NYT Article -- Lay-offs and pregnant workers

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by mkrishnan, Mar 28, 2009.

  1. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #1
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/28/health/28patient.html?hp

    Interesting article. My tendency is to think that universal shielding of expectant mothers is not particularly fair (particularly if expectant fathers were not given shielding, particularly when rates of companies offering paternity leave is lower to begin with), but that it highlights a problem with our lay-off loving corporate culture in the US. All kinds of benefits like sabbaticals and maternity/paternity leave become very easy to offer if one knows one can just roll the person into the ongoing / perpetual "restructuring" and lay them off while they're gone. At the same time, if the people who are at their jobs don't have the job security, either, it's not clear why the people on paid leave should receive it.

    The first obvious thing is that the US is in dire need of layoff regulation. Our love affair with "at will" employment creates a lot of problems every time our economy sours. Sigh. Not going to happen. To address the specific issue of expectant mothers, though, there should also at least be a carve-out of the unemployment insurance that lets them off the hook for seeking employment if they do get laid off immediately prepartum or post-partum, since as the article notes, that puts a woman in a completely absurd situation.

    Interesting topic, to me, anyway....
     
  2. it5five macrumors 65816

    it5five

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    #2
    It is interesting, and it reminds me of another NYT article I read yesterday. It is related to the lay-off culture of the US, and how Europe (in particular Germany) is handling things.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/27/world/europe/27germany.html?_r=1&em

    Something like this would probably protect the pregnant women cited in your article. The chances of this happening in the United States? Almost certainly zero, I'd say.
     
  3. mkrishnan thread starter Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #3
    Much like Donuts and obesity, though, my understanding is Europe is catching up with the US, not pulling farther away... it seems like I routinely hear of layoffs in the UK, at least, as well?

    A striking contrast that I think of also is the attitude that Honda took in entering the automotive industry after WWII -- at the time, they did other things, but they really were most motivated by finding a way to keep putting food on their employees tables. Even Honda, who as far as I know are not laying anyone off as of yet, is getting into luring employees to quit with severance packages and so on.

    It does seem like one of those black times when the world is changing, and not for the better. I've been reading a book recently about what that change was like when industrialization overtook England in the 1800s, and the feeling is very much the same. Perhaps the reality is the same, and in years we or our descendants will be in a place where the quality of life of working individuals really did improve, as things did ultimately over the course of industrialization, but it's hard to see that today, at least.
     
  4. Tomorrow macrumors 604

    Tomorrow

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    Yeah, it sucks to be laid off, and it's happened to me more times than I like to think about - but the government really needs to keep their noses out of private business when it comes to layoffs.

    If you start forcing employers to keep workers they no longer can afford to pay, or force them to pay higher severances - that might help the handful of people who get laid off, but even then only in the short term. It might also cause more businesses to fail, which in turn will cause some entrepreneurs to think twice about going into business in the first place.

    Business is hard enough to conduct and pay for when you don't have the government telling you who you can and can't keep on the payrolls.
     
  5. Eraserhead macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

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    #5
    The UK is always a bit more "American" than the other European countries. I also don't think Europe is really "catching up" with the US at the moment.

    There are advantages to a more flexible employment system like that in the UK and USA is that in France and Germany which in the good times have much higher unemployment than the US and the US is only just starting to catch up to their unemployment figures.

    High unemployment - especially for people unemployed generation after generation - leads to large problems in Europe, probably most of our problems are at least indirectly caused by this. Even if all they are doing is earning $5/hour in Starbucks they do learn a lot about turning up to work.

    It is also true that having safety nets like we have in Europe is good for stopping the bad times getting too bad, though in the UK they can be really low for example in this article once you take account of the fact that things in Britain are around 3x more expensive than the developing world by PPP shows they live on about $0.50/person/day of food and less than the equivalent of $2/person/day overall which is appalling as that is the official worldwide poverty line.
     
  6. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

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    #6
    if the RIF/layoff is based on seniority, and she is in line to be terminated if she is there, then the job can legally vanish before she returns.
     
  7. mkrishnan thread starter Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #7
    The Times did another interesting article on the downstream impacts of layoffs on children, today:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/29/nyregion/29support.html?hp

    Really interesting... it's interesting to me how the stories range from the day to day scraping by of the poor to the sort of entangled life that the well-to-do live (the complaint about paying for two $800/mo private school tuitions was a little reminiscent of Salkin's NYT satire on living on only $500k a year.

    Eraserhead, your point about the generally very low unemployment rates we are able to maintain is a very important one. Able-bodied people working for a living is a very American (and English) personal philosophy, and I think how painful it gets to us when our unemployment hits a high is really a testament to this aspect of our culture (which I think is a good one). I think the challenge for this balance is to continue to improve the average standard of living in the USA, which has stagnated in some ways.
     

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