Category Archives: Hours of Work

Should public safety shift workers be allowed to nap while on duty?

Source: P. Daniel Patterson, Matthew D. Weaver, Francis X. Guyette, Christian Martin‐Gill, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Vol. 63, No. 10, October 2020
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From the abstract:
Fatigue and sleep deficiency among public safety personnel are threats to wellness, public and personal safety, and workforce retention. Napping strategies may reduce work‐related fatigue, improve safety and health, yet in some public safety organizations it is discouraged or prohibited. Our aim with this commentary is to define intra‐shift napping, summarize arguments for and against it, and to outline potential applications of this important fatigue mitigation strategy supported by evidence. We focus our discussion on emergency medical services (EMS); a key component of the public safety system, which is comprised of police, fire, and EMS. The personnel who work in EMS stand to benefit from intra‐shift napping due to frequent use of extended duration shifts, a high prevalence of personnel working multiple jobs, and evidence showing that greater than half of EMS personnel report severe fatigue, poor sleep quality, inadequate inter‐shift recovery, and excessive daytime sleepiness. The benefits of intra‐shift napping include decreased sleepiness and fatigue, improved recovery between shifts, decreased anxiety, and reduced feelings of burnout. Intra‐shift napping also mitigates alterations in clinician blood pressure associated with disturbed sleep and shift work. The negative consequences of napping include negative public perception, acute performance deficits stemming from sleep inertia, and the potential costs associated with reduced performance. While there are valid arguments against intra‐shift napping, we believe that the available scientific evidence favors it as a key component of fatigue mitigation and workplace wellness. We further believe that these arguments extend beyond EMS to all sectors of public safety.

Notes On: Spotlighting Potential Coronavirus Wage-and-Hour Woes

Source: Lisa Milam, Labor Law Journal, Vol. 71, Issue No. 2, Summer 2020
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From the abstract:
…Employers are forced to make difficult decisions, often at warp speed, as they operate during the pandemic and resulting economic downturn. But making tough decisions without consulting legal counsel can invite costly litigation, and wage and hour suits—particularly class actions—are among the most expensive for employers.

In a recent Seyfarth Shaw LLP webinar on “Litigation Trends in the Post COVID-19 World,” Lynn A. Kappelman, a partner in the firm’s Boston office, discussed the wage-hour issues that arise as employers look to control payroll costs while maintaining operations, and also as they look ahead to reopening as the crisis abates. Kappelman followed up with Labor and Employment Law Daily about the common wage-hour traps that can befall employers during this unprecedented crisis.

Is Community Service Compensable? DOL Offers An Opinion

Source: Maureen Minehan, Employment Alert, Volume 36, Issue 23, November 12, 2019
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At Salesforce, the provider of customer relationship management solutions, volunteerism is a deeply ingrained core value. From restoring local habitats to helping children in need, Salesforce employees can participate in numerous activities on- and off-the-clock to address myriad needs in their communities. “From the beginning, giving back was the best decision we ever made—it created a culture that attracts and retains the best and the brightest, and allows our employees to be change makers in their own communities,” the company says.

Still, in keeping with the adage that no good deed goes unpunished, questions sometimes arise about the compensability of employees’ volunteer work. If a non-exempt employee volunteers during non-work hours for a company-sanctioned cause or event, are those hours compensable? Can companies offer bonuses or other inducements to encourage employees to volunteer?

Work Scheduling for American Mothers, 1990 and 2012

Source: Peter Hepburn, Social Problems, Latest Articles, October 26, 2019
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From the abstract:
American working conditions have deteriorated over the last 40 years. One commonly-noted change is the rise of nonstandard and unstable work schedules. Such schedules, especially when held by mothers, negatively affect family functioning and the well-being and development of children; they have implications for the intergenerational transmission of disadvantage. This article describes and compares the working schedules—in terms of type, duration, and variability—of American mothers in 1990 and 2012 in an attempt to assess whether nonstandard and unstable schedules are growing more common. Analyses demonstrate that evening work has increased in prevalence for single mothers but not for their partnered peers. Mothers in both single-mother and two-partner households experienced considerably greater within-week schedule variability and higher likelihood of weekend work in 2012 than they did in 1990. These changes resulted from widespread shifts in the nature of work, especially affecting less educated mothers.

Three Big Ideas for a Future of Less Work and a Three-Dimensional Alternative

Source: Cynthia Estlund, Law and Contemporary Problems, Vol. 82 no. 3, 2019

….At the same time, each of those three big ideas holds within it an essential component of a sound three dimensional response to the uncertain but real prospect of job losses. In lieu of UBI [universal basic income], we should expand universal social benefits—starting with health care and higher education—and income support for the working and non-working poor. In lieu of a federal job guarantee, we should ramp up public investments in infrastructure, social and community services, and early education, all of which would address unmet societal needs while creating decent jobs. And in lieu of (or at least before) reducing weekly hours of work across the board, we should expand access to paid leaves, holidays, and vacations, as well as voluntary part-time work and retirement security; we could thereby spread work and meet varied individual needs and preferences through days, weeks, months, and years of time off.

