Two-thirds of staff aware of flexible working rights

More employees are aware of their right to request working flexible hours, according to statistics released by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

The DTI’s Second Flexible Working Employee Survey 2005 found that nearly 65% of the UK workforce are aware of their right to request flexible working, compared to 41% in 2003.

Under legislation introduced in April 2003, employers have a duty to consider employee requests for flexible working against the needs of the business as a whole. This survey was carried out by the DTI to monitor the changes in awareness and take-up of the right to request flexible working from that legislation.

The study showed nearly a quarter of working parents with young children have asked to work flexibly over the past two years, while 14% of all employees made such a request.

The statistics also show that employers had accepted 81% of all requests by employees to work flexibly, compared to 77% in 2003.

Other key findings of the survey include:

  • Female employees were more likely to have made a request to work flexibly than men
  • Requests were higher among those employees with dependent children under the age of six (22%), aged between six and 11 (18%) or aged between 12 and 16 (15%) than employees without dependent children (10%)
  • The most requested flexible working patterns were part-time and flexi-time. Female employees were most likely to request to work part-time while male employees were more likely to request to work flexitime
  • The number of requests being declined by employers has almost halved since the introduction of the right to request flexible working in 2003 (11% compared with 20%)
  • Almost one in five employees reported taking time off to care for someone in the last two years, with more than half taking time off to look after dependent children.

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