didn't have to explain it to me. i was just stating that I, lurker, would not want to be away from my children and only see them asleep. I know my husband is perfectly capable of caring for them. It's not a control issue, I just want to be around them every day. YMMV. It's not a commentary on the choices of others, only a statement of how I feel about fewer, but longer, work days.

FWIW, I didn't mean to offend anyone about my feeling that it is cold to talk about outsourcing care for my children. It's just a matter of word preference. I outsource law care, laundry, house cleaning. I see that my children are cared for, I just don't call it outsourcing. :)

Posted by: lurker | June 3, 2008 10:20 AM

FloridaChick-- It depends on your industry. I am an attorney. I do not fit in at my firm. Almost everyone else seems to enjoy working 12-14 hour days including weekends. I often wonder if they do not like spending time with their spouses and/or children. I am single and childless and can't wait to get out of here so I can go home and watch TV.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 3, 2008 10:22 AM

FC: My old boss worked every waking moment he could - he would send emails at 5 AM to let you know he was working. He is petrified of losing his job. My reaction is: hey, I'll find another one, if I want to, no big deal.

I don't understand that attitude (I got a call from a headhunter with a REALLY old resume, like, I think 6+ years old), who wants me to move to another city (kept telling me how great said company is). So I have no doubt as to my ability to support myself. I don't understand people who are so scared all the time that they make work for themselves that is not entirely helpful to their job.

I could go on and on...but I just don't understand people who have no faith in themselves.

But that is off topic, I guess. :)

Posted by: atlmom | June 3, 2008 10:23 AM

dc reader and FloridaChick: as to who is working these insane hours, in many technical fields it's almost a requirement to fully learn ("grok") a topic. It's best described as "larval stage" in the Hacker's Dictionary:

http://www.hacker-dictionary.com/terms/larval-stage

"larval stage
n. Describes a period of monomaniacal concentration on coding apparently passed through by all fledgling hackers. Common symptoms include the perpetration of more than one 36-hour hacking run in a given week; neglect of all other activities including usual basics like food, sleep, and personal hygiene; and a chronic case of advanced bleary-eye. Can last from 6 months to 2 years, the apparent median being around 18 months. A few so afflicted never resume a more `normal' life, but the ordeal seems to be necessary to produce really wizardly (as opposed to merely competent) programmers. See also wannabee. A less protracted and intense version of larval stage (typically lasting about a month) may recur when one is learning a new OS or programming language."

I went through a period right out of college of working 60-80 hour weeks because I wanted to so I could learn everything about what I wanted to be doing. Once you've got a handle on it (you grok it), you can throttle back.

Then every so often you have to go into that phase again on a new project.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | June 3, 2008 10:26 AM

I've seen a huge difference between the young nurses that I hire, and older (35+) workers. The younger staff want what they want, are less willing to be flexible in their schedules to cover holes, and are quicker to leave for what they perceive to be greener pastures. Charles Handy's 1989 book, The Age of Unreason, posited that we were entering a world in which workers would jump from job to job, and would be more likely to work for temp companies than to stick with one employer. He also foresaw the growth in workers asking "what's in for me right now," instead of "how can I help the company." While I see many good things in the attitude of the newer staff, my industry mandates that people have to be here 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It's one thing to want certain days off, and quite another to leave the organization in the lurch.

Posted by: babsy1 | June 3, 2008 10:30 AM

@Florida Chick - try the software industry, particularly if it involves gov't contract work. It certainly not always constant work but it can involve long stretches of 12 hour days and weekends to meet a deadline. If a project is underfunded and/or poorly managed it can get into a cycle of perpetually being behind/running its team into the ground.

I-banking teams working on deals have similar stretches of deadline driven work.

Posted by: PoAM | June 3, 2008 10:31 AM

You also work all the time in politics, especially if you are press secretary or a senior adviser.

I would not be so presumptious and demand part time schedule in a high intensity field. I tried that unsuccessfully a few years ago.

Those friends I referred to were not attorneys, software engineers or I-bankers. They were just people with either poor organization skills or no hobbies.

I personally subscribe to the lifestyle of dolce far niente but have to work to support it.

Posted by: dc reader | June 3, 2008 10:52 AM

Well, I was born a Rockefeller but was switched in the nursery.

Posted by: Have to work! | June 3, 2008 10:56 AM

I think this entire issue also speaks to why, despite never-before-seen gas prices and unbelievably bad customer service in the airline industry, Americans *will* be taking their vacations this summer. We work our tails off for a paltry 10 days - dagnabbit, we're going to take our 10 days! It's a treat, we deserve a treat, that's what credit cards are for!

