Flexible Work Schedules the way to Go
With the Employment (Flexible Work Arrangements) (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2014 now in force, Myers Fletcher & Gordon (MF&G) and the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce hosted a Wednesday Morning Breakfast Seminar recently at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel, where 'Negotiating Work Schedules: Flexible Work Arrangements' was presented by attorney-at-law and MF&G associate, Jermaine Case.
Under the old regime, the normal 40-hour workweek was not standardised, the usual workday was eight hours at normal hourly rates and there were restrictions on the hours and days of operation for certain types of businesses. Saturdays (in some industries) and Sundays were not considered regular workdays. There were also restrictions on the hours of work for women in most industries. According to Case, some of the objectives of the flexi-work regime are to regularise, normalise and extend the flexible work arrangement practice, provide greater flexibility for employers and greater work-life balance for employees, and increase employment opportunities. He said that the regime was also designed with the broad aim of addressing the challenges of the changing world economy.
The new act enforces a standardised 40-hour workweek at normal rates, with a 12-hour workday also at normal rates. Saturdays and Sundays are now considered normal workdays with normal rates of pay. Rest days (which can be any day), public holidays and right to worship are still being protected. There are significantly fewer restrictions on hours/days of operations for businesses and the restrictions on women's hours of work have also been removed.
Case cited that, while the new flexi-work legislation creates no new obligations, there are benefits that arise from this new regime. Mentioned benefits include minimising costs which can result from the ability to now compress the workweek and improving efficiency, given the options now available to employers and employees. However, he urged employers to participate in fair and non-discriminatory hiring or firing practices, to review all employment contracts, and to train personnel, especially human resource managers, in order to make the best of the flexi-work regime.