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Flexible working should be a day-one right says CIPD

2 February 2021

Despite a rise in home working because of the pandemic, new research shows that nearly half of employees still do not have flexible working in their current role.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has launched a new campaign, #FlexFrom1st, calling for flexible working requests to be a legal right for employees from their first day on the job.

Currently, employees can only make a request for flexible working after 26 weeks of employment, and this is limited to one request every 12 months. The CIPD is calling on the government to make requests for flexible working a right from day one for all employees, as well as revisiting the business reasons for rejection and the 12-month timeframe.

It comes as a new survey by the CIPD of over 2,000 employees has found that while the coronavirus pandemic has driven a huge increase in working from home, 44% of employees have not worked from home at all since the beginning of the crisis. The majority of those employees (92%) say that this is because the nature of their job doesn't allow them to.

However, the findings show that nearly half (46%) of all employees say they do not have flexible working arrangements - such as flexi-time, part-time working, compressed hours or job shares - in their current role. The CIPD also found that:

  • 19% of employees say they work for organisations that do not offer any flexible working arrangements;
  • 41% of employees say it's unfair that some people can work from home while others have little flexibility in how they work;
  • 75% of employees agree that it is important that people who can't work from home can work flexibly in other ways.

"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 that this is not the case," said Peter Cheese, CIPD chief executive. "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. Employees may not always be able to change where they work, but they should have more choice and a say in when and how they work.

"Being able to build in flexible working arrangements, such as changes to hours, term-time working or job shares, will empower people to have greater control and flexibility in their working life. This is good for inclusion … it's also good for people's wellbeing and productivity."

According to the CIPD, employees who have flexibility report significantly higher levels of satisfaction with their job, work-life balance and control over their work. It says that businesses that embrace flexible working benefit from increased productivity and employee retention.

The CIPD research also shows that there is a significant gap between the arrangements employees currently use compared to those that they would prefer. Flexi-time is currently used by 21% of employees, yet desired by 39%, while part-time hours (four days or less) are currently used by 19%, yet desired by 28%. Just 3% of employees currently use compressed hours (working full-time hours in fewer days), while 19% would use this arrangement if available.

However, half of employers (50%) say they will be more likely to grant requests for flexible working, besides working from home, once the pandemic restrictions have been relaxed.

Written by Rachel Miller.

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