The one with George Osborne and the right to flexible working

What a honking great idiot!
Look! I’ve got nothing up my sleeves!

So, George Osborne today announced that, in exchange for between £2,000 and £50,000 of shares, employees can relinquish some of the rights they have as employees. These rights are; claiming unfair dismissal, redundancy, time-off for training and flexible working. There’s also an extra right to relinquish for women, which is to give 16 weeks, instead of 8, notice when returning from maternity leave.

Essentially, what Mr Osborne is saying is that you can either be a) ejected from the company with no recourse or b) imprisoned at your company with no way out for some figure between £2,000 and £50,000.

I understand that this comes down to a matter of ‘shared-ownership’, meaning that, now you have these shares, it’s up to you to do the very best you can to make the company a success, afterall, if the company is a success, you’ll do well too. I also understand that this is voluntary for existing employees, but could become compulsory for new employees, should an employer choose to do it that way.

What I don’t understand is how on earth he thinks this is a good idea? Claiming unfair dismissal is what protects employees from the pointy-haired bosses who surround them. Redundancy, unless political or strategic, would indicate a company not doing so well (so, who would want shares?). Training is important if you want to retain, improve and increase the value of your staff and flexible working? What on earth does he mean?

For some shares, you get to give up the ability to work from 9 – 5:30, every day in the same office? What a marvellous idea! Let’s ignore the fact that people don’t all march to the same drum – folks aren’t productive when you want them to be, they’re not creative when the clock showing a specific time. Let’s ignore the fact that people have children, families, teeth, health and the multitude of other things that mean working 9 – 5.30 is difficult and a dumb idea. Further, we should force people into thinking that spending time in a particular location, between particular hours is a measure of how well they’re working. Let’s completely ignore the fact that by focussing on WHEN we are, we cannot focus on WHAT we do. Business should focus on results, not hours.

This new proposal from the CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER clearly shows that he has almost no idea how business works in the 21st century. Stop trying to apply old fashioned, often Taylorist views, on how you think businesses should be run and be forward-thinking, pragmatic and revolutionary in helping small- and medium-sized businesses achieve greatness.


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