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A new era in more flexible workplaces dawns

20 November 2007

A new era in more flexible workplaces dawns tomorrow

The Green Party is heralding a new era of more flexible workplaces with tomorrow's passing of the landmark Flexible Working Arrangements Bill.

The Bill, sponsored by Green MP Sue Kedgley, establishes a new employment right which will allow any employee with responsibilities to care for children, dependent or disabled adults, or whänau, to seek to vary their hours or place of work.

"This means a person can ask for a change to their start and finish times, adjust their work hours, work 'compressed hours,' seek to work from home, or any other flexible arrangement that will enable them to better meet the demands of paid employment and their caring responsibilities.

"Employers will have a statutory duty to consider any such request seriously, and to seek to accommodate it," Ms Kedgley says.

"I hope that the passing of this Bill tomorrow will usher in a new era where flexible working arrangements are accepted as the norm rather than the exception. In this day and age, with technologies that can keep us in touch with the office without having to actually be there in person, many of us can now easily work from home or wherever else we made need to be. We don't all have to be in the office at the same time every day.

"I believe in years to come we will look back on the Flexible Working Arrangements Bill as a landmark piece of legislation which helped to break down our rigid and inflexible working hours culture.

"New Zealand has an embedded, hours-driven culture of long and excessive working hours. We work some of the longest working hours in the world; a fifth of us work more than 50 hours a week, and 40 percent of us more than 45 hours a week. This has severely impacted the amount of time people are able to spend with their children and families.

"The Bill provides for a win/win situation: employees will get to spend more time with their families, and employers will have happier, less stressed and, consequently, more productive staff.

"It is also a win for the environment. With a workforce that does not all travel to and from work in the same rush hour there will be less congestion and no need to waste taxpayers' money on building new urban motorways," Ms Kedgley says.


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