Comments for en-gb 30 Sat 04 Jul 2015 03:09:53 GMT+1 A feed of user comments from the page found at Chris Ghoti DMcN @ 65, you are shattering my illusions again; I thought they did it for fun, not as work. Wed 22 Oct 2008 19:26:49 GMT+1 David_McNickle Are circus contortionists flexible workers? Wed 22 Oct 2008 16:17:23 GMT+1 littleFluffyFi Londonclare2 (61), what a thoroughly unpleasant post and a thoroughly unpleasant attitude. Since when has providing the basics such as simply getting your children to and from school been considered "overparenting"? So are you suggesting that I should let my 6 year old find his own way to school, 2 miles away, and home again - as believe me schools are very rigid in the times which they are willing and able to accomodate the children in their care - so that I can make sure I arrive and leave at the same time as every one else??? Believe me, many parents - certainly many mothers do not work because we want to, we work because the cost of property/living etc has forced us to. We suffer endless guilt, feeling like we are not devoting enough time to the care of our offspring and having to constantly juggle and keep all the balls in the air at all times. I work full time and I put in as many hours as is required to fullfill my job - therefore my days usually start around 6am, when I get up and begin organising the children and myself - before going to work - and don't finish until gone 9pm when I have organised the next day - I would hazzard a guess that many non-parents working days are shorter than that - even with the extra burden that we "pandered" parents dump on our poor childless colleagues. What exactly do you suggest? Perhaps we should all stop having children - that way we will all be equal?? Wed 22 Oct 2008 16:05:56 GMT+1 vainly_here Chris (58) Pity I hadn't been following the whole thread. Thanks. Wed 22 Oct 2008 13:37:38 GMT+1 Chris Ghoti Sid, being declared an honorary woman is a great accolade. Tue 21 Oct 2008 22:08:17 GMT+1 Londonclare2 Extending the right for flexible work to those with children under 16 would be absurd. The roads are already clogged up with school run people 'over parenting' and employees in large institutions, like the one I work for, are already fed up covering for people who seem unable to allow their children to develop any sort of independent development (disappearing early, arriving late and 'working from home' whenever they can during school holidays, offloading their work onto colleagues and boring everybody about their offspring into the bargain). 20 years ago it was ok to share the rearing of our kids with the experts (teachers etc.) and they did not grow up to expect to be the centre of the universe. Let's return to the concept of citizen workers and stop this unhealthy obsession with 'the family', pandering to parents who in turn pander to the every perceived demand of their often unpleasantly demanding children. Tue 21 Oct 2008 21:37:14 GMT+1 U11235707 @59You left out Sid. Tue 21 Oct 2008 18:56:40 GMT+1 Chris Ghoti JG @ 56, which woman? Myra Hindley? Margaret Thatcher? Mother Theresa? Marie Curie? Tue 21 Oct 2008 16:31:51 GMT+1 Chris Ghoti VH @ 51, it wasn't the use of Hitler as a valid comparison -- and Godwin's law is clear on this point: the idea is that it *can* be a valid use, but generally isn't -- it was someone banging on about making people wear the Star of David. In one case (the historicla one) this 'marking' was for the offence under Hitler of being Jewish (and therefore deserving of really vile treatment and death) and in the other (the present one) we had a person comparing this with his being moderated on a BBC blog. I think that was a classic case for Godwin and a disproportionate bit of folly. Tue 21 Oct 2008 16:26:28 GMT+1 mittfh Surely JG's working definition of a feminist is something along the lines of:"Feminist (n): A person, of either gender, who does not advocate the same set of views as myself."Meanwhile, I'm still awaiting his feedback on post #33... Tue 21 Oct 2008 16:14:07 GMT+1 U11235707 @52"...based on the equality of the sexes"So you're equal to a woman? Tue 21 Oct 2008 15:59:41 GMT+1 Gillianian Sid (52) Thanks for that - you'd answered Vyle Hernia before I had returned to this thread ;o)Vyle - perhaps JimmyGiro believes in male supremacy AND superiority? Tue 21 Oct 2008 15:49:31 GMT+1 U13643995 Vyle Hernia (51) - "Feminists used to believe in female superiority. . "Good grief, it's bad enough having JimmyFeminist making sweeping, innacurate and unsubstantiated statements - don't you start as well! Tue 21 Oct 2008 15:49:02 GMT+1 U13643995 JimmyFeminist (48) - "I hate feminists."Well, if you had told us that before we