Flexible working doubled in past six years

The number of workplaces offering staff the opportunity to work flexibly has almost doubled in the last six years, according to a major new survey from arbitration service Acas and the DTI.


The Workplace Employment Relations Survey shows that the proportion of employers offering flexible working has increased significantly, particularly those offering homeworking and term-time only working.


The figures are:


* homeworking  – up from 16 to 28%

* term-time only working – up from 14 to 28%

* flexi-time –  up from 19 to 26%

* job sharing – up from 31 to 41%

* switching from full-time to part-time working – up from 46 to 64%


Employees were also much more likely to be able to take leave to help them with their work-life balance with employers offering:


* parental leave  – up from 38 to 73%

* paid paternity leave  – up from 48  to 92%

* special paid leave in emergencies  – up from 24 to 31%


This increase in the availability of flexible working is reflected elsewhere in the survey, with managers showing more understanding of employees’ responsibilities outside work. In 1998 84 per cent of managers believed that it was up to an individual employee to balance their work and family responsibilities.  This has now reduced to around two-thirds (65 per cent).


Acas chair Rita Donaghy said: “Flexible working helps employees handle responsibilities such as childcare and caring for others while still carrying out their job effectively and employers benefit from keeping the services of good employees they might otherwise lose. 


“Recruiting and training new staff can be a costly exercise so anything which helps organisations keep their existing workers is good for business.”


Today’s publication details the first findings of the survey, produced jointly by the DTI, Acas, the Economic and Social Research Council and the Policy Studies Institute.

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