The task force has been established by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy to promote wider understanding and implementation of inclusive flexible work and working practices, bringing together policy-makers, employer groups, Unions and employee representative groups, research groups and professional bodies.

Workforce data and forthcoming CIPD research shows that the uptake of most types of flexible working by employees has largely plateaued over the last decade, despite the right to request being available to all. The task force will therefore work to understand the reasons behind this, clarify the benefits of flexible working for individuals and organisations across the many different options and practices, and develop the evidence and understanding as to the most effective ways to increase the provision and support. An important first priority for the group will be to take on the Prime Minister’s challenge to businesses to improve workplace equality by advertising all jobs as flexible from Day one in employment.

The task force will draw together action plans and recommendations with the intention of increasing flexible working opportunities, and will also feed directly into the evaluation of the effectiveness of the Right to Request Flexible Working Regulations in 2019. The first meeting of comes after the Government committed to consider how to further promote workplace flexibility in its Good Work plan in February.

Peter Cheese, Chief Executive of the CIPD and co-chair of the Flexible Working Task Force, commented: “Flexible working is key to unlocking employment and progression opportunities across many under-represented groups in the labour market. It can also play a crucial role in an organisation’s performance through enabling better work-life balance, improving employee engagement and retention and key outcomes including productivity and delivering more flexible service to customers. Despite this, uptake has remained low over the last few years. Our research shows that the main obstacles to employers providing flexible working arrangements include a lack of understanding and support amongst line managers and business leaders, and long engrained working cultures of presenteeism and tradition of standard working hours. There is much to learn from those employers whose flexible working practices are more inclusive and who are already seeing the benefits of a diverse, flexible and more engaged workforce.

“We’re delighted to be partnering with the Government on their new Flexible Working Task Force, representing the voice of more than 145,000 people professionals across the UK and globally. HR is in a unique position to understand the barriers that are limiting an advance in flexible working for UK organisations, and identify how flexible working options can benefit both the organisation and individuals. We’re here to encourage, challenge and support government and organisation’s efforts to create a seismic cultural change and greater take up of flexible working for everyone.”

Business minister Andrew Griffiths said: “We have record employment in the UK and now the challenge is to make jobs higher-quality and high-skill to boost earning power and productivity as part of our Industrial Strategy.

“Genuine two-way flexibility between employers and employees is key to achieving quality jobs and giving employers access to a bigger pool of potential talent in the labour market including amongst women, older workers, carers and disabled people. The Prime Minister has called on employers to make jobs flexible from day one to help close the gender pay gap and our new joint taskforce will look at how employers could achieve this, what works well already and how we can remove obstacles to flexible working.”

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