could have saved a lot of time and worry. At least we know where we are now. Tue 21 Oct 2008 15:42:51 GMT+1 Sindy OED:feminism: 'Advocacy of the rights of women (based on the theory of equality of the sexes).'feminist: 'An advocate of feminism.'So JG hates those who advocate the rights of women.That's that sorted at last. Tue 21 Oct 2008 15:41:15 GMT+1 vainly_here Gillianian (49) Do you mean supremacy or superiority? I am assuming there is a difference. Feminists used to believe in female superiority - I don't know if they still do.Chris (50) The use of Hitler as an example to demonstrate the complete lack of moral progress in the human race since Adam is not unreasonable, is it? Other uses may be less reasonable. Tue 21 Oct 2008 15:39:07 GMT+1 Chris Ghoti mittfh @ 41, should the difference between invoking Godwin's Law and embodying Godwin's Law taken into account? :-) Tue 21 Oct 2008 15:31:28 GMT+1 Gillianian JimmyGiro (48) Are you in favour of equality of the sexes, or male supremacy? Tue 21 Oct 2008 15:30:04 GMT+1 U11235707 @34, 41, 43So if you can see the difference between Germans and Nazis, then you should see the difference between a women and feminists.A misogynist is someone who hates women; I hate feminists. Tue 21 Oct 2008 15:20:49 GMT+1 Fearless Fred An interesting note is that Mandelson wasn't in the government at the time of the alleged meeting on the Russion billionaire's yacht. That being the case, why should that be an issue? Tue 21 Oct 2008 15:19:02 GMT+1 U13643995 lordBeddGelert - I think you'll find that the story that all the media are running with, including the Tory Press, are the serious events surrounding George Osborne. Tue 21 Oct 2008 13:22:14 GMT+1 Sindy lordBeddGelert - could you describe these very serious events for us? Tue 21 Oct 2008 13:14:17 GMT+1 lordBeddGelert It is very disappointing that you are being side-tracked from the very serious events surrounding Peter Mandelson by his clear attempts to divert attention onto issues such as the 'Royal Mail' and the 'Flexible Working Initiative' By all means cover these - but if it is at the expense of the Oleg Deripaska issue, then you are just playing into his hands. PM should be able to do much, much better than this as a serious news programme. Tue 21 Oct 2008 13:06:14 GMT+1 Chris Ghoti mittfh @ 42, if I could ever remember what it is called I might have invoked it some while ago, on another thread, but in fact I *think* that what I was could be called simply 'angry': not invoking anything, just wishing to lay about me with a two-by-two in a thoroughly constructive manner and ram something through someone's head....Had it been some continuing 'joke' about the dead of 9/11 all being fat capitalist pigs who deserved to die, would that have been more or less acceptable? And do we yet have a 'Godwin's Law' equivalent for that sort of stuff?But yes, ok, trivialising the matter was and is what I am objecting to. So Godwin it is. :-) Have a gorilla? Tue 21 Oct 2008 12:30:55 GMT+1 mittfh Ho hum, JG and Chris have just invoked Godwin's Law... Tue 21 Oct 2008 11:01:53 GMT+1 Chris Ghoti JG @ 39, I think that you were refering to the wrong post when you wrote '34', since the post with that number has nothing to do with Germans or Nazis.Clearly 'German' and 'Nazi' are not the same thing: anyone who has noticed the number of German Jews who were persecuted and murdered by the Nazis knows this, quite apart from there having been Nazis of many nationalities including British.Trivialising the way in which the persecution of Jews under Nazi rule was signalised by the Nazis forcing Jews to wear an important symbol of their religion as a sign that they were to be regarded as legitimate prey to any degradation that any nasty thug could devise, despised, dehumanised and murdered (many by torture) is very offensive indeed. It amounts to belittling the victims of the Holocaust, and may be profoundly upsetting for every Holocaust survivor and everyone who lost any member of their family to that atrocity, as well as to anyone with any actual knowlege of the period.I prefer to believe that joking on such a matter is not deliberate nastiness, but only that it clearly indicates an ignorance of recent history so profound that it makes any comment by so ignorant a person not worth bothering with. Fifi @ 34, yes, I do. In the light of recent posts, though, I think 'misogynist' may be the wrong word: are you sure it should not be 'misologist'? Tue 21 Oct 2008 10:54:25 GMT+1 littleFluffyFi I am a little late to the thread - and confess I did not hear the feature last night. However I just wanted to say that I agree with Kate, Fifi, and FF that flexible working hours should be