It just keeps getting harder for old blokes running businesses


It just keeps getting harder for old blokes running businesses. It was so much easier in the middle of the 20th century when you went to work and you worked and the boss didn’t have to worry at all about the niceties of how your family was, whether you had kids or not and whether they needed your attention, or anything else.

Then people started to get entitlements for mourning and funerals of family and friends when many an ignorant old boss would think you should just get back to work and get over it. At Ballina, some people would be irritated that you got more time off from dead relatives that they did, and want the entitlement removed entirely. (See April depanews)

Then flexible working hours crashed into the workplace in the 1970s and spread through local government in the 1980s against the sort of resistance we now see in some councils for parents wanting flexibility to accommodate their family responsibilities.

But life in the 21st century is different. Governments of both mainstream persuasions accept that employees are only employees for the part of their life. For the rest of it they are parents, or grandparents, children, or carers of some other sort - part of families and part of an overall community. In a way the mainstream political sides are competing to be regarded as better acknowledging these expanded responsibilities.

For the sake of the argument, leaving aside a fascination with a woman’s capacity to breed, how else can you explain Tony Abbott’s/ Federal Coalition’s maternity leave initiatives?

Managing flexibilities for child care, in particular, can be very difficult. Usually made more so by rigidity of mind and a failure to recognise that a workplace that provides flexibility for parents to accommodate their child care needs is going to be a workplace where parents are more capable of doing the job properly because they can balance their work and family needs.

Some councils handle this well and others (like Ballina) handle it badly - adopting rigidity when flexibility would serve them better and if that means a variety of different arrangements to accommodate different needs on days of work starting and finishing times, then that needs to be managed.

The announcement on 7 April by the Federal Government of a commitment to a two-year trial of the plan to pay living donors for the time involved in recovering from organ donation surgery extends the acceptance of our responsibilities and care into another dimension.

This extension will be unsettling for the old guard and the rigid-minded, but a modern workplace is a modern workplace and the momentum in society and in public policy is currently unstoppable.

The Government’s announcement is to be welcomed. The offering of an organ to a friend or relative, with all that is associated with the surgery and the recovery, is an act of generosity and kindness beyond the imagination of the miserable. Those offering their generosity and kindness are welcome to arrangements that mean that unlike the pain of surgery and recovery, they need suffer financial hardship and disadvantage from the process no longer.