In combination, these three interventions—expanded universal social benefits and income support, public investments in physical and social infrastructure and the job creation those will entail, and wider access to paid leaves and respites from work—would advance core objectives of each of the three big ideas while muting their disadvantages. Together they would both cushion and offset automation-related job losses, while spreading the work that remains and maintaining or boosting incomes. This trio of policies could and should also be funded in a way that helps to redistribute income from the top to the bottom of an egregiously and increasingly lopsided income distribution.

…..In what follows, I will fill in the outlines of this argument. Part II will briefly set out some normative priors about the multiple ends we should be pursuing as we face a future of less work. A long Part III will take up each of the Three Big Ideas, briefly tracing their genealogy and identifying some strengths and weaknesses of each. Part IV will return to the core aspirations of the Three Big Ideas, and sketch a combination of the three – a three-dimensional strategy – that can preserve much of the good while avoiding much that is problematic in the more single-minded Three Big Ideas. ….

On the Grid 24/7/365 and the Right to Disconnect

Source: C. W. Von Bergen, Martin S. Bressler, and Trevor L. Proctor, Employee Relations Law Journal, Vol. 45, No. 2, Autumn 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Technological developments over the past few decades in laptop computers, smartphones, wifi connectivity, and other digital communication approaches have made it easier for people to work remotely. While many appreciate the flexibility and increased productivity these technological advancements provide, some lament that the ability to work anywhere, anytime has transformed into the expectation to work everywhere, all the time. The authors of this article discuss the issue and examine domestic and international right to disconnect practices.

Consequences of Routine Work-Schedule Instability for Worker Health and Well-Being

Source: Daniel Schneider, Kristen Harknett, American Sociological Review, OnlineFirst, Published February 1, 2019
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From the abstract:
Research on precarious work and its consequences overwhelmingly focuses on the economic dimension of precarity, epitomized by low wages. But the rise in precarious work also involves a major shift in its temporal dimension, such that many workers now experience routine instability in their work schedules. This temporal instability represents a fundamental and under-appreciated manifestation of the risk shift from firms to workers. A lack of suitable existing data, however, has precluded investigation of how precarious scheduling practices affect workers’ health and well-being. We use an innovative approach to collect survey data from a large and strategically selected segment of the U.S. workforce: hourly workers in the service sector. These data reveal that exposure to routine instability in work schedules is associated with psychological distress, poor sleep quality, and unhappiness. Low wages are also associated with these outcomes, but unstable and unpredictable schedules are much more strongly associated. Precarious schedules affect worker well-being in part through the mediating influence of household economic insecurity, yet a much larger proportion of the association is driven by work-life conflict. The temporal dimension of work is central to the experience of precarity and an important social determinant of well-being.

Sleepy anger: Restricted sleep amplifies angry feelings

Source: Zlatan Krizan, Garrett Hisler, Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, October 25, 2018
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From the abstract:
Despite extensive ties between sleep disruption, anger, and aggression, it is unclear whether sleep loss plays a causal role in shaping anger. On one hand, negative affect and distress frequently follow curtailed sleep, suggesting increased anger responses. On the other hand, fatigue and withdrawal also follow, potentially muting anger. To examine these competing possibilities, 142 community residents were randomly assigned to either maintain or restrict their sleep over 2 days. Before and after, these participants rated their anger and affect throughout a product-rating task alongside aversive noise. Sleep restriction universally intensified anger, reversing adaptation trends in which anger diminished with repeated exposure to noise. Negative affect followed similar patterns, and subjective sleepiness mediated most of the experimental effects on anger. These findings highlight important consequences of everyday sleep loss on anger and implicate sleepiness in dysregulation of anger and hedonic adaptation.

Related:
Even Occasional Sleep Loss Makes People Angrier
Source: Angie Hunt, Futurity, November 27, 2018

Losing just a couple hours of sleep at night makes you angrier, especially in frustrating situations, according to new research.

While the results may seem intuitive, the study is one of the first to provide evidence that sleep loss causes anger.

Other studies have shown a link between sleep and anger, but questions remained about whether sleep loss was to blame or if anger was responsible for disrupted sleep, says study coauthor Zlatan Krizan, a psychology professor at Iowa State University.

The research, which appears in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, answers those questions and provides new insight into our ability to adjust to irritating conditions when tired. ….

Union lobbies Congress to mandate an eight-hour workday, Aug. 20, 1866

Source: Andrew Glass, Politico, August 20, 2018

On this day in 1866, the newly organized National Labor Union called on Congress to mandate an eight-hour workday. The coalition of skilled and unskilled workers, farmers and reformers pressured Congress to enact labor reforms. It dissolved in 1873 following an ill-advised venture into third-party politics in the 1872 presidential election.

Although the NLU failed to persuade Congress to shorten the workday, its efforts heightened public awareness of labor issues and increased public support for labor reform in the 1870s and 1880s.

The Knights of Labor, a powerful advocate for the eight-hour day in the 1870s and early 1880s, proved more effective. By 1886, the Knights counted 700,000 laborers, shopkeepers and farmers among its members. Under the leadership of Terrence V. Powderly, the union discouraged strikes and advocated restructuring society along cooperative lines…..