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Next Previous Flexible form of work, for and against HOME • INSIDER • CYPRUS • Flexible form of work, for and against
& nbsp & nbspEvagora Prokopiou & nbsp; & nbsp;
In the last two years, apart from our daily habits, the pandemic has also had a catalytic effect on work, forcing thousands of people to move to distance work, change careers or even be completely out of the job market. This phenomenon is global. Flexible work seems to have come to stay, especially in those cases that are the choice of the employees themselves and not the result of an obligation imposed on them by the employer. & Nbsp; Flexible work can promote autonomy in areas such as drawing up a work schedule or the emergency change of a shift worker. In addition, it allows managers to tailor their design to the individual needs of employees and companies themselves.
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There are many different ways to adopt and leverage flexible working in companies. Different working arrangements can be used depending on the needs of the company, the profile of the management and workforce, the industry, the needs of the customers and the possibility of adopting flexibility while maintaining the smooth operation and continuity of the business. No & nbsp; The potential of flexible working in Cyprus has been fully exploited and this is commonly accepted.
Ready for more … digital nomads
These are workers who have the ability to work remotely not only from home but also from abroad, essentially traveling around the world, as technology now allows. They are the digital nomads (in Greek the “digital nomads”), who due to the pandemic and lockdowns, not only increased worldwide but also became better known. Cyprus, however, entered the hunt for digital nomads with a delay, announcing its own visa plan for digital nomads only at the end of 2021. The plan was included in the new strategy of attracting companies to operate or expand their activities in Cyprus and to implement The Ministry of Interior was designated as the competent authority, with the Ministry of Finance also being a party involved. In addition, there are gaps in the institutional framework but also a difference of opinion regarding employers 'organizations on the one hand and workers' unions on the other. Especially for this part of what we call flexible work, we invited the General Secretary of PEO, Sotiroula Charalambous, the General Secretary of SEK, Andrea Matsa and Michalis Antoniou, General Manager of OEB to submit their positions.
MICHALIS ANTONIOU & nbsp; & nbsp; & nbsp; & nbsp; GENERAL DIRECTOR OEB
MODERN METHOD WITH MUTUAL BENEFITS (WIN-WIN)
& nbsp; Flexible forms of employment are not a new phenomenon of employment, on the contrary, over time they have been associated with the large and very important chapter of reconciling work and family life. In addition, the European Directive on the Balance of Professional and Private Life for Parents and Carers, which Cyprus must harmonize by next August, makes reference to flexible forms of employment particularly strong as it is required by the Member States. Member States to take the necessary measures to ensure that workers with children up to a certain age and carers are entitled to request flexible working arrangements for care purposes.
Such forms of employment are, as a rule, modern methods of work organization, adapted to the needs of employees and companies with mutually beneficial results (win-win) as, as proven, they are an effective means of improving productivity and at the same time a convenient tool for managing employees' personal needs. addressing the risk of social exclusion of vulnerable groups.
In Cyprus, the most common form of flexible work is part-time work and employees employed on this basis are legally protected under specific legislation, in relation to their terms of employment vis-.-Vis full-time employees. But in addition to part-time work, flexible forms of employment include less common forms such as flexible working hours, personalized working hours, compressed working day or week, space-flexible employment, circular work and teleworking.
In particular for teleworking, the implementation of which developed rapidly during the pandemic period, OEB since 2002 has been actively promoting its implementation on the basis of the Framework Agreement on Teleworking signed by the European Social Partners. Unfortunately, despite our repeated efforts, we have not been able to persuade the trade union movement to subscribe so that the relevant agreement can be adopted at the national level. This resulted in the preparation of a bill by the government that regulates teleworking and which includes provisions for which OEB has reservations. & Nbsp;
The adoption of flexible forms of employment in the Cypriot reality is entirely possible and is done based on the size of each company and the nature of the economic activity. It is of course understandable that not all companies can benefit equally from all forms of flexible employment. However, where they are applied, they bring benefits to companies as, by giving the incentives associated with the various employment regimes, they can attract and retain the most capable executives for their needs.
At the same time, by applying flexible forms of employment, companies provide the necessary flexibility to employees to deal more effectively with emergencies as well as to find time and ways to improve other aspects of their lives, with the main consequence of their most substantial contribution to the company. & Nbsp; It should be emphasized that the gradual change of traditional social roles proves that work-family reconciliation concerns both men and women.
Therefore, the achievement of the main goals of each company, which is to increase productivity, to effectively deal with competition, to address emergencies and seasonal needs, but also to better serve its customers, becomes stronger due to the better utilization of human resources. It is also important to note that through the possibility of flexible forms of work, staff leaving for reasons related to their marital status and/or other reasons such as the distance between home and work are reduced.
< p>Undoubtedly, the success of a company can not be the result of an individual and unique practice but a set of policies and practices focused on new trends and needs of both the company itself and its employees. Times are changing and despite the initial reservations of many about flexible forms of employment, their value has been proven. They have come to stay.
& nbsp; ANDREAS F. MATSAS & nbsp; SECRETARY GENERAL OF THE TEC
ACCEPTABLE UNDER SPECIFIC CONDITIONS
Flexibility at work is a concept that can be interpreted in many different ways and is defined in different ways, depending on the approach and philosophy adopted in terms of shaping the operating framework of the labor market. It is precisely for this reason that at the beginning of the 21st century, the term “flexicurity” was adopted, which limited the right to flexibility, with the implementation of new forms of employment, but ensuring & nbsp; that they would not be aimed at exploiting workers, either by reducing their benefits and rights or by jeopardizing employment.