No wonder this place is such a mess.

Posted by: BxNY | June 3, 2008 10:57 AM

I wonder how well small businesses do in these countries with these whack-job policies.

If I had to provide a year off with compensation as maternity leave, I'd never be able to hire anyone. Or at least not hire any woman. I can't just absorb that. I'd go broke.

Posted by: Bob | June 3, 2008 9:30 AM

Bob, what you miss in your comment is that small business owners DO NOT PAY their employees while they are on maternity leave.

Your comment just shows the ignorance that abounds in the US about "why this cannot possibly work!!!!" despite the fact that it DOES work in MANY countries.

Here in Canada, the government pays up to 55% the salary for the entire mat leave period. (Not very many companies top up, so families plan for that.)

Yes, employment insurance premiums are paid on both ends for all employees, all the time - but it's not even close to a salary. Pooling the money for that and for unemployment and for compassionate care leave makes for a whack of money that gets invested and grows on its own a bit, like any insurance programme.

I have been a manager dealing with budget for people on mat leave and it usually ends up saving the company money because:

- we tend to hire in people for that one year contract that have slightly less experience (that's why they want the one-year contract), so we pay them less. Plus no benefits.

- we used the one-year "trial run" as part of our long-term recruiting strategy - it was a great way to identify up and comers.

Is it perfect? No. Self-employed women don't pay EI premiums and don't qualify, for example. But it is sad that so many Americans refuse to consider that it could work down there too... the US is such a great country; I don't get why the answer to things so often is no no no.

Posted by: Shandra | June 3, 2008 10:58 AM

BxNY: I have absolutely no clue what point you're trying to make. Most of those countries cited in the study have FAR more vacation than the 10 days you cite - the French typically get 5 weeks off in the summer; about 4 weeks or 30 days is typical in many (although not all) of the other countries.

So the US is a mess because Americans insist on taking 10 days of vacation?

Can you try again, please?

Posted by: ArmyBrat | June 3, 2008 11:11 AM

lurker, you would miss seeing your children on the days you work, but your spouse would be home with them. When the spouse works, you would be home. One side benefit: birth control and fewer divorces, since the spouses are together less often. FWIW, is having someone else raise your children colder than having you and your spouse share it?

Posted by: babsy1 | June 3, 2008 9:45 AM

No one else is raising my children whether or not I or my spouse are employed. What's cold is your jaw-dropping judgmental attitude.

Posted by: amazing | June 3, 2008 11:20 AM

"No one else is raising my children whether or not I or my spouse are employed. What's cold is your jaw-dropping judgmental attitude."

Now don't start that again! We don't need the nine-million, three hundred sixty-two thousand two hundred twelfth copy of this same fight.

Seriously, just don't start it.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 3, 2008 11:31 AM

"No one else is raising my children whether or not I or my spouse are employed. What's cold is your jaw-dropping judgmental attitude."

That's funny. It's like saying that if you pay for someone to do your laundry, you can still claim to do the actual work. Or of you pay for someone to clean your house, you are still claiming to literally clean your house. People who use daycare are outsourcing the work that goes with raising children. Nothing judgmental about that. It's just a simple fact.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 3, 2008 11:49 AM

"No one else is raising my children whether or not I or my spouse are employed. What's cold is your jaw-dropping judgmental attitude."

That's funny. It's like saying that if you pay for someone to do your laundry, you can still claim to do the actual work. Or of you pay for someone to clean your house, you are still claiming to literally clean your house. People who use daycare are outsourcing the work that goes with raising children. Nothing judgmental about that. It's just a simple fact.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 3, 2008 11:50 AM

tsp 2007--while I didn't make a career change, per se, since I didn't start with a demanding career, but rather re-entered the workforce after being home with kids for 8 years, I only considered jobs that offered flexibility. Granted, it would be harder to go from being a 6-figure lawyer or something to the nonprofit world, but I think the assumptions that going somewhere flexible is either a pipe dream or would mean not making any money are false. It takes research but there are companies out there that offer flexibility and a culture of work/life balance. I just got a job at an association well-recognized for its commitment to work/life balance and they do offer job sharing, part-time schedules, telecommuting, flexible hours, etc, etc. It did take 4 years of visiting their website frequently looking for the right opportunity, but it paid off and I'm here now and it's great.