made be made available to all. After all, the flexible patterns requested by parents and non-parents may actually compliment each other - instead of having a parent on a flexible work pattern and a non-parent working set hours and finding that there is a gap where the two work patterns do not quite fit.But can I also add - please do not be too hard on us working mothers (or indeed fathers!) After all "whatshisname" is someone's son who has to be be cared for. Many mothers (like myself) do not work because we particularly choose to - we do it through financial necessity. I took voluntary redundancy from my long time employer a couple of years ago as they could (would?) not accomodate my request for reduced hours and so I had really no choice. The stress of juggling my parental responsibilities and fullfilling my work obligations in my set hours work pattern very nearly made me ill. Now I am a contractor - I still work fairly set hours (although there is flexibility as described by RJM above) - but the benefit to me is I can now choose where I work and only go for roles within a certain radius from home to reduce my commute and I can choose when I work through the year. I totally agree with halex99 (2) - the answer MUST be with more flexible childcare - particularly with schools. For example, recently my son's school decided to hold parent/teacher meetings over 2 afternoons - and so with only 2 weeks notice given I had 2 unexpected afternoons off school to have to cover. In Belgium where I lived many years ago (before I had children), schools were open I believe from around 7.30/8am until around 6pm and the hours outside of school hours were charged at a nominal rate. Some schools offer a service like this - combined with holiday clubs - but we need far more like this in order to take the pressure of working parents who are at times very much stuck between a rock and a hard place! Tue 21 Oct 2008 09:45:06 GMT+1 U11235707 @34Explain why you think that Germans and Nazis are the same thing? Tue 21 Oct 2008 09:24:50 GMT+1 valplan I am fast approaching retirement and need to save as much as I can for my pension. However my 87 year old mum, active and a car driver(! is that ageism I hate ), also needs some support.With flexible working, I have been able to remain full time, work different hours that have advantages for my employer and gain an afternoon mid-week to help my mum. All win - even better weekends with my husband ! Tue 21 Oct 2008 09:11:42 GMT+1 Babes40 Flexible Working: I work for a large international telecommunications company and have found Flexible working to be one of the most positive experiences. Not only am I trusted to manage my own time, but I find the company gets more productivity from me as I have a great sense of ownership and accountabililty for the role I play. This has been mirrored across the board in other Operating Companies. I would encourage companies to take the plunge as the dividends will definitely pay off. Tue 21 Oct 2008 08:44:22 GMT+1 justfloating I was away last week doing sort of voluntary work.I was working with a father that was on "flexi-time" as he had to deal with a child's school runs and other household issues.The problem was the job we were doing could not just be stopped and started to fit his requirements. There were others involved. The time to do a single task was 2-3 hours. So fitting it in to a day around him, and the rain showers, just slowed the whole process down, or I had to work doubly hard to cover for him. In my old job I used to do long periods of concentration and the setting up of tests used to take time. I would have to work late to get a whole sequence done in a day.My point is that, from my experience, flexible hours only suit some job types. These being the repetitive sub hour tasks. The jobs that require dedication, and are high value, requiring continuous physical effort or concentration can not ever be flexible. Instead the employee has to be flexible to fit in with the work load. Also jobs that are remote and have random locations and travel times can not ever be flexible. Just think what would happen if all road workers only worked in school times? The cost of road maintenance would double.So instead of each employee having the right to ask, it should be every employer must determine publicly if their business model will allow flexi-time. And which employee positions could arrange flexible hours. This would reduce the paper overload for small businesses. Candidates for jobs would know the possibilities from the beginning.Just one last thing. How about the recent case of an employee that has flexible hours, but due to a cost cutting exercise on local government