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Research Finds Half Of Welsh Employees Do Not Have Flexible Working

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The CIPD has launched a new campaign as shift to home working has exposed lack of flexible working opportunities for all and risks divisions in how employees feel they are treated

Welsh workers are facing inequality due to a stark difference in employers’ approaches to offering flexible working, with just under half (43%) of Welsh employees saying they do not have flexible working arrangements – such as flexi-time, part-time working, compressed hours or job shares – in their current role. This is according to new research from the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development.

In response, and to promote fairness and inclusion at work, the CIPD has launched a new campaign, #FlexFrom1st, encouraging employers to support flexible working for all and the right to request flexible working from day one of employment, rather than after 26 weeks, the current statutory right. To reinforce these principles, the CIPD is also calling for a change to UK employment law to make the right to request flexible working a day-one right for all employees.

The CIPD’s survey of over 2000 employees across Great Britain found that while the Coronavirus pandemic has driven a huge increase in working from home, 46% of Welsh employees have not worked from home at all since the beginning of the crisis. The majority of those employees (94%) say that this is because the nature of their job doesn’t allow them to.

The CIPD also found:

  • Just under two in five (35%) Welsh employees say it’s unfair that some people can work from home while others have to continue to attend their place of work and have little flexibility in how they work
  • More than two thirds (84%) of Welsh employees agree that it is important that people who can’t work from home can work flexibly in other ways
  • Less than a third (27%) of Welsh employers surveyed by the CIPD are planning to try to increase the uptake of other forms of flexible working besides home working over the next six to 12 months.

Lesley Richards, head of CIPD Wales, comments: 

“While many have hailed the pandemic as a driver for the adoption of flexible working practices, particularly around home working, the reality for many is that this is not the case. We need a new understanding about what flexible working is and we need employers to embrace flexible working arrangements beyond home working, to give opportunity and choice to all. Employees may not always be able to change where they work, but they should have more choice and a say in when and how they work.

“Being able to build in flexible working arrangements, such as changes to hours, term-time working or job shares, will empower people to have greater control and flexibility in their working life. This is good for inclusion and opening up opportunities to people who have other constraints in being able to work standard hour weeks or in getting to a place of work, especially when you consider the geography in more rural parts of Wales. It’s also good for people's wellbeing and productivity. Fairness of opportunity in working flexibly ensures organisations do not end up with divisions or a two-tier workforce.”

Welsh Government has set out its aims to encourage 30% of the workforce to work from home having seen a reduction in pollution, car use and road congestion during the pandemic. It believes that changes to Wales’ working culture through remote hubs to facilitate remote working across the country which would help both productivity and work-life balance, something supported by CIPD Wales.

The CIPD encourages organisations to work in collaboration with their employees to find flexible solutions that are mutually beneficial. Employees who have flexibility report significantly higher levels of satisfaction with their job, work-life balance and control over their work. In addition, when businesses embrace flexible working they will reap the benefits through increased productivity, employee retention and attracting diverse talent when recruiting.

In response to the clear need to improve understanding around and take up of flexible working, the CIPD's #FlexFrom1st campaign calls for the right to request flexible working to be a day one right for all employees. Currently, employees in Wales can only make a request for flexible working after 26 weeks of employment, and this is limited to one request every 12 months.

Encouragingly, almost half of Welsh employers (48%) say they will be more likely to grant requests for flexible working, besides working from home, once the pandemic restrictions have been relaxed. Therefore, an enhanced right to request flexible working from day one of employment could boost the number of people using flexible working arrangements.

The CIPD is calling for:

  • Employers to implement internal policies that allow their employees to request flexible working from day one of employment
  • Employers to stipulate that jobs can be done flexibly in job adverts, attracting more candidates who are looking for flexible roles
  • The UK Government to make the right to request flexible working a right from day one for all employees, as well as revisiting the business reasons for rejection and the 12-month timeframe

For more information on the CIPD campaign, visit: https://www.cipd.co.uk/news-views/campaigns/flex-from-first