And as for the question of would I return to the workforce if I could only work a few hours a week--absolutely--that's what I did. The caveat is that you need to be willing to look at the job more as a paycheck and an opportunity to have the schedule you want more than what your specific title would be, and you might have to check your ego at the door to be able to stomach it. If I had been insistent on only taking a job at a certain level or with a certain title I'd probably still be at home. The thing is, once you get your foot in the door part-time it's relatively easy to carve a schedule that works for you--I think easier than starting full-time then trying to scale back. In the less than 4 years since I've been back at work, I went from working 15 hours to 20 to 25 to 30 to 35 to the 37.5 I work now. Also, not only did I learn a ton and sample a lot of jobs, I managed to carve out a career in a field I knew zero about and had absolutely no experience in.

I just read about this book, Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It: No Schedules, No Meetings, No Joke--the Simple Change That Can Make Your Job Terrific by Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson, which talks about a "results only" work environment. Again, probably not something many companies will implement but you never know.

Posted by: Maggie | June 3, 2008 11:57 AM

Yes, we have talked about this topic to death on this blog. But once again, I already work a 36 hour work week (four 9 hour days) and have one day off a week. It is awesome.

It was hard to secure this same schedule when they moved us to a new department. But after showing that I can handle doing all the work required in 4 days as well as being available for emergencies, they have allowed me to do this schedule indefinitely.

I would like to change to 5 7 hour days when my son goes to kindergarten. But I have about 5 to 6 years before that happens. I will just enjoy my Friday's off.

The 10% pay cut was not a big deal but with two kids in day care, I didn't think I could afford a 20% cut. Maybe when the kids are grown but by then, I probably wouldn't care.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 3, 2008 12:35 PM

I work for a small company who's president has a balanced outlook on life and work and pays based on an hourly rate. He knows everyone has a life outside of work and he doesn't put in more than 45 hours a week usually. He merely expects everyone to put in 40 hours a week (and no more) if they want benefits. For those of us who don't mind losing benefits, except vacation which is earned on an hourly rate, we can work less hours. I worked 3 days a week after my first baby was born. I'm currently working full time expressly so I can get short-term disability pay during part of my next maternity leave. I plan on taking off approximately 10-12 weeks and then return at 2.5 days a week. I like the flexibility and will stay with this company because I like what I do and love the atmosphere here. Of course I would like to have more benefits, but at least health insurance is covered by my husband's full-time job.

Because of American work culture, I feel like my bargaining power with my employer is limited. It is very hard to FIND a white collar part-time job. You have to create them, which means building up a good reputation as a full-time employee at a firm and then asking to cut back. I may be able to negotiate a part-time job elsewhere from the start, but I don't think I can count on it.

I also agree that as Baby Boomers cut back on hours, but not fully retire, there may be a shift in attitude towards part-time work.

Posted by: A Different Leslie | June 3, 2008 12:52 PM

I don't know how your agency handles part time, but in my agency working part time affects more than just a reduction in pay equivalent to a reducation in hours. Part timers pay a higher percentage of health insurance than a full timer, so health insurance premiums effectively increase while pay decreases. The retirement calculations for a part time employee are different than those for a full time employee. Again, it is not just a porportionate decrease in retirement due to a lower income - it's a bigger hit and is actually referred to as a parttime penalty.

Posted by: to foamgnome | June 3, 2008 12:59 PM

I guess I'm having an argumentative day but:

"That's funny. It's like saying that if you pay for someone to do your laundry, you can still claim to do the actual work. Or of you pay for someone to clean your house, you are still claiming to literally clean your house. People who use daycare are outsourcing the work that goes with raising children. Nothing judgmental about that. It's just a simple fact."

Err, no, because the question of what is "raising" a child is not as simple as whether laundry is done.

Are people who send their kids to school "not raising" their kids?

Only homeschoolers raise their kids? What if the homeschoolers now send their kids to soccer twice a week? are they no longer raising their kids? What if the child makes his own sandwich? Is he now not being raised by the parents?

Buh?

Having caregivers does indeed mean sharing the time and I'm not one of those mothers that thinks it's ONLY about quality time, but please. I am SO raising my child. Choosing childcare is just one of the things I do to accomplish that. Yeesh.

