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32% of UK office workers still not offered flexible working, study finds

A third of UK office workers (32%) are still not given the option of flexible working by their employer – five years since it became a legal right.

This is according to a new study by the PowWowNow Smarter Working Initiative, commissioned for the fifth anniversary of the statutory Right to Request Flexible Working legislation, which came into force on 30th June 2014.

However, uptake of flexible working across the UK in 2019 is up 14% on 2018, with 68% of office workers now offered it by their employer, compared to 54% last year.

70% of those who haven’t benefitted from flexible working yet wish they had the option of a better work-life balance. Over three quarters (79%) of office workers believe working flexibly would make them more productive, with more than two thirds (68%) claiming they would be more motivated if they had the option to take a more flexible approach to the time they spend in the office and working remotely.

Employers looking to get ahead of the competition should be aware that 81% of UK office workers say they would find a job more attractive if the employer implemented a flexible working policy, up from 70% in 2018.  

Such is the attraction of a more flexible approach to work, a third of employees (35%) would rather benefit from a flexible working policy, giving them a better work-life balance, than receive a pay rise.

The study also found that when it comes to supporting new parents, nearly two thirds (63%) of employers don’t tell new dads-to-be about their right to request Shared Parental Leave (SPL), which came into effect in 2015 and allows new dads to split parental leave evenly with their partner.

Jason Downes, founder of the PowWowNow Smarter Working Initiative, commented, “It’s quite shocking to learn that a significant number of office workers across the UK aren’t getting the flexibility they’re looking for in their working week, despite having a legal right to it. While I am delighted to see that more employers than last year are embracing a more flexible culture, more still needs to be done to educate workplaces on the benefits this can bring when managed well.

“Flexible working is just one element of a smarter approach to the working week which I feel is needed across the UK. We have the very latest technology available at our fingertips, enabling the majority of us to remain productive even if we’re not bound to our desks 9 hours a day, 5 days a week, and I urge as many employers as possible to consider how they can motivate and incentivise their staff by working smarter this summer and beyond.”

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