Flexiweek gets backing from public sector workers

Thursday, January 10, 2019

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A study on the impact of flexible work arrangements on public sector workers revealed that 70 per cent of those engaged in various forms of work flexibility, across employment categories, are of the view that it has contributed positively to improving their personal and family life, and results in them achieving higher levels of motivation.

The study, which was conducted by the Hugh Lawson Shearer Trade Union Education Institute at The UWI Open Campus, also showed that nearly 60 per cent of workers and 55 per cent of supervisors and managers believed that engaging in flexible work arrangements has also helped to reduce absenteeism from work.

Head of the institute, Danny Roberts, said that the study, which was conducted among the National Housing Trust, National Water Commission, National Works Agency and the HEART Trust/NTA, showed that just over 50 per cent of the workers, as well as supervisors/managers believed that flexiweek arrangements contributed to a reduction in the levels of stress encountered at the workplace.

The institute, in a release, said among the employees working under flexible work arrangements, only 50 per cent were convinced that it led to more employee engagement, while about 40 per cent of supervisors and managers believed that it did.

“The study further showed that only 40 per cent of workers and 35 per cent of supervisors and managers were convinced that the implementation of flexible time in their respective organisations impacted employee commitment. The number of workers across employment categories who believed that flexiweek arrangements could contribute to increased wages and salaries were significantly low, ranging between 10 per cent for managers and supervisors and 17 per cent for workers,” said the release. Nevertheless, it added, more employees (60 per cent) than supervisors/managers (52 per cent) were of the opinion that flexible work arrangement was helping to improve productivity.

According to the release, the findings were not consistent with expectations with results indicating that just over 40 per cent of employees and 30 per cent of supervisors/managers working under flexiweek arrangements believed that it meaningfully contributes to a reduction in operational expenses. It said, too, that as many as 68 per cent of employees and 54 per cent of supervisors/managers believed that better customer service quality as well as improved customer satisfaction can be achieved under flexiweek arrangements.

According to Roberts, these findings should be taken cautiously and treated as preliminary work for further action. He noted that some of the areas measured by the survey, such as productivity and absenteeism, were based primarily on subjective findings. He addded that other areas like customer service satisfaction are best answered by the customers themselves.

The Parliament in 2013 approved a Ministry Paper which formed the policy for flexible work arrangement and listed a number of advantages to its introduction, some of which were measured in the survey. The Ministry Paper was followed by the introduction of the Employment (Flexible Work Arrangements) (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act of 2014. The Act repealed and amended several existing legislations in order to facilitate the smooth implementation of flexible work arrangements in Jamaica.

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