Flexible working arrangements are proving hard to secure despite new laws – with seven in 10 employers admitting they rarely accept requests to work from home.
The Labour Market Outlook survey of 735 UK employers, by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) with accounting firm KPMG, found that 69% ‘never or occasionally’ grant homeworking wishes.
The figures will come as a blow to the government as it presses ahead with plans to extend the right to request flexible working.
Currently, registered carers and parents of children up to the age of six have the legal right to ask for alternative working arrangements. From next April, this will be extended to those with children up to 16.
However, research has previously found that few people take up the existing right to request for fear it will damage their careers. Now it seems that many of those who do ask for flexible working will be turned down.
Gerwyn Davies, policy adviser at the CIPD, said: “The slow increase in the take-up of homeworking defies the evidence.
“While the cost of homeworking has gone down, the cost of commuting has shot up. While a substantial majority of employers report having recruitment difficulties, a substantial minority accept requests from their workers to work from home.
“Inflexible approaches to homeworking risk restricting the competitiveness and growth of UK organisations if employer and managerial mindsets do not change.”
Of those employers offering homeworking, only 8% in the Labour Market Outlook survey believed homeworkers were less productive than their office-bound colleagues, with 30% saying they were more productive, and the remaining 62% saying there was no difference.
Dave Conder, head of HR at KPMG, said: “In KPMG’s experience, offering homeworking can be a great motivator for people.
“It can also put a company in a stronger position when competing to recruit and retain talented people. Flexible working can help improve the productivity, morale and wellbeing of employees.”