Flexible Working

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2018 Energy Service Group Conference
27 February 2018

The landscape for all workers is becoming increasingly difficult in these times of austerity imposed by a Tory Government. As an energy sector, it is all too common to see our call centres becoming outsourced and frustrations around shift patterns are a common theme.

Our members are being told that they have to work to cover customer demand, being expected to stretch themselves over a working day which could start from 7am and in some cases till 10pm at night. This creates difficult decisions for families who have children, caring responsibilities or disabilities.

Our reps are constantly battling through ambiguous flexible working policies, which are misinterpreted by ambitious management trying to squeeze every possible hour out of the day.

A recent example in an energy workplace where staff had gone through a difficult and stressful shift review which affected over 300 staff in October 2016. This caused a massive influx in requests for flexible working because the shifts proposed were very early, starting at 7am, or lates until 8pm, in a 3 week rotation including a weekend of Saturday and Sunday.

A review panel was set up but in all of the appeals I was involved in I argued that none of the panel were adequately qualified to make the decision in a fair way with particular issues around childcare or disabilities.

According to the Money Advice Service in Britain the average cost of sending a child under 2 to nursery (outside London) is:

£116.25 per week- part time (25 hours)

£222.36 per week – full time.

So effectively, if you work part time, based on a British Gas salary, 25 hours per week, take home pay would be on average £850 a month, the cost of childcare per month is about £835. It doesn’t take great genius to work out that effectively you are working for no money. British Gas does offer childcare vouchers at £30 a week, but this is the same as was in place over 20 years ago and has never been reviewed.

Predominantly childcare is left to working mothers.

Conference calls upon the Service Group Executive to

1. Campaign to make our workplaces more family friendly.

2. To ensure flexible working policies are correctly enforced.

3. Carry out a review of current flexible working policies.