Staff must have a say in flexible working policies

Polly Toynbee is right to look at the issue of workers’ rights in relation to Covid (Under cover of Covid, British workers’ rights are being quietly stripped away, 30 行進). There is a real danger that, as businesses rush to define and manage the new normal of work, hurriedly created employment practices will be implemented and become commonplace without consultation, with no worker involvement and before legislators can think about the implications.

As returning to the office becomes safe again, decisions will be taken about where people will be working in the future. The crucial question is: who is involved in these decisions? No “one size fits all” policy is going to work, so it’s important to get as many benefits as possible from working both from home and the office, with as few of the drawbacks. Flexibility needs to work for workers, not just employers. Unions and workers need to be involved in what happens from here.

As a country, we need to update our suite of workers’ rights to take account of advances in technology and our better understanding of stress and mental health. We need new rules around the remote monitoring of employees, and the collection and use of employee data, and it is time for the UK to follow European countries by introducing a “right to disconnect” to preserve a work-life balance.

The decisions that are made in the next few months will shape the future of work in the UK for years to come and employees need a seat at the table.
Andrew Pakes
Research director, Prospect




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