Posted by: Shandra | June 3, 2008 1:42 PM

I am not sure what your agency does but as long as you work 32 hours a week (for my agency), you get full benefits (health, pension, life etc...) Going part time effects pay, leave, and time in service proportional to the time you have reduced your work hours. I think you need to check OPM guidelines but we are not mandated under OPM. So we don't fall under those guidelines. But I think all agencies that fall under civil service are mandated under OPM. I believe OPM guidelines does not change health benefits if you go part time under certain hours. I am not sure what the minimum number of hours that OPM requires.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 3, 2008 1:52 PM

At the end of the day, the American Work Culture is just a facade...or should I say "face time." From the interview where you tell your boss you'll do anything for their company, to acting like you're working (even though we all can see you're reading the paper online). We have to be honest about the fact that we waste time in the American workforce. In my office, people spend 9-10AM getting breakfast, 11-12 deciding where to have lunch and then, at least an hour making calls to make sure your life outside of work moves along...(dentist, plumber, dry cleaner, (maybe a teacher?). I've lived overseas (and worked); their workers are more efficient with their time so they do not have to work all day and night. You can check numerous studies that show how French, German and most other European people always beat us in productivity even though they work less hours. I can give you a perfect example of my company, which offers more sick days than vacation days...yes, we have a lot of people sick on Mondays and Fridays.

As American women, we have to stand up to our employers. This is where our mothers failed with the feminist movement. In my opinion, they gave away the store!! American women fought to work like a man, act like a man (in a traditional 1950s sense) and earn like a man, but they didn't get the rights to be a working woman. Now, we can progress up the corporate ladder, with a ton of sacrifices. (I hope you ladies share some of those.) A lot of women complain that they have two jobs, which makes their day job almost impossible to get a handle or focus on. We deserve these rights, just as men enjoy the rights of dominating politics and corporations. Yes, the government needs to intervene. It may hurt at first, but then so did minimum wage and social security...I'm 25, married and scared to death to have children in the States, especially NY. I've seen my male co-workers complain about working mothers, the stress that working mothers face, the penalties they have to endure for having a gap in their resumes and how our companies subtracts holidays and your vacation days from your maternity leave...If we don't demand the same rights that other developed countries provide, we're lying to ourselves if we really think we can "opt out" or "have a choice."

Posted by: deedeenyc | June 3, 2008 2:08 PM

I just checked the OPM website and their minimum number of hours is 40. So no help there. Kind of stinks. Glad I don't work civil service.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 3, 2008 2:09 PM

AB, I meant that we're a mess because we only insist on a paltry 10 days! The other countries the US is typically compared to get at least twice that. And by "a mess" I mean we're frazzled, road-raging, balance-lamenting, multitasking lunatics.

If all you get is 10 days vacation, I wholeheartedly think you deserve it and should take it. In fact, you deserve 20 days just beause you're a human being, not a machine, but you might have to move to France to take those 20 days.

Hope this clarifies.

Posted by: BxNY | June 3, 2008 2:13 PM

"Are people who send their kids to school "not raising" their kids?"

Most parents can't wait untill their kid turns 5 so they can sluff their kid off on the public school system. It's free babysitting for 6 hours a day 180 out of 365 days a year. As if that isn't good enough, many are pining for public pre-school. Of course they are doing it in the name of "education" and that alone makes it ok.

So yes, those parents who take care of their kids without the aid of daycare or school 30 - 40 - 50 hours a week are taking a larger role in raising their own kids. The parents who outsource their childcare and claim to be raising their kids as much as those who don't are just responding to their own guilt. It's simple math, give childcare credit where credit is due.

Posted by: Jack Slackie | June 3, 2008 2:38 PM

deedeenyc, I'm curious as to where you get your data when you say "You can check numerous studies that show how French, German and most other European people always beat us in productivity even though they work less hours."

I haven't seen any such studies. A 2005 article in "Today's Engineer" (an online newsletter of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers - IEEE) (see http://www.todaysengineer.org/2005/Apr/productivity.asp) would seem to contradict that assertion.

One thing that article does note is that because of the EU's relatively high tax rates there is a significant underground economy in some countries - Italy is cited - where untaxed work is being done undercover. The result is that Europeans work as many hours as Americans, but it's not all reported because reporting it means you have to pay taxes on it.

I've scanned a few of the references in that article and none of them indicate higher productivity for Europe.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | June 3, 2008 2:39 PM

Shandra: I really hate it when people say we can just do things like other countries and we'll be fine.

What I don't buy is giving our government one more penny of our money for any more 'programs.' All they have shown me is that they can waste money like it's nobody's business, and they will, time and again, no matter what laws are in place - they are constantly taking powers that are definitely not given in the constitution.

And, look at ANY program in the US - anytime that there is an estimate for it, the actuals typically come in at 4-10 times the amount that was estimated. When you're talking about billions of dollars, that adds up to some really big bucks. YES, we *could* actually afford everything our government is supposed to do without raising taxes, but no, we have to spend on useless things, and so we run huge deficits. It's coming to bite us in the a** at the moment, but I digress.

