More men are asking their employers if they can work flexibly, but they are also more likely to have their requests turned down.
The TUC report Out of Time shows that in the first two years that the right to request to work flexibly was in existence for the parents of children under six, about 10% of male employees approached their bosses about changing their working hours. In the same period, 19% of women in work requested flexible working.
According to the report, bosses looked more favourably on requests submitted by their female members of staff. Only 10% of women (235,000) had their flexible working requests rejected out of hand compared with 14% of men (177,000).
Male workers who took their employer to a tribunal were also much less likely to be successful. The report says male claimants accounted for a quarter (27%) of flexible working tribunal claims, but nearly half (45%) of cases were lost.
The reluctance of employers to let male employees work flexibly is reinforcing the idea that it is working mothers who have to reduce hours and juggle childcare and work.
Brendan Barber, TUC general secretary, said: “Many UK bosses are too short-sighted to grasp the fact that a flexible approach to work is not something to fear as expensive and irritating, but a change that makes sound business sense, both in terms of company profits, and staff recruitment and retention.”
By accepting flexible work requests from their female employees, but not from their male staff, employers are helping reinforce the gender pay gap, Barber said.