David Gibson Crutes

Member Article

Flexible Friends

The Tipster has reached the age where come 9.49 pm he starts drifting off to sleep usually in front of some terribly dull reality TV programme (although I must admit that Million Pound Drop does have its moments). The other evening The Tipster had drifted off and woke up with a shock to find himself in the middle of Newsnight. The sage that is Jeremy Paxman was, in his usual direct and eyebrow moving manner, interviewing the Spanish Ambassador on the problems facing the Spanish economy.

At the end of the interview the Spanish Ambassador tried to run an argument that the major failing of the economy in Spain was due to a lack of labour market flexibility and in particular the inability to employ people on a part time/flexible working basis.

Paxman was not too impressed by this but The Tipster noted the point. Now it is not for The Tipster to digress into the history/economic failings of the economy in Spain - as he is not well versed enough to opine on that particular issue but the use of flexible working and part time working is something which employers should give careful thought to.

In the prevailing economic conditions it is often the case that employers do jump to the option of redundancy and this is understandable and we have already covered this in previous blogs. However, it seems that given that people often want to change their work life balance or may want to assist a business during a period of downturn or they want to pursue new angles in their life, that the use of flexible working or part
time working could be discussed between employer and employee.

There are specific provisions regarding requests for flexible working and it is still up to an employer to turn down a request for flexible working (which can be made by employees with children up to the age of 17) on business grounds so it is not the case that it is an automatic assumption that any requests would have to be agreed with the employee. However, there needs to a legitimate business reason and employers should try and be specific as to why any request cannot work.

The traditional concerns about part time workers either not pulling their weight or that
such provision cannot work logistically should be exercised from an employers mind.
Focused working, specifically with the assistance of new technology, is certainly an
achievable goal.

The Tipster has also discovered some night time reading in the form of a book by
Jonah Lehrer which looks at the practices of the third most innovative company in the
world, namely 3M. Here workers are actually pushed to take regular breaks to enable
them to think creatively and part time and flexible working is encouraged. Perhaps
it is time to throw off the desk and head for the hills - after all an inspired worker is
worth their weight in gold.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by David Gibson .

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