Flexible Working Hours

I’m all in favour of flexible working hours – both as an employer and former employee. If you have a valued staff member, it’s silly to not be flexible with their hours of work, so that they can continue to work for you, yet also cater to other activities in their life – such as study.

So there is already a big incentive for employers to be flexible. Now of course some employers are abusive. I recall at one previous job we had a power crazed boss who actually tried to regulate not just the hours of work to the minute but also the hours non-front-line staff could take their lunch break. Yes it had to be from 12 – 1 or 1 – 2. Somehow the universe would end if one had lunch from 12.30 – 1.30. It was no surprise so many staff fled her management.

Now the Greens’ bill mandates employers must reasonably consider any requests for flexible hours. What this means is that one can appeal to the employment relations authority if your request for flexible hours is turned down, and they will decide for the employer. Despite the occasional stupid employer (who usually lose their staff anyway) I can’t support having such legislative interference in the process. Employers already have the incentives to be flexible, and forcing an employer to agree to hours that are different to those agreed at the time of employment is unfair, and in many cases could be damaging.

The NZ Herald editorial looks at the issue and concludes:

The principle needs restating that flexibility is best left to individuals and firms to find in their infinitely varying needs and circumstances. As soon as flexibility is codified, even as a negotiating procedure, it is in danger of becoming just another cost of employment and a discouragement to growth.

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