Boom in flexible working for highly paid employees

The number of highly paid jobs offered part-time or with flexible hours has trebled in the past four years as workers turn their back on the nine-to-five.

The proportion of jobs with salaries of more than £80,000 advertised with flexible working options is up to 16 per cent, from 9 per cent last year and 5 per cent in 2016.

Supporters of flexible working said that the growth reflected changes in working practices in IT, finance and marketing as companies competed to hire the best applicants.

However, they say that too many employers fail to respond to demands for part-time or other flexible forms of working, especially from parents.

There were also differences by sector. In the legal profession, which has a reputation for having a culture of long hours, only 9 per cent of roles were advertised with flexible options. The picture was the same in engineering while in manufacturing only 8 per cent of roles were flexible and in construction it was 10 per cent.

The conclusions came from an analysis, commissioned by the consultancy Timewise, of 5 million advertisements for permanent roles on 450 online boards posted between January and April this year.

The adverts were searched for 16 key words such as part-time, working from home, job share or compressed hours.

The study found that 15.3 per cent of all advertised jobs offered some form of flexible working, up from 12.5 per cent in a similar study last year. In a survey in 2017 Timewise found that 87 per cent of adults wanted to work flexibly.

Despite the growth of flexibility among higher-paid jobs, researchers found most part-time jobs were for the lowest-paid roles pro-rata, with fewer such opportunities in the middle salary ranges.

Karen Mattison, co-founder of Timewise, said that the lack of more part-time jobs for mid-range roles was a key contributor to the gender pay gap because many mothers who worked flexibly on low salaries become stuck and unable to move to better-paid jobs with other employers.

Ms Mattison said: “Employers tend to give flexibility when people have earned their stripes. We would like to see greater transparency so that employers talk about their flexibility arrangements in a role in the same way as they would about salary.”

The survey found that part-time working was the most common flexible arrangement, cited in 44 per cent of roles, followed by flexible hours (27 per cent), home working (16 per cent) and flexible shifts. Job shares were referred to in just 4 per cent of advertised posts and 2 per cent were offered as school term-time roles.

Since 2014 existing employees with 26 weeks’ service have had a legal right to request to work flexibly. Employers must consider such requests and have a sound business case for refusing.

The government is consulting on whether to require employers to consider whether all jobs could be done flexibly.

About Steve Young

Steve Young is the Managing Partner of Downtown Recruitment who are based in Thame, Oxfordshire. Downtown Recruitment provide a wide variety of temporary and permanent staff to the local area covering a wide range of disciplines across the commercial and industrial sectors. View Downtown Recruitment's main website
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