2 September 2019

One in three (30%) requests for flexible working are being turned down, according to a new TUC poll published today.

The polling – published as children around the UK go back to school this week – reveals that flexible working is not available to many workers, and that people in working-class jobs are most likely to miss out on it. 

Chief Executive at The Fawcett Society, Sam Smethers said:

“Fawcett has long called for flexible working to be the default.  Our workforce is still divided between the flexibility haves and have nots.   Far too many women are unable to get the working hours they need. As a result they are either excluded from the labour market or trapped working below their skill level.  We all pay a price for the outdated way we design our workplaces.  It’s time for change.”

The survey shows: 

  • Flexi-time is unavailable to over half (58%) of the UK workforce. This number rises to nearly two-thirds (64%) for people in working-class occupations. 
  • 3 in 10 workers (28%) say their desire for more flexible hours is one of the main reasons they might look for a new job. 

The TUC is today joining the Flex for All alliance – along with Pregnant then Screwed, Fawcett Society, Mother Pukka, the Young Women’s Trust and the Fatherhood Institute. 

The Flex for All campaign has launched a petition to change the law so that flexible working is open to all workers from day one in the job, with employers required to advertise all jobs on that basis. 

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: 

“Flexible working should be a day one right that’s available to everyone.  

“But under current law bosses have free rein to turn down requests. 

“It’s not right that millions are struggling to balance their work and home lives. Ministers must change the law so that people can work flexibly – regardless of what type of contract they are on. 

“Allowing people more flexibility in how and when they do their work makes them happier and more productive.” 

Support our campaign today - sign the petition here.