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Thread: Drive towards flexi hours

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    Default Drive towards flexi hours

    Flexible hours drive broadened
    Monday November 6, 2006
    By Audrey Young

    A campaign will be launched at Parliament today to extend flexible working hours proposals to all employees, not just those with dependent or disabled children.

    Labour Minister Ruth Dyson will also release a discussion document looking at options for NZ and what has happened overseas, particularly in Britain, where employers have been made to consider requests for flexibility.

    About 20 groups will form the Quality Flexible Working Hours Coalition, among them unions, parenting organisations and business groups, to extend the bill before Parliament to all employees. Their campaign would see employers having to consider requests from all employees for more flexible working hours, as set out in a private member's bill.

    The bill, in the name of Green MP Sue Kedgley, has been parked at a select committee for a year while Department of Labour officials have studied impacts on New Zealand. The success of the bill depends on Labour's position, which has not yet been decided. The committee is due to report back on the legislation next year.

    Ruth Dyson said flexibility encompassed everything from changing start and finishing times, to compressing work days to a four-day week, to working from home.

    The UK experience showed that 90 per cent of requests had been accepted, boosting productivity and morale. Business NZ chief executive Phil O'Reilly said the UK scheme had unintended negative consequences. "In particular, what it has led to is queuing behaviour. So if I'm the first or the second employee to ask for flexibility I get it, and that's fantastic, but if I'm the 20th employee to ask for it I don't get it and that's actually not a good outcome."

    Flexibility was something that most employees might need only temporarily and yet the consequences of the UK law meant there would be less flexibility when it was needed, he said. "We think the idea of flexibility should remain utterly flexible. There is a need for a lack of rigidity in black letter law here."
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    selchie's Avatar
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    Default Re: Drive towards flexi hours

    I suppose a lot of employers already allow flexible schedules, which I think is great. It's one of those things that my OH has pushed for with every job in the last 15 years. It has really helped her happiness quotient to have three-day weekends.
    If men had wings and bore black feathers, few of them would be clever enough to be crows.
    - Rev. Henry Ward Beecher, mid-1800s

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    Default Re: Drive towards flexi hours

    Government opens up on flexible work hours
    Tuesday November 7, 2006
    By Mike Houlahan

    New Zealand workers seem set to be able to negotiate greater flexibility in their work hours and conditions with their employers. The Government yesterday released a discussion paper on flexible work in which Labour Minister Ruth Dyson says there is "no debate at all" about the need for quality flexible work in New Zealand.

    Meanwhile, a coalition of business, union and women's groups is being launched in Parliament to back Green MP Sue Kedgley's private member's bill aimed at introducing legislation on flexible working hours.

    The coalition and the discussion paper are the result of a consultation period the Transport and Industrial Relations select committee asked for last year after considering Ms Kedgley's bill.

    The bill originally proposed allowing employees with children aged under 5 or disabled children aged under 18 the right to request more flexible working hours, but the committee asked the Department of Labour to carry out further study on the issue. The resulting discussion paper explores allowing all employees the right to ask for flexible hours, an amplification of Ms Kedgley's proposal.

    The MP has herself since moved in that direction and yesterday said the Coalition for Quality Flexible Work would campaign for everyone to be able to benefit from less rigid work hours. "I think this broad-based coalition is testimony to the strong support in the community for more flexible working hours."

    Coalition members include the Parents Centre, the Council of Trade Unions, the Federation of Business and Professional Women, the Wellington Women Lawyers Association and the YWCA.

    Parents Centre chief executive Viv Gurrey said there had been a rapid rise in the number of New Zealand families where both parents worked. It would be worthwhile for businesses to provide flexible work conditions so those people were able to stay in the workforce.

    "My message to employers is don't be afraid of adopting flexible working strategies. Embrace them. It may well be an opportunity for a point of difference ... Talented and skilled people will trade remuneration for flexibility in the work force.

    "When we leave our working environment ... we come home to a full-time job, the most important job any of us will ever actually do, parenting, for our children and for society. We need to affirm and validate parenting as employers."

    Ruth Dyson said the Government's moves towards improving flexible work hours were not promoted by Ms Kedgley's bill, but were about finding a solution which found favour with workers and employers.

    "It's not just about work-life balance being good for employees, it's about quality flexible work being good for employers because if they have the best workplace they will be able to attract and retain staff. That is the biggest challenge for New Zealand employers."

    Ms Kedgley's bill is likely to be considered by Parliament early next year.

    Job lot

    * Department of Labour research has found that flexible work arrangements improve retention and recruitment rates, reduce sick leave and stress, help life productivity and lead to greater loyalty.

    * The research said 19 per cent of New Zealanders worked more than 50 hours a week, 40 per cent had variable work hours, 18 per cent did shift work and about a quarter worked some hours at night.
    Mother Bear

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