Risk of two-tier workforce when it comes to flexible working

New analysis shows significant regional variation in take-up of flexible working.

Person working from home at their desk with computers


A two-tier workforce could be created due to the regional variation in implementation of flexible working, according to anaylsis by the Chartered Institute for Professional Development.

The analysis found that workers in South East England have the best flexible working options, followed by the East of England, while workers in the Yorkshire and Humber are least likely to have flexibility in their role.

To compile the league table, the CIPD looked at three types of flexible working: flexibility relating to when, where and how someone works, for instance, if they can flex their hours during the day or take time off at short notice.

The CIPD says regional differences in flexible working arrangements tend to reflect the nature of work, whether it is considered high or low skill and the predominance of particular sectors in different parts of the country.

Generally, the analysis found that in regions where employees report better flexibility in hours, they tend to have less flexibility over where they work (the North East comes out top for flexible hours, but bottom for flexibility of location). Regions with greater flexibility in terms of where employees work have the opposite problem, with less use of flexible hours and informal flexibility (Londoners have the best flexibility around where they work, but many don’t have flexibility in their hours or informal flexibility with their employer).

The CIPD is calling for organisations and the government to make the right to request flexible working, whatever form it takes, a day-one right for all employees through its #FlexFrom1st campaign. Currently, employees must have worked for an employer for at least 26 weeks to be eligible.

Peter Cheese, chief executive of the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, says: “Employers should think creatively about the flexibility they can provide to those that need to be in the physical workplace as well as those who can work remotely, ensuring everyone has fairness of opportunity. Having a wide range of flexible options is necessary to support the whole workforce and we want to see an increase in the uptake of all forms of flexible working, regardless of the type of work someone does or the region they’re in.

“An increase in the use of different arrangements, such as flexi-time, compressed hours or job shares will empower people to have greater control and flexibility in their working life. It will also help organisations to foster more diverse and inclusive workplaces and can improve wellbeing and productivity. The CIPD is calling for the right to request flexible working from day one, so everyone can benefit from having more choice and a say in when and how they work.”

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