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Everyone deserves the right to work flexibly - it's time for Flex for All

Published date
Today we're joining the Flex for All campaign to give every worker the legal right to flexible working from day one in the job.

In today’s tough economic times, we know that millions are struggling to balance their work and home lives.

One of the ways employers can help make it easier for workers is by offering flexible working arrangements.

But according to new polling we’re publishing today, one in three requests for flexible working are being turned down.

And over half of the UK workforce has no access to flexi-time at all – a number that rises to nearly two-thirds for people in working-class jobs.

It’s not right that so many people are being denied something that will make them both happier and more productive at work.

That’s why the TUC is today joining the Flex for All campaign, which is calling for a change in the law so that every worker has access to flexible working from their first day in the job.

We’re joining forces with Pregnant then Screwed, the Fawcett Society, Mother Pukka, the Young Women’s Trust and the Fatherhood Institute to demand change.

Because regardless of what type of contract people work on, they all deserve the right to work flexibly. If you agree, sign the petition.

1 in 3 requests denied

Flexible working can include part time, flexi hours, home working, compressed hours and job shares.

The polling we commissioned on flexible working was carried out by GQR. Using a nationally representative online survey of the UK adult population in full-time or part-time employment, it showed that:

  • One in three (30%) requests for flexible working are being turned down.
  • Flexi-time is unavailable to over half (58%) of the UK workforce. This number rises to nearly two-thirds (64%) for people in working-class occupations.
  • 3 in 10 workers (28%) say their desire for more flexible hours is one of the main reasons they might look for a new job.

It’s just not right that so many requests for flexible working are being denied by employers.

This is not only bad for staff morale but bad for business, as all the evidence shows that flexible working boosts productivity, staff wellbeing, staff retention and company profits.

Impact on workers

We’ve heard countless stories of how the unavailability of flexible working can impact on workers’ lives and careers.

Take Amy, a former freelancer in film and TV who took a break to have children.

Amy was keen to continue working in an industry that she loved, but found the long hours and lack of flexibility meant it was impossible to take on a job with two young children and a partner also working in the sector.

There was no childcare provision that would cover the up to 14 hours a day she had to work, and she also didn’t want to have to spend that much time at work with young children at home.

Fortunately, when Amy heard about a role at BECTU she and a colleague approached BECTU, which is a sector of Prospect, to ask if they would consider a job-share application, which they did:

Amy's story
When we were successful in getting the post we were unsure of exactly how our time would be split as we both had childcare commitments and wanted to work similar patterns through the week. BECTU offered us the opportunity to work flexibly and split our hours however we felt practical. The message was simple, we won’t dictate your work pattern if you can deliver the hours and what BECTU Vision needs.
Amy, BECTU Vision Manager

Flex for All

Amy’s story is just one example of how getting access to flexible working can really improve people’s working lives.

We want everyone to get the same chance, and that’s why today we’re joining the Flex for All campaign to make flexible working work for everyone.

The Flex for All alliance already includes some of the leading voices in this area, such as Pregnant then Screwed, the Fawcett Society, Mother Pukka, the Young Women’s Trust and the Fatherhood Institute.

Together they’ve started a petition calling for:

  • A change in the law so that employers must publish flexible working options in job adverts, or justify why the job can’t be done flexibly
  • A right for successful candidates to take up the advertised flexibility from day one
  • All workers to get the right to request flexible working at any stage in their employment.

We’ve joined the alliance because we agree that flexible working shouldn’t be seen as a perk for favoured employees but as a normal way to work in the modern world.

So we’re calling on ministers to change the law so that people can work flexibly regardless of what type of contract they are on.

If you agree that everyone should have the right to work flexibly from day one in the job, then join the campaign and sign the petition now.