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Annie Hayes



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Childless should have flexible working rights too, says TUC


The Trades Union Congress (TUC) is calling for an extension of flexible working rights for all, not just working parents.

Speaking later today at a work-life balance conference, TUC general secretary Brendan Barber will make the case for all workers to have the right to request a better balance between work and the rest of their lives whatever their personal responsibilities.

The call comes in the wake of government proposals to extend the right to request flexible working to all parents with school-age children. The TUC says this can be taken one step further.

“All workers – whether they have children or not – should have the right not just to request flexible working, but to access it too,” Barber will tell delegates.

The TUC is said to be ‘disappointed’ by the reaction of business lobby groups, including the British Chambers of Commerce,which they accuse of ‘predictable carping’.

“Worst of all are the commentators who joined them by saying that such moves are bad for women, because employers will stop giving women good jobs,” Barber will tell the conference.

According to the TUC, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development backs the call whilst the CBI, representing the views of employers, has given a cautious welcome.

The TUC says extensions to all of flexible working will boost productivity and “instil a greater sense of well-being in the UK workforce”.

One Response

  1. Flexible working ‘rights’
    Good old TUC! – they have to keep their membership going somehow and who can blame them? (I certainly don’t.)

    But what will Employees be prepared to offer employers in exchange, I wonder?

    I haven’t been an ‘Employer’ for a while and I have helped both sides on this sort of debate for quite a long time as a specialist in negotiation strategy, so I look forward to the outcome as a very interested neutral. I’ll also be most interested to see what Employers might require in exchange.

    A sound economy needs strong arguments from both sides of the labour market in my view – and I do hope they will all be well marshalled and presented well. (If anyone wants some help in doing so from either side, do let me know!)

    I see so many negotiations of this sort handled badly that result in lose-lose deals for both parties. So without wishing to prejudice this latest claim, I do hope that there may be some great listening, detailed exploration of each side’s real wishes, robust counter-proposals, a search for many other variables that can be traded, and a realisation any deal done needs to be good for all to be sustainable.

    To declare my own bias meanwhile, I am very concerned from an Employee’s pov that even current legislation for parental rights severely disadvantges work colleagues who have no children or have already had them; and I am also very concerned that any view that businesses are ‘job-machines’ may damagingly ignore the fact that Employers have customers to serve, a business to run and bills to pay to survive at all, and a need for a return on their investment to make it worth their while.

    Not very profound I know, but issues I am sure all sides will want to keep in mind.

    Meanwhile, as professionals on any side, perhaps we can all helpfully dismiss all such emotive comments in this article as reported by the TUC, as ‘disappointment’ and ‘predictable carping’? I was never persuaded that such emotional language ever served any side of a healthy argument especially well in finding a good resolution.

    Perhaps full marks to the TUC for trying – as in olden days workforces ever did – but only for the consumption of their members?

    But what is the CIPD doing in apparently expressing a partial view? I wonder whose views they aim to present? I privately suspect the arguments of greater productivity are highly questionable without much more specific examination and analysis. And so may others?



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