November 23, 2007

Flexible working hours – New Employment Law

The Green’s new Bill establishing a statutory right for employees caring for dependants to ask for flexible working hours to accommodate their domestic circumstances is an interesting development in NZ Employment Law.

The proposed bill will not require employers to agree to flexible working arrangements, but it will require the employer to give consideration as to whether the employee’s needs can be accommodated.

Many employees (even those without dependants) would like more flexibility in their hours and arrangements, and many employers have found that such flexibility improves productivity, staff recruitment and retention, and morale.

“research shows that when employees have more control over their working hours they are likely to be more motivated and productive, and that there will be less absenteeism, staff turnover, and stress related illness”

Some employers are concerned about compliance costs, and unless they have well structured, fully developed, and well publicised policies and procedures for making and dealing with employees requests under the legislation, compliance costs could be significant.

I believe that good processes integrated into the organisation’s HR system will reduce compliance costs. They are also likely to pay big dividends in ensuring that all the employers business processes are regularly examined and evaluated.