has now been relocated to be 1 hour drive away from home. What is the point of flexible hours when you lose 2 hours a day travelling. Doing the school run in the afternoon is now impossible. But then who can afford to give up their job at present. Tue 21 Oct 2008 08:23:57 GMT+1 Fearless Fred I'm late to the thread, but I back up CopyWriterKate and Fifi completely. Flexible working should be offered to all, not just those with families. If I have to visit the GP or dentist, typically I have to take the time off. If my colleague who has kids has to take their little one to the GP because they're unwell, then they get flexible hours to accomodate. I know I've ranted about this before, but I'm sick to my back teeth of politiians of every hue talking about how everything must be done to help "hard working families". What about hard working single people? What about hard working couples who for one reason or another don't have children? We are currently the ones who are paying proportionally more in taxes already (particularly in the case of singletons and the Council tax). If they are planning to cut taxes, then they should cut taxes for all, irrespective of whether they have children or not. Tue 21 Oct 2008 08:05:32 GMT+1 Fifi Chris (28): I apologise. I was only thinking of one particular mysoginist. And if you think hard, I expect you can guess which one I meant! ;oD Tue 21 Oct 2008 07:00:19 GMT+1 mittfh When JG does link to studies which back his point of view, he illustrates two almost opposite points of view.There's the view he subscribes to, which appears to be that domestic violence is perpetrated mainly by women against men, and any statistic which states otherwise is miscalculated.There's also the view he denounces, which appears to be that 100% of DV is perpetrated by men against women.The truth probably lies somewhere in between - the BCS reports that 1 in 20 men and 1 in 10 women have experienced DV in some form. However, if you drill down further to the small proportion that have experienced multiple assaults, then the figures start to lean more heavily towards the women as victim (although in at least 11% of these cases the victim is the man). Of course, the media, wishing to paint as sensationalist picture as possible (as that's what sells papers), will concentrate on the 89% of serious DV cases perpetrated against women and neglect that this forms 3% of the overall total of DV cases against both genders. Whilst it is important to remember that that 3% is still a large figure and steps must be taken to reduce it, knee jerk steps that ignore the bigger picture will only seek to make people like JG, who I hope restrict their anger to their computer keyboards, feel even more isolated than now.Similarly with schools, although we all agree that all necessary steps must be taken to prevent child abuse, we don't want overprotection to the extent where teachers feel they have to avoid any physical contact with pupils at all costs, and disaffected pupils feel they can get their teacher sacked (revenge as they see it for forcing them to attend lesson they're not interested in) through a groundless claim of abuse.As for the main issue of this thread, flexible working, here's the dilemma:Many women want to raise a family, but also want to earn money without being completely dependent on their spouse or government handouts. They want to be recognised as intelligent creatures with knowledge, skills and experience to offer - not just mindless baby making machines.Perhaps one way towards achieving some sort of equilibrium is for a pot of government money to be made available for each birth. After the first 3 months or so, if both parents return to work, then the money could be offered to the parents to pay for childcare. If either parent elects to remain at home, then the money could be offered to their employer to ease the financial costs of supporting both the parent and the temp covering their job.Also, whilst for some employers true flexitime (in any of the forms described in previous posts) may be unfeasible, wherever possible in such circumstances offer the possibility of part time job share (e.g. one person does M Tu W, another Th F).One minor change in government attitude would help: the belief that every adult of working age should be in work, and those that aren't should be given whatever help and support it thinks is necessary to get them back in work.How about simplifying the benefit claim process, then with all the staff not needed any more to process the initial claims themselves, start examining and cracking down on the rare cases where someone is claiming suspiciously large amounts of benefits - without penalising genuine claimants in the process! Mon 20 Oct 2008 22:53:00 GMT+1 Big Sister PML (29): Do you mean Carolyn Quinn or the Mighty Quinn? While her hours are flexible (perforce), I'm sure Sequin would prefer them to have a more regular pattern. Some weeks she seems to be running Radio 4 ;o) Mon 20 Oct 2008 22:11:32 GMT+1 U11235707 This post has been Removed Mon 20 Oct 2008 21:07:55 GMT+1 U11235707 @27*Tie a red ribbon round the old oak tree...