A new report shows that UK employers still have a long way to go in order to meet the demand for flexible working – with three in four employers failing to offer any kind of flexible working options.

New research released by Timewise, a flexible working consultancy, reveals that just over a quarter of employers (26 per cent) are releasing job adverts which offer flexible working.

Although this is up on pre-COVID figures (17 per cent), these job adverts are failing to reflect the workplace shifts which have occurred as a result of the pandemic.

This contrasts significantly against the number of people who want access to flexible working options – nine in ten employees.

Additionally, this lack of flexible working stands out against the backdrop of the 1.1 million vacancies which the UK job market currently has on offer.

Specific industries were also found to be lagging behind when it comes to offering their workforce flexible working options, leading to the rise of a two-tier workforce.

Medical and health job adverts (33 per cent) alongside office roles including marketing/PR (27 per cent) and information technology (28 per cent) are giving staff flexible working options.

Conversely, jobs which cannot be done from home including those in construction/facilities (12 per cent) and manufacturing/resources (6 per cent) are being left behind in terms of flexibility.

The CIPD have previously clarified that flexible working options entail more than allowing staff to work remotely or from home.

This could include arrangements such as part-time working, job-sharing, flexitime or compressed hours.

However, the study further found that the option to do part-time hours was disproportionately found among lower paid workers. One in five staff earning under £20,000 annually were offered part-time hours.

Conversely, home-working and flexible working are disproportionately offered at higher salary levels and rarely in low-paid jobs.

These differences, the research states, will be causing blocks in career progression for people who need flexibility.

As such, the report recommends employers to mention that they are retaining hybrid ways of working post-pandemic, opening up a wider selection of jobs to candidates who need flexibility.

Additionally, Timewise has encouraged hiring managers to look at job design and consider which types of flexibility are compatible with the delivery demands of the role.

The consultancy states that there “is no one-size-fits-all flexible working pattern, but there is always a way to offer employees more input and control, even in frontline roles”.

Emma Stewart, Co-Founder and Development Director at Timewise, said:

Flexible working is essential to creating fairer, more inclusive workplaces, because the people who need flex the most tend to be carers, older workers, and those with health concerns. It should need no explanation that inclusivity must start at the point of hire, and not be restricted to existing staff.

Timewise therefore supports the recent news of the Government consultation on the ‘right to ask for flexible working from day one’. Although, in our view, it would be even more of a game-changer if employers had a duty to consider whether a role can be flexible, and to say so in the job advert.

Either way, when legislation happens, it is likely to shift the dial significantly; but employers should not be waiting – they need to make a move now.

Faster employer action on flexible recruitment is long overdue, but with the current crisis in the market, and legislation coming down the line, it really is a case of ‘if not now, when’?


*This has been outlined in Timewise’s “The Timewise Flexible Jobs Index 2021” which analysed over 5 million job adverts from over 450 UK job boards between January-April 2021 and April-August 2021.