||Issue No. 224||11 June 2004|
The Passion For Power
The Passion for Power
Interview: The New Democrat
Bad Boss: The Ugly Australian
Unions: Free Spirits and Slaves
Industrial: National Focus
History: A Class Act
International: Across the Ditch
Economics: Home Truths
Review: No Time Like Tomorrow
Poetry: Silent Note
The Locker Room
Sick Of This Job
Office Junior’s Secrets
Letters to the Editor
Sick Of This Job
I work an average of 3 to 5 unpaid hours per week but am docked yet again for being sick as I've run out of sick pay. To arrange time off to attend an essential medical appointment for a potentially life threatening condition becomes a high skilled negotiation exercise of the level usually reserved for US/Iraqian relations.
Our admin woman works back every night but has to take a recreation day to catch up with a country friend. A work colleague leaves a key in her letterbox so her interstate relatives can get access to her flat upon arrival for their annual visit.
Another staff member who is not a morning person drags herself in for the stickler 9am start even though she works best later into the evening. Another staff member is forced to take a sickie to sort out their mother's urgent financial matter afraid of being refused a request for a couple of hours off. Forget being a mum, it just wouldn't work.
Yet across the house introduction of compulsory flexitime would solve all these dilemmas. The admin staff member would use acrued time, I can attend my medical appointments with ease, and the staff member with the relatives could be there to greet them without worry of potential burglary. The "not a morning person" staff member could work at their most productive times. The less healthy can draw on accrued hours to avoid losing pay and the mum's can juggle their family and kids. And if you've just lost it for the day you can give up, go early and tackle it another day when you are fresh. And with the staff member taking the whole day off to sort out mum's finances, the employer would have only lost 2 hours rather than a whole day's labour. And everyone would be happy.
It's so easy. Set a few ground rules including minimum staffing requirements for early morning and late afternoons and it works fine. Past studies have consistently shown that flexible working arrangements save big time on sick leave and have improved productivity. And it's easy to see why, no one has to skulk around and lie to get time off. Staff can choose to work at their most productive times and no one resents that only "special groups" get time off as it's accessible to all. Given that the workforce appears to be equally divided between the larks and the owls, staffing levels usually balance out.
And if it requires the occassional effort of getting in early or staying back late to fit in with a roster to keep staffing consistent not even the most committed owl or lark would mind making that occassional effort.
So why is it so hard for employers working with employees to give it a go? In a past job I've worked advising workers on workplace disputes. And some of the biggest were disputes over employers who simply would not be flexible over time.
So maybe it's time that we all got together, got our hands on some flexible proposals (the NSW industrial relations website springs to mind) and insist on flexibility.
With me I'm seeking a new job.
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