More than one employee in three would like the ability to work from home but fewer than one in 10 has any provision for this included in their contract, research from the Chartered Institute of Payroll Professionals (CIPP) suggests.
The research found that 43% of people say that they are currently able to request to work remotely on an ad hoc basis but 36% would like to do so regularly.
Proposals outlined by the Government earlier this year included granting all employees the ability to request flexible working, although earlier this week it was reported that these plans could be scrapped as part of a drive to reduce regulation on businesses.
The current system covers only parents of children under the age of 17 or disabled children under 18, and carers of family members or other dependent adults living at the same address.
Diana Bruce, senior policy liaison officer at CIPP, said: “The proposals to extend the right to request flexible working to all employees would mean those who would like the chance to work more flexibly would at least have the opportunity to make a request.
“However, when the changes to legislation do take place, it should be remembered that it will remain a right to request, as opposed to any kind of right to work flexibly.”
Caroline Gatrell, senior lecturer in management learning and leadership at Lancaster University Management School, said that there was evidence to suggest that flexible working was good for employee wellbeing.
“Even if parents are under pressure financially and at home, the ability to work flexibly can give them a sense of control and being able to cope in their lives,” she said.
“For some men and women flexibility can make the difference between being able to cope at work, and going under due to poor work-life balance. It is for the benefit of all if organisations and governments to facilitate flexible working practices.”
Mobile phone retailer O2 recently launched a flexible contract for working parents, created with help from parenting website Mumsnet. Under the arrangement, between two and four working parents can join together to arrange shifts that will allow those not working to cope with school runs, holiday periods and family emergencies.
Ann Pickering, HR director at O2, said: “We recognise that family comes first, and we want to make it as easy as possible for our people to be there for their family when they need to be, while managing their job responsibilities.”