More action is needed to increase the uptake of flexible working arrangements. Data from the past decade (including the pandemic) continues to show low uptake or a decrease in many forms of flexible working arrangements. CIPD research suggests that UK workers face inequality due to a stark difference in employers offering flexible working practices, with just under half (46%) of employees saying they do not have flexible working arrangements in their current role.
The CIPD’s view is that flexible working practices should be the norm - not the exception - for all UK workers. With that in mind, our #FlexFrom1st campaign encourages employers to support flexible working for all and the right to request flexible working from day one of employment. We're also calling for a change to UK law to make flexible working requests a day one right for all employees.
Whilst the findings here are based on UK data, the broader trends and implications should be of interest wherever you are based.
A rise in homeworking but not in other forms of flexible working
Our examination of the ONS Labour Force Survey reveals that the increase in homeworking following the COVID-19 pandemic is continuing (rising from about 5% to 19%) but there has not been a similar rise in other forms of flexible working. In fact, the number of workers in a job-share, working flexi-time, compressed hours, part-time hours, term-time working, annualised hours and zero-hour contracts has decreased or remained stagnant.
The charts below explore the trends across different types of flexible working arrangements.
Unmet demand and potential
CIPD survey data shows a real unmet demand around flexible working arrangements. There is real potential to increase other types of flexible working such as job shares. The proportion working a job-share is also currently very small with very few in senior positions. This seems like a missed opportunity. For employees, job shares can often facilitate progression, and the ability to balance personal commitments. Employers can benefit from two sets of skills, knowledge and experience.
Now is the time for organisations to increase their flexible working offerings not pull back. The CIPD encourages organisations to collaborate with their employees to find flexible solutions that are mutually beneficial.
Flexibility is needed in hours worked as well as in location of work
Employers need 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.
Having the ability to build in flexible working arrangements, such as changes to hours, term-time working or job shares, 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 also supports peoples’ wellbeing and productivity. Fairness of opportunity in working flexibly ensures organisations do not end up with divisions or a two-tier workforce.
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