'No evidence' of change for women after right to request flexible working

23 July 2019, 07:21 | Updated: 23 July 2019, 07:22


A campaign group wants employers to consider advertising all jobs as potentially available for flexible working after analysis suggests legislative change has not boosted flexible roles for women in Scotland.

The right to request flexible working was extended to all employees in 2014 and Scotland's Close The Gap organisation said research shows little change between in rates of formal flexible working between 2010 and 2015.

The group's new report Flexible Working for All? highlights the proportion of employees with these arrangements was 43.2% in 2011 and 42.8% in 2015, which it says shows "no early evidence of an increase since the extension of the right to request legislation".

The report states this "suggests the existence of ongoing cultural resistance from employers" as well as limitations imposed by applicants requiring to have worked for an employer for six months before requesting flexible working.

The report found women are three times as likely to work part time or job share as men, while flexi-time, where workers have core daily hours but movable start and finish times, was equally split.

Home working was slightly more likely to apply to men than women, at 55% to 45%.

Over the five-year period job sharing has fallen by 35%, and term time working, 93% of which roles are filled by women, fell by 29%.

However, flexi-time rose by 23% and home working by 3%.

The report found formal flexible working in Scotland appears more likely to be used by female parents of dependent children, those working in the largest firms and those working in the public sector.

The campaign group made 10 recommendations to improve equality and availability of flexible working, including that employers' consider advertising all roles as being potentially available for this type of work.

The report quotes research from 2016 that only 12% of jobs in Scotland paying more than £20,000 are advertised as having flexible working options.

Further recommendations including firms mapping flexible working across their company to identify any barriers for women and to gauge current awareness of the organisation's flexible working offer.

Anna Ritchie Allan, Close The Gap executive director, said: "Flexible working is a critical factor in enabling women to balance work with caring, supporting women to progress into senior roles, and it's also a necessary step in closing the gender pay gap.

"There is clear and mounting global evidence that flexible working is good for business, and many employers are already reaping the benefits that flexibility can bring.

"Companies that don't provide flexibility are missing out on female talent as many women are working below their skill level in the only part-time work that's available.

"We need a step change in workplace culture so that flexible working becomes the norm, with flexible and quality part-time jobs available at all levels."