Flexible working, that’s something I expect. Luckily the people I work for get it, I do what they tell me to do but the when and how is unimportant – as long as the work gets done. Yet for so many, it continues to be just out of reach with employers mindlessly forcing their staff into the office 9 to 5, Monday to Friday.
That’s why large parts of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills consultation on modern workplaces is welcomed. It looks to make flexible parental leave, flexible working, working time regulations and equal pay all a reality. Of course I have serious questions about how a Tory government will regulate working time and have no confidence in them helping deliver equal pay, but on flexible parental leave and flexible working, they’re doing alright.
Allowing parental leave to mature would be a great step forward. In the year 2011, why do we assume the mother is the primary care giver in 2011? And as Siobhan Endean passionately shows us, even companies that claim to offer flexible working can fall well short of the mark.
What we should see from the Modern Workplaces consultation is a universal right to ask for flexible working and shared parental leave. Even the Tories understand that flexible working is good for workers, good for business and good for our society, and yet we still hear the cry of ‘more red-tap’ from many in the business community.
Of course we’d have no of this without our trade union movement. On universal working issues we must all help maintain a broad movement, otherwise we’ll only have ourselves to blame.
If you want to learn more about modern workplaces, watch Brendan Barber’s recent speech at a debate with the British Chamber of Commerce.