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What’s trending?

A win for workers with Flexible Working Bill, Dyson vacuums up censure for comments & the Palace race scandal highlights the abuse of power


For this month’s trending topics, we’ve focused on that ‘new thing’ that’s here to stay: flexible working, with news of the Government's plans to allow flexible working requests from day one. We’ve also taken a deeper look at the industry’s experience of flexible working against the backdrop of James Dyson’s controversial remarks. Finally, we delve into the consequences of the Palace race scandal for HR departments and how to handle privilege and generational understandings.

 
 

Concern and optimism over new legal boost for flexible working rights

 

Concern and optimism over new legal boost for flexible working rights

Employees will soon have the right to request flexible working from day one of their employment, under new government plans to make flexible working the default. The raft of new measures will give employees greater access to flexibility over their worklife, leading to, hopefully, happier and more productive staff.

While Peter Cheese, chief executive of the CIPD, and Noelle Murphy, Senior HR insights editor at XpertHR, both talked of flexible working attracting a more diverse workforce, other industry leaders were not so sure.

Susan Kelly, Partner in the Employment practice at Winckworth Sherwood, said employers would still be able to turn down such requests for reasons of “detrimental effect” on customers, staff organisation or company performance.

 

And Molly Johnson-Jones, founder and CEO of Flexa Careers, said the idea would be “riddled with issues in practice,” and wouldn’t make “a jot of difference when the reality of ways of working often aren’t revealed till much later” especially when companies can turn down the requests.

“Countless job seekers rely on flexibility, and what they need is legislation which obligates companies to be transparent and upfront about where they stand on the matter - and to stick to their word. They don’t need legislation that further muddies the waters around flexibility - allowing employers to lay claim to it regardless of their actual intentions.”

Dyson hits a vacuum with controversial comments on homeworking

When James Dyson stated homeworking inflicted “huge damage to companies and employees” and inhibited competition, it caused an uproar amongst HR leaders across the country.

The vacuum cleaner goliath also claimed homeworking would “hamper employers’ ability to organise their workforce...and generate friction between employers and employees, creating further bureaucratic drag,”

Claire Metcalfe, Director of People and Culture for the MTR Elizabeth Line responded: “Good employers, who want the best from their workforce, have nothing to fear from increased legislation protecting employee’s rights."

 

Ash Pal, Chief Disruption Officer for Bloody IT, and Victoria Short, CEO at Randstad UK, believe flexible working is vital for employee retention. Pal talked about insecure leaders and warned organisations of losing a “potential differentiator” while Short called for challenging the notion that homeworking was less productive. “If they (organisations) don’t, they risk losing out on attracting and retaining great talent."

Labelling Dyson’s ideas on presenteeism as ‘outdated’, Matt Monette, UK&I Country Lead at remote working company Deel, noted: “Businesses that do not adapt to current flexible working trends will be left behind.”

Dyson hits a vacuum with controversial comments on homeworking

 

When James Dyson stated homeworking inflicted “huge damage to companies and employees” and inhibited competition, it caused an uproar amongst HR leaders across the country.

The vacuum cleaner goliath also claimed homeworking would “hamper employers’ ability to organise their workforce...and generate friction between employers and employees, creating further bureaucratic drag,”

Claire Metcalfe, Director of People and Culture for the MTR Elizabeth Line responded: “Good employers, who want the best from their workforce, have nothing to fear from increased legislation protecting employee’s rights."

 

Ash Pal, Chief Disruption Officer for Bloody IT, and Victoria Short, CEO at Randstad UK, believe flexible working is vital for employee retention. Pal talked about insecure leaders and warned organisations of losing a “potential differentiator” while Short called for challenging the notion that homeworking was less productive. “If they (organisations) don’t, they risk losing out on attracting and retaining great talent."

Labelling Dyson’s ideas on presenteeism as ‘outdated’, Matt Monette, UK&I Country Lead at remote working company Deel, noted: “Businesses that do not adapt to current flexible working trends will be left behind.”

 
 

Palace race scandal highlights urgent need for HR to assess work culture

 

Palace race scandal highlights urgent need for HR to assess work culture

Companies have been urged to consider how far bias and prejudice is rooted into workplace policies and processes.

Lady Susan Hussey, the Prince of Wales’ godmother and the late Queen’s lady-in-waiting, was forced to resign following an event at Buckingham Palace during which she repeatedly asked Ngozi Fulani, founder of the domestic abuse charity Sistah Space, where she was “really from.”

The incident raised concerns of institutional racism in the workplace and the need for HR leaders to take action.

 

Dr Jonathan Lord, a lecturer in HR Management and Employment Law at the University of Salford Business School, advised HR to reassess organisational culture and educate staff on the covert and overt ways racism can present itself in the workplace.

“It also requires a level of conversation that reaffirms the message that racism does exist and that a zero-tolerance approach will always be followed,” Dr Lord explained.

Some companies have already taken the lead with workshops, seminars and talks, and learning, training and development courses. Championing equality in the workplace, culture and communication, and changing internal policies and practices were also underlined as actions being rolled out in the workplace to promote racial equality.

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