Formal flexible working requests gaining popularity

Formal flexible working requests are becoming commonplace and the majority are being granted, according to research by Personnel Today‘s sister publication IRS Employment Review.

The survey of 111 employers – covering 1,454 flexible working requests made at 80 organisations, with a combined workforce of around 72,139 staff – showed that at least one request was made in the past 12 months at 72% of the organisations surveyed. And more than three-quarters of flexible working requests were granted at 75% of organisations.

Thirteen per cent of employers granted less than half of all flexible working requests, while 4% did not agree to any.

The survey also found that three-quarters of the responding organisations had a written policy on flexible working, while 5% had an informal, verbal one. Eight organisations (7%) said they were currently developing a policy, while six (5%) planned to do so within the next 12 months.

Just 8% had no flexible working policy at all, and no plans to create one.

Smaller employers with fewer than 250 employees are more likely to grant every flexible working request, with 64% reporting to have done so last year. In comparison, 40% of large organisations (250-999 employees) and 14% of very large organisations (more than 1,000 staff) granted all flexible working requests made over the past 12 months.

The findings also showed that manufacturers and other private sector companies are more likely to grant all flexible working requests than public sector companies.

The two most common factors influencing the decision to refuse flexible working requests were the pressures felt by other employees, and concerns about customer service.

More than one-third of the respondents (38%) believed that the extended right to request flexible working (to parents with children under 17 years of age) will have a major impact at their organisation. And four in five (83%) believed that the right to request flexible working should be extended to cover all employees.

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