Monday, 30 June 2014

Flexible Working: giving with one hand

From today, everyone with more than 26 weeks service has the right to request flexible working and their employer needs to seriously consider it. Consider - not grant it. If there is a good reason (and the definition of a good reason is extremely broad), it can still be declined.

Unfortunately, if you have less than two years' service, as the Coalition has severely restricted access to employment tribunals and knocked employment protection rights back from 12 to 24 months, there is nothing to stop your employer sacking you for making such a request and getting away with it.

Give with one hand...
- the right to request flexible working, and next year a slight, over-hyped variant on existing provisions on shared parental leave

And take away...
- protection against unfair dismissal in your first two years with any new employer
- free access to an employment tribunal to claim unfair dismissal (now £400 charge)
- free access to redress against sexism, racism, homophobia, disablism or religious discrimination in the workplace (now a £1,200 charge)
- legal aid for employment cases (already sparse, now virtually abolished)
- reasonable periods of consultation before large scale redundancies (periods halved)
- the employers' obligation to protect staff from harassment from clients and customers in the workplace (abolished)

All this to drive us to the "flexible economy" that Cameron and Farage hope can make massive profits for their corporate paymasters as they undercut the (slightly) fairer conditions on the European mainland.

So don't be fooled by Lib Dem Employment Minister Jo Swinney's honeyed words of workplace progress today. In the scheme of things, it is just some spit and polish on yet more Coalition crap.

First they came for the trade unions; and now they are coming for us.
85% of us are employees; but more and more, our rights are history.

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