Seven in 10 HR managers say their organisation could accommodate flexible working, research shows

TUC poll also finds majority of people professionals think introducing remote working or hours-based flexible arrangements would be easy

The majority of HR professionals say that flexible working could work in their organisation, research has found, adding to calls for workers to be given more access to different working arrangements. 

A poll of 903 HR managers, conducted by YouGov for the TUC, found that seven in 10 (70 per cent) said flexible working could work for their business.

More than three-quarters (78 per cent) of people professionals said it would be easy to organise roles for home or remote working, or that they do it already, while three in five (62 per cent) said the same about hours-based flexible working arrangements.

A similar proportion (62 per cent) of respondents said it would be easy to include specific information about the different home or remote working arrangements available in each role in each job advert, or they already do this, with 59 per cent saying the same about hours-based flexible working arrangements.

Nearly half (49 per cent) of HR managers said the coronavirus pandemic had changed their mind about the viability of flexible working, while 21 per cent said they allowed for significant flexibility before the pandemic.

Commenting on the findings, Peter Cheese, chief executive at the CIPD, said that flexible working was here to stay so businesses need to explore what works best for them and their employees. He added that in a tight labour market, flexible working “could prove crucial for employers facing recruitment difficulties”.

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But, he warned, it was “vital” for employers to consider all of their workforce in offering a range of flexible working options from day one of employment – including flexi-time, compressed hours, job sharing and term-time working. “This means that everybody can benefit from flexibility, not just those who are able to work from home,” he said.

Earlier this year the government proposed a number of legislative changes to increase the uptake of flexible working – including giving employees the right to request flexible working from the first day of their employment. It is currently running a consultation on the proposals, which is open for submissions until the end of today.

However, under the proposals, the government has made it clear that firms should still be able to reject flexible working requests if they have a business reason.

The TUC is calling on the government to make access flexible working a genuine day-one legal right unless the employer can properly justify why this is not possible, and has said employees should have the right to appeal any rejections with no limit on how many times they can ask for flexible arrangements.

Frances O’Grady, general secretary of TUC, said the current system was “broken” given that “bosses can turn down [flexible working] requests with impunity”.

“All jobs must be advertised with the possible flexible options clearly stated, and all workers must have the legal right to work flexibly from their first day in a job,” O’Grady said, adding that doing so would be good for inclusivity. 

“Flexible working is how we keep mums in work and close the gender pay gap. It enables dads to spend more time with their kids. It helps disabled workers and carers stay in their jobs – and in employment,” she said.