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Q.

5 Assess the role of legislation in protecting employee rights in the context of working hours and flexible work patterns. Is it an effective solution to this problem? How does the role of legislation in this situation compare with its role in the context of other employee rights? Flexible working is a way of working that suits an employees needs, eg. Being able to work certain hours or work from home. Employees who care for someone (eg. a child or adult) have the legal right to ask for flexible working. Flexible work can benefit employees, employers, the economy, communities and the environment so it is effective solution of protecting employee rights. It is about people having the opportunity to make changes to the hours they work (over a day, a week or over the year), the times and days they work or where they work. It is also about how careers are organized, how transitions in and out of work are managed, and how flexible working is managed in the workplace so that employees and businesses benefit. Flexible working arrangements assist employees to achieve balance between work and their personal lives. For example, they can help parents manage the demands that come with being a parent of a young child, school age child or a child with a disability, such as picking-up and dropping-off at childcare, caring for sick children, and attending medical and other appointments. The benefits Many companies believe the policy has worked to their benefit, allowing them to retain experienced staff, particularly women, to provide cover outside normal office hours, to respond to changing seasonal needs, to reduce absenteeism and to increase loyalty and motivation among staff.

Improved job satisfaction, morale, and productivity. Enhanced employee recruitment and retention. Increased energy and creativity. Reduced absenteeism. Reduced stress and burn out. Improved balance of work and family life.

Women have successfully brought cases claiming discrimination if they are not allowed flexible working on the grounds that, since they are often the primary care of children, a refusal to grant flexible working is more likely to affect them. Men can also bring cases if a mother in their company has been granted flexible working and they have been refused. The legislation lays out a formal procedure for applying for flexible working and employees have to argue clearly what the advantages would be to both them and their employer of allowing them to work flexibly, for instance, retaining an experienced member of staff. If an employee is unhappy about the way their company has dealt with their case, they can take their case to an employment tribunal. For many, the statutory right to request flexible working is relatively ineffective. Any breach of the legislation is rewarded with minimal compensation and is unlikely to be much of a deterrent to employers who simply do not want to consider any such requests.

However, flexible working requests are often made by:


women, who still traditionally assume most responsibility for child caring women returning from maternity leave, and Those caring for elderly and/or disabled adults.

As a result, if an employer unreasonably refuses a request it could be exposed to claims of:


indirect discrimination part time worker discrimination associative discrimination Constructive dismissal.

For example, a flexible working request is made by a woman who has returned from maternity leave and who is juggling work and childcare. The law firm where she is employed upholds a rigid nine-to-five work day and often the hours worked is far in excess of this. The employee's request is therefore refused. This practice of only allowing full-time work appears to be disadvantaging one section of the workforce more than others, in this case women because it is well evidenced that they tend to have more caring responsibilities. Employers can justify their approach if they can show that the practice is serving a legitimate aim (for example safeguarding client relationships) but only if that practice (i.e. nine-to-five working only) is a proportionate means of achieving that legitimate aim. So, the legislation plays very important role in context of protecting employee rights like flexible working hours, but in India the employee rights legislation is very complex. Following are the laws for employee right protection in India THE LABOUR LAWS ACT, 1988. THE MINIMUM WAGES ACT, 1948 Indian Factories Act, 1948 The Trade Union Act, 1926

Indias labor regulations - among the most restrictive and complex in the world - have constrained the growth of the formal manufacturing sector where these laws have their widest application. Better designed labor regulations can attract more labor- intensive investment and create jobs for Indias unemployed millions and those trapped in poor quality jobs. Given the countrys momentum of growth, the window of opportunity must not be lost for improving the job prospects for the 80 million new entrants who are expected to join the work force over the next decade.1

^ World Bank, India Country Overview 2008