“This is really where sophisticated employers are starting to think more laterally, because the modern workplace is going to be about more than fitting employee requests into a set prism of how we want to work,” he said.
For instance, those employers who support initiatives such as time in lieu, rostered days off and unpaid leave generally don’t create such policies “dictated by what the law tells them to do”.
“An employee who has a passion for a particular hobby, such as golf, may approach their employer and say: I don’t have any carer’s responsibilities, none of my relatives are ill, and I don’t have any medical issues of my own – but I would like to take one day off a month, unpaid, to play golf,” Hor said.
“By rights, the employer could reply, ‘That doesn’t fall within our obligations legally, and if I say yes to you, it’s going to create a free for all’. These requests generally get put in the ‘too hard’ basket as a result. But this whole flavour of flexibility in the workplace is becoming a bigger conversation, and it’s going to start posing some challenging questions for employers.”
The impact on the organisation is largely the same, whether an employee is granted unpaid leave for carer’s responsibilities or for a personal day, he added.
“It’s the same level of inconvenience, and they’re still taking one day off with no pay. So rather than putting it immediately in the too hard basket, why don’t we think about ways to say ‘yes’?” Hor said.
Innovative and flexible policies regarding working hours need to become more commonplace within modern organisations, said Joydeep Hor, managing principal, People+Culture Strategies.