Flexible work changes 'reviewed'

(46 Posts)
Cosette Mon 20-Oct-08 13:20:45

"Plans to increase parents' rights to request flexible working are to be reconsidered, Downing Street says.

No 10 said Business Secretary Lord Mandelson was looking at "all regulations due to come into force", given the economic uncertainty. "

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7679802.stm

I think this would be a really bad move on Labour's part. I understood that a request could be turned down if the business had a good reason to do so, so what exactly would this achieve?

Cosette Mon 20-Oct-08 13:21:29

sorry here's the link done properly - news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7679802.stm

Iloveautumn Mon 20-Oct-08 13:24:03

I heard this on the news this morning and thought exactly the same as you, it's hard enough to get a business to agree to it anyway!!

It shows that the Govt sees flexible working as only benefitting the parents - whereas in reality if companies were more accomodating to parents it could benefit both the company and the economy in general.

Shows they only really pay lipservice to sexual equality - their real allegiance is only to businesses.

dinny Mon 20-Oct-08 13:25:57

oh, this doesn't bode well does it?

MrsGhoulofGhostbourne Mon 20-Oct-08 17:50:41

As someone who has benefited from the right to ask for flexible working, it is very upsetting to hear that it might not be available for others. I work term time only - it works fantastically well for me and for the company - and my manager (who was inititally TOTALLY opposed to the very idea) said in my next appraisal that it was a very positive move, I was much more motivated and the company benefited - win-win. I have worked this way now for 4 years and it has flexed according to the age of the children. Now they are older I can be in contact via phone and email more in the holiday and the advent of wifi has also helped.Needless to say I do not want to change jobs, and am sticking with this company while my male colleagues have flitted for a higher base salary. My company has also recently been open to the idea of employees of employees taking unpaid sabbaticals. So far they all returned with a renewed zest, and teh company was recently voted 'employer of choice'.

TwoIfByScream Mon 20-Oct-08 18:28:23

You would think that to encourage and enable more people into work then they would reconsider and actually extend it. I suppose without the jobs being there though that this is what happens.

Still, when the gov. bang on about single parents etc. etc. not working and then do something like this it is hardly joined up thinking.

Tough times are ahead (obvious statement of the week that one) and Joe Public will have to pay for the irresponsibility that has brought us to this point.

LittleBellaLugosi Mon 20-Oct-08 19:04:04

V. depressing. Why not abolish all equal ops employment law while we're at it? After all, being treated as a full human being in the workplace is a luxury, not a necessity.
angry

PavlovtheWitchesCat Tue 21-Oct-08 08:13:48

I think it is not sensible at all. Like many have already said. The business is able to refuse if it can demonstrate economic hardship as a result.

I am currently on flexible working, and it has been a godsend to my employers, or is about to be. They really struggle to get people to cover evening training programmes, as contracted hours are 9-5pm. However, as part of my flexible working, I have compacted hours which means I am working longer days, shorter weeks, works great for me and means I am available to cover the evening work so great for the employer.

I also have the option of working from home on an ad-hoc basis, so when I sleep badly due to DD sleeping badly, or when she is poorly, needy and work allows I can work a couple of hours at home. This increases my productivity, means I am less likely to take time off sick, means I work harder at work as am less tired and it means I have a more flexible approach to my work.

Of course this option does not work for all employers, which is why there is the route of refusing if it is detrimental. BUT if the option was not there, many employers would also lose out.

They are losing a commodity that could save many businesses in times of financial hardship, when parents will become less flexible (ie they too are suffering financial hardship, so can't afford after school childcare/holiday care and therefore become more inflexible themselves).

Cosette Tue 21-Oct-08 10:00:25

Agree Pavlov - too many employers dismiss flexible working, without appreciating that it can and should benefit them too.

I heard on the radio that the government are also reviewing other plans - an extra Bank Holiday, and the addition to the Maternity leave period.

Personally think the additional maternity leave should become parental leave that either parent can take..

Bramshott Tue 21-Oct-08 10:02:46

When will they realise how much it costs a business to recruit and train a staff member, and how anything that can retain and motivate existing staff has got to make good business sense?!? Are there really still employers and politicians out there who think that flexible working is all about employees saying "right, I will be working these hours, like it or lump it"?!? When will we end this culture that says that a job is something that only counts if you are present in an office from 9.00 - 5.00, regardless in many cases of whether you are doing work or chatting by the coffee machine?!?

