With its many benefits, we believe flexible working should be the norm – not the exception – for workers, and be central to the creation of inclusive and productive workplaces. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, flexible working remains as relevant as ever for both employers and policy-makers.

The situation

More action is needed to increase the uptake of flexible working arrangements to create more inclusive, diverse and productive workplaces that suit the needs of both organisations and individuals.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has driven an increase in working from home and hybrid working opportunities, we would like to see a similar increase in the provision and uptake of other types of flexible working such as flexible start and finish times, compressed hours and job-shares.  
It’s important to recognise that hybrid working has inclusion and wellbeing advantages. However, the majority of roles are not home-based.

That’s why at the CIPD, we have always championed a broad range of flexible working options to suit a wide range of jobs across sectors and industries and to suit different people. There is no one size fits all approach - organisations need to pilot and try out different ways of working to see what best suits the needs of their context and people. Not everyone will be able to benefit from the same type of flexibility but it is important to have parity of opportunity across roles.

 

CIPD viewpoint

The CIPD’s view is that flexible working practices should be the norm - not the exception - for all workers. With that in mind, for the last couple of years, we have campaigned through our #FlexFrom1st work to make the right to request flexible working a day one right rather than after 26 weeks of employment in the UK. The rationale behind this has been to broaden opportunities and create fairness for all employees. We are delighted to confirm that as of April 6th this year, the Employment Rights (Flexible Working) Act 2023 and accompanying day one right to request flexible working will be introduced.  

Two fifths of UK employers believe the right to request flexible working legislation has been effective in increasing the uptake of flexible working in their organisation; making it a day-one right should further bolster its effectiveness by increasing access and uptake more widely.

The CIPD Good Work Index, however, points to a number of barriers to be overcome:

  • Line manager attitudes.
  • Lack of senior-level support.
  • Concerns about meeting operational and customer requirements.
  • The nature of the work people do.

The CIPD is supporting the people profession to use its unique position to break these barriers and promote and support a much wider uptake of flexible working practices, through: Co-chairing the UK Government’s Flexible Working Taskforce, publishing research and guidance on enabling flexible working, and creating practical tools for line managers to bring about change.

  • Sharing practical guidance, case studies and toolkits for the people profession.
  • Supporting the people profession with the changes to flexible working legislation. Contributing to a Hybrid Working Commission aimed at making recommendations on how UK Government can respond to the rise in hybrid and remote working to the advantage of people, communities, and UK plc.

Actions for the UK Government

  • Continue to support the Flexible Working Taskforce and its remit to increase access to – and uptake of – different forms of flexible working.
  • Provide guidance and support to organisations on the forthcoming legislation change around making flexible working requests a day-one right.
  • Work with organisations (such as the CIPD) on myth-busting around flexible working to dispel the notion that it cannot work for certain employees or job roles that are traditionally not considered flexible.
  • Develop a challenge fund for businesses in frontline sectors to trial and track progress around flexible ways of working and the impact on business and employee metrics.
  • Lead by example by ensuring that the civil service becomes an exemplar of flexible working, and by encouraging the wider public sector to create more flexible jobs.

Recommendations for employers

  • Implement internal policies that allow your employees to request flexible working from day one of employment and back these up with supportive cultures.
  • Use the tagline ‘happy to talk flexible working’ in job adverts, attracting more candidates who are looking for flexible roles.
  • Raise awareness of different forms of flexible working, such as compressed hours and job sharing, and explore how they can be effective in roles that have traditionally been seen as non-flexible.
  • Develop mutual trust between line managers/senior management and employees in flexible working arrangements. Support these arrangements with appropriate people management systems and processes.

Flexible and
hybrid working

Explore our resources to help you embed flexible and hybrid working into your organisation

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CIPD Good Work Index: North of England

A North of England summary of the CIPD Good Work Index 2024 survey report

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CIPD Good Work Index

The CIPD Good Work Index provides an annual snapshot of job quality in the UK, giving insight to drive improvement to working lives

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