CIPD analysis of official statistics shows flexible working, other than remote working, has fallen over the course of the pandemic.
Flexible working in the form of remote working has surged in the pandemic, but other forms of flexibility – such as part-time, flexi-time and compressed hours – has fallen, according to new Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development [CIPD] analysis.
An analysis of the ONS Labour Force Survey of 74,832 people (October to December 2020) found that homeworking (flexible location) is the only flexible arrangement that has increased since the onset of the pandemic. This is despite homeschooling and caring issues.
The analysis compares figures for April-June 2020 to those from October-December 2020 and finds the use of part-time working has fallen from 28.3% to 27.6%; the use of flexi-time has fallen from 12.7% to 12.6%; and the use of annualised hours has fallen from 6.4% to 6.2%. In contrast, homeworking increased from 7.8% to 10.1% in this period.
Regular ONS employment figures show that one of the main reasons for falling jobless rates in the UK over the course of the pandemic has been a fall in part-time roles which has particularly affected women.
The CIPD says many workers are missing out on the benefits of using arrangements such as flexi-time (altered start and finish times), part-time hours, annualised hours (a total number of hours for the year, worked over different patterns each week or month) and job shares. It adds that this also risks creating divisions or a ‘two-tier’ workforce of those who can work from home and those who need to attend the workplace and have little flexibility in how they work. Moreover, the data also shows that 9.3% of workers said they would prefer to work shorter hours and accept the pay cut that comes with this.
The CIPD, which has launched a #FlexFrom1st campaign , is urging employers to increase access to a range of flexible working options, to address inequalities in the workforce and give people a greater say over not just where they work but when and to make flexible working a day-one right.
Peter Cheese, Chief Executive of the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, says: “There’s been a huge shift to homeworking since the coronavirus pandemic and this has proved to be positive for a lot of people, with many organisations now looking at how to provide more choice in where people work as we come out of the lockdowns. But our analysis shows a concerning downward trend emerging for all other forms of flexible working. If the use of other flexible working arrangements continues to fall this will drive many questions about fairness and equality in the workplace for those whose jobs require them to be in a place of work.
“Homeworking must not be the only flexible working arrangement available, and employers should take action to offer and encourage the uptake of a broad range of options that give opportunities for everyone to have more choice and flexibility in how they work. More flexible working in all its forms helps to attract and retain people with a broad diversity of needs and expectations about how they work, thereby fostering more diverse and inclusive workplaces. It can also be good for wellbeing and productivity.”