One million high earners now work part time, data reveals

But experts call for employers to be more proactive and offer flexible working as standard, not because ‘legislation tells you to’

More than one million high-paid workers in the UK are now working on a part-time basis, data analysis from flexible working consultancy Timewise has shown.

National statistics analysed by Timewise revealed that 1.07 million – the equivalent of almost one in six – employees in the UK earning an annual salary of £40,000 pro rata did so part time in 2019. According to Timewise, this figure has increased 54 per cent since 2012, when just 650,000 high earners carried out their jobs part time.

Karen Mattison, co-founder of Timewise, said the figures disproved the myth that flexible working was “a necessary evil for the business”. She added that while flexible hours and remote working were often accepted in executive roles, many employers didn’t believe it was possible to do a management role on reduced hours.

“This just shows the mood that there really isn't any role that can't be done in a flexible way,” she said.

Timewise also today released its eighth annual ‘power list’ of staff in high-paid and high-powered jobs who work on a flexible or part-time basis, which for the first time included a male director of a large business.

Marc Nohr (pictured third from left), group chief executive of agencies at media and tech company Miroma, was highlighted as the first male director of a large business to go on the record as working part time.

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Claire McCartney, resourcing and inclusion adviser at the CIPD, said the uptick in business leaders working part time was encouraging. “It can be really powerful to have such senior male and female role models working and advocating flexible patterns for all to see,” she said.

However, Mubeen Bhutta, joint head of policy and influencing at the charity Working Families, suggested that flexible working might be more easily attainable for those in higher-paid roles than those working in less senior jobs. The organisation’s most recent Modern Families Index, an annual survey of parents in the UK, found that 71 per cent parents in senior manager roles worked flexibly compared to just 48 per cent of parents in more junior roles.

“We need an end to a labour market of flexible working ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’, with flexible hiring as the norm rather than the exception,” said Bhutta.

Mattison called for more jobs to be advertised with flexible options. “[It’s] not just talking about flexible working for the people they've already got, but embracing it for the people they might have in the future – actually advertising flexibility when you advertise roles,” she said.

She also suggested that employers adopting flexible working practices should concentrate “not [on] the way, but on how you make it work”, noting that focusing the conversation on the benefits to those with childcare issues had not “fundamentally done women any favours”.

“What employers need to do is rather than see it as something you reluctantly give that employee you don’t want to lose, or because the legislation tells you you have to, is actually be very proactive about flexible working,” said Mattison.