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Tools for flexibility

Briefs

Cite as: April 2015 89 (4) LIJ, p.20

Sponsorship and mentoring advice have been added to the Victorian Women Lawyers (VWL) practical guide to working flexibly for employers and employees.

The Flexible Work Toolkit, relaunched this month, details seven protocols aimed at facilitating flexible work arrangements.

Carer leave, returning to work, part-time arrangements, job-sharing, flexible hours, establishing a business case for working flexibly and other benefits and challenges are also covered in the guide.

A lack of visibility leading to a possible sense of isolation by employees working flexibly was one of the challenges identified, according to VWL convenor Kirsten Adams.

“Being aware of the possible issues and making provision for them is the key to success,” Ms Adams said.

“Both parties need to be actively switched on and play a part in what’s going on.

“Firms need to have processes in place that enable them to manage employees with flexible work arrangements as they would employees in the office.”
Working flexibly is still a confronting issue for the legal profession, according to Ms Adams.

“Law firms are lagging behind the rest of the corporate world with these types of working arrangements,” said Ms Adams, adding firms worried that clients might negatively perceive their lawyer working flexibly.

Meanwhile, lawyers want time for their families and interests.

“What we’re seeing anecdotally is people who are pre-kids, young lawyers, don’t want to be in the office late into the evening. They have hobbies and interests they want to pursue. The expectation is that they will be able to pursue those interests without compromising their work or career development.”

Ms Adams said the Toolkit’s user-friendly tips apply to anyone working in the legal system; “It’s about equal benefits for employees and employers”.

LIV president Katie Miller said flexibility is important to the legal profession because every lawyer is different.

“There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to lawyering. There is also no ‘one size fits all’ approach to flexibility. Some lawyers need flexibility for a short period of time, others want flexibility as a core part of their practice. What is important is that lawyers and their firms discuss what flexibility means to them and adopt a flexible and respectful approach to the issue.”

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