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UK – Flexible working helps recruitment activities and should be extended, CIPD argues

09 May 2012

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) wants the UK Government to extend the right to request flexible working as new research by the CIPD found that only 4% of employers had problems complying with the current right to request flexible working since it was introduced about 10 years ago. Almost two thirds of employers believe flexible working supports their recruitment activities and half believe it has a positive impact on reducing absence as well as boosting productivity.

“The CIPD has long been calling for the extension of the right to request flexible working to all employees, despite claims from some quarters that the legislation is burdensome for businesses. Similar concerns were raised over a decade ago about the plans to introduce the statutory right to request flexible working for parents. Those fears have proved unfounded –  regardless of size of organisation,” said Ben Willmott, Head of Public Policy at the CIPD.

Hence the CIPD has urged the Government “to hold its nerve and go ahead with the extension” ahead of the Queen's speech this morning, which is written by the Government and outlines legislative plans for the next session of Parliament.

The CIPD found that 96% of employers provide flexible working arrangements to at least some employees while seven out of ten employers report that flexible working supports employee retention, motivation and engagement.

The survey, which questioned more than 1,000 employers, also indicates that people employed at smaller firms are more likely to be working flexibly than those working for medium or large-sized employers.

But the type of flexibility commonly used is quite limited. While the use of part-time working (32%), flexitime (25%), home working (20%) and mobile working (14%) is comparatively common, other types of flexible working are hardly used. Only 5% of workers use compressed hours, 2% use term-time working, and 1% job share.

“From the employee perspective, flexible working is linked to higher levels of employee engagement and wellbeing. Our report finds that employees satisfied with their work-life balance are more likely to be engaged and less likely to say they are under excessive pressure,” Mr Willmott said.

He also said that employees who do not work flexibly would want to do so, especially those below management level. “Managers are much more likely to be able to work from home or benefit from mobile working than other members of staff and while, this is partly likely to be because of differences in the nature of the work between managers and their employees, in some organisations, it is because of culture and ingrained attitudes,” Mr Willmott argued.

He believes that “flexible working works for business, and the Government should hold its nerve and go ahead with the extension to all employees. The result will be good news for business, employers and the wider economy.”

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