September 2, 2019
One in three (30 percent) requests for flexible working are being turned down, according to a new TUC poll published today (Monday). The polling – published as children around the UK go back to school this week – reveals that flexible working is not available to many workers, and that people in working-class jobs are most likely to miss out on it.
The survey shows:
• Flexi-time is unavailable to over half (58 percent) of the UK workforce. This number rises to nearly two-thirds (64 percent) for people in working-class occupations.
• 3 in 10 workers (28 percent) say their desire for more flexible hours is one of the main reasons they might look for a new job.
The TUC is today joining the Flex for All alliance – along with Pregnant then Screwed, Fawcett Society, Mother Pukka, the Young Women’s Trust and the Fatherhood Institute.
The Flex for All campaign has launched a petition to change the law so that flexible working is open to all workers from day one in the job, with employers required to advertise all jobs on that basis.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Flexible working should be a day one right that’s available to everyone. “But under current law bosses have free rein to turn down requests. It’s not right that millions are struggling to balance their work and home lives. Ministers must change the law so that people can work flexibly – regardless of what type of contract they are on. Allowing people more flexibility in how and when they do their work makes them happier and more productive.”
Phil Pepper, partner and head of employment team at law firm, Shakespeare Martineau, said: “The survey results highlight just how much more education around flexible working is needed. When implemented in the right way, flexible working has the potential to rejuvenate a workforce and boost productivity, but we’re not quite there yet.
“Despite changing attitudes, there is still hesitation from some employers in implementing flexible working, fuelled by fears around employees taking advantage of the schemes. For the approach to be successful in the longer team, both employer and employee must work together to agree a mutually beneficial arrangement, which isn’t detrimental to the wider business.
“Even though the right to request flexible working is statutory, many employers have arrangements that are wider and more generous than the statutory scheme. Whilst this is beneficial for employees, it does mean that employers have the right to turn requests down.
“Ultimately, flexible working is a two-way street. Ways of working have changed dramatically over recent years and leaps in technology mean that being chained to a desk in a set location, for a set time period, is no longer a necessity. The need for flexibility must be balanced with the needs of the business. Frank and honest discussions are key to arriving at a situation which works for everyone.”