Flexible working continues to thrive in the public sector

More than two in five public sector workers were able to enjoy flexible working in the last quarter of 2018, official figures from the Office for National Statistics show. According to the data, around 42 percent of public sector workers said they had worked flexibly in the period from October to December 2018.  The proportion of people offered flexible working patters was double that of private sector workers, 21 percent of which reported arrangements such as flexitime, compressed hours and term-time only work.

The professions with the most ability to choose flexible working in the public sector were local and national government administrators (65 percent) and teaching support assistants (74 percent). Police officers (18 percent) and nurses and midwives (20 percent) had the lowest proportion of flexible workers.

The ONS also found that a growing proportion of part-time public sector workers were choosing to work part-time because they do not want full-time jobs. The proportion of workers choosing part time work rose from 83 percent in 2017 to 85 percent in 2018, while the proportion of people working part-time because they could not find a full-time job has decreased.


A mixed picture

However, while 17 percent of people in the private sector claim they work ‘mainly from home’ only 3 percent of public sector workers do so, perhaps because of the nature of their work.

Similar complicating factors based on the nature of a job include the fact that whereas 46 percent of people working in education say that they can work flexibly, around three quarters (76 percent) of their flexible working patterns are term-time only work and a further 16 percent are based annualised contracts in which workers are contracted for a set number of hours each year.

In healthcare, 31 percent of flexible working patterns is “on-call”, followed by “flexitime” (26 percent) and “annualised contracts” (26 percent).

Women are most likely to choose not to work full-time in order to spend more time with family, says the report. On the other hand, men tend to choose part-time work because they feel financially secure or because they earn enough already by working part-time. Of those who cited family time and domestic commitments as reasons for working part-time, around three quarters said that they had caring responsibilities for their children and/or relatives.