Flexible Working? Only If You Earn Enough

05/10/2016 11:02

Today is Go Home On Time Day, part of National Work Life Week. But it's not (just) about getting out the door at a decent time today, we want it to do much more for you than that.

It's an opportunity to think about your own work life balance and whether you and your family have the time you need to thrive, once your work obligations have been fulfilled.

Sadly, today we're sharing news of a direct correlation between how much you earn and your chance of working flexibly.

Our research shows that high earning parents who bank more than £70,000 a year are 47% more likely to work flexibly than those earning between £10,000 and £40,000.

We found more than two thirds (69%) of working parents who earn more than £70,000 work in a flexible way, while less than half (47%) of those earning more modest salaries between £10,000 and £40,000 work flexibly.

Everyone has the right to request flexible working, whether or not you are a parent or a carer. And flexible working comes in many forms. It's not just about working fewer hours. It could be working compressed hours, or from home, or agreeing different hours during term time and the school holidays.

It's easy to see how flexible working can benefit you, allowing you to be home - or away from work - when you need to be. But you're not asking for a favour from your employer.

The business case for flexible working is strong. A report by a Government taskforce found 65 per cent of employers reported flexible working had a positive impact on staff recruitment and retention, saving money on recruitment, induction and training costs.

It also found that 58 per cent of small to medium sized enterprises reported increased productivity because of flexible working.

The taskforce found it increased staff morale and loyalty too.

So, I say again, flexible working isn't a favour. It makes good business sense. And it makes sense right across the salary spectrum, so why should only the people who earn the most be able to reap the rewards?

While we are making good strides in the right direction in terms of allowing everyone the right to request flexible working, the reality is that we still have a long way to go before access is genuinely equitable.

There are still too many employers that shy away from flexible working because they take comfort in the 9am to 5pm office culture they've always known.

The way we live and work is changing. There's far greater need and demand for flexible working because more women are working fulltime. The old model of 'fulltime father and stay-at-home mother' is rightly or wrongly on the wane. Mothers - and fathers - need flexibility from their employer to cope with more shared parenting responsibilities at home.

Better technology means we can connect with colleagues and clients from anywhere. Being 'in the office' is far less important.

And many work operations are no longer tied to 'office hours'. This can, of course, create its own issues for work-life balance in managing expectations around the clock.

But at its core, we need employers to be open to more creative, flexible and agile ways of working that suit the way we live and work now.

We're asking for jobs at all levels to be advertised as flexible. And this should be the norm, rather than the exception.

And we want businesses and employers, including the public sector and Government, to use our 'happy to talk flexible working' strapline on job adverts. This isn't just a label. It means employers have genuinely thought about the best way to get a job done and opens up opportunities to a wider talent pool, hungry for the right job offering hours to suit life outside work. Businesses are much more likely to get the right person for the job and reap the rewards of increased productivity and engagement.

I hope you go home on time today. But I hope you think about - and even ask about - increasing the amount of flexibility you have at work. It'll be good for you and your family. And it will be good for your employer too.

For more information visit or follow us on Facebook or Twitter @WorkingFamUK with the campaign hashtag #TimeToRebalance