* Mon 20 Oct 2008 21:05:02 GMT+1 U11204129 Why didn't Mair interview Quinn for this topic? Mon 20 Oct 2008 20:58:56 GMT+1 Chris Ghoti Fifi @ 26, surely even mysoginists who have small children should be allowed flexible working hours, so long as they can show that they'll use them to help look after the children? It might act as an incentive to them to allow their suffering female partners some time off from 24/7 'traditional women's work'. :-) Mon 20 Oct 2008 20:45:23 GMT+1 U13643995 JimmyFeminist (22) - Typical of you to think of it as the 'Yellow Star of David' rather than the "Red Ribbon of Ruth'. Mon 20 Oct 2008 20:36:30 GMT+1 Fifi Correction: everyone at work should have the right to flexible working except mysoginists. They've had it all their own way for far too long.;o) Mon 20 Oct 2008 20:12:04 GMT+1 wiggyboo I do wonder what flexible working actually means? Educators don't get flexible working ... after all when would they make up the time? I also wonder how this would work when some companies struggle to cover maternity leave and so on. In principle it's a marvellous idea but in practice with current worries about job security, who would ask for flexible working? I can't imagine a worse time to ask. With so many concerns right now, it seems wrong to be thinking about about flexible working. Mon 20 Oct 2008 19:37:01 GMT+1 Perky Kate (19) I absolutely agree that flexible working should be made available to all and I think that at many progressive companies it is. I am a parent and I work flexible hours; something I negotiated at my interview. In several of our departments (We're a small internet marketing company), many people work flexible hours, or work partly from the office and partly from home, regardless of their circumstances, proving that if it is approached sensibly and fairly, flexible working can bring benefits to any business. Mon 20 Oct 2008 19:34:24 GMT+1 Fifi I'm with you Kate (19).Having had to answer customer complaint line phones in a busy magazine department regularly deserted by smokers for their statutory fag breaks; having scrapped with the best of 'em to keep any job at all when the same office was restructured, while the women off on maternity leave were the only people guaranteed to keep theirs; having watched my childfree divorced friend delegated every evening/weekend civic ceremony attendance with the Mayor she served, because everyone else in the town hall 'had families at home who needed them' ... flexibility should be available for all, not just parents. Mon 20 Oct 2008 19:30:00 GMT+1 U11235707 This post has been Removed Mon 20 Oct 2008 19:14:18 GMT+1 Stewart_M I employ three part time staff and that offers me the flexibility to cover my opening hours. Staff happily swap days round to accommodate appointments etc but if I had to offer "flexible" working for staff to collect kids from school, it would mean employing another part time staff member. So more costly to me and hence my patients.I also find it frustrating that staff in organisations I need to speak to are never available when I am. This is probably due to flexible working practices. Mon 20 Oct 2008 19:12:04 GMT+1 U11235707 'Minister for women'; I wonder what she does? Mon 20 Oct 2008 19:11:10 GMT+1 CopywriterKate I feel strongly that flexible working for parents is totally wrong. I believe that, if you're going to offer flexible working, you should offer it to everyone, whether or not they have kids. Offering flexible working to parents while excluding non-parents is completely unfair. A glaring inequality. Can you imagine the extra burden that'd fall on non-parents as the parents in a firm leave early to pick up little whatsisname five days a week, turn up late regularly and have ad hoc days off to look after him when he's sick? It's about time the government acknowledged that not everyone has - or wants - a family. Why should I miss out on all the good stuff just because I'm not someone's mum?!Kate Naylor, AKA Exasperated of Brighton! Mon 20 Oct 2008 18:21:42 GMT+1 moraymint I run a small business. We have just withdrawn from recruiting one new member of staff and have also just had to make another person redundant. Apart from, say, fighting in Afghanistan, running a small business - of which, I