Flexible Work by Default
01 Jul 2020
The union movement has always been at the forefront of the campaign for gender equality, and flexible work is key to making real equality possible.
In 2018 all public service chief executives endorsed the Gender Pay Principles, the culmination of a process that began when the PSA filed a gender pay claim against the State Services Commissioner. Seventy percent of public servants are women, and many work in sectors that have been undervalued and underpaid for generations. We are determined to change that.
Public service employers committed to offering flexibility by default to all public servants by the end of 2020, as part of the Gender Pay Gap Action Plan. The State Services Commission has now finalised guidelines on how to implement this, and we are working closely with them to ensure the voice of our members is heard as these plans become reality.
It’s important to distinguish between the way many of us were suddenly required to work from home during lockdown, and the truly flexible working arrangements we need.
If you want to work from home and can do so productively and safely, your employer should support this. The Employment Relations Act gave workers the right to formally request flexible working arrangements twenty years ago, but not many employers invested in making this a realistic option. When workers were able to negotiate flexible arrangements, they have too often suffered for it with stalled careers and less pay. This is unfair to those with a real need for flexibility, such as people with young children or a sick relative who needs ongoing care.
Flexible working arrangements are good not only for those employed under them, but also for the wider community. Insisting all public servants work from a CBD office risks overcrowded public transport, traffic congestion, parking shortages and increased environmental pollution. All workers deserve professional autonomy and employment relationships based on trust. Marginalised groups have particular needs that a more flexible and modern approach can help with.
We are excited to begin the process of changing the way we work. These guidelines are the culmination of years of work, and we look forward to seeing them put into action.