/ Health, Money

Would flexible working work for you?

A new report by Age UK has called for businesses to offer flexible working – the lack of which it says is preventing many older people from staying in the workforce. Would flexible working entice you to stick with your job?

These days, many older workers are unable to commit to conventional working hours due to many reasons. Caring responsibilities are a factor, for example, where the high cost of childcare has left many grandparents to look after their grandkids. In turn this can prevent them from contributing to the economy.

Age UK thinks that if we change the UK’s traditional and more rigid approach to work, we could unleash the full potential of Britain’s older workers.

There certainly seems to be a case for the wider adoption of flexible working to enable older people to stay employed if they wish. Age UK’s statistics are fairly damning; there are apparently 735,000 people aged 50 and over wanting to work but who are unable to stay in the job market. And some 25% of carers under the age of 70 say that caring responsibilities affect their work.

The government acknowledges flexi working

The law currently entitles parents with children under the age of 16 and those with caring responsibilities to request flexible working. Last August the government issued a consultation document on extending this right to all employees, but this has yet to be made law.

However, we may see some movement on this soon. Jo Swinson, the new minister for employment relations, responded to Age UK’s report by saying that the government is ‘committed to extending the right to request flexible working to all employees’. She added:

‘Flexibility for older workers would help both employee and employer, ensuring we don’t lose valuable skills and experience whilst helping to manage the move towards retirement. We will publish our plans on a more flexible approach to working shortly’

It will be interesting to see how the government’s plans pan out.

Locked out of the job market

I personally think that changing lifestyles and alternative working patterns should be reflected in our employment conditions. Age UK’s report has highlighted that this isn’t always the case, with many older people locked out of the job market.

There’s clearly plenty more that needs to be done before we have a truly flexible approach to working – but is it something you want to see? Do you want businesses to offer the option to work from home, do different hours, or simply the ability to swap shifts?

Comments
Guest

At our age, if we want to work, it will be a simple one stacking shelves or operating a till, not something that you can do from home.

All companies should offer flexible working but often it is down to your manager. If they trust you, you can work from home, if they don’t then you have to be in all the time.

I finished my office job a few years ago and to be honest there wasn’t much that I could do from home so even if you do have a job that enables home-working, chances are that you won’t be nearly as productive.

It’s silly to suggest that it is possible for so many people when it plainly isn’t. The way people talk about skype so that we don’t need HS2 is frankly parochial and this article continues that mis-understanding of the population.

The only people who can really work from home are consultants, are so you saying that we are a nation of consultants?

Maybe that’s why the country is ruined financially? Everyone sells off their company and becomes a consultant that charges vast sums for just their knowledge because they can’t be bothered to honour their commitment to the community. Consultants mean large profits for the few yet the people who actually do the work are struggling to make ends meet.

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Guest

I think flexible working would be good news for everyone. It occurred to me earlier today (as I rushed into work late) just how much quieter the trains are if I leave half an hour after my normal time. Wouldn’t it make more sense from a transport point of view (fewer overcrowded trains, less traffic on the roads, etc) if people were able to adjust their hours?

Not to mention extra things such as childcare and other commitments. I think in the future one of the things that people will see as key when choosing a job will be their employer’s attitude towards flexible working. After all, if you want to stay at a company for a long time, it helps if that company can understand that your circumstances might change (if you move further away, or have children or grandchildren, or take up other caring responsibilities, want to semi-retire but can still contribute a lot to the company, etc). I think companies that appreciate this will have a real edge over their rigid 9-5 counterparts in the future.

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Guest

All for it. I get up early and travel early by choice to avoid the worst of the traffic. I’d like the option to leave early to do likewise. I cant, so my employer gets 45 minutes extra out of me every day for which I don’t get paid. That’s not the B all etc but it does annoy me

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Guest

Sorry – I was a school teacher – So I would still need to teach in school hours which are also the normal working hours. So wouldn’t work for me – Not to mention I would definitely not want to – I had enough of it when I did work.

Guest

My local town of no importance frequently has four mile tailbacks in the morning. There are of course calls for these roads, which for the other 23.5 hours of the day have very little traffic, to be dualled but I’ve long thought that if companies allowed flexitime or staggered their starting times the problem would be solved quicker and with much less environmental damage.

However bosses seem reluctant, certainly when flexitime was suggested at a certain consumer pressure group I used to work for management put up every possible objection they could think of to block it.

Guest

I’m all for flexible working. I’d be happy to work nights, sundays, public holidays, even Christmas Day.