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Taylor Report - A Missed Opportunity For Shift Workers

Like many involved in workforce planning and management we pored over the detail of Matthew Taylor's Review of Modern Working Practices upon its release.

As experts in Working Time, shift pattern design and rota management, it was disappointing that there wasn’t more exploration of immediate and practical solutions to tackling precarious forms of employment.

It’s long been our belief that the rapid rise of zero-hour contracts and agency working is because they provide a ‘lazy’ alternative to addressing outdated and inflexible resourcing models.

These forms of employment are often seen as the simple option to ensure labour supply remains responsive in environments which experience volatile 24/7 demand.

However, their inherent flaws can negatively impact service quality, productivity and reputation.

Our experience tells us that proven systems such as Annualised Hours and Demand-Led Rostering have the potential to deliver the required flexibility AND create secure, full-time roles which support wellbeing and employee relations.

It’s a solution which chimes very closely with some of the report’s key themes.

In fact, we made a submission to the Government’s Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee inquiry into ‘the future world of work’ summarising our thoughts which they published here

Guaranteed hours

The recommendation that employees on zero and short-hours contracts should have the ‘right to request’ guaranteed hours was trialled before the report’s official release.

Annualised Hours offers a potential practical solution to this as it enables Working Time and pay to be calculated over the course of a year. This provides many more options for both employer and employee in how those hours are deployed.

Whilst hours worked can vary in line with demand, employees’ yearly salary is paid on a regular basis, providing more certainty and helping when it comes to securing mortgages and credit agreements.

The employer can accurately align resource to anticipated demand and use a range of ‘tools’ such as seasonal patterns, bank hours and standby/stand-down to provide flexibility and options to suit the organisation and its workforce.

Promoting genuine flexibility & fair and responsible models

Matthew Taylor recommended that the Government needs to consider how employers can better accommodate flexibility around particular requirements.

Demand-Led Rostering opens the door to creative resourcing solutions that meet the diverse needs of a modern workforce.

Shift patterns and rosters can be designed and managed to suit varied life-stages and lifestyles. These can support the needs of different demographics as well as provide more predictable working hours or options that suit individuals wanting to work reduced hours.

This flexibility benefits the employee, but it also helps the employer’s recruitment and retention strategy, broadening the labour pool and ensuring that a change in circumstances doesn’t necessarily require a change in job.

Progressive working patterns are becoming the hallmark of ‘employers of choice’. They are proving to be a powerful differentiator in competitive labour markets or when looking to attract new demographics such as millennials and parents with young children.

What now?

Matthew Taylor’s Review of Modern Working Practices naturally focused on addressing ‘unfair one-sided flexibility’ which is often found in technologically disrupted areas the labour market.

Whilst we agree whole heartedly that good corporate governance, management and employee relations are preferable to regulation, we feel more thought should be given to promoting best practice in shift working.

There are nearly four million shift workers in the UK with many working outdated patterns that pose risks to their long-term job security as well as their wellbeing and work life balance.     

We regularly engage with unions, trade bodies and think tanks to discuss shift working and its role in creating a productive, healthy and happy workforce and would welcome the opportunity to discuss Matthew Taylor’s report in more detail.

We also run educative events that help build awareness and understanding around the fundamentals of Working Time and how to optimise a workforce. You can find out more about our programme of events here.

Alternatively, you can contact us directly and arrange a free one-to-one consultation with one of our experts.

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