Friday, June 15, 2007

Flexible working

Yet more government nonsense designed to lay costs on businesses, this time heartily backed by Spam.
UK companies lag behind their European counterparts in offering flexible working, a report has suggested.

This has left many people stuck in a culture of fixed hours and office "presenteeism", the Equal Opportunities Commission study says.

Of 8,000 firms quizzed, 90% in mainland Europe made flexitime available, compared with 48% in the UK.
...

Mr Cameron, who is helping to launch the report, says all parents should have the right to request flexible working.

And he says that the Conservatives would extend the legal right for flexible working to all those who had children under 18.

Cameron is swiftly revealing himself to be a controlling, centralist fuckwit of the very first order. Apart from anything else, the whole thing is so fucking hypocritical.

Look, government agencies are one of the very worst for encouraging the culture of "presenteeism"; if flexible working is such a very good idea then, instead of legislating, how about leading by example? I suggest that if this is such a wonderful idea, the state should introduce flexible working throughout all departments.

At the end of the year, it should publish its productivity and budget figures in detail; then businesses will truly be able to judge whether flexible working really is the way forward or not. How fair is that?

For what it's worth, I think that flexible working will become more prevalent, simply because technology is making it more practicable. Broadband and PDF technology means that I can now send documents to printers at the other end of the country (where once the unreliable method of snail-mailing a Zip disk—which usually added several days to a print run—was the only way this could be achieved). My web work, conducted on my own dedicated servers, can be addressed from anywhere with an internet connection.

Using my Macbook and Skype (or iChat), I can even video-call people—I recently talked to some clients in Belgium about a project which is just like something out of bloody Star Trek. It's just very cool. Chat programmes also make instant communication absolutely easy (I use the Open Source Adium, which can handle my GoogleChat and MSN all through the one application). And, of course, mobile phones ensure that we are all available at almost any time.

But it should be up to the businesses concerned; if flexible working is, indeed, so utterly fucking wonderful, would not many of our businesses have embraced it already? For many small businesses, particularly, it simply isn't possible to have staff coming in at any old time; it just won't work.

As I have stated: let the government lead by example, not legislate to make businesses obey laws that the government will simply exempt itself from. And, I'm afraid, this is simply another example of Cameron moving towards socialism lite.

Where o where are our advocates of libertarianism?

25 comments:

Roger Thornhill said...

Absolutely right, DK.

I have commented elsewhere that Osborne has let slip that there will be a barbed hook to the bait of lower corporate taxes for SMEs in the shape of adopting flexi working. What. The. Flipping. Nora are these people doing?

As I have also said before, they are trying to win at any cost.

Have ANY of these jokers worked recently in a private company or founded one themselves? I doubt it.

Have they any idea how this will affect competitiveness? Have they realised that an employer takes on an employee to do a function?

Companies are there to serve their customers, not to provide a "wage collection venue".

Umbongo said...

roger thornhill

As you rightly suspect neither Cameron nor Osborne has had a real job - unless Director for Carpets and PR at Carlton Communications in the case of Cameron counts as a job. I think you'll also find that neither Letwin or Maude (to take two parasites at random) are exactly distinguished industrialists. What they do have in common though is an unhealthy urge to rule us at any cost - particularly to us.

Mark Wadsworth said...

What Roger and Umbongo say.

I'll tell you who's a libertarian - Vaclav Klau, who wrote an article in yesterday's FT on the topic of climate change hysteria, his summary was "get off our backs, let people get on with it, this will all sort itself out in time".

Which it will. A clean environment is fairly high up Maslow's "pyramid of human needs", i.e. once basic needs are satisfied, people will do something about it. The strictest rules on e.g. car emissions are in the richest countries in the world, yer Chinese factory worker has more pressing worries right now.

Mark Wadsworth said...

"Klaus" sorry.

Henry North London said...

there are no fucking libertarians where the fuck do you think you are? This isnt England in the seventies untouched and unraped by the presence of home grown terrorists , This is Britain in the post 7/7 era where all muslims are viewed suspiciously by anybody especially on the tube and if they are wearing a hijab

The libertarians have been shouted down by the fear mongers and the fear of bombs.

