Third of employers now offer agile working and this is set to rise

Just over a third of employers now have an agile working policy, claims Aon’s Benefits and Trends Survey 2019 (registration required), with 98 percent of respondents saying employees now expect more flexible working hours and 89 percent saying staff expect agile/home working to be available. While currently a third (36 percent) of employers have agile working policies in place, where business requirements allow, Aon expects this to increase in popularity. Almost one-third of respondents do not know how many requests have been made for flexible working, but among the rest of the respondents, it is common for around 20 percent of employees to make a request. Employers are also providing more enhanced maternity pay, with organisations looking at how they can help parents get back to work, for example, through phased return to work. In addition, over half (58 percent) of employers have received requests for shared parental leave and the majority of firms provide statutory levels of shared parental pay. However, almost 40 percent replicate their enhanced maternity pay provisions.

The sort of benefits on offer at influencing leave policies said Jeff Fox, principal at Aon: “We’ve looked at trends in leave policies for the first time, prompted by so many requests from clients wanting to know general employer policy standards, especially for maternity, paternity, parental leave and flexible working.”

The results for maternity pay reveal that just over two-thirds of employers provide enhanced maternity pay. During the first six weeks of maternity pay, 80 percent of all survey participants enhance pay to 100 percent and most of those also continue to pay at 90 percent or 100 percent for up to 12 weeks. The figures tail off between weeks 13 and 26, but there are still a significant number continuing to pay either 100 percent or 50 percent of salary during this period. Beyond 26 weeks, the majority return to paying Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) only.


Annual leave provision is overwhelmingly set at around 25 days (FTE, full time equivalent, plus public holidays) as a basic entitlement, with only three out of over 200 respondents providing less than 20 days holiday.

Just over half of organisations provide additional service-related days, most commonly up to an extra five days, making 30 days in total. Around half also allow employees to buy additional days, usually an extra five days, and only one-third of employers provide more holidays based on seniority.

Most organisations also allow employees to take sabbaticals, but the majority are unpaid (46 percent). Thirty four percent do not allow sabbaticals, while 3 (1 percent) of the respondents fully pay sabbaticals.

Continued Fox: “Annual leave entitlement is unlikely to move very much from the current norm of 25 days (FTE/plus public holidays), but the increasing prevalence of flexible benefits will allow more employees to vary their annual leave entitlement to match their personal circumstances more effectively.”

More information can be found in the Benefits and Trends Survey 2019