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Evidence check: Flexible working and facilitating working away from the office 

Science, Innovation and Technology Committee

The Science and Technology Committee invites views on the Government-provided evidence-check papers posted on this forum, in particular on the strength of the evidence and how well the Government's approach reflects the evidence.

The deadline for comments is Monday 9 May 2016.

Show your workings, Institute for Government report

Taking forward the work of the Institute for Government, this exercise will help shape future Committee work, including identifying areas for scrutiny hearings or for launching inquiries. We would like submitters to address the following broad questions:

  • Diagnosis: Does the Government show that it knows about the issue, its causes, effects, and scale?
  • Actions/plans: Has the Government shown that any policy intervention is evidence-based, that it has assessed the strengths/weaknesses of the evidence base, and identified other policy options?
  • Implementation: Has the Government shown that the implementation method for the policy has been based on evidence on what works?
  • Value for money: Are the costs and benefits understood and evidence-based?
  • Testing and evaluation: Are plans for testing and evaluation adequate?

The Committee may wish to quote comments made.

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Gillian Smith

28 January 2016 at 11:47

This paper seems entirely about policy (one in particular) towards existing employees working in ‘offices’ being able to request certain types of flexible working. Given the cross cutting nature of the subject and the title I would have expected a rounded discussion of the evidence underpinning government policies on flexible working. For example, what about evidence on the following aspects of the debate: -forced flexible working eg people, often in low skilled jobs, working part time or as‘self employed’ when they really want secure full time work. This has knock on consequences for poverty and disadvantage and the benefits bill – see the Labour Force Survey, -the lack of flexible working opportunities available to skilled job seekers. Recent research by JRF found the vast majority of businesses offer flexible working to existing staff, but flexible working options are only mentioned in a small minority of ads for quality job vacancies. And over 200,000 people living in poverty have the skills to do better-paid work but are prevented from improving their families’ living standards because of the lack of flexible jobs. Well-qualified people working in lower-skilled jobs also make it harder for those with fewer qualifications to get work at all. See following link - Transport policy and flexible working. There are a number of aspects to this including the scope for part time working to reduce pressure on the transport system at peak times and also the potential scope for teleworking to reduce demand for travel. There later is a v complex issue and taken as a whole teleworkers travel further than office based workers. Qualitative work conducted for DfT discusses some of the complexities.

Chris Jeffery

12 January 2016 at 14:50

One item that I would like raised if it’s deemed relevant to the debate is that under government policy there’s very little aspect for disabled people like myself to be able to remote work for companies. When i was last seeking working prior to my disability worsening I asked my Employment Adviser whether there was any chance of being able to work for companies from home undertaking data input or other computer based / clerical work that way someone could work and balance the needs of their condition around this without any problems of travelling to work, or problems that may occur at work. The only way at present a disabled person seems to be able to work remotely in most cases is if they are self employed. If I am correct there’s never been any government initiative to allow disabled people to still contribute to the employment market and not have to worry about any problems that may arise around hospital appointments etc and thus not have to take time away from work in these instances. In my case I have been able to do my work in raising awareness of the needs for working carers in the private sector to be allowed paid leave in times of crisis as I have been undertaking this when my condition has allowed and not felt under pressure to be held to deadlines.

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