Even Margaret thatcher who's best line was ... We will not let the terrorists change our way of life; is gone and suffers with post stroke problems.

There is fucking not one soul who says But we're changing the way we live, we are giving in to the terrorists. Not one sodding person well except for a few bloggers...

Security, no water through customs ( whoever thought that one up really made the people who sell water in the departure lounges and big fat profit)

The answer is that many people are emigrating..
Even I think about it and Im a fourth generation immigrant

Mark Wadsworth said...

"This isn't England in the seventies untouched and unraped by the presence of home grown terrorists"

... apart from the IRA of course, (but the repercussions of that were far worse in NI itself than what we suffered on the mainland, in terms of attacks and surveillance etc).

JuliaM said...

"This is Britain in the post 7/7 era where all muslims are viewed suspiciously by anybody especially on the tube and if they are wearing a hijab"

A little hyperbolic, surely...?

This might have been the case directly after 7/7 (and would be understandable), but I just rode in on the Tube & no-one spared a glance for the several hijab-wearing ladies, or asian men...

CCTV said...

I look forward to teleological surgery as patients stay home and surgeons tell them by videolink how to make the right incisions.

Now that nurses are doing so much work they could perform abortions at filling stations, and women could get IVF in the florists.

Has any professional group gotten part-time workig to the elevated art form of our legislators ? Olly Letwin spends his mornings at Rothschilds.........btw does any other legislator on the planet get to spend mornings appearing as a barrister in court and afternoons passing laws ?

As for Cameron, he has a vast 4 year experience of Parliament - hardly enough time to know they should do at least some work.....

Shotgun said...

I would close both my businesses down before I would let an employee dictate to me, seriously. I was working hard at my business before any employee came along and will run it at my convenience not theirs. It is no business of Government how I run my business, and we are currently competing with China and India...do these fucking mongs not know that we need every edge we can get instead of putting up barriers?

My ongoing campaign against the true Blue New Labour cunts is vindicated once again.

Henry North London said...

I meant the men in the hijabs rather than the women....

Maybe I didnt make that clear... sorry

woman on a raft said...

Erm, henry, see 'hijab' in wiki, only it still isn't really that clear which ones bother you.

Also, I'm not at all sure that headscarves and the origin of curtains has all that much bearing on the feasibility and economic consequences of flexible working.

Normally I subscribe to the Wadsworth doctrine 'What Roger Said' but in this case Roger has said:

"they are trying to win at any cost."

That would be the cost of shutting down businesses and causing people to emigrate and/or vote for someone else?

Darn funny way to go about winning.

woman on a raft said...

Perhaps they should try losing at any cost, then maybe everything would come out the right way up.

Longrider said...

Flexible working can benefit both employer and employee. Working from home, for example can make better use of the employee's time than sitting in the traffic trying to get to work. That said, it all depends upon the nature of the business ans whether the employee needs to be in a particular location to work effectively. The best solution is for the employer and employee to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement between themselves. So, an employer who offers this employment benefit may find that they attract just the right type of employee as a consequence. Let the market decide. Now, where have I heard that one before? ;)

Shotgun said...

I have a mutually satisfactory term of employment...

Do as I say or fuck off.

assegai mike said...

I suppose there is the odd home worker who rolls his sleeves up; but most of them spend their employer's hours watching Trisha, I reckon. It's human nature.

On the plus side: at least you can smoke at work, so to speak - would do wonders for my productivity, that's for sure.

JuliaM said...

"n the plus side: at least you can smoke at work..."

Heh. Well, at least until they close that loophole....

Longrider said...

I suppose there is the odd home worker who rolls his sleeves up; but most of them spend their employer's hours watching Trisha, I reckon. It's human nature.

