14 October 2015
Flexible working conditions is an increasingly common catchphrase we’re hearing among unionised Kiwi companies.
But what do flexible working conditions look like, and how could they impact your business – and your staff?
A desire for greater flexibility in work contracts isn’t bad, particularly when your bottom line could be improved. But it’s important to remember that you’re dealing with people who have a life outside of work. At a recent Bunnings protest that objected to flexible contracts, most protesters were up in arms because of a lack of security around their rosters. “Some of us have kids and things going on,” said one worried employee. “We don’t want the uncertainty.”
Recently, SkyCity has followed in the footsteps of the fast food companies and reached an agreement with Unite and SFWU that abolished a ‘zero hours’ policy, their new agreements officially coming into effect in January next year. Back in May, Unite Union National Director Mike Treen emphasised security of hours and consequently wages was a major influence on employees’ reactions to contracts with greater flexibility.
What increased flexibility looks like for your company is completely different to another’s. That’s why it’s essential you do your homework and ensure your business case is sound before heading to the bargaining table, because as soon as employees even sniff the prospect of uncertainty, the media will hear about it.
Balance the pros and cons for all parties, not just your bottom line. Sure, flexibility in rosters might improve your overall productivity on paper, but if you propose that staff work 12 days straight productivity may slack off initially due to anything from ill-ease and bad attitudes to fatigue.
Flexible working conditions are becoming more of an employment relations concern than ever before, so it’s essential unionised businesses are aware of potential pitfalls. Contact the Adelhelm & Associates team for guidance.
Adelhelm & Associates
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