So, no, I don't need or want any new government program that is going to promise me things - no thank you.

What happened to the days of my grandmother, who, when she was left with two young children because her husband died, she said: get away from me, I don't need welfare, I'll take care of my own, thank you. Everyone these days seems to be trying to get their own - only looking out for how much they can get from everyone else. It's kinda sad.

Yeah, this all isn't the 'best' but it works, for the most part, and ya know what, we don't have it so bad around here.

Posted by: atlmom | June 3, 2008 2:47 PM

Well I would find it difficult to support a lot of "parents only" perks and protections, but family and life issues, sure.

Isn't it just that we're so paranoid about not being the ultimate best that the idea of slowing down, taking naps, going to the gym, fixing wholesome meals is just all going to take a second seat, even though we all know it's best in the long term?

My generation is just starting to get heat from the older ones who call us slackers and disloyal. I know I'm really not that career driven, I work to provide for my life, not vice versa. But the other option is what we have now, and I don't think that's the best way.

Posted by: Liz D | June 3, 2008 2:51 PM

"So yes, those parents who take care of their kids without the aid of daycare or school 30 - 40 - 50 hours a week are taking a larger role in raising their own kids. The parents who outsource their childcare and claim to be raising their kids as much as those who don't are just responding to their own guilt. It's simple math, give childcare credit where credit is due."

I know I should ignore this, but....

Ugh. Part of being a parent is sending your child out into the world, bit by bit. Is the only way to truly "raise" your child to hold him/her hostage in your home 24/7, exposed only to his/her parents' opinions and ways of life? This strikes me as awfully short-sighted.

By choosing my child's caregivers and schools, I am raising her. By allowing her to hear viewpoints that differ from our own, I am allowing her to grow and think. By giving her the opportunity to form bonds with people other than her parents, she knows that there are many adults in her life who love her and care about her future.

And, as has been said many times here before -- there are terrific daycare/sitters/preschools and horrible ones. By the same token, there are fabulous parents and terrible parents. One does not test a parents' fabulousness or terribleness by their employment status.

Posted by: Vegas Mom | June 3, 2008 2:55 PM

altmom: I have said this over and over again on this blog. Maternity/paternity/short term illness leave doesn't have to be a government program.

It can be covered under short term disability insurance. My agency is starting one in July and civil service is finally starting to investigate that kind of coverage. A lot of large private companies already have SD. And if small employers can't afford it, then they will be in competition for workers who demand that kind of coverage.

It isn't a government hand out or a large scale government project. In fact, market forces will determine it. But until workers start to request or demand that kind of coverage it won't happen. Who you kidding, if private industry could get away with offering no benefits and still attract the workers they wanted, they would.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 3, 2008 2:57 PM

Armybrat,
Your are correct when referring to the total number of hours worked. However, Europeans are more productive in one hour. My husband is German; his girl friends and sisters are not concerned about these issues. They feel sorry for us. And since when did it become a contest to see who can sit at their desk the longest?

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/04/business/worldbusiness/04output.html?fta=y

Posted by: deedeenyc | June 3, 2008 3:06 PM

ArmyBrat,
I believe I've seen some of the same data that deedeenyc references (though I can't identify where?!). It's productivity per hour not overall productivity that's being measured. U.S. still leads in that regard as a function of our greater number of working hours per year. But per work hour productivity, we're lower than most of Europe.
Speaking personally, I got paid piecework at one job and had an opportunity one summer to cut back to four days a week. I discovered I made as much as if I'd worked five days a week! I don't know how I managed to be so much more productive but I did so data like this (Juliet Schor perhaps? in The Overworked American) makes sense to me.

Posted by: anne | June 3, 2008 3:11 PM

foamgnome, the problem is that the paper Brian referenced to start this discussion is "Statutory Routes to Workplace Flexibility in Cross-National Perspective". It is specifically limited to an analysis of laws, regulations and statutes that impact work/life balance, with a set of recommendations for modifying US statutes to "solve" the problem.

Hopefully the following is not too much of a political divergence; my apologies if it is. But it seemed appropos given the call in the original blog entry for statutory solutions.

It's interesting to look at some of McCain's proposals for health insurance reform. The concept of employer-provided health insurance really took off as a result of the 1942 Stabilization Act, which limited pay raises during WWII and prevented employers from competing for workers based on pay. It permitted and even encouraged employers to compete for workers based on benefits, health insurance included. That's really what sparked the whole concept of getting health insurance through work. It's also one of the reasons why the cost your employer pays for healthcare insurance for you is not taxable income to you.

