The Government’s recent pitch on extending flexible work arrangements to all workers is approaching the issue “from the wrong angle,” according to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation.
Nick Clegg’s announcement of a new “flexible parental leave” system, scheduled to come into effect in May 2015, will allow parents to claim 12 months of parental leave, which they will be free to divide between them. All employees will be granted the right to request flexible work arrangements.
REC chief executive Kevin Green, however, believes that Mr Clegg’s focus on worker benefits as a selling-point for implementing flexible work arrangements omits the fact that there are “solid, hard-headed business reasons for doing so.”
Referring to the findings from the REC’s Flexible Work Commission, Mr Green continued: “Our research found that employers can reduce absenteeism, improve staff morale and productivity, and are better able to attract and retain top talent if they adopt more flexible working arrangements. Recruiters can help employers to embed flexible working practices and review job design.”
Employers can, in other words, recruit highly skilled professionals on a time-limited basis to complete essential business projects by turning to contractor solutions. Umbrella Company Employees can be drafted in according to immediate business needs, hit the ground running, and exit again when the work is completed, sparing the firm the long-term costs of permanent alternatives.
Mr Green was unimpressed with Mr Clegg’s insistence that he would not cut red tape when the new measures are in place, insisting that this would not extend flexible working but, on the contrary, may hinder it. Informal negotiations between line managers and staff would be far preferable for most employers, he added.