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Parents/carers and best-practice employers agree that companies should publish their flexible working and family-related policies

New figures from work-life balance charity Working Families [1] show that both parents/carers and best-practice employers alike are overwhelmingly in favour of greater transparency around companies’ flexible working and family-related leave and pay policies.

Over 700 parents and carers [2] and 74 Working Families employer members [3] were surveyed. The charity found that:

  • Over 97% of parents and carers surveyed agreed that requiring employers to publish their flexible working and family-related leave and pay policies would be helpful. Over 97% of parents and carers also agreed that this increased transparency would make an employer more attractive to work for.
  • Over 97% of employers surveyed agreed that large companies (over 250 employees) should publish their flexible working and family-related leave and pay policies on their websites. Over 93% of employers agreed that doing so would be simple and inexpensive.
  • Over 89% of parents and carers surveyed agreed that employers should be required to advertise vacancies with part-time and/or flexible options.  Over 84% of employed parents and carers and over 95% of unemployed parents and carers agreed that a lack of quality, permanent part-time job opportunities had been a barrier to applying for a new job.
  • Over 97% of employers surveyed agreed that advertising jobs with part-time and flexible options is helpful for recruiting and retaining staff. 89% of employers believed a requirement on companies to recruit flexibly would be effective, compared to just 33% who believed a voluntary approach would be effective.

The announcement of the survey results coincides with the closing date of the Government’s consultation on these proposals, as well as the last day of National Work Life Week [4]. In its consultation response, Working Families is calling for a requirement on employers to publish their flexible working and family-related leave and pay policies, and to advertise jobs part-time and/or flexibly by default.

Jane van Zyl, Chief Executive of Working Families, said:

The UK’s labour market is not working for the UK’s 13 million working parents [5]. Our research shows that while 86% of working parents would like to work flexibly, only just under half (49%) actually do [6]; and that all too often, when they have accessed flexibility, they feel trapped in the ‘flexible’ role [7].

Large employers publishing their flexible and family-friendly policies will empower parents to make informed choices about where they work, igniting a ‘race to the top’ around flexible and family-friendly policies amongst employers that want to recruit and retain the best talent.

Action to turn the labour market on its head around flexible working is long overdue. Requiring employers to advertise jobs flexibly—and ensuring that better job design is an integral part of the process—will help create more part-time and/or flexible jobs for everyone, and a more level playing field for parents.


[1] Working Families is the UK’s work-life balance charity. We help working parents and carers—and their employers—find a better balance between responsibilities at home and in the workplace.

We provide free legal advice to parents and carers on their rights at work. We give employers the tools they need to support their employees while creating a flexible, high-performing workforce. And we advocate on behalf of the UK’s 13 million working parents, influencing policy through campaigns informed by ground-breaking research.

[2] Working Families carried out an online survey of parents and carers in September and October 2019, using our channels and networks to promote it.

[3] Working Families has over 130 employer members committed to creating flexible and family-friendly workplaces. See a full list of our members.

[4] National Work Life Week (7-11 October 2019) is an annual campaign to get both employers and employees talking about wellbeing at work and work-life fit. It’s an opportunity for employers to show their staff, and potential candidates, how their organisation is striving for a family-friendly and flexible working culture. The campaign is run by Working Families, the UK’s work-life balance charity.

[5] Parents and non-parents by sex and age of youngest dependent child and different working arrangements, UK and regions, ONS 2018

[6] 2019 Modern Families Index, Working Families & Bright Horizons

[7] According to the 2019 Modern Families Index,  nearly two-thirds (65%) of mothers and half of fathers agreed or strongly agreed with the statement: ‘I will stay in my job because I won’t be able to get the flexibility I have now elsewhere’.

Source: Working Families – News

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