The increasingly flexible approach of employers to working hours is being
driven by concerns over the retention of skilled staff and the need to keep up
with competitors, a new study claims.
Research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation on Scottish companies in the
financial services sector shows that new legislation covering parental leave
and work-life balance has persuaded staff to push for flexible working
However, the study claims that flexible arrangements are often left to the
discretion of line managers, who can be inconsistent in their approach.
Jeff Hyman, professor of HR management at Glasgow Caledonian University and
co-author of the report, said the Government needs to monitor the effectiveness
of its voluntary approach of promoting family friendly policies.
He said: "Our study shows that company policies are currently dictated
by business interests rather than family concerns.
"Family-friendly employment also means different things to different
people, which makes it difficult to reach voluntary agreement about the terms
of a formal policy."
The research into 17 companies shows there is a wider spread of flexible
working policy initiatives in firms where trades unions are recognised. It also
found there was an absence of women in senior management in companies with no
The ability of managers to offer flexible working to staff depends on time
constraints on the employee’s workload and availability of a substitute worker,
the study concludes.