Construction law specialist Janelle Kerrisk says flexible hours don’t have to come at the expense of profitability. Picture: Lachie Millard
Construction law specialist Janelle Kerrisk says flexible hours don’t have to come at the expense of profitability. Picture: Lachie Millard

‘Flexism’ is the new sexism

BOSSES are discriminating against staff who want to work family-friendly shifts, in a trend being described as "flexism".

Workplace Gender Equality Agency director Libby Lyons yesterday called on managers to let staff spend less time in the office when possible.

And she urged more men to work flexible hours to spend more time with their families.

Ms Lyons said employees working four-day weeks, shorter days or working from home could be even more productive than nine-to-five workers chained to their desks.

She said long work hours could lead to procrastination, rather than productivity.

"I think there's a lot of time that's wasted,'' she said yesterday.

"Sitting at your desk from 8am to 5pm doesn't mean you're going to get your job done better or quicker than someone who works from 9am to 3.30pm.

"The focus should be on getting your work done - presenteeism does not equal productivity.''

Ms Lyons said men often shunned flexible work because they feared being "judged by their peers'' if they knocked off early to collect the kids from school.

And she bosses were three times more likely to reject flexible leave requests from men than women.

"Absolutely there is flexism out there,'' she said.

"We need to normalise flexibility for everyone - not just women but men."

A four-day working week is gaining ground in Australia, with more than half a million workers given the option of working shorter hours for full-time pay.

Data from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency's survey of more than 4600 large private companies employing four million workers reveals that 29 per cent of employers offer a "compressed working week'', so staff can work a standard 38-hour week over four days or a nine-day fortnight.

One in three employers let staff work from home by "telecommuting''.

Construction law specialist Janelle Kerrisk, said that when she founded her firm Helix Legal "I left room for people to have a life''.

"I spent a good part of my 20s tied to a desk but these days, with the technology we have, I don't really see the need to do that,'' she said.

"And flexibility is not at the expense of profitability.''



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