CIPD launches employer guidance to help tackle one-sided flexibility

New guide and case studies illustrate how to manage atypical workers fairly and responsibly, creating win-win working arrangements for people and businesses

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Hot on the heels of a new government consultation to improve the rights of variable hours workers, the CIPD has launched employer guidance to help ensure such atypical working arrangements benefit both the organisation and individuals.

Atypical Working: A guide to successfully implementing atypical work in your organisation defines atypical working as including the self-employed, temporary workers, agency staff and people on zero hours contracts.

A number of high-profile cases of poor practice and one-sided flexibility have raised concerns about some forms of atypical working, particularly zero-hours contracts. But, when they’re properly managed, both businesses and their workforces can benefit from the flexibility these arrangements can offer. These arrangements can help employers to meet short term fluctuations in demand and enable individuals to work in ways that suit their personal circumstances.

This new guidance, which is informed by six organisation case studies, illustrates the steps employers can take to try and ensure this win-win scenario plays out in practice. It will help employers to maximise the benefits for their people, reduce the incidence of cases where people feel exploited or unfairly treated and provide the organisation with the flexibility it requires.

The guide focuses on eight key aspects that underpin good management of atypical working:

1. Ensuring that any decision to use atypical workers are taken as part of a comprehensive workforce planning exercise.

2. Seeking to motivate and engage atypical workers in the same way they would for the rest of the workforce.

3. Ensuring workers have a choice over when and how they work.

4. Providing workers with clarity on employment status.

5. Providing opportunities for training and progression.

6. Giving workers a voice in the workplace.

7. Treating atypical workers and regular workers equally, to ensure fairness.

8. Supporting managers to manage atypical workers appropriately.

Ben Willmott, head of public policy at the CIPD, said: ‘The evidence shows that where the flexibility associated with atypical working practices works for both the employer and the individual working in this way then it can provide a real 'win-win'. Our guidance highlights the people management and development practices organisations need to focus on to achieve this outcome.

"The government is planning to introduce new rights for atypical workers to switch to a more regular working pattern and to reasonable notice of work schedules, for example, which will mean employers will have to plan more carefully how they manage variable hours workers. CIPD's guide provides a range of useful insights and recommendations to help organisations do this."

The CIPD will be seeking members’ views on the government consultation ‘Good Work Plan: one-sided flexibility – addressing unfair flexible working practices’ over the summer and will update the guidance to reflect any changes to legislation as a result of this.

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