Monday, February 7, 2011

Flexible Work

FLG was listening to a BBC podcast today where they were discussing UK flexible working law. Apparently, it's come under attack recently as inhibiting job creation. According to the expert being interviewed, he felt that this was merely a settling of scores now that Labour isn't in power anymore. The law gives employees the right to request flexible working arrangements. Not the right to flexible working arrangements, just the right to request them.

The expert says (pardon my transcription):
The great majority of flexible working arrangements don't rely upon the law; they exist informally. If somebody approaches their manager and says "Can I come in at 9:15 rather then 9:00" and the manager says "yes" or "no." But the law kind of creates a backup around flexible working for organizations where this kind of conversation does not happen for whatever reason. It does create an additional right. But as I say, it's a right to request it, not to have it. That's the innovation of this law.

What possible organization makes it impossible for employees to ask managers questions? This is just crazy.

FLG didn't believe this was the end of the story because if it were, then it would be the stupidest law ever written. Well, FLG found this page on the UK government website that says a little bit more:
Under the law your employer must seriously consider an application you make, and only reject it if there are good business reasons for doing so. You have the right to ask for flexible working - not the right to have it. Employers can reasonably decline your application where there is a legitimate business ground.

There's the rub. The law doesn't just grant the right to request flexible time, it also says there must be "good business reasons" based upon "legitimate business ground" for why it was denied. Who ultimately determines what those words mean? The state.

To be completely honest though, FLG isn't sure that this is a bad law. It, like a great many things in employment law, really comes down to implementation. Then again, FLG isn't a Brit, so this affects him not in the slightest.

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