Cosette Tue 21-Oct-08 10:42:03

Ironically it's actually easier from a childcare perspective to work when children are under 5 - as there are generally nurseries that will do full daycare if desired. It's once they get to school it becomes a real problem. Our local village school starts at 8.45am and finishes at 3pm (earlier when they're 4yrs). There are no childminders or nurseries in the village at all, and just one childminder from a nearby village that will pick up. Then of course there are the school holidays to cover.

So it's bizarre that the current law thinks parents don't need flexible working once a child gets to age 6.

EachPeachPearMum Tue 21-Oct-08 11:13:59

Pavlov- could you clarify your statement "when I sleep badly due to DD sleeping badly, or when she is poorly, needy and work allows I can work a couple of hours at home" please?

That sounds to me like not working, but resting. But did you mean you go in late, and work late to catch up hours?

I have had flexible working previously, and my employer is great at approving and enabling it.
However, if I have had a bad night (DD or me!) I take the morning off, in order to catch up on rest. That isn't 'working from home' that is resting.

On some occasions I do work from home, but I am genuinely working not resting/caring for my DD. Usually I do it if I have meetings/appointments the other side of the city, or if travel will be a nightmare for various reasons.

VeniVidiVickiQV Tue 21-Oct-08 12:42:49

I dont think it was working as well as it could have been for many in the first place so to put more restrictions on it would kill it off altogether.

Flexible working is so worthwhile, particularly in an age whereby everyone wants things at all times of day.

Bonkers.

theyoungvisiter Tue 21-Oct-08 13:41:27

Also as someone on the radio said this morning, the current "economic uncertainty" doesn't only impact on small businesses, it affects families as well.

If my employer didn't allow me to work flexibly then it wouldn't be worth my while working at all (from a purely financial perspective).

I think with increasing costs of living etc, more and more families are going to need to be creative with balancing home and childcare to make ends meet. If employers can do this without added cost to them - what's the downside?

It's just a stupid PR attempt to be seen to be helping small businesses without actually handing over any cash or changing any policy at all.

theyoungvisiter Tue 21-Oct-08 13:42:30

sorry, that was supposed to read:

"balancing work and childcare"

filz Tue 21-Oct-08 14:07:57

why cant i post on this thread

filz Tue 21-Oct-08 14:08:06

argh!

filz Tue 21-Oct-08 14:08:53

is it to do with the content??

Spoo Tue 21-Oct-08 14:13:24

Makes me mad. I am a highly qualified professional working part time hours. please don't tell me that if I want to work I must sacrifce all my time with my children.

If I didn't work for myself PART TIME then I would not work. Whilst I recognise the importance of parenting - what a wate of an education!

We were sold a lie as younger women - that having children and having a full time career not only acheivable but almost an absolute!! When will the government and working world wake up to the fact that parents do not want to work all the hours and shove their kids in nurseries or after school care for 50 hours a week!!

Spoo Tue 21-Oct-08 14:14:15

filz - i had problems too.

theyoungvisiter Tue 21-Oct-08 14:20:33

I had problems posting too - my message went blank 3 times

AbricotsSecs Tue 21-Oct-08 14:41:12

Oh, God. How utterly, utterly depressing.

UnquietDad Tue 21-Oct-08 14:51:25

It's crap anyway. How does it work for teachers? hmm

theyoungvisiter Tue 21-Oct-08 15:06:21

"It's crap anyway." - I don't agree!

Sure the legislation could do with a bit more muscle - and sure, an employer can find a way out if they really want to, but it's better than nothing, and it's definitely given employees much more leverage than before. THere's absolutely no way I would have got my request through prior to the current legislation (I know because several colleagues tried and failed).

As for teachers - well there are various ways depending on what age group you teach, but of course some jobs are easier to accommodate than others, that's just a fact of life. Doesn't mean the whole principle is a bad idea.

Cosette Tue 21-Oct-08 15:39:32

A couple of my DD's primary school teachers did a job share - worked pretty well. I'm sure there are loads of other examples of teachers working flexible hours.

