Flexible working arrangements - limitations and constraints in practice. Case study: the public sector, Comhairle.

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Burrows, Karen
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BA (Hons) in Human Resource Management
Dublin Business School
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This study analyses the need for flexible working arrangements in the public sector, the limitations and constraints to which it can be achieved in practice. It critically evaluates the experience to date in the usage of such arrangements, and recommends ways forward for future developments. The need for such analysis is relevant in the light of Ireland's recent economic prosperity and the resultant labour shortages. In particular, the public sector must address the issues of the recruitment and retention of staff, since it cannot compete with the private sector in monetary terms. This study provides evidence that flexible working arrangements can play a key role in helping the public sector to become an 'employer of choice'. The study outlines the business argument for flexible working arrangements and examines flexibility from both an employer and employee perspective. There are constraints and limitations to the level of flexibility that can be achieved in practice. The implementation of flexible working arrangements relies heavily on management for it to be successful. The study analyses the possible limitations and constraints and highlights possible solutions. Flexibility is an issue that is predominant in human resource management literature, as well as being a key policy issue at national and international level. It is one of the many areas where the rhetoric is far ahead of the reality. In the Irish public sector, flexible working arrangements remain employee led, rather than being part of the overall organisational strategy, as demonstrated in the case study of Comhairle. It is unlikely that this will change in the short-term. What is clear, however, is that for flexible working practices to reach their maximum potential, the issue of flexibility will need to become part of core management issues.