During my last few moths with Network Rail, I did a bit of home working. The six wasted hours a day on a train were more productively spent rattling out the occupational standards I was charged with writing. Starting at about 06:00, I had completed my day's work by around noon. The employer got the finished product on time and I gained more usable time at home. Everyone benefited.

Shotgun, flexibility is a good thing - all too often, large companies requiring 24 hour cover demand flexibility in their employment contracts. As I pointed out, it all depends on the nature of the business and the work required. If the nature of the business requires long hours of cover and peripatetic employees, then the employer will, indeed, expect flexibility. As an employee, I look for a little give and take in this area. An employer who told me to "do as I say or fuck off" would not be on my list of potential employers as I expect a more professional approach. Indeed, me riposte to such an employer would be equally robust. Whether that's the employer's loss or the employees all depends on the circumstances, I suppose.

My main point here is not to lose sight of the possible benefits flexible working can bring to both employer and employee just because government seeks to mandate it. I object to the use of force for the usual reasons - it should be a local issue resolved between the parties concerned and nothing to do with the state. I do, however, approve of mutually convenient arrangements.

woman on a raft said...

Longrider

There is not, and never was, any problem with data workers of certain kinds doing it when they liked subject to a deadline. That isn't really the political point as the negotiation between those employers and employees takes care of itself.

The point here is David Cameron trying to make political capital out of a warm 'n' fuzzy idea which, when subject to critical analysis, will make him sound like the kind of dick-head his own side can barely vote for.

It shows up a lack of grasp of how the real world works, a patrician tendency to indulge in magical thinking. And to gab off without thinking a thing through. "I seh you cheps, wouldn't it be simply spiffing if everybodeh could just do whatever they wanted when ever they liked, yah"

It ill behooves a data worker - a writer - even DK - to compare themselves to the mass of workers, or even the mass of data workers.

The fact is, the receptionist in my doctor's surgery has to work the agreed hours we are going to open the surgery. When an organization gets big enough to divi up its service hours it can accept various bids for the cover, but at the final analysis the driver of the 4.40 from Paddington has to be there a little before that and has no choice if he still wants the job driving the train. The call centre worker in Durham will either work when she is told, or the job will got to Delhi, where they do.

My uncle, for example, gets the coffe and sandwiches in to the vending machines of a thousands of city workers by running round all night with his van. He might have half an hour's flex one way or another to cope with road works, but the realty is that he has to get the sarnies out of the distribution centre and in to the machines before people start buying, which they do by about 7.30am. All of his co-drivers operate under the same constraints and it is patent nonsense to start suggesting that maybe some of them could do deliveries at 3pm in the afternoon. It just doesn't fit with the time constraints on the chilled food handling or the traffic or the customer demand.

If you wish to work in, say, wedding catering, then you turn up on the day the bride has booked. You could try being flexible, and offering your waiters and waitresses to come either before or after the event, but all I can see is a catering manager finding out just how painful it can be to wear a tiara.

The world of making things, food, personal care, building and repairing, physical transport, distribution of goods, security, scheduled entertainment, teaching, retail, energy, waste management, all these things are the 9/10ths of the iceberg on which the rest of society depends. There might be some flex in some areas, but not that much.

To have some dreamy polar bear on the top going 'hey, wouldn't it be cool if we could just tow this south and have a tropical holiday' is not a reassuring thing.

Look at the example you gave.

"Occupational standards I was charged with writing". Fine, a good job, good luck to you and I'm glad you did it, but those occupational standards don't exist as a piece of conceptual art. Somebody must have an occupation underneath all that, or else why were you writing at all?

I fully accept it is a good example of flexibility, but it is just not representative of how most people live.

This is what the Conservatives are struggling, and so far failing, to grasp.

Mark Wadsworth said...

"To have some dreamy polar bear on the top going 'hey, wouldn't it be cool if we could just tow this south and have a tropical holiday'"

Brilliant!

Word verification "macgk", spooky!

Longrider said...