assume, Patricia Hewitt has not the least experience - is one of the toughest things you can do.It is generally accepted that the length of bureaucratic red tape has extended substantially under Labour rule and is now wrapped like a ligature around the neck of small businesses like mine. Playing with red tape is a wonderful pastime for bureaucrats when we're all riding a global, economic up-escalator; it keeps them amused, justifies their guaranteed salaries and inches them loyally towards their gold-plated pensions.Now that the economy has fallen off a cliff, I should like to think that the government and its countless legions of bureaucrats will now be looking for ways to make life easier for us all, not harder. I know that there is fat chance of this happening ... but if Patricia Hewitt would just keep her brilliant, wealth-creating ideas to herself, that would go some way to helping. Mon 20 Oct 2008 17:54:24 GMT+1 Chris Ghoti I have a friend who is clearly good at his job in IT for a university, but who has the misfortune to suffer from depression. Previously this has made him unale to work for days and weeks at a time, medicated and miserable. (He must be good or they'd've found some way to get rid of him, I guess!) After his most recent fortnight-off-without-the-option he discussed the matter with his superiors, and between them they came up with a suggestion that he should accept a rise in wages to which he had become entitled, but at the same time take one day off per fortnight, unpaid, this to be either regularly on every second Thursday *or* if he had a very 'down' day, at any point if he rang in before he was due at work because he knew he couldn't deal with it on that day. So far it seems to be going well: he probably costs the NHS a lot less than he did before, his employer doesn't have to pay a 'temp' to come in and cover for him when he is forced to take medical leave, and he is perfectly happy to make up on the days in work for anything he may have missed through being away for a single day, not to mention being on the end of the phone if there is a real crisis.Seems to me as if 'flexible' is a gain all round, for this particular situation. If they'd been inflexible, everyone would have suffered (except perhaps whoever got his job...)I doubt very much whether the Government had anything to do with this ad hoc but sensible arrangement, and I am certain that regulation didn't! Mon 20 Oct 2008 17:47:09 GMT+1 mittfh The scheme in my workplace is similar to RJMs:Core hours are 9:15-12:15 and 14:30-16:30 (16:00 on a Friday). As long as you are at work during the core hours, and fit in an average of 37hrs/wk (full time staff), they don't mind what time you arrive or leave. There's also an interesting addition - overtime is not paid, but if you build up 3.7 hrs overtime in a flex period (4 weeks), you can have 1/2 day off in lieu - or if you build up 7.4 hrs overtime in a flex period, you can have a whole day off in lieu ("flex day"). Full time staff can carry across up to about 3hrs debit and 8hrs credit from one flex period to the next.In addition, due to the nature of our work, some members of the team can work from home for part of the week - although they still have to come in occasionally to pick up their post, attend meetings, discuss work with other members of the team etc.!Flex suits everyone - not just parents. Early birds can start work early and leave early (some start at 8am and quickly accumulate flex days), whilst others prefer to start around the 9am mark and leave later.However, it has to be remembered that not every job can easily accommodate flex - for example, many support desks get several calls between 8am and 9am - so in these cases the team either has to not have flex as an option, or the flex is carried out on a rota, so everyone has some early starts and some late starts. Mon 20 Oct 2008 17:34:59 GMT+1 palmerwade What everyone has failed to mention is that sex discrimination law has since 1975 allowed mothers the right to work flexibly is they can show they need it and if there is no strong business need against the idea.There is no age limit for the child or restiction on the freqnecy or nature of the requests that may be made. The consequences of the refusal can be very expensive for the employer.This law is far stronger than any "right to request" will ever be and is underpinned by European law.Sadly no one knows about this right, and no government has ever promoted it! Many cases are won in the Employment Tribunal each year! Mon 20 Oct 2008 17:23:40 GMT+1 BNatural Leader of the House Harriet Harman to recommend that MP's do their bit for flexible working by taking an extra week's hol