UnquietDad Tue 21-Oct-08 15:45:39

Yes, fine if you are part-time...

Cosette Tue 21-Oct-08 15:56:52

Well part-time is one part of flexible working is it not? Another is annualised hours - which people generally use to do term-time working - again that is what most teachers do isn't it? There are lots of different flexible working schemes - and not all are going to be appropriate for all jobs - but the legislation is there so that parents can initiate a discussion about what they'd like to do, and how it might be achieved. Not all employers will be able to offer all potential options - but that doesn't mean it's not worthwhile at all.

I'm lucky where I work, we do offer a flexible approach to work. There are examples of job shares / compressed hours / flexible start/finish times / reduced hours etc.
When I went back, all I requested as changing my hours from 9-5:15 Mon to Thur and 9-4:15 on a Fri to 8:00-4:00 daily, and making up the 15 mins difference. It made such a difference to me because I miss most of the traffic in both journeys, and can be home with DD at 5, whereas its 6:30 on the other hours, and shes in bed at 7:00.
One of the girls in the office, she came back on normal hours after her first, but after her second, applied for compressed hours, so she does 8:45 until 6:00 Mon to Thur with 1/2 lunch and does not work Friday. She's now back after her third and working the same hours. It suits her lifestyle and circumstances.
We have one girl who worked 3days a week when she came back, and as her DD joined school, she changed to five days but shorter hours, so fits in the school run and pick up.
Everybody else is on standard hours but we do flexi time so can make up hours and take hours here and there which is nice.
We have had people been refused requests for flexible hours / different hours etc, but thats usually higher up the chain and specific work where the business case arguement can be used.
I have found our work approach to be really good, and certainly I feel happier working there based on the fact they do listen to requirements. I'm often amazed to know some companies (esp well known ones) do not offer a flexible approach.

LittleBellaLugosi Tue 21-Oct-08 18:45:36

What really, really annoys me about this, is that either it's right to have work life balance for the good of families, or it's not. It is utterly unprincipled and inconsistent to say it's a necessity when the economy is doing well, but not when times are bad. Either families need work life balance, or they don't. Either we need equal opportunities, or we don't. Imagine if they'd decided to scrap the right not to be racially harrassed at work at the first sign of a downturn "because we can't afford that particular luxury right now." In disgraceful.

I'm sure there was something on the radio today which said, to the effect, that people should stop moaning about flexible hours and equal pay "as things are never going to be equal" so we should stop moaning and get on with it!
Though it was a local radio station so I dont think I'll be able to dig anything out. I was a bit shock

Cammelia Tue 21-Oct-08 19:24:54

It's patently mothers who will suffer the most if flexible working rights are eroded, ie this is a sexist policy.

Totally what I would expect from Mandelson, however hmm

He is part of the Gay Mafia

Bloodystumperlicious Tue 21-Oct-08 22:03:47

Labour will lose my vote if they follow through with this. I am really feeling the benefit of my (civil service job) flexible working policy. First I worked PT when I went back to work, but now my DH's company retracted his ability to also work PT so we could share care of DD my work have allowed me to temporally work FT as my husband left his job due to their inflexibility and is now taking them to a tribunal for not adhering to the flexible working policy and withdrawing DH's right to work PT hours without adequate reason.

Also I think they are now not going to extend the right to SMP to 52 weeks? Did I hear that right?

(Why won't this post???!!)

VeniVidiVickiQV Wed 22-Oct-08 10:21:18

How would you like to see flexible working for teachers UQD?

fleacircus Wed 22-Oct-08 13:47:21

UQD, I work 4 days a week, also have had my PPA time rearranged to facilitate expressing at work while I'm still BFing. Spend a couple of hours at school each weekend doing admin and although my MPS has been reduced to 0.8 I have retained my full TLR allowance as I'm still fully responsible for the role. So it works for me.

And yes, this is nonsense, once again the Labour govt has got all over-excited about placating 'industry'.

filz Wed 22-Oct-08 15:53:30

shall i test my breast on this one too?

