Is flexible working becoming the top benefit?

02 November 2016

2 November 2016

Over two years ago the government extended the right to apply for flexible working to all employees, as long as they have at least 26 weeks’ service with their current employer.

Before 30 June 2014, the right only applied to parents of children under the age of 17 years (or 18 years if the child was disabled) and certain carers.

To help us understand, in part, how much flexible working has become part of our culture, we ran a poll through the latter part of July and all of August this year.

We asked approximately what percentage of your workforce has applied for flexible working within the last 2 years.  We received 142 responses. The highest number of respondents fell into the bracket of ‘up to 10%’ of their workforce asking for flexible working, with only 7% in the ‘up to 30%’ bracket.


%age of workforce






Up to 10%



Up to 20%



Up to 30%



Over 40%




Recently posted on Changeboard were the results of a survey by of over 2,000 women, which showed that nearly 20% of mothers have had to leave their role due to a lack of flexibility in the workplace. Some 12% of respondents said their employer did not even seem to consider their requests, with a quarter saying their appeal was turned down as it was not deemed a requirement under flexible working legislation.

The survey also showed that for women currently on maternity leave, 35% said they’ve had a flexible working request turned down, with 68% of those women feeling the rejection was unjustified. Only 5% of those women had a successful appeal against their employer’s decision. 

Some 41% of women on maternity leave said a refusal of flexible working would leave them unable to return to their job, yet 50% said they had not actually discussed flexible working before going on leave.

It is by no means just working Mums who are looking for flexibility in the workplace; a recent HR Magazine survey on flexible working found it to be the top benefit (81%) that people look for when considering a new role, ranking above other benefits including an enhanced pension scheme (35%), private healthcare insurance (28%) or commission (28%).