McCain, in a position he's reiterated several times in recent months, thinks that employer-provided healthcare is inefficient. So, he's proposed making the cost your employer pays for your healthcare taxable income to you, offset with a tax credit. His goal is that healthcare will eventually be purchased/controlled by consumers vice employers.

(Disclaimer: I plan on voting for McCain, and I haven't thoroughly thought through what I think about this plan.)

Posted by: ArmyBrat | June 3, 2008 3:15 PM

Armybrat: I am not big on saying something will be taxable and then wiped away with a tax credit. Seems inefficient to me. But I haven't looked at the details yet.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 3, 2008 3:20 PM

deedeenyc: "However, Europeans are more productive in one hour"

anne: "But per work hour productivity, we're lower than most of Europe. "

Huh? I'll quote from the NYT article that deedeenyc referenced herself:

"DUBLIN, Sept. 3 (Reuters) -- American workers are the world's most productive, followed by the Irish, though productivity is rising fastest in China and much of the rest of Asia, according to the International Labor Organization.

When productivity was measured by the hour rather than by the total number of hours worked, however, Norway, an oil nation, was the most productive, followed by the United States and France, the organization said in a report released over the weekend and published every two years. It mostly used 2006 data."

When measured BY THE HOUR, Norway is the most productive followed by the US in second. That hardly puts us behind "most of Europe"

Seriously, what am I missing?

Posted by: ArmyBrat | June 3, 2008 3:25 PM

I didn't see this particular article and was working from data that I'm recalling from memory, having read it some time ago so I apologize if I contributed misinformation.
However I stand by my personal experience that I can be more productive per hour when I'm not mentally burnt to a crisp!

Posted by: anne | June 3, 2008 3:50 PM

altmom- I think you have a legitimate point that the government shouldn't be the answer to all of our problems. However, whenever someone says "my mom/grandma/dad/etc. had to do it the hard way and worked four full time jobs, lived in one room with their 8 children, sewed all their own clothes, killed the livestock, tilled the fields and made fresh organic food every night" I start losing sympathy for your argument. Of course people have had it bad and it is admirable that they were able to make the best of a bad situation. That doesn't mean everyone should have to suffer. With that mentality, there would be no workplace protections since so many workers used to lose limbs and were cast aside with no compensation. Or 13 year olds would be married to old men since that is what happened generations ago. The government has a proper role in trying to keep its citizens from being exploited or in such a bad condition that there is no way they can get better. I know I'll get flamed but I don't like it when people use such extreme examples to justify something.

Posted by: FloridaChick | June 3, 2008 4:04 PM

Foamy: Oh, I think if the employers want to provide a benefit, in order to compete in the workplace, then that's a great thing. Nothing wrong with that.

Shandra was indicating that the cost would be borne by all (as in Canada) so therefore small businesses would be affected the same as larger businesses. I was specifically referring to Shandra and Canada's system - not that mat/pat leave is bad. I think it's great - and if an employer wants to offer it great - and if they lose workers cause they don't - well, that's capitalism.

In another thought - though - the whole idea of Europe vs. the US is not so productive. First of all, in France, you can't fire people. So the workforce is older (younger people can hardly get a job - does their productivity get counted?) - so soon enough, the productivity, I suppose, will go away, since people will retire (I believe at 62 in France). Someone will have to pay for those retirees, so at that point, perhaps, someone might do something to change some laws in order to allow the younger workers to actually work.

In addition - does it take into account the time when workers spend striking? Cause that happens every six months or so, especially in France. No big deal to those who live there.

I had a coworker who was from Venezuela, who lived in Atlanta, and was transferred to Amsterdam for a few years. I worked with him a little bit over in Amsterdam and boy - he couldn't spend enough time complaining about how inefficient everything was over there - he HATED living in Europe - he thought people were lazy, no one did anything, that people weren't helpful, he didn't understand why he couldn't shop when he wanted, etc. He was MISERABLE. He did it for his career (told them he wouldn't be there more than 3 years, and eventually, wasn't even there that long).

When I lived in France, we were just told we were going to have to accept certain things about the inefficiency of how things worked. It's just the way it is.

So there ya go.

Posted by: atlmom | June 3, 2008 4:12 PM

No, FC, my real argument was that I haven't seen much coming from the government in terms of these programs that haven't been screwed up. The use of my grandmother was that people seem to look to the govt for everything these days, when years ago they didn't - not that she had it that bad.
My point is we do not need any more govt programs, to agree with you.