at Christmas, making this the longest Christmas holiday EVER for MPs. It's calculated they will sit for less than 150 days next that's what I call flexible working. Selfish bunch of hypocrites. Mon 20 Oct 2008 17:22:26 GMT+1 TomTierney I worked until recently as a senior manager, during which time I arranged a number of flexible working arrangements - all of which were very successful in retaining people with talents and experience that would otherwise have been lost to the organisation. Patricia Hewitt is absolutely right in her statement that flexible working will benefit business rather than cost too much. The issue of how employers are supported in developing ways of efficiently and effectively dealing with requests is one for the government to consider but is not a difficult task. Investing in people pays high dividends. Mon 20 Oct 2008 17:20:25 GMT+1 RJMolesworth There is a common form of flexible working that is so common that it has not yet been mentioned, that is flexible start and finish times. My firm allows starts from 7:30 to 9:30 and finishes from 7.5 hours after you start. This benefits most employers and they are happy to accomodate it. Mon 20 Oct 2008 17:12:38 GMT+1 mrcynict4 Dear SirsThe recession does seem to have had a very positive effect on the nation, in as much there seems to be a sudden return to common sense.Firstly, we hear there is a move to reduce immigration, secondly the green flim flam seems to have taken a somersault backwards and now the government is rethinking the very dubious policy of reducing parent's hours left right and centre.I guess we can hope for more. Mon 20 Oct 2008 17:07:44 GMT+1 Furzefield Both interviewers and interviewees on tonight's PM have completely missed the key point about the Flexible Working Regulations.Yes, flexible working can be very beneficial to most businesses, including my own. Indeed, in present circumstances, many employers will be asking their staff to work reduced hours rather than making redundancies.But we do NOT need new laws to make this happen. There is absolutely nothing to stop more flexible working happening now, without the Regulators getting involved. And why should it apply only to parents?The last thing we need now are new Statutory Regulations with all the bureaucracy, paperwork and wasted management time that they inflict.Regulation is the greatest enemy of the smaller businesses who employ so much of Britain's workforce.I never thought I would say this, but hats off to Mandelson, at least for now. Mon 20 Oct 2008 17:03:34 GMT+1 Happyhomeworker As a former HR Director, my perspective on this is rather different as I have been on the sharp end of these requests.Yes, the right to request flexible working is only a right, but the pressure is on the employer to agree to it, because if you don't, you not only have to do the paperwork to deal with the request, you then have a follow up grievance to deal with, which takes weeks or months plus the risk of a constructive dismissal case. Employers tend to start to refuse requests once they have already accepted a number and the effectiveness of the business is affected, or (more often), resentment is building among other employees who have to pick up the load from employees who only work during school terms or finish early two days a week.Maybe as a culture we are now so fixated on our individual comfort, we want everyone to accommodate us rather than fitting in to the wider society? As for me, I got so fed up with employment legislation and all the hoops you have to jump through, I left, set up my own business and employ no-one! The only people who win with all this legislation are the lawyers! Mon 20 Oct 2008 16:57:07 GMT+1 RxKaren Somewhere the message about "right to request" has been misconstrued as "right to flexible working." This was a problem I had with a former employee.My firm has adopted flexible working and it causes mayhem with the rotas for my small department. As a manager I try to accommodate the needs of my staff to ensure that they have a decent work-life balance. Unfortunately it then means that emergencies seem to be dealt with every time by those who are not eligible for flexible working. After nearly a year of trying we seem to have sorted out a happy system.With trainee staff it also prolongs induction periods and sometimes limits exposure to areas of the business thus reducing their experience. With performance-related pay I cannot reward them for competence in areas they haven't been exposed to. This then limits the financial reward I can give them at review time which can also cause difficulty.I'm lucky as one of my team who is eligible for flexible working will help me out