Tag Archives: United Kingdom

Flexibility ‘a pipe dream’ for low paid workers – FlexibleBoss

In 2014 Working Families received almost 3,000 calls to its legal advice helpline. Based on this the charity points out that, while workers have the right to request flexible working, for those in low paid sectors flexible working remains a ‘pipe dream’.

Working Families notes that retail, social care, catering and hospitality sectors rely on ‘casualised’ labour, offering contracts that offer little job security and few guaranteed hours:

By their nature, such insecure jobs, with varying and unpredictable weekly hours… [that] make it very difficult if not impossible for workers to successfully request a change in their hours or working pattern to accommodate a change in their family circumstances, or to resist a problematic change in their hours or working pattern…

They point out that refusal to change working hours, often at short notice, “can easily lead to there being no work at all”. An issue exacerbated by the imposition of employment tribunal fees in 2013.

Read more at FlexibleBoss.

Forget flexibility. What working women really want is power – The Guardian

A recent survey of professional women found that just 14% would list ‘work-life balance‘ as a benchmark of success, while 44% wanted job satisfaction and 34% wanted to be able to assume leadership roles and define their company’s direction. It thus suggests that it is ‘not more time that women want, it’s more power’.

The assumption that women want better work-life balance is linked to a kind of ‘benevolent sexism’ wherein women are assumed to be, and to want to be, primary childcare providers. However, this may not be the case. While understanding that the pressures parents face can be important for organisations, it is important that these are not assumed to be women’s issues. Organisations need to approach issues of childcare and work-life balance to allow equal participation of men and women at work and in the home.

Read more at The Guardian.

Family friendly? How the shared parental rules affect you – The Guardian

This article provides an overview of new statutory shared parent leave rules that come into effect in the UK from 5 April. It notes that the rules are designed to challenge assumptions about the role women as the default stay-at-home parent.

New parents will be allowed to split up to 50 weeks off work after having a baby or adopting. The first two weeks has to be for mothers, after which the remaining leave can be shared or transferred to either parent. However, the right only extends to couples where both parents are working, meaning that 40% of fathers won’t be eligible because the mother doesn’t have a paid job.

However, there is also concern that replacement rates may be lower. Statutory rates are 90% of average weekly earnings for the first six weeks, then £139.58 a week or 90% of your average weekly earnings – whichever is lower – for the next 33 weeks. In total, 39 of the 52 weeks will be paid. Employers often enhance maternity leave entitlements, but some suggest that they may be disinclined to do so for shared parental leave, fearing that there would be a massive take-up from eligible male employees. The TUC stresses that unless shared leave is backed up with better pay “couples simply won’t be able to afford to take it”.

Read more at The Guardian.

A quarter of UK professionals are unhappy with their work-life balance – The Independent

This article notes that 25% of UK professionals surveyed by Investec are dissatisfied with their work-life balance, and that work-life balance is only third on their list of priorities when choosing a job.

The survey suggests work enjoyment is the top priority, with 41% of respondents placing it as the most important factor in selecting a job. At 23%, salary is second on the list, and only 16% view work-life as the most important consideration when choosing a job.

Wayne Preston, head of banking at Investec, said: “We continue to see high levels of demand being placed on professionals throughout the UK. Advancements in technology make it harder than ever to ‘switch off’ outside the office and achieve an ideal work-life balance.

“Life doesn’t exist solely between the hours of 9 and 5, and working in a global marketplace across multiple time zones means the pressure to be always-on is high.”

Read more at The Independent.

Autonomy in flexibilized working time schemes? Factors that inhibit autonomy and where it succeeds

Yvonne Lott, of the Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaftlichen Institut (WSI) in Germany, questions whether working time flexibility can really deliver employee autonomy. 

Flexibility in working time makes it possible to reconcile work with the affairs of private life. Whether this is caring for children or elderly parents, or pursuing a qualification alongside work – flexible working times give employees freedom to organize their time. In particular when employees can themselves determine how to organize their working time, their autonomy at work can seem unlimited. Self-determination of work schedules promises control over one’s own working time and thus autonomy over one’s time in general. Employees with such working times should, then, have relatively stress-free (work) lives. Right? I am skeptical. Continue reading

Part-time power: Can you be part-time at the top? – BBC News

This article notes that common conceptions suggest that part-time workers are often women who have compromised their careers to bring up children, while full-time (male) workers occupy the most powerful positions.

However, research shows that there are people in the most senior positions in UK companies working part-time. The author suggests that ‘agile’, flexible ways of working are gaining acceptance as businesses adapt to younger people join the labour market and the changing needs of customers – in both cases, trends are often in favour of flexibility, both at work and in when people interact with businesses.

However, full acceptance will be gradual as for many people standard full-time working will remain not only normal but preferable.

Read more at BBC News.

Regus research finds out of office hours work growing – GR

A new survey of 3,000 business people suggests that 69% of UK professionals now work more outside usual office hours than in 2010. A similar number of respondents (72%) note that fixed hours are no longer suitable for their duties.

More than three-quarters – 76% – of businesses also reported a rise in remote workers, further suggesting that the concept of 9-5 day in the office is outdated.

Read more at GR.

Minimal take-up of flexible working in UK despite policy shift – FT

New research finds that though 97% of UK workplaces offer at least one form of flexible working, including job sharing, flexitime and working remotely, over the past six years there had not been great increases in take-up. Furthermore, only 19% of working  women in the UK were able to vary the hours they work, this is compared to 41% in Sweden.

This is despite major UK policy initiatives designed to extend the uptake of flexible working.

It is suggested that cultural factors may explain low uptake – over 40% of employees, male and female, reporting that they would feel uncomfortable asking to work flexibly.

Read more at the FT.

Only one in five workers take advantage of their right to request flexible working – HR Review

Only 23%, or just over 1 in 5, UK workers have submitted requests for flexible working since the government legislation was introduced six months ago.

Research from O2 business shows that while 54% of workers were aware of their right to flexible working, there remain barriers to their taking advantage of it. Issues cited included lack of trust (31%), business culture (28%) and a lack of resources to work outside the office (28%).

Read more at HR Review.

Heejung Chung on BBC Radio Kent’s Julia George Show – 24 September 2014

On Wednesday 24th September, Heejung Chung appeared on Julia George’s BBC Radio Kent show to talk about work-life balance, work-family conflict, and how flexible working can mean work extends into all aspects of life.

Clip courtesy of BBC Radio Kent.