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7 in 10 HR managers support greater flexible working in their workplace

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TUC poll (@The_TUC): 7 in 10 HR managers support greater flexible working in their workplace 

Seven in 10 (70%) of UK HR managers now say flexible working could work for their business – a new TUC poll has revealed today (Wednesday).

Half (49%) of UK HR managers polled said that greater flexible working could work for their business as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, building on the one in five (21%) who say that their business already enabled significant flexible working before the pandemic. 

The poll – run by YouGov for the TUC – shows that employer attitudes towards flexible working arrangements have shifted markedly during the pandemic.

The poll reveals that:

  • Seven in 10 (70%) HR managers polled now either have already implemented significant flexible working or believe greater flexible working is suitable for their business.
  • Only one in four (24%) of the HR managers polled say they won’t enable significant flexible working at their company or business following the pandemic.

The findings are published as the government’s consultation on flexible working closes today (1 December).

Flexible working in job adverts

The TUC is calling for the government to unlock the flexibility in every job by introducing a new duty on employers to include the possible flexible working options in all job adverts and giving every worker the right to work flexibly.

That means every job ad would include details of the potential flexible working arrangements are available in that role – whether that’s flexi-time, compressed hours, part-time hours, term-time only hours, job-shares, home or remote working, or predictable shifts.

The successful candidate would then have the right to take up those flexible working arrangements from their first day on the job.  

So far around 2,000 members of the public – including parents, disabled people and carers – have used the TUC’s tool to tell ministers why they need greater rights to flexible working.

Many have explained why having to wait until they are in a job to ask for flexible working is unworkable – and demanded that ministers require employers to publish flexible working options in job ads.

Government inaction

Today’s poll reveals that the majority of HR managers polled believe it would be easy to include specific information about potential flexible working arrangements in job adverts:

  • More than six in ten (62 per cent) of HR managers polled said it would be easy to include specific information about the pattern of home or remote working available in each role in each job advert, or they already do this.
  • Around six in ten (59 per cent) of HR managers polled said it would be easy to include specific information about the types of hours-based flexible working arrangements available in each job advert, or they already do this.
  • In order put flexible working options in job ads, companies would need to identify the types of flexible working that are possible in a job before advertising. Over three quarters (78 per cent) of HR managers polled said it would be easy to do this for home or remote working, or that they do it already. Almost two thirds (62 per cent) of those polled said this would be easy to do for hours-based flexible working arrangements, or that they already do this.

The union body says that, despite rising support for flexible working in business, only one in four jobs are advertised with flexible work options listed.

The current system is broken

The legal ‘right to request’ flexible working has been in place for around 20 years. But the current system is broken, says the TUC. Without government action, the growth in support of flexible working will not translate into practical changes for workers. 

A recent survey run by the TUC and campaigner Mother Pukka found that half of working mums don’t get the flexibility they request at work. And that those who do get flexible working face discrimination and disadvantage as a result.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“During the pandemic, many people were able to work flexibly or from home for the first time. Staff and bosses both saw the benefits this flexibility can bring.

“But the current system is broken. A right to ask for flexible working is no right at all – especially when bosses can turn down requests with impunity. 

“Attitudes to all types of flexible working changed significantly in the pandemic. Ministers need to take advantage of this – and make sure all workers can get the flexible working they need. 

“Flexible working is how we keep mums in work and close the gender pay gap. It enables dads to spend more time with their kids. It helps disabled workers and carers stay in their jobs – and in employment. 

“Ministers must change the law: all jobs must be advertised with the possible flexible options clearly stated, and all workers must have the legal right to work flexibly from their first day in a job.”

Government action needed

The TUC is calling for action to help people get the flexibility they need at work, including:

  • Unlock the flexibility in all jobs. Every job can be worked flexibly. There are a range of hours-based and location-based flexibilities to choose from – and there is a flexible option that will work for every type of job. Employers should think upfront about the flexible working options that are available in a role, publish these in all job adverts and give successful applicants a day one right to take it up.
  • Making flexible working a genuine legal right from the first day in a job. People should be allowed to work flexibly from day one, unless the employer can properly justify why this is not possible. They should have the right to appeal any rejections. And there shouldn’t be a limit on how many times you can ask for flexible working arrangements in a year.

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