Fall in staff working flexible hours during pandemic

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The use of flexible working arrangements such as part-time working, flexi-time and compressed hours has fallen over the course of the pandemic, despite a surge in homeworking.

According to analysis of the Office for National Statistics Labour Force Survey data by the CIPD, the use of part-time working arrangements fell from 28.3% to 27.6% between April- June 2020 and October-December 2020. The use of flexi-time fell from 12.7% to 12.6%, and annualised hours from 6.4% to 6.2%.

During the same period, the use of homeworking increased from 7.8% to 10.1%. In January-March 2020, before the effects of Covid-19 were truly being felt, just 5.3% of people were working from home.

The data also indicated that employers are not meeting demand for flexible working arrangements. Some 9.3% of workers said they would prefer to work shorter hours and accept the pay cut that comes with this.

The CIPD suggested that this meant the traditional 9-5 working day was too rigid for many workers, and arrangements such as flexi-time, compressed hours and part-time hours could better match people’s preferences.

It called upon employers to increase access to a range of flexible working arrangements to avoid the emergence of a “two-tier” workforce of those who can work flexibly from home and those who need to attend the workplace but have little flexibility in their hours.

CIPD chief executive Peter Cheese said: “Homeworking must not be the only flexible working arrangement available, and employers should take action to offer and encourage the uptake of a broad range of options that give opportunities for everyone to have more choice and flexibility in how they work.

“More flexible working in all its forms helps to attract and retain people with a broad diversity of needs and expectations about how they work, thereby fostering more diverse and inclusive workplaces. It can also be good for wellbeing and productivity.

“We have all learned a lot over the last year and we should take these learnings forward to put people first and move to flexible working becoming the norm, not an exception. That’s why the CIPD is calling for the right to request flexible working from day, so everyone can benefit from having more choice and a say in when and how they work.”

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