Friday, March 30, 2012

Extending flexibility

National is actually doing something positive for ordinary people for once, with plans to extend flexible working hours provisions - which currently apply only to caregivers - to all workers. Its a good move. The Department of Labour's review of the provisions found that there had been no problems with their implementation (contrary to the wailing from employers when the law was passed), and that it produced significant benefits for employers (such as reduced turnover and improved productivity):

At a minimum, the research shows that flexible working is cost neutral for the large majority of employers, but may in fact result in considerable cost savings and productivity improvements for many employers. Overseas evidence shows that the experience of employers with flexible working provisions has been largely unproblematic, and few employers have encountered the costs, increased litigation, or flood of requests anticipated prior to the introduction of flexible working legislation (Hegewisch, 2009). The Department’s surveys found that this also appears to be the case in New Zealand.
They also found that there was a widespread informal practice of employee-driven flexibility extending beyond the statutory right of caregivers, but that some groups (particularly low-income and low-skill workers) were missing out. Cementing this practice in statute, by creating a clear right to request flexibility and obligation to grant it unless certain conditions were met will remove that problem and extend the benefits to everyone.

Even Business New Zealand now admits this is "common sense legislation". And its good to see that National can in fact be convinced by the evidence, rather than reflexively supporting the sort of "Master-Servant" model promoted by the likes of Talleys and Ports of Auckland.