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BEERG Newsletter - Future Work: A Roundup of Recent Developments

UK employees will have the right to ask for part-time hours or remote-working arrangements from the first day of a new job under measures to promote flexible working set out by the government this week. Ministers have identified a range of flexible working options, including job-sharing, flexitime, and working compressed, annualised, or staggered hours, See here 

Small business minister Kevin Hollinrake said: "Giving staff more say over their working pattern makes for happier employees and more productive businesses. Put simply, it's a no-brainer. Greater flexibility over where, when, and how people work is an integral part of our plan to make the UK the best place in the world to work." 

Meanwhile, workers on contracts with a guaranteed weekly income on or below the lower earnings limit of £123 a week will now be protected from exclusivity clauses that restrict them from working for multiple employers. TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady said it had been a year since a consultation on flexible working closed and people were "tired of waiting for action." She added: 

"Flexible working should be available to everyone. It's how we keep mums in work, close the gender pay gap and give dads more time with their kids, and it's how we keep disabled workers, older workers and carers in their jobs. Allowing working people to ask for flexible working from their first day in a job would be a small step in the right direction, but we'd like the Government to go much further to ensure that flexible work now becomes the norm. Ministers must change the law so that every job advert makes clear what kind of flexible working is available in that role, and they should give workers the legal right to work flexibly from their first day in a job - not just the right to ask. 

Intel is offering thousands of workers in Ireland three months unpaid leave. The company, which this year said it was boosting investment at a new facility in Ireland, said staff at its manufacturing plant in Leixlip were being asked, not told, to consider the leave offer. Intel said the scheme was a “voluntary time-off programme”. Asked what would happen if too few, or too many, staff signed up, Intel added: “Staff can apply and the business will decide what it can manage.”

Last week, Lewis Silkin LLP released a new report New Report: Eight Drivers of Change – 2022 and beyondOne year on from the publication of its ‘Eight Drivers of Change – the future of work’ 2021 Report, it says that the landscape of the world of work has altered significantly. The new Report by James Davies, Partner at Lewis Silkin, reflects on the extent to which major events in the world, alongside evolving societal attitudes, advancing technologies and a shifting political landscape, have impacted on the key observations and themes identified in the 2021 Report. Importantly, the new Report looks forward to consider how the world of work will evolve in the years ahead and the implications for employers and their workforces.

With more and more employees working remotely and using digital technology, the ‘digital strike’ is a new phenomenon, write Kliemt.HR Lawyerspart of the Ius Laboris network. 

“At the factory gate or in front of a computer, strikes can happen anywhere. Or can they? In Germany, trade unions have started to digitise the previously rather analogue right to strike in a ‘just do it’ way (without formally defined procedures to reflect these new realities). The question of whether digital strikes are legal is closely related to the question of whether trade unions have a ‘right of digital access’ to the workplace at all.” 

The Irish Independent reports on an interesting study that finds that women are being held back at work because of a gender bias about “confidence”, a study has found. The word can mask discriminatory hiring and promotion policies, joint research by University College Dublin (UCD) and the University of New South Wales (UNSW) reveals. Darren T Baker, an assistant professor of business in society at UCD’s Michael Smurfit School, said:

“It appears as constructive, well-meaning feedback for women, but the evidence suggests it’s a way, effectively, to shroud discrimination and inequality – often unconsciously

It’s gendered, it’s aimed at women in general, and it is a word that is overwhelming. It’s non-specific. It doesn’t really say exactly what women need to change about themselves.” 

Interviews with 66 senior male and female executives in the UK, conducted by Dr Baker and Juliet Bourke, a professor at UNSW in Australia, found that women were being penalised in interviews and salary reviews because of a perceived lack of “confidence” see here 

Finally, here is an interesting piece from Gallup on remote workMany thanks to our old friend Robbie Gilbert for bringing this to our attention.

Tom Hayes

Director of European Union and Global Labor Affairs, HR Policy Association

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