Half a million employees have had their requests for a shorter working week turned down by their managers since flexible working legislation was introduced in 2003.
A TUC study of 100,000 workers shows that 75% had no element of flexibility in their contracts. It also shows that almost 10% of people wanted to work fewer hours, even if it meant earning less.
TUC general secretary, Brendan Barber, said: “The right to request to work flexibly has, unfortunately, had little impact on the UK’s long-hours culture.
“Although a few forward-thinking employers can see the benefit of a more intelligent organisation of workload and working hours, many bosses are not imaginative enough to meet flexible requests from employees with anything other than a firm ‘no’,” he said.
Barber said extending the right to request flexible hours to all workers might help employers embrace a new working culture.
“Sadly, the day when all employees can enjoy a decent work-life balance is still some way off,” he said.