At the same time, flexibility and generally flexible forms of employment have been linked to efforts to promote family and work reconciliation, giving a more social dimension to the whole approach. & Nbsp; Today, when the labor market is changing at a much faster rate than originally anticipated, we need to identify flexible forms of employment that can create a balance in the labor market and a balance between employees and employers in terms of the smooth functioning of labor relations, while helping to create prospects for economic growth and employment.
At the same time, as a trade union movement, we must listen to the needs and choices of society itself and by extension of workers, especially among young people, so that we can safeguard their rights and their future.
The challenge is in front of us, far from dogmatism and ankylosis, taking into account the new trends created by the digitization of the labor market, the innovation in development and the characteristics of young workers. A first step has already been taken in the regulation of teleworking, while at European level, the recent Digitization Framework Agreement creates the potential for better management of the problems faced by platform workers.
Flexible forms of employment are acceptable within the Cypriot work context when two key elements coexist. The first is to fully respect and respect human and trade union rights and the second, (equally important), not to create conditions or situations that contribute to the deregulation of the labor market.
Recently and As a result of the problems caused by the pandemic, teleworking was at the forefront of alternative forms of employment and had to be managed quickly and efficiently.
The SEC submitted written suggestions to the government in the context of the efforts for legislative regulation of teleworking, while it issued – with a relevant announcement in the Labor Voice – guidelines that must be followed for teleworking. The relevant guidelines are derived from the provisions of the European Framework Agreement on teleworking.
Most important of all, is the fact that the choice of teleworking, as a form of employment, must be made voluntarily and not be a product of coercion by the employer to the employee. At the same time, the bill agreed between the social partners and the Minister of Labor and Social Insurance clearly guarantees the right of workers to disconnect.
Another form of employment that finds enough ground in Cyprus is part-time employment. . In the fourth quarter of 2021, a total of 49,848 people (11.2% of the total number of employees) were working part-time.
Of course, there are other forms of flexible employment, while it is known that in Cyprus, in cooperation with the Republic of Cyprus and the European Union, there is a “Grant Scheme for inclusion in employment with flexible arrangements”, e.g. flexible working hours, compressed working week, ie the employee can work his total weekly hours in less days, etc. The TEC supports the alternative forms of employment, with the conditions mentioned above in the introduction and under the non-negotiable principle these should be the product of social dialogue and agreement between the social partners, clearly preventing informal and precarious forms of employment, impunity and exploitation of workers.
SOTIROULLA CHARALAMPOUS & nbsp; GENERAL SECRETARY PEO
EXPERIENCE FROM MOST COUNTRIES IS NOT GOOD
The debate on so-called flexible forms of employment has been going on for years in the European Union. & Nbsp; It was formalized as a policy of the European Union with the Lisbon Strategy, which linked flexible forms of employment with the fight against unemployment, increasing the participation of young people, women and older people in employment, the goal of the combination of work and family, and improving Europe's competitiveness. & nbsp; In an effort to underline the forces that determine EU policy. that flexible forms of employment can be positive for everyone and in the face of employees' concerns about the effects of flexibility, they also invented an imaginative term, flexicurity and we came up with “security”.
Experience from most EU countries is that flexible forms of employment offer employees nothing more than safe and decent work. & nbsp; Especially in the years of deep economic crisis, from 2008 onwards, with the extreme neoliberal economic policies implemented, the high unemployment created, flexible forms of employment were used as another mechanism to undermine labor rights regulation. & Nbsp; To the old forms of flexible work were added new ones, work with zero contracts (seasonal employment), pseudo-self-employment. & Nbsp; The result is the dramatic expansion of the working class.
Cyprus has not been left untouched by this phenomenon either. & Nbsp; Especially after 2013 and the shock that the Cypriot economy suffered from the haircut and the memorandum, with unemployment approaching 17% and even higher among young people, the need for a job, and political decisions such as the liberalization of working hours work in stores, led to a dramatic increase in flexible forms of employment. & nbsp; Part-time employment reached 18% while 90% of part-time workers worked in this form of work not by choice, but because they could not find another full-time job.
Our other important experience from flexible forms of employment is forced teleworking in the pandemic, where it was shown that in the absence of a regulatory framework and control what seemed to be the ideal work-family combination was not exactly the case, since the time limit was and private time became indistinguishable, while work stress was very high.
We point to these elements to show that what neoliberal theory has clothed in the promotion of flexible forms of employment, that is, on the one hand the choice of work-family combination and the improvement of the competitiveness of the economy, has only worked in one part, in improving competitiveness and profitability by using flexible forms of labor to squeeze labor costs.
Recording these realities does not mean that we fire every work framework that is different. What we are pointing out is the need for all forms of employment, and in particular those called flexible, to be placed under a regulated framework. & Nbsp; To be a truly voluntary choice of employees, to have the choice and priority to work full time, to have the same opportunities for promotion, training and of course to have regulated employment conditions, which are not inferior to the employment conditions of other employees who work or full-time, or work from the workplace. These are, for example, the principles on which we set out to set the framework for teleworking at CYTA, making it part of the arrangements contained in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. & Nbsp; These are the principles we have set out in the social dialogue for the enactment of the Law on Teleworking.
The compass with which PEO approaches the chapter of flexible forms of employment is very specific. & Nbsp; We fight to protect workers from forms of work that intensify work, intensify exploitation and deepen deregulation. We are fighting against cheap labor.
From the June issue of Insider magazine