with extra hours if I'm stuck. There doesn't seem to be resentment in the team between the flexible workers and those who don't qualify for flexible working. The flexible workers are also pretty good at understanding when I cannot accommodate a request and don't pull a sickie or spend the day at work sulking as colleagues in other departments seem to do.I do see other managers in the same organisation struggling to ensure that their staff understand that flexible working has to work for both the employer and the employee.Part of me would love it if flexible working was stopped as this would make life a lot easier. However I understand that I would have a lot more disruption to the day with staff worrying about children and trying to sort out childcare. On balance I'd rather have the small hassle of rotas and arguments over who is having half term off rather than a preoccupied team who cannot focus on the job I'm paying them to do. Mon 20 Oct 2008 16:51:54 GMT+1 stayingcool Peter Mandelson, in his role as Trade Commissioner, has offered labour liberalisation (entry of 'temporary, ceahp , migrant labour) to 152 member countries of the WTO, in all the Economic Partnership Agreements with Africa, Caribbean and Pacific countries (the CARIFORUM EPA was signed up last week), and in the bilateral Free Trade Agreements such as the EU/India Free Trade agreement under negotiation.That is a lot of cheap migrant labour. He must really laugh that the media never ever pick up on and explore this, despite the interest that people in this country would have in this aspect of international trade agreements to which Mandelson is committing us. Limiting flexible working for (mostly) women in this country, and sending them home, will clear the way for employers to go for cheap workers? Mon 20 Oct 2008 16:50:16 GMT+1 valiantpenelope I think the decision to review Flexible Working is a red herring to keep commentators busy while more serious backward steps are taken. No-one has a right to flexible working, only to ask for it. I did ask, my employer's policy was to accept requests, my employer refused. The employer was a large orginaistaion. End of story. Mon 20 Oct 2008 16:37:58 GMT+1 Takethree Peter Mandelson’s decision not to extend the right to request flexible working cuts across a key element of the governments welfare to work programme. Next month James Purnell’s Department of Work and Pensions will make lone parents with children over the age of 11 claim Job seekers allowance. Ie they have to be available and looking for work. By 2010 they will have further lowered the age limit to seven.A key underpinning plank of the welfare reform was that such parents would be able to work flexibly. So the government is making it more difficult for them to find work at a time when they are saying they have to find work.I work with parents - the need to be able to work flexible is a key element in their ability to work. Mon 20 Oct 2008 16:36:15 GMT+1 pm-fan-101 the flexable working rules only mean that you have the right to request it..... it does not mean you will get it... Mon 20 Oct 2008 16:35:49 GMT+1 ronspenceruk Hi EddieCan someone explain SLOWLY AND CAREFULLY to Patricia Hewitt that Mandy is simply removing the compulsion to offer flexible working. No one will stop employers/employees who choose to sort something out themselves. Mon 20 Oct 2008 16:35:45 GMT+1 halex99 I am a mother of three primary school children. I recently gave up a well paid, flexible job because the combined workload of being in the office five days a week and running a home became too much. My considerable skills and experience as an chartered management accountant are now lost to the economy. In a nutshell what families really need is:1. More part-time jobs at all levels of the organisation, not just the low paid jobs.2. More flexible childcare.3. More fathers taking on their fair share of the childcare, household duties and part-time work.4.More financial incentives for employers to create part-time jobs. Most jobs are still based on the male working pattern and it won't change until there are more part-time workers at the top of level of organisations. How about a zero rate of employer's NI for low rates of pay. This would make it cheaper to employ part-timers compared with full-time ones.I find it laughable that employers complain about the lack of well trained staff in the good times and then complain about the burdens of flexible working. Mon 20 Oct 2008 16:34:27 GMT+1 jonikblog Wonderful to hear Patricia Hewitt, who has never had a real job or run a small business in her life, pontificating on hte advantages of flexible working to business. Mon 20 Oct 2008 16:29:20 GMT+1