Flexible and innovative working arrangements in the Irish public service

Humphreys, Peter C. ; Fleming, Síle ; O'Donnell, Orla

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URL http://edoc.vifapol.de/opus/volltexte/2009/1140/
Dokumentart: Bericht / Forschungsbericht / Abhandlung
Institut: CPMR- Committee for Public Management Research
Schriftenreihe: CPMR research report
Bandnummer: 3
Sprache: Englisch
Erstellungsjahr: 1999
Publikationsdatum: 02.04.2009
Originalveröffentlichung: http://www.cpmr.gov.ie/publications/reports/ (1999)
DDC-Sachgruppe: Öffentliche Verwaltung
BK - Basisklassifikation: 88.20 (Organisation staatlicher Einrichtungen, Management staatlicher Einrichtungen)
Sondersammelgebiete: 3.7 Verwaltungswissenschaften

Kurzfassung auf Englisch:

This report analyses the development of innovative and flexible working arrangements in the Irish public service, within a wider international context. It critically evaluates experience to date in the usage of such arrangements and plots ways forward to assist their further development. The need for such an analysis is particularly pertinent in the context of the recent and considerable changes taking place in the Irish labour market, in which the public service is increasingly competing with the private sector to position itself better as an 'employer of choice'. Labour supply constraints, coupled with limitations in the public service's ability to react to changing market pay rates, make it imperative that other elements of the employment package offered by the public bodies are seen as competitively attractive. Evidence provided in this report suggests that flexible working arrangements can play a key role in this regard. In order to carry out an informed analysis of experience to date, the report examines both the theory of, and arguments for, flexible and innovative working arrangements from employer and employee perspectives. Within this report, the following types of flexible working arrangements are focused upon: 1. Temporal flexibility, which refers to variations in the number of hours worked 2. Locational flexibility, which refers to variations in the location of work 3. Numerical flexibility, which refers to variations in the numbers employed in response to, for example, variations in business demand. This report contains a review of available national and international literature,which indicates that the effective use of such arrangements can contribute positively to a number of important human resource management challenges facing organisations, including: · recruitment and retention of high-calibre staff · achievement of equality of opportunity · improved reconciliation of work and family responsibilities for management and staff · absenteeism and staff turnover · improved staff motivation · achieving a better fit between labour supply and changing organisational needs. This report analyses available quantitative information to explore the extent and character of flexible working arrangements using national and international statistical and other data sources. This analysis indicates that while full-time working is still the norm in Ireland as elsewhere, part-time and other forms of atypical working are of growing importance throughout the EU. This growth has been particularly significant in the services sector and is intrinsically linked with rising female labour market participation. It is argued that there is considerable demand and scope for the usage and development of more innovative working arrangements by employers, as a means of targeting recruitment efforts towards comparatively untapped sources of labour supply. The report discusses the key policy, legal and administrative developments that have both influenced, and provide the context for, the further development of flexible working arrangements in the Irish public service. The development of such arrangements can be traced back to the early 1980s when job-sharing and career breaks were first introduced on a pilot basis. It is important to note that, at that time,the introduction of such measures was considerably influenced by a desire to create employment opportunities while retaining control over public service numbers. These measures began to be seen as an important element in the 'family-friendly' approach being promoted in the public service as part of its wider concern with equal opportunities issues. In more recent years, not least because of dramatic and positive changes in the economic climate, these measures are being revisited to enable both employers and employees to address more effectively their changing employment needs. The successful development of more flexible and innovative working arrangements is also inextricably linked with the effective utilisation of rapidly developing information and telecommunications technologies. However, the research indicates that, with regard to teleworking for example, significant organisational and cultural barriers remain to be overcome before its full potential can be realised in the public service. In-depth interviews in a range of public service organisations, as well as with key informants at central government and trade union levels, are used to plot the usage of, and practical experience with, flexible working arrangements in the Irish public service. Such interviews identified a number of key areas of concern which suggest a need for re-evaluation of these arrangements: 1. Given greatly increased commuting problems and changing caring commitments, these schemes, which have been in operation for several decades, are limited in the flexibility they now provide. There is as yet very little evidence of systematic teleworking arrangements. 2. The limited availability and take-up of flexible working in management grades raises a number of important issues. Within the context of a growing 'long hours culture' in parts of the public service, the take-up of schemes such as flexitime and job-sharing can be perceived to represent a lack of commitment to both the individual's career and the organisation. 3. This undesirable situation is further exacerbated by the currently highly gendered nature of participation in flexible working arrangements. Combined with the concentration of women in the lower clerical grades, flexible working arrangements need to be carefully designed so that they aid the achievement rather than the retardation of equality of opportunity. The interviews undertaken with both employers and trade unions clearly revealed an acceptance that full-time permanent employment was likely to remain the norm in the public service in the short term at least. However, some organisations have already experimented with more innovative forms of atypical working. For example, term-time working has been piloted in a number of major government departments and other public bodies are interested in promoting teleworking and considering more varied forms of working arrangement. The success or otherwise of such innovations may well be influenced by how other rigidities in working arrangements are addressed. For example, limitations and restrictions in regard to the filling of temporary vacancies


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