Flexibility

During the past week or two, there has been some high stress levels at work. The reason? The introduction of a “flexibility plan” by The Management.

Now, I must admit that we have some rather unusual working practices in the company. We are each paid for a certain number of hours each day. And we each have a particular job to do in that time, although the time it takes to do that job varies from one day to the next depending on traffic volumes. If we manage to finish early, then we can go home. If we have to work extra, then we get paid overtime. Strange system I know, but it’s the way it’s always been and change is a slow process. On top of this, overtime is not compulsory, so in theory it is possible to actually leave at the end of the duty without finishing the job – however this doesn’t go down well with The Management and you earn a black mark.

It has recently been agreed (by the Management and The Union) that as we are paid for x hours a week, then we should work this number of hours each work. Now as far as I’m concerned there are two ways of doing this:

1. Balance the workload so that each day it takes the same amount of time to do, or

2. Work flexible hours, so that at the end of the week, the right number have been done.

The first is hard to do as the actual amount of work varies from day to day and is not regulated by anyone. The second means that you don’t actually know what time you will be finishing until you actually finish. Personally I prefer the first.

[still with me? It gets worse!]

Now some staff have duties which can easily be done, most days, within the time they are allowed, whilst others (including yours truly) have duties where most days extra time is needed. Until now this has not been a problem as we could book the overtime or tell The Management that we needed to finish on time and someone else would have to do the remainder of the work.

The way The Management have decided to implement their flexibility plan is:

1. We work flexible hours depending on the amount of work, decided on a daily basis, and

2. We MUST complete our work every day, and

3. Any extra hours worked are banked and we can take them when we want – as long as we manage to complete our work that day.

4. On Saturday (the last day of the week), if you finish early then you can go home without having to make the time up. If you finish late, you will be paid overtime.

Now I (and my colleagues) can see a problem with that. For those whose duties can be done within their time, at the end of the work they will be able to go home having probably done less than their full hours. However those of us who usually go over, will have to do overtime as we won’t be finished in time. It is highly likely that by Saturday, we will already have banked 3 or 4 hours, but we won’t be able to finish early as we have to complete the work (see 2)

So, although overtime is voluntary, we have to do it. Last week I had clocked up an extra hour by the end of the week (it was a short week for me) and when I asked The Management if I could leave early, I was asked if I would be finished in time. Of course, the answer was “No” to which he replied that I could have the time off. When I pointed out that I had an hour banked, he said he would pay me for that as I had to finish my work that day. No option.

So it flexibility means work when The Management tell us, for us long as they tell us and we have no choice.

Or are we overlooking something?

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