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Research positive on flexible working hours

Hon Trevor Mallard
Minister of Labour

8 October 2008 Media Statement

Research positive on flexible working hours

New research has found that more than 60 per cent of employers offer their workers flexible working hours and say it has a positive effect, Labour Minister Trevor Mallard said today.

The Labour Department report, Work-Life Balance and Flexibility in New Zealand: A snapshot of employee and employer attitudes and experiences in 2008, finds that more than two-thirds of employers are either supportive or very supportive of flexible work. Sixty per cent say the impact of flexible work arrangements is either positive or very positive.

"It is great to see that employers are embracing new ways of organising their workplaces. It is likewise encouraging to see they are listening and responding to the needs of their workers and they recognise the business benefits of greater flexibility," Trevor Mallard said.

"The report release comes three months after the passage of legislation giving employees with care responsibilities the right to request flexible work arrangements. The Green Party bill was supported by the Labour-led government, demonstrating our government's ongoing commitment to improving the living standards of workers and their families.

"This new research report will provide a useful talking point for employers and workers as they continue to find innovative ways of increasing productivity and making work an even more rewarding experience.

"Work-life balance is about managing the juggling act between paid work and other activities that are important to us - including spending time with family, taking part in sport and recreation, volunteering, or undertaking further study.

"A fundamental shift in the New Zealand labour market over the past decade means unemployment levels are expected to remain at low levels for the foreseeable future. With record numbers participating in the labour force, and with continuing skill shortages, the days of readily available labour are over.

"This means workplaces need to become even more flexible to continue to attract and retain the people we need in an increasingly competitive local and global labour market."

The report is part of the Department of Labour’s programme of work focused on improving workplace culture and practices. The research complements other research recently undertaken by other organisations, such as the Families Commission and Equal Employment Opportunities Trust.

Note to journalists: The Work-Life Balance and Flexibility in New Zealand: A snapshot of employee and employer attitudes and experiences in 2008 report was prepared by the Department of Labour. The report summarises and analyses the findings of two national surveys, one of 1100 employers and the other of 1004 employees, which were conducted in April-May 2008. These are the second national work-life balance surveys commissioned by the Department of Labour, and were conducted by Research New Zealand Ltd.

The report is available on the Department of Labour website Further information about work-life balance and flexibility is also available on the website.


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