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UK employers band together in support of flexible recruitment

Representatives from major UK employers have signed an open letter calling for flexible recruitment – offering flexible working options to candidates – to become the default practice across the country.

Grant Thornton, Pinsent Mason, Experian, Centrica and Rolls Royce are among the 21 employers to sign t the letter, which has been created by non-profit Working Families. 

It said: "Flexible working is no longer just a ‘nice-to-have’. It’s good for people and good for business — boosting productivity, employee engagement, and staff retention. Advertising roles with flexible options isn’t just a perk we offer to our candidates; it’s a vital part of our recruitment strategy.

"Recruiting flexibly isn’t just for jobs that can be done remotely. As employers of all sizes from a diverse range of sectors, we are living proof that — with a willingness to find solutions — flexibility can work in all jobs and all industries, not just desk-based roles."

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David Blackburn, chief people officer at the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) and co-signee of the open letter, explained why his organisation signed.

He told HR magazine: “The FSCS is a proud signatory of Working Families open letter in support of flexible working by default because we have a long-standing culture of embracing flexibility and the benefits it unlocks.

"Colleagues spend approximately 40% of their time in the office and are free to structure this however they prefer. We regularly encourage everyone to evaluate what really works for them, and to adapt individual working patterns as required. We also know this helps us to attract and retain colleagues from the widest, most diverse pool of talent.”

Research commissioned by Working Families and SF Recruitment found 82% of parents in the UK would be likely to apply for a job that had flexible working options listed in the job description.

More than half (55%) of the 992 parents surveyed in August said they would leave their current job in favour of another with greater flexible working capabilities. 

Anna Whitehouse, author and the founder of flexible working campaign Flex Appeal, welcomed businesses taