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Nearly 30% of workers would change jobs for flexible working

A recent poll of 2,700 UK adults from the TUC discovered employers are rejecting 30 per cent of all flexible working requests. According to the research, flexi-time is unavailable for the majority of UK workers, with people in lower-paid sectors – such as retail – most likely to miss out on employment flexibility.

Flexible working was found to be a high incentive for several employees, with 28 per cent of all workers saying their interest in flexible hours is one of the main reasons they would look elsewhere for employment.

TUC general secretary, France O’Grady, believes flexible working should be a ‘day-one right’. Also in agreement was Director of Know Your Money, Nic Redfern, who recently commented that employers should not treat flexible working as a bonus, but more so as a necessity:

“Organisations are at risk of losing talented staff if they cannot provide more flexible structures – whether that’s relaxing the set office hours, allowing employees to work from home, or even offering the option of a four-day week.”

What is the law on flexible working?

Currently, flexible working is not a default right for everyone as employers have the ability to turn down requests. Workers have a legal right to request flexible working, however, employees must have been working for the same employer at least 26 weeks to be eligible.

There are a variety of flexible working options available in the workplace, including:

  • Job sharing
  • Working from home
  • Part-time
  • Flexi-time
  • Annualised hours
  • Staggers hours
  • Phased retirement
  • Compressed hours

4-day work week could save businesses more than £100bn a year

Over the last few years, compressed hours have become one of the most attractive flexible working options available throughout the UK. In fact, a recent study found three-quarters of Brits are in favour of working a four-day week; essentially fitting five days’ worth of work into four.

The research, which was carried out by Know Your Money, found almost half (49 per cent) would be willing to sacrifice a pay cut to move to a four-day working week. The survey of 2,000 UK workers discovered 70 per cent consider flexible working to be important to their job satisfaction. Interestingly, the report found women were more likely to feel this way than men, at 74 per cent to 67 per cent.

There has also been data that shows flexible working not only helps the employees but can also benefit employers. A study from the University of Reading’s Henley Business School suggested that switching to a four-day operation could save UK businesses an estimated £104 billion every year. Those businesses who are already offering a four-day workweek commented on the benefits of providing flexible working. Seventy-eight per cent said employees were happier, 70 per cent said it helps them attract and retain older employees, 64 per cent reported an increase in staff productivity and 63 per cent saw an improvement in the quality of work produced.

The 2019 research found that a shorter working week on full pay increased staff productivity and mental health, resulting in fewer sick days. There were also potential environmental benefits to a shorter working week with fewer journeys to and from the workplace, meaning less fuel consumption. Almost half (46 per cent) of employers in larger businesses and the public sector believe that offering a four-day working week will be necessary for future business success.

Flexible Working Bill

After noticing flexible working opportunities had flatlined since 2010, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the CIPD launched a Flexible Working Task Force at the beginning of the year. The hope was to encourage employers to advertise all jobs – regardless of its pay grade - as flexible. This was then supported by Helen Whately, the Conservative MP for Faversham and Mid Kent, who introduced the Flexible Working Bill in Parliament in July 2019. Ms Whately argued that flexible working should be the default position for all employees, and that the current five-day working week ‘no longer reflects the reality of how many modern families want to live their lives’.

Several charity campaigners have come forward to back the move. Ella Smillie, from gender equality campaign group the Fawcett Society, stated:

“Ensuring that employers offer flexible working would open up new jobs to a whole raft of people who want to work, alongside carrying out caring responsibilities or simply achieving a better work-life balance.

“There are also clear benefits to employers – offering flexible working to employees creates a stronger, loyal and more diverse workforce.”

Contact our Flexible Working Lawyers London, UK

If you are looking at flexible working options in your workplace, speak with a member of our qualified employment team for expert legal advice. Call us today on 020 7167 4800 or by completing the online enquiry form and we will get back to you straight away.

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