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UK workers willing to sacrifice pay for flexible working

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Almost one in four UK workers would be willing to take a pay cut in exchange for more flexible working hours, a study has found.

Two-thirds of employers polled acknowledged flexible working increases productivity and wellbeing in the workforce. However, many bosses are failing to live up to employee expectations, with more than one in five workers without children claiming parents receive better support when it comes to flexible working arrangements.

The report from Scottish Widows’ think tank, the Centre for the Modern Family, found 51% of businesses offered flexibility for mothers with young children.

However, far fewer were supportive of fathers with young children (35%), older workers (26%) and other employees (34%) who may have additional responsibilities such as elderly or unwell relatives to care for, charity and volunteering responsibilities, or a desire to attend additional training or classes outside of work.

Cost concerns prevent change

More than a third of businesses said cost was the biggest barrier preventing them from extending flexible working policies.

The study found medium-sized businesses struggled the most – with almost a quarter (23%) saying they do what is legally required of them in terms of flexibility for families, but not any more than this for other employees.

Almost three quarters of medium-sized businesses (72%) would never consider offering full-time working from home, compared to half (51%) of micro and two-fifths (40%) of enterprise businesses.

Over half (52%) of medium-sized employers said this would be logistically too difficult to implement, while over a third (35%) worry it would impact negatively on the business.

Half of medium businesses also said they would not consider offering part-time working from home, compared with 16% of enterprise and 22% of large businesses for the same reasons.

Anita Frew, chair of the Centre for the Modern Family, said: “Although employers have taken promising steps towards offering more flexible working hours, there is still work to be done to ensure these policies are being rolled out to all employees. Our economy depends on a skilled and motivated workforce that functions productively – and our best hope of achieving this is through encouraging employers to adapt to the evolving needs of the workforce.”


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