In any event, re: mccain's proposals - I think it is terrible that one can't deduct one's premiums for health care insurance - only the big companies can. I don't understand that at all. I'm not sure about a tax credit - but deducting premiums? Why not? I don't understand that at all (except for political reasons...).

Posted by: atlmom | June 3, 2008 4:15 PM

For 2008 U.S. worker productivity data:
http://www.bls.gov/news.release/prod2.nr0.htm.

For the truly geeked out among us, see the articles that are being prepared in advance of a conference on EU productivity: http://www.euklems.net/

Posted by: canary28 | June 3, 2008 4:21 PM

I didn't read all the posts but I will second babys1 sentiments about nursing. It is one profession that will always be needed. Some states will subsidize tuition with a promise of working in that state for a period of time after graduation. Many hospitals also offer tuition assistance.
And many places are so short they will pay full-time for a 24 hour weekend worker. Hard to beat that.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | June 3, 2008 4:27 PM

The fact is, the way my company works- and I'd imagine most do- is that work ebbs and flows. We have busy times, we have non busy times. Like today. I have done one thing all day. I am more than happy to work as many extra hours as I need to when there is work that needs to get done, however what really gets me annoyed is when I have to sit in the office and refresh online papers every 15 minutes while waiting for someone to email me saying they have work for me, because I am so incredibly bored. It makes zero sense to me. I can do that just as easily at home in my pajamas or in a park on a nice day via my laptop/blackberry.

I would propose a system that if there are slower periods employees are allowed more flexibility with the understanding that when there is more work they are there and working to get it done.

That is what would make me happy.

Posted by: kallieh | June 3, 2008 4:28 PM

"Or 13 year olds would be married to old men since that is what happened generations ago." Seems to me that is still happening in FLDS compounds.
As to Kallieh's proposal to let people flex out during slow periods, I've worked in those systems. On slow nights, nurses were sent home, with pay if they took leave, or without pay if they had no leave. All leave was lumped together as Paid Time Off (PTO). The end result - to maintain a stable paycheck, you ended up using most of your leave. It was difficult to accumulate leave to use for sick time, so people came to work ill. And vacations were difficult to schedule, because you couldn't be sure you would have enough leave. So the facility got to save money by not paying shift differentials when people went home, and saved money because people didn't take vacations. We left in droves.

Posted by: babsy1 | June 3, 2008 4:35 PM

atlmom: IMHO efficiency is highly overated. I would gladly trade places with your coworker who was miserable in Amsterdam (!) or live in France where I would get paid in Euros and also get paid for having more than 1 child and eat organic non GMO food.

Posted by: dc reader | June 3, 2008 4:37 PM

babsy1- I was actually thinking more of a system where you work in hours per month versus hours per week. So when you are busier you are making up for the hours you don't work when it's slower.

In my case, we have to work 40 hours a week. The last week of the month is extremely busy, the first week of the month is not busy at all. So what ends up happening is that the first week I sit here twiddling my thumbs snacking all day to stay awake and the last week of the month I end up with 50+ hours, and they have to pay overtime. It seems like an incredibly inefficient, illogical system to me.

This is the second industry I've worked in where we had certain days of the week/certain weeks of the month that are vastly more busy than others. So I don't think it's really that unusual.

Posted by: kallieh | June 3, 2008 4:40 PM

i think as gas prices rise higher people will start to take a more serious look at telecommuting. as the cost of commuting becomes a serious consideration alternatives will be looked at.

Posted by: quark | June 3, 2008 4:42 PM

The point about Europe vs. America is absolutely valid and very intelligent. However, at the end of the day this an issue about womens rights in a developed country. My SIL has something that I can only get if I move to Germany. Instead of overanalyzing to backup our notions that Europe is totally backwater, we should be talking about why our government doesn't see VALUE in a woman raising her child. If you had a social contract, that guaranteed your job, protected your earnings, and enabled you to rely less on childcare, wouldn't everyone be happy? You may even decide to have your children at a younger age or have more children. Why do we penalize women for having a gap in their CVs, when their experiences and the networks they have hasn't changed? I think one problem is that executives (primarily men) see these issues as soft and dismiss them, "there are much bigger things to than talk about babies and diapers!"(another way childrearing is devalued).

For My Controversial Point,
Has anyone considered that a lot of these nannies that working women(definitely in Westchester and NYC) rely on aren't documented? And who is taking care of the nanny's kids when she's caring for yours? I don't have anything against childcare (it's definitely not outsourcing-unless you're a software company) But if working women paid social security, worker's compensation, taxes and sick leave for these women, they would not be able to afford any childcare. How patriotic is that?

