How can employers promote flexible working?

Have you heard of 'flexism'?

New research published found many part-time employees say they miss out on key meetings, on professional development events and training and on networking opportunities. This is not the way the flexible workplace is meant to be.

The survey, conducted by Timewise, found 65% of part-time workers feel isolated and struggle to make professional connections. More than half (59%) feel they have fallen behind full-time colleagues in terms of skills and knowledge and this could mean they are less likely to progress as well as their full-time colleagues. Timewise founder Karen Mattison calls it another form of discrimination: “flexism”.

The research also highlights that although employers may agree to flexible working, this does not always translate in practice and employees are still expected to fulfil the same workloads and attend meetings and training on their days ‘off’.

Since 2003, parents and carers have been eligible to request flexible working. In 2014, this was extended to include all employees with at least 26 weeks continuous employment, regardless of parental or caring responsibilities. Employers have a statutory duty to consider a request in a reasonable manner and can only refuse a request for flexible working if they can show that one of a specific number of grounds apply.[1]

Parenthood in particular continues to impact upon employment activity to a significant extent and the Office for National Statistics found mothers with children aged between 1 and 12 years old are more likely to be in part-time employment than full-time employment.[2] Employers For Childcare aims to make it easier for parents with dependent children to get into work and stay in work. Our 2017 Manifesto outlines a key ask: ‘Encourage the use of Family Friendly Working Policies’.

Nearly half of respondents in our Striking the Balance research report agreed that it is more difficult to progress or develop a career after having children and 91% of respondents commented on the difficulty of achieving a work-life balance.

Evidence highlights the difficulties parents face in combining work with family commitments and show that – while there are some examples of great practice – there is still more work to be done by employers, government and other organisations to help reap the benefits of a part-time workforce and to create a suitable work-life.

Our Family Friendly Employer Guide sets out how employers can create a family friendly culture and highlights the benefits of this to the employer, the organisation and the workforce.

Employers For Childcare also recognises employers who go above and beyond the legal requirements to implement family friendly working policies for their employees through our annual Family Friendly Employer Awards. We look forward to revealing the 2018 winners at our Awards ceremony and celebration in Galgorm Resort and Spa on Wednesday 24 October.

If you are an employer and would like more information on family friendly working policies or our 2018 awards, please call 028 9267 8200 or contact