The face of flexible working

A significant portion of the New Zealand workforce now has flexible hours, but there are differences between men and women.

The face of flexible working

Statistics New Zealand’s latest “Survey of Working Life’ survey, December 2012 quarter,* revealed an interesting picture of flexible working in New Zealand.

While a majority of New Zealand workers still work all their hours at standard times, between 7:00am and 7:00pm Monday through Friday: 63.04%, there is a significant percentage of permanent employees who have flexible hours: 41.75%.

Interestingly, the percentage of women who work standard hours (65.90%) is slightly higher than the percentage of men (60.53%). And, on the flip side, a greater percentage of men than women have flexible working hours: 43.34% of men versus 40.11% of women. This suggests that either women are less likely to be offered lee-way in terms of the hours that they work, or that they are less likely to avail themselves of the right to ask for flexible hours.

On the other hand, this gender gap is reversed when it comes to the ability to reduce one’s hours to fewer than 30 hours per week. While only slightly more than a quarter of men (28.58%) thought that they could do this, almost 40% of women thought that this would be possible.

Interestingly, the level of job satisfaction among those with flexible hours was higher than that among those without flexible workers. Almost 89% of those with flexible hours were either ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with their job, while this figure dropped to 82.09% among those without flexible hours. (The average among all employees was 85%.)

Similarly, workers with flexible hours were more likely to be either ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with their work-life balance than workers without flexible hours: 80.66% versus 74.72%.

Under section 69AAB of the Employment Relations Act 200, any employee that has the care of any person and has, at the date of the request, been working for his or her employer for the immediately preceding six months may make a request for flexible work. The grounds under which an employer can refuse such a request are outlined in section 69AAF, but include that the employer is unable to reorganise work among current staff or to recruit additional staff.

The Employment Relations Bill that is currently before parliament would extend this right to all employees.

*The ‘Survey of Working Life’ provides official statistics on people’s work arrangements, working conditions, and job satisfaction. Results based on representative sample of 14,500 employed New Zealanders

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