The Minister of Women and Equalities, Liz Truss, has called for flexible working to be normalised, ahead of International Women’s Day.
Truss is asking for employers to make flexible working a standard option for employees, to help level-up the UK, boost opportunities for women and reduce geographic inequality as we recover from COVID-19.
New research, published today by the Government-backed Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) and jobs website Indeed, shows offering flexible working explicitly in job ads would increase applications by up to 30 per cent.
The research, which analysed nearly 20 million applications and is the largest of its kind ever conducted in the UK, shows greater transparency in job adverts would create at least 174,000 flexible jobs to the UK economy per year.
With more people working flexibly due to COVID, Truss argues now is the time to normalise it across the country. She believes the move will boost employment in areas away from major cities and help turbocharge opportunities for women – who are twice as likely as men to work flexibly.
Flexible working is shown to increase the productivity and morale of workers, and Truss says making it an option will help address the UK’s longstanding productivity gap and help level-up the country.
Speaking about the findings, Truss said, “Our commitment to flexible working is based on our desire to open up employment opportunities to people regardless of their sex or location.”
“The shift for many people to work from home during the pandemic has changed mindsets and now is a chance to seize the opportunity of making flexible working the norm, rather than something employees have to specially request.”
“The fact is that for many jobs there are invisible restrictions that hold people back – like the need to live in high-cost accommodation close to the centre of cities or maintain working arrangements that are very hard to combine with family or other responsibilities.”
“We now have the chance to break down these barriers and boost opportunities for everyone.”
Deepa Somasundari, senior director of strategic projects at the global job site Indeed, added, “We constantly test our products and use those learnings to build a more equitable system for those looking for work and in doing so make the hiring process fairer.”
“Our work with the Behavioural Insights Team led us to make changes in the UK and internationally that help fulfil our mission of helping all people get jobs.”
“We know people value flexible work opportunities and as a result of the pandemic, there is increasing expectation that jobs are designed with this in mind.”
“For employers, this means reconsidering the notion that flexible work is a benefit and instead acknowledging it as a better way of working that could positively impact the lives of women and therefore society as a whole.”
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