A new campaign has been launched to increase the uptake of flexible working in a partnership including government departments, business groups, trade unions and charities.

The members of the Flexible Working Task Force, co-chaired by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, have also committed to advertising jobs as flexible by using the strapline “Happy to Talk Flexible Working” in their job advertisements, regardless of level or pay grade. The task force has also published guidance for employers on how to champion flexible working in their own organisations.

The campaign coincides with the publication of a new CIPD report, “Megatrends: Flexible Working”, which shows that the number of employees using formal flexible working arrangements – such as part-time working, term-time working, compressed hours and job-sharing – has flat-lined since 2010. This is despite the right to request flexible working being extended to all employees in 2014.

As part of its efforts to increase uptake, the task force is highlighting the business benefits of flexible working which include:

  • Addressing skill and labour shortages by making work more accessible to older people and those with caring responsibilities, for example 
  • improving productivity by increasing employee motivation 
  • Boosting job satisfaction, engagement and well-being, while also helping to reduce sickness absence
  • Helping organisations to retain staff, particularly those with caring responsibilities
  • Creating more diverse workforces which reduces the gender pay gap by giving more opportunities for women to progress into senior roles.

The taskforce was established in March 2018 to widen the availability and uptake of flexible working across the workforce by bringing together organisations with relevant expertise such as the TUC and the Confederation of British Industry.

Jo Seery of Thompsons Solicitors said: "While we welcome guidance for employers to encourage promotion of flexible working we consider that more needs to be done. The Government is obliged to review the statutory right to flexible working, which was amended in 2014, by April this year. Among other things, the review must consider if the objectives behind the changes have been achieved. It is clear from the CIPD report that it has not. All too often many employers reject requests without giving serious consideration to the benefits. Further reform is therefore necessary to strengthen the statutory right to request flexible working. This should include not only a statutory duty on employers to advertise all new jobs as flexible from day one (as recommended by the Women and Equalities Committee), but an obligation on employers to grant flexible working requests should be strengthened."

The CIPD report can be read in full on their website, as well as their flexible hiring guidance.