Employers ignore Government's World Cup plea

Jun 05 2002 by Brian Amble Print This Article

The majority of UK organisations are being inflexible over allowing their staff to watch England's game with Argentina according to a new survey report, Getting a Kick out of Work launched on 5th June by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development CIPD).

This is despite a call from Patricia Hewitt, Trade and Industry Secretary, who said that staff should be allowed to watch the match wherever possible, and allowed to make up time later, "the last thing they (employers) need is the entire workforce taking a sickie on the day of a big match."

Thirty per cent of organisations are providing on-site television, 16% are allowing internet access while just 15% of organisations are planning to allow employees time off to watch either all or some of the games.

The survey of 1,000 people management professionals looks at the range of non-financial benefits offered by organisations. It reveals that paternity leave take-up has increased from 9% to 44% during the last three years.

Duncan Brown, the CIPD's Assistant Director General comments, "Our survey shows that Government legislation on paternity leave has made an impact, though it should also be pointed out that the proportion of fathers taking up this benefit is still relatively low. However, there is limited flexibility over the World Cup, an approach which may backfire given that we already know a third of absence is not genuine."

He adds, "Legislation, together with evidence of the beneficial effect on motivation and productivity mean that more and more organisations are putting in place policies which support flexible working. But our data indicates a policy gap in terms of the management and take up of these arrangements.

Brown continues, "For example almost half of all organisations allow their employees to work from home but only a minority of workers take up this offer (14%). This shows that flexible working needs to be encouraged and embraced at all levels if it is to be successful. Organisations need to foster a culture focused on objectives and outputs rather than presenteeism, where being at the desk is more important than actual contribution."

The survey shows almost 1 in 4 organisations reporting that senior management is not supportive of their flexible working policies, which may explain why such practices are not widely adopted.

Key findings:

  • The number of organisations that offer various flexible working policies compared with 1999 shows a mixed performance. Figures for those offering paternity leave jumped from 66% to 81%, while parental leave provision has increased from 57% to 78%.

  • The number of organisations that offer staff the option of career breaks has halved from 40% in 1999, while 17% offer sabbaticals (24% in 1999).

  • The public sector is leading the way in flexible working arrangements by offering a wider variety of options and generally experiencing higher take-up of flexitime. Only 26% of private sector organisations surveyed offered flexitime, compared to almost four-fifths (79%) of public sector organisations.

  • Childcare remains an area where few employers offer options with less than 1 in 10 surveyed having a workplace nursery or offering childcare subsidies and 2% offering the provision of after-school care.

Brown concludes, "In today's tight labour market, employers are realising they have to be responsive and innovative in trying to meet employee expectations. Flexible benefits that help with their work/life balance is part of this innovation."

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has over 110,000 members and is the leading professional institute for those involved in the management and development of people.

The CIPD survey report, Getting a Kick out of Work is obtainable by sending an e-mail to [email protected]

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