This week the CIPD has launched Flex From 1st. A campaign to make flexible working more accessible for all, by calling on organisations and government to make the right to request flexible working a day one right.

New CIPD research has found that flexible working practices in Britain aren’t fair. British workers face inequality due to a marked difference in the way employers approach flexible working, with nearly half (46%) of employees saying they do not have access to flexible working arrangements as part of their current role.

Flexible working practices cover a wide variety of different working arrangements – such as homeworking, flexi-time, part-time working, compressed hours and job-shares.

The CIPD’s survey of over 2000 employees found that while the Coronavirus pandemic has caused a large increase in homeworking, 44% of employees have not worked from home at all since the beginning of the crisis. It also found that those who don’t work flexibly are twice as likely to be dissatisfied with their job and work-life balance.

This has often meant those in essential and lower paid front-line jobs are not able to work from home, and it is crucial that these workers are not left behind when it comes to flexible working. The benefits of flexible working – for both employers and employees – are well established, and the CIPD want the opportunities to benefit from these arrangements to be made more equal.

Make the right to request flexible working a day one right

The CIPD’s Flex From 1st campaign calls on employers to support flexible working for all and to enable the right to request flexible working from day one of employment.

The CIPD is also calling for a change in UK law, to make flexible working requests a day-one right for all employees, regardless of their sector, geography or level of seniority. Currently British law states that employees can only request to work flexibly after 26 weeks of employment and are limited to one request a year.

End flexible working inequality. Pledge your support here.

Peter Cheese, Chief Executive of the CIPD says ‘We need a new understanding about what flexible working is and we need employers to embrace flexible working arrangements beyond home working, to give opportunity and choice to all. Employees may not always be able to change where they work, but they should have more choice and a say in when and how they work’.

Cheese continues, noting that flexible working ‘will empower people to have greater control and flexibility in their working life. This is good for inclusion and opening up opportunities to people who have other constraints in being able to work standard hour weeks or in getting to a place of work. It is also good for people’s wellbeing and productivity’.

A case study: opening up new opportunities

Maria Cameron is a marketing consultant from Oxfordshire. On her return from maternity leave in 2018, she couldn’t find a suitable role within the company she’d worked at for seven years that allowed her to work flexibly four days a week. Instead, she took a course in digital marketing, and has now gone on to set up her own company.

Maria says: ‘My need for flexibility has opened up some incredible avenues for me that I wouldn’t have had time to pursue if I’d just accepted the terms of the company I was working for. It’s not only enriched my family life, but also my own personal development. For me, flexible working was about putting some control back into my court – it has allowed me to live the life I want to lead, and I’m able to juggle my priorities.’

Click here for more information about the campaign, related resources and to pledge your support.

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About the CIPD

At the CIPD, we champion better work and working lives. We help organisations to thrive by focusing on their people, supporting economies and society for the future. We lead debate as the voice for everyone wanting a better world of work.