Why Flexibility Costs

Shawnee Love   •  
September 6, 2013

The various employment standards legislation across Canada are designed to prevent bad employers from taking advantage of their employees. Unfortunately, they also can make it difficult for many good employers.

Case in point: Consider employers who are trying to be more flexible and responsive to their employees scheduling needs.  Employers are permitting:

  • Variances to work day schedules,
  • Last minute time off requests, and
  • Offers to make up the time by working through lunch, coming in early or staying late.

This increased flexibility results in happy employees because they can navigate a balance between work and their personal needs- often without negatively impacting their compensation.

Employers benefit too because happier less stressed employees are more productive and more likely to stay.

Sounds perfect and indeed it would be if your friendly neighbourhood employment standards officers never hear about it. But if they do, there could be trouble because:

Employees can’t give up their employment rights.

(unless they are members of unions that is, but that’s another blog)

In practice your willingness to be flexible could mean you have to pay overtime for the “bit of extra work” done one day but only deduct the time off at regular time – EVEN IF THE EMPLOYEE IS MAKING UP FOR OTHER TIME OFF AND REQUESTED THE ARRANGEMENT!

If you are feeling backed into a corner, you are on to something.  You are damned if you don’t offer flexibility (inflexibility leads to turnover), and on the other hand you are damned because:

  1. Either you have to pay the extra overtime (to comply with the law) or
  2. You risk being discovered (aka ratted out by a disgruntled employee or perhaps an informed, unethical employee) and receiving a fine plus having to pay the overtime anyway.

Truthfully, I see more and more organizations opting for flexibility and taking the risks, because the alternatives (unhappy employees or higher costs) are simply not acceptable.

Just goes to prove the point, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

What does your company do with employees who want to make up for missed work?