One-in-five employees have no flexible working options

Research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development has revealed a serious lack of flexible working opportunities – leading it to call for flexibility to be a day-one right.

The research finds one-in-five employees (19%) currently work in organisations that offer no flexible working options at all, while nearly a half (46%) say they are not offered flexible working arrangements in their current role – everything from flexitime, part-time working, compressed hours or job shares.

So bad are these findings, the CIPD has announced it is launching a campaign – #FlexFrom1st – urging employers to implement policies that enable staff to request flexible working from day one of their employment.

In addition to this, it intends to start lobbying the government to enshrine this right in law.

Ben Willmott (pictured), head of public policy at the CIPD, said: “Although staff do now have a legal right to request flexible working, staff still need to have been working for their organisation for a minimum of 26 weeks to qualify.”

According to the research, inequity was a key reason staff want flexible working for all, from the first day they join their organisation. It found 41% of the 2,000 staff surveyed said it was unfair  some colleagues can work from home while others have little flexibility in how they work.

Commenting on the research, Peter Cheese, chief executive at CIPD, said: “While many have hailed the pandemic as a driver for the adoption of flexible working practices, particularly around home working, the reality for many is this is not the case. We need a new understanding about what flexible working is and we need employers to embrace flexible working arrangements beyond home working, to give opportunity and choice to all.”

Willmott said: “Our research finds flexibility is still too one-sided, in that it suits the employer but not the individual.” He added: “There is a real unmet demand for a range of flexible working practices, particularly compressed hours, annualised hours, job sharing and term-time working. Too often, even where employees are working flexibly, they are not able to benefit from the type of flexibility that would suit them best.”

The CIPD research also found there a significant gap between arrangements employees currently use compared to those that they would use if offered.

Flexitime is currently used by 21% of employees, but wanted by 39%. Meanwhile part-time hours (4 days or less), are currently used by 19%, yet desired by 28%. Only 3% of employees reported that they currently use compressed hours (working full-time hours in fewer days), while 19% would use this arrangement if it were available.