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Seven in 10 (70%) of UK HR managers now say flexible working could work for their business – a new TUC poll has revealed today (Wednesday).
  • Seven in 10 HR managers now say flexible working could work for their business, poll reveals  

  • TUC calls for increased rights to flexible working for everyone, in every job – including requiring that flexible working options are listed in all job ads, as government consultation on flexible working closes  

  • Previous TUC and Mother Pukka research found that half of working mums can’t get the flexible working they need at work 

Seven in 10 (70%) of UK HR managers now say flexible working could work for their business – a new TUC poll has revealed today (Wednesday). 

Half (49%) of UK HR managers polled said that greater flexible working could work for their business as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, building on the one in five (21%) who say that their business already enabled significant flexible working before the pandemic.   

The poll – run by YouGov for the TUC – shows that employer attitudes towards flexible working arrangements have shifted markedly during the pandemic. 

The poll reveals that: 

  • Seven in 10 (70%) HR managers polled now either have already implemented significant flexible working or believe greater flexible working is suitable for their business. 

  • Only one in four (24%) of the HR managers polled say they won’t enable significant flexible working at their company or business following the pandemic. 

The findings are published as the government’s consultation on flexible working closes today (1 December). 

Flexible working in job adverts 

The TUC is calling for the government to unlock the flexibility in every job by introducing a new duty on employers to include the possible flexible working options in all job adverts and giving every worker the right to work flexibly. 

That means every job ad would include details of the potential flexible working arrangements are available in that role – whether that’s flexi-time, compressed hours, part-time hours, term-time only hours, job-shares, home or remote working, or predictable shifts. 

The successful candidate would then have the right to take up those flexible working arrangements from their first day on the job.   

So far around 2,000 members of the public – including parents, disabled people and carers – have used the TUC’s tool to tell ministers why they need greater rights to flexible working. 

Many have explained why having to wait until they are in a job to ask for flexible working is unworkable – and demanded that ministers require employers to publish flexible working options in job ads. 

Government inaction 

Today’s poll reveals that the majority of HR managers polled believe it would be easy to include specific information about potential flexible working arrangements in job adverts: 

  • More than six in ten (62 per cent) of HR managers polled said it would be easy to include specific information about the pattern of home or remote working available in each role in each job advert, or they already do this. 

  • Around six in ten (59 per cent) of HR managers polled said it would be easy to include specific information about the types of hours-based flexible working arrangements available in each job advert, or they already do this. 

  • In order put flexible working options in job ads, companies would need to identify the types of flexible working that are possible in a job before advertising. Over three quarters (78 per cent) of HR managers polled said it would be easy to do this for home or remote working, or that they do it already. Almost two thirds (62 per cent) of those polled said this would be easy to do for hours-based flexible working arrangements, or that they already do this. 

The union body says that, despite rising support for flexible working in business, only one in four jobs are advertised with flexible work options listed. 

The current system is broken 

The legal ‘right to request’ flexible working has been in place for around 20 years. But the current system is broken, says the TUC. Without government action, the growth in support of flexible working will not translate into practical changes for workers.   

A recent survey run by the TUC and campaigner Mother Pukka found that half of working mums don’t get the flexibility they request at work. And that those who do get flexible working face discrimination and disadvantage as a result. 

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “During the pandemic, many people were able to work flexibly or from home for the first time. Staff and bosses both saw the benefits this flexibility can bring. 

“But the current system is broken. A right to ask for flexible working is no right at all – especially when bosses can turn down requests with impunity.  

“Attitudes to all types of flexible working changed significantly in the pandemic. Ministers need to take advantage of this – and make sure all workers can get the flexible working they need.  

“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.  

“Ministers must change the law: 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.” 

Government action needed  

The TUC is calling for action to help people get the flexibility they need at work, including:  

  • Unlock the flexibility in all jobs. Every job can be worked flexibly. There are a range of hours-based and location-based flexibilities to choose from – and there is a flexible option that will work for every type of job. Employers should think upfront about the flexible working options that are available in a role, publish these in all job adverts and give successful applicants a day one right to take it up.  

  • Making flexible working a genuine legal right from the first day in a job. People should be allowed to work flexibly from day one, unless the employer can properly justify why this is not possible. They should have the right to appeal any rejections. And there shouldn’t be a limit on how many times you can ask for flexible working arrangements in a year. 

Editors note

- The polling: YouGov conducted an online survey of 903 HR managers between 11-25 November 2021. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 903 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 11th - 25th November 2021.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all HR DMs. For more information please visit:  
- Current law: Under current legislation, all employees can make a flexible working request after 26 weeks in a job. One request can be made every 12 months and there is no right to appeal. The government published a consultation on 23 September looking at making the right to request a day one entitlement. 
- Public response to the consultation: 2,000 members of the public have sent consultation responses to the government to share their story of flexible working and demand that employers are required to put flexible working options in job adverts, so they know what flexibility they would get before they start a job. 
- Petition: In July the TUC and Mother Pukka launched a petition calling on the government to introduce stronger rights to flexible working. It can be found here: 
- #FlexforAll: The TUC is a member of the Flex for All alliance – along with Pregnant then Screwed, Fawcett Society, Mother Pukka, the Young Women’s Trust, Gingerbread and the Fatherhood Institute. The Flex for All campaign is calling for a change the law so that flexible working is open to all workers from day one in the job, with employers required to advertise all jobs on that basis. 
- Benefits for disabled people: A TUC poll published in October found that an overwhelming majority of disabled workers who worked from home during the pandemic said that they want to continue doing so permanently. The TUC says that enabling flexible working practices can be a reasonable adjustment – and should be considered to support disabled workers. 
- Difficulty getting access to flexible working: 13,000 mums responded to a TUC and Mother Pukka survey published in October, which revealed that that half of working mums don’t get the flexibility they request at work. 
- Support for flexible working: TUC polling published in June revealed huge appetite for flexible working coming out of the pandemic. Four out of five (82%) of workers say that they want to take up some form of flexible working in the future.  
- Lack of availability of flexible working: TUC polling published in 2019 revealed that three in 10 requests for flexible working were turned down. And that flexitime is unavailable to over half (58%) of the UK workforce. This number rises to nearly two-thirds (64%) for people in working-class occupations. 
- Jobs advertised with flexible working: Timewise’s annual flexible jobs index for 2021 revealed that only one in four jobs are advertised with flexible working.   
- The Trades Union Congress (TUC) exists to make the working world a better place for everyone. We bring together the 5.5 million working people who make up our 48 member unions. We support unions to grow and thrive, and we stand up for everyone who works for a living. 


TUC press office   
020 7467 1248  

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