Can you provide flexible working for EU referendum?
On Thursday the British people will make what is arguably the biggest collective decision of a lifetime when they vote in the referendum on whether or not to remain in the EU.
As an employer, can you assist them by making sure they have an opportunity to participate in the decision-making?
Polling stations are open from 7:00 am to 10:00 pm so most people should be able to vote before or after their working day. For some staff, though, shift patterns and travel arrangements may make voting difficult.
Whichever way you personally plan to vote on Thursday you can offer some flexibility to ensure that your employees take part in this historic vote. Possible concessions include allowing people to:
- ‘Time shift’ – start an hour later than they normally would but also finish an hour later. Or vice versa.
- With no requirement to make up lost time, ‘Take an hour to vote’ – start work an hour later (or finish work an hour earlier)Of course, there is no way you can be sure that people who take time off will actually use it to vote. They may just have a lie-in.
Whatever concession you choose to offer it needs to be:
- Available to all – it could be discriminatory to offer it to some workers and not to others. And you certainly cannot offer it only to those you think are likely to vote a certain way!
- Communicated to all – make sure everyone knows what concession is being offered.
- Clear in terms of impact upon pay – will hourly-paid staff, for example, lose an hour’s pay if they take up the offer to start late or finish early?
- Fully ‘thought through’ before you make the offer. For example, if the person who normally opens up the premises in the morning is an hour late, will that leave everyone else standing in the car park, unable to get in? Are there health and safety issues with staff working unsupervised if shop floor managers all decide to leave early but others prefer to work on?
The keys to success, as ever, are fairness, flexibility and planning. This is a ‘once in a lifetime’ occurrence and a ‘once in a lifetime’ response from you as an employer might be entirely appropriate.
And don’t forget to make time during the day to cast your own vote!
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