UnquietDad Wed 22-Oct-08 18:40:12

VVV, it's not necessarily something I am demanding. It's just that I know DW gets very cynical about "flexible" working. She knows that if she went and demanded to have, say Monday mornings off, the answer would be "well, who's going to do your register and teach year 7?"

theyoungvisiter Wed 22-Oct-08 20:38:44

yes but I couldn't just "demand" to have whatever I liked off from work either. I had to find a solution that worked for me and my employer. I'd much prefer a slightly different setup in fact, but it would have had disadvantages for the rest of the team so I've got a compromise that gives me some of what I want and some of what work wants.

Flexible working isn't just about marching up and rearranging your worklife exactly how you want it.

I realise that you were just giving an example UQD, but say in that situation your DW really needed Monday mornings off for some particular reason, she could perhaps negotiate a jobshare so that another teacher took Monday and Tuesday, and she took Weds, Thurs and Fri. Sure - it wouldn't be the exact solution she'd demanded - but it would have the result she needed.

UnquietDad Wed 22-Oct-08 22:03:32

youngvisiter - demand is perhaps the wrong word, I know. But you've missed my point - it's near-impossible for a full-time teacher (or anyone else who is in a job with a fixed timetable determined some months ahead) to ask for that kind of flexible working.

theyoungvisiter Wed 22-Oct-08 22:14:25

I haven't missed your point - I was pointing out that you can't always have exactly what you want and that flexible working is about finding something that works within the parameters of your job.

Yes, if you are in certain fields and are not prepared to cut your hours or jobshare then flexible working is not going to be possible. That's why it's called flexible working - not rearrange-your-timetable-exactly-how-you-like-but-without-taking-a-cut-in-pay-or-hours working.

I would love to only work term-times - that's completely impossible in my job, it simply couldn't be done and it's not worth thinking about. I could be complaining that my job therefore doesn't offer truly flexible working because I can't have exactly what I want out of it - but I accept that that solution will be open to some people, but sadly not me if I stay in my current field.

Your DW chose a career where she can only work termtimes - but some other forms of flexible working are closed to her. I can't see why that means she shoudl be cynical about the whole concept, just because one particular form of the idea doesn't work for her.

UnquietDad Wed 22-Oct-08 22:18:42

I think she's perfectly entitled to be cynical. She doesn't moan about it - she knows she gets good holidays. It only comes up when "flexible working" is mentioned.

VeniVidiVickiQV Wed 22-Oct-08 22:38:04

My DD's Yr 1 teachers work on a job share basis.

UnquietDad Wed 22-Oct-08 23:46:52

So did my DD's Y1 teachers. I don't think I've ever said job-sharing can't be done. But (I've said this several times now) in order to do it, you have to be in the position to do half a job.

VeniVidiVickiQV Thu 23-Oct-08 13:09:50

I'm not suggesting you are - I am just wondering what you'd like to see happen, or what options you think there should be. Not being a teacher, I dont know these things. I'm not attacking your opinion, I just want to explore it smile

theyoungvisiter Thu 23-Oct-08 18:07:00

I guess I just think it's a bit narrow-minded to be cynical about a great concept purely because it doesn't fit in with your particular set of circumstances.

Many people will benefit from the legislation and many teachers will have benefited by being able to do jobshares or part-time working - maybe that particular solution doesn't suit your wife but does that honestly mean the whole concept is "crap anyway"? (your original point)

BTW lots of my friends and family are teachers so I do sympathise - I'm not anti-teachers or anything!

UnquietDad Thu 23-Oct-08 22:29:46

I think I tend to agree that it's pretty much impossible, that's the trouble. As it is for anyone who is in a job where they have to be timetabled to be in a certain place at a certain time.

MrsGhoulofGhostbourne Sun 26-Oct-08 16:50:42

In our local primary, all the ks1 classes, and some ks2 are now job shares, on a merry-go-round that alters with the various maternity leaves. Whilst it might be more difficult for the HT to work it all out, it is otherwose win-win, as the teachers get the flexibility they need to enjoy their own small children without being completely exhausted by FT work, and the puils have the advantage of being taught by different people, wiht differtn intests and aptutdes. The school retains experienced teachers they might lose if they isisted on Ft only, and teh teachers retain theri foothold in th working worl and Pension rights. So what's not to like about it? And it appears that teaching is one of the most suitable careers to be flexible.

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