Also, Have we decided to ask ourselves why the birthrates for educated, affluent women are falling, while uneducated women are having more children. Yes Armybrat, you can check that statistic, the U.S. Birthrate has fallen below 2.5 children...if you dive a little deeper you'll see why...

Posted by: deedeemyc | June 3, 2008 4:43 PM

People who use daycare are outsourcing the work that goes with raising children. Nothing judgmental about that. It's just a simple fact.

Posted by: | June 3, 2008 11:49 AM

Since when did neurotic helicoptering become the gold standard?

There's not one iota of fact in your statement. It's better described as uninformed dragon droppings.

I am not outsourcing being a wife because we drop my husband's shirts off at the drycleaner. Neither am I outsourcing childcare when our kids go to grandma's house for a week during the summer or when they attend Sunday School for 2 hours 52 weeks a year. There's a lot more to parenting than you seem to appreciate. It's a 24/7 responsibility in case you need reminding.

Of course if you take the position that a parent is only doing the job right when he hovers over his child, tearing off and holding precisely 6 squares of toilet issue for her convenience each time she uses the restroom, drying every tear, providing every hug and keeping her imprisoned in her bedroom like Rapunzel until she's 18, then I suppose any act on behalf of my child not done by me has suddenly mutated into outsourcing. How odd and ridiculous a viewpoint.

Posted by: the ignorance never stops here | June 3, 2008 4:44 PM

Before I get attacked, for attacking childcare, I am totally for a woman working and using whatever resources she can afford, in order to keep her sane and happy.

Posted by: deedeenyc | June 3, 2008 4:48 PM

deedeemyc- A great book on the topic of "southern" (as in South of the equator) women taking care of Western women's children is Global Woman with Barbara Ehrienrich as a co-author. She also wrote Nickel and Dimed about how it is impossible to live on minimum wage in pink collar jobs. These women leave their children with their husbands, extended family or neighbors. I recently did a paper on this about Sri Lankan women who go to the Middle East as maids/domestics. It has caused great problems in the poorest areas of the country. The ILO released a report on it in November 2007 that you can read.

Posted by: FloridaChick | June 3, 2008 4:49 PM

Kallieh, your proposal makes sense for your industry. In mine however, we have to have people on hand for contingencies, such as sudden cardiac or respiratory arrests, or emergency admissions. If I could plan when people are going to do stupid things to themselves like drink and drive, scheduling would be a great deal simpler.

Posted by: babsy1 | June 3, 2008 4:57 PM

Oh, I'm not saying it works across the board. :-)

More like we just really need to start thinking outside of the box more. One size fits all thinking to approach every office situation and every industry just doesn't make sense. We need to offer more flexibility to allow people to actually LIVE, we need to offer more telecommuting options, more offices near where people live, flex time schedules, different approaches to the way we look at billing and productivity.

Posted by: kallieh | June 3, 2008 5:09 PM

As my coworker said: if he wanted to be in Amsterdam, he'd be there. He was only there for an opportunity, not because he was enjoying it.

Posted by: atlmom | June 3, 2008 5:09 PM

"It was difficult to accumulate leave to use for sick time, so people came to work ill."

Just who I want taking care of me - a sick nurse.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 3, 2008 5:34 PM

I always said that if I had the energy, I would start a nursing registry that didn't pay well. Instead, it would offer free childcare. I'd have been a millionaire.

Posted by: babsy1 | June 3, 2008 5:35 PM

We tell our nurses to just call in if they're sick. It isn't worth it if they come in, have difficulty working, and infect their coworkers on top of it all. Of course, if you knew how many nurses worked 16 hours (doubles) to make up for sick calls, you would be shocked.

Posted by: babsy1 | June 3, 2008 5:37 PM

I would think it's a hazard of the job that a nurse (or doctor) would be sick a lot.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 3, 2008 6:17 PM

People who use daycare are outsourcing the work that goes with raising children. Nothing judgmental about that. It's just a simple fact.

Posted by: | June 3, 2008 11:49 AM

Since when did neurotic helicoptering become the gold standard?

But I did not say there was anything wrong with daycare or oursourcing some of the work that goes with raising children. I use daycare myself. However, I am not offended when people say that I am outsourcing some of the work that goes with raising children, because it's true that I am paying others to do some of the work. Look back at my initial post. I never made any judgment about parents whho use use daycare. Why do people take neutral statements and read so much judgment into them?

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