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Higher-salary jobs less likely to offer flexibility

Only one in 10 positions with a salary between £20,000 and £34,000 offer flexible working

Higher-salaried jobs are less likely to offer flexible working than more junior roles, according to a report from Timewise.

The Timewise Flexible Jobs Index 2017 found that while one in five (20.4%) jobs with a salary of between £14,000 and £19,999 offered flexible working, only one in 10 (11.9%) positions with a salary between £20,000 and £34,000 did the same.

The issue became even more pronounced at higher salary bands, with 8.6% of those between £35,000 and £59,000, 7.1% between £60,000 and £79,000 and just 6.9% at £80,000 or higher offering flexible working. As such, flexible workers in lower salary bands might struggle to find a higher-paying position that supports their preferred working style.

Despite these findings, the Index found the flexible jobs market is growing. The number of quality roles advertised flexibly at the point of hire has risen from 8.7% in 2016 to 9.8%.

However, the research found that only 54% of the workforce currently works flexibly in some way, so there is still a large gap between supply and demand for flexibly advertised jobs. If the market continues to grow at this rate it could take as long as 40 years for the number of jobs that are advertised as flexible to match the number of people wanting them.

Emma Stewart, co-founder and joint CEO of Timewise, warned that candidates have been saying for years that they cannot find quality, high-level flexible jobs. “If you’re one of those people who negotiated or found a way to work flexibly and you want to move either up via career progression or onto another company you’re fishing in a pool of less than one in 10 jobs,” she told HR magazine.

“That’s a massive talent bottleneck and we’ve got this enormous demand for flexible working from people of all ages, genders and industries. We’ve also got a jobs market with globalisation and high-level skills in tech and science and work in all kinds of different environments. However, when you want to look for a job and make that move you’re stuck."

Stewart added that the reluctance to advertise and hire flexibly, even among organisations with strong flexible working cultures, is an enduring issue.

“Employers may say that they offer flexible working, but three-quarters of candidates we survey say they would never ask at their interview," she said. "This presents a weird game when candidates either awkwardly ask if they can work flexibly at interview or once they’ve joined the company, or they don’t apply for the job at all.”

Andrew Porter, head of talent engagement for Diageo in Europe, highlighted the benefits of offering flexible working. “It’s great to see the flexible jobs market growing but there’s a long way to go,” he told HR magazine. “We want to attract, retain and develop the very best talent for Diageo, so we are always open to conversations about how we can achieve flexible working to suit the business and the individual. At present we offer a variety of options, from part-time roles and job shares to home working and compressed hours.”