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Working 9 to 5 in decline as more workers take up 'flexible' options

03 December 2007

The latest Work-Life Balance Employer Survey, commissioned by the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) has found that 95 percent of workplaces offer some form of flexible working for staff.

Flexibility and being able to balance work with family and leisure time are becoming prized job benefits in the British workplace, with employers eager to offer more tailor-made, flexible working to secure and retain loyal employees. The amount of workplaces providing childcare facilities, or other arrangements to help parents combine work with family commitments, has more than doubled since 2003, from 8% to 18%.
Recent research also shows more men than ever are keen to work flexibly, making up 43% of employees who requested a change to working patterns in the past two years.*

Minister for Employment Relations, Pat McFadden, said the survey was an endorsement for the Government’s staged approach to introducing flexible working. “The way we work is changing and in many cases, it is changing to fit in with people’s lives. More people want to balance work with family and lifestyle and more employers are increasingly recognising that flexibility helps retain good staff. We have developed a staged approach for employees to request flexible working which is proving effective – from giving the right to request flexible working to parents with children under six on to carers of disabled children under 18 and adults. As part of our new review of flexible working, we’ll now be discussing the best way to extend the right to request to parents of older children – so that businesses, parents, carers and families can all benefit.”

It has been estimated that employers could save £42 million per year in recruitment costs for flexible working parents of children and £3 million per year for carers.

The survey also found:
 Part time working is available in 92% of workplaces, up from 81% in 2003.
 Employers offering reduced hours working had increased (74%, up from 40% in 2003)
 Employers offering compressed hours working had increased (41% up from 19%)
 The availability of job sharing and flexi hours had increased substantially (59% up from 39% and 55% up from 39% respectively)
 92% of employers said they would consider a request to change working patterns from any employee
 7% of employers said they should make a special effort to accommodate the particular difficulties parents of young and disabled children face in balancing work and family life.


* Source: Third Work-Life Balance Employee Survey
1. The Third Work-Life Balance Employer Survey was conducted with a random sample of 1,462 workplaces in Great Britain with five or more employees. The survey was carried out between March and August 2007 by BMRB Social Research on behalf of the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform. A companion employee survey was conducted in February-March 2006.
2. Terms of Reference of the Review of the Right to Request Flexible Working:“On 6 November the Prime Minister announced the Government’s intention to extend the right to request flexible working to parents of older, teenage children. At the same time, he said that he had appointed Imelda Walsh, HR Director of J Sainsbury plc, to carry out an independent review. The review will consider how the current right to request should be extended to parents of older, teenage children, and the upper age limit of a child which should apply. The review will involve business representatives, unions, parents groups and other interested parties in considering the options for change. The reviewer will make recommendations to the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform in Spring 2008."

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