NEWS BRIEFS (Oct. 8, 2001)


Scottsdale, Ariz.
— In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, nearly 70 per cent of American workplaces expect a decrease in the amount of work-related travel, a survey of American companies about compensation, travel and leave practices by WorldatWork states. However, most (54 per cent) don’t expect to change travel policies while 25 per cent said they had changed their travel policy. The study also found 29 per cent of companies closed offices and sent staff home with full pay the day of the attacks. Two per cent closed and paid employees for a partial day, and 44 per cent stayed open and made no changes to pay.


— After reaching an all-time high in 1997, early retirement rates have tapered off, according to an article written by Statistics Canada’s Labour Statistics Division. Using Labour Force Survey data, the article found that at the start of the 1990s, 30 per cent of workers retired before age 60. That figure increased steadily until 1997, when it peaked at 46 per cent. By 2000, the number of early retirees declined to 40 per cent. The early retirement rate was higher in the public sector than in the private where most workers still retire at 65. The Atlantic provinces had the highest rate, while the western provinces had the lowest.


Orono, Me.
— If unions want to restock their dwindling membership ranks, they need to start making different promises to workers, according to a recent study out of the University of Maine. Promises of job security mean little to younger workers, and unions will have better luck attracting new members if they can guarantee other workplace benefits like flexible hours, onsite day care and portable pensions. Last year, 13.5 per cent of the United States’ 120.8 million workers were unionized, down from 13.9 per cent the year before.


—Between 1995 and 2000, the number of Canadians working from home increased by one per cent from 2.1 million to 2.8 million (17 per cent of the total workforce), Statistics Canada reports. The number of people working at home is divided equally between employees and self-employed workers, representing 10 per cent of the employed population and half of the self-employed. Most home-based employees only do a few hours of work at home each week, 65 per cent do between one and 10 hours and approximately three per cent do more than 40 hours.


Guildford, U.K.
— A greater understanding of the hazards of altered sleep patterns will lead to an increase in the number of civil court actions against employers, predict two British sleep experts from the University of Surrey. Sleepiness is commonly linked to industrial accidents including the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl. People are biologically not equipped to deal with workplaces running 24 hours a day, and the health consequences have to be addressed, explained one of the authors of the study. Countermeasures might include the careful use of light napping and stimulants such as caffeine or melatonin, a hormone that helps synchronize the body clock.

To read the full story, login below.

Not a subscriber?

Start your subscription today!