Woman on a Raft - I think you miss my point. I disapprove of what the Conservatives want to do (vigorously so and for the kinds of reasons you cite). That said, there is a case for flexible working. The occupational standards I wrote were for people required to work over a 24 hour shift pattern in a particular location, so they couldn't work from home and they had to be flexible with their attendance (still do).

My thrust though, is just because politicians want to start mandating something (to which I object) it doesn't make the principle a bad one. The workplace is a market and employers want the best employee for the job (presumably) and offering flexibility as part of the package (providing this is practicable) may just attract those employees. As I said, where it can work, it benefits both parties. I would very much like to see both employers and employees exercising a little lateral thinking about how, where and when we work (again, depending on practicality). Don't throw the baby out with the bath water...

Roger Thornhill said...

Woman on a raft:That would be the cost of shutting down businesses and causing people to emigrate and/or vote for someone else?

Darn funny way to go about winning.

I agree, a darn funny way about winning for the nation - I was actually talking about winning for THEMSELVES - as in winning power, as in winning OVER the nation.


What Cameron forgets yet others seem to know instinctively is that if a company benefits from flexible working - directly or indirectly via happier, more productive workers etc - then they would already be doing it.

I suppose it can be seen as a right for employees to ask past their grumpy slave-driving rent-seeking middle manager to the senior management/owners, but it is one heck of a clumsy way to do it and in SMEs the owners tend to know most people and tend to be acutely aware of what they are capable of conceding in the best interests of all concerned.

It is no point having a flexible job that is lost due to the closure of the company as a result of unprofitability!

JuliaM said...

"...a lack of grasp of how the real world works, a patrician tendency to indulge in magical thinking.."

A near perfect summation of the Boy Dave...

Shotgun said...

An employer who told me to "do as I say or fuck off" would not be on my list of potential employers

I find this comment utterly incomprehensible. Do you mean to tell me you interview employers?

You wouldn't get through the door son. SME's are not run for the benefit of employees, and never will be. Large multi-nationals, especially those in the public sector can afford to fuck about with flexi-time and utter wank shite that costs jobs and money to other sectors, but in an SME this kind of utter shite costs jobs and profits, and ultimately the whole business.

as I expect a more professional approach.

Go fuck yourself mr employee until you have run an SME...professional indeed you cheeky cunt.

Indeed, me riposte to such an employer would be equally robust.

As I said, except for in the world of total incompetence and politically correct shite run by cunts like Network Rail, you wouldn't even get a foot in the fucking door. Try it next time and you'll be laughed out the door with your p45 shoved up your fucking ring.

Whether that's the employer's loss or the employees all depends on the circumstances, I suppose.

No it doesn't.

An employer needs a job of work done, and he needs it doing his way. If you were so clever you would be the employer.

Why the fuck do you think the country is filled with migrants earning a quick buck? It is because our own workforce won't fucking work, and it down to shite coming from Government making employees think every hard pressed bnusiness is fucking co-op and they are the bosses.

Without trying to be negative towards you, apart from multi-national companies and the public sector, you are talking just so much utter fucking shite and are not in the real world.

Try running a business.

Shotgun said...

What Cameron forgets yet others seem to know instinctively is that if a company benefits from flexible working - directly or indirectly via happier, more productive workers etc - then they would already be doing it.

You've hit the nail squarely on the head, and it isn't just Cameron that is such a total mong, but many others, even some here.

If allowing my workers to come to work for five minutes and then paying them double meant I made more profit then fine.

This is the simple concept some can't grasp.

My business, my profit, my wellbeing, then the workers, in that order.

Longrider said...

Shotgun, nice to see a considered and thoughtful reply. You seem to belong to the Neil Harding school of logical fallacies. I'm not going to bother attempting to argue a position that I have not taken.

Indeed, when it comes to strawmen and ad hominems you almost knock Neil into a cocked hat. Well done. You managed to ignore the points I made about mutual convenience and potential benefits to the employer and twisted everything about to make it mean something entirely different. And all from a position of absolute ignorance. Ever thought about joining the Labour party?

It really is a waste of time attempting a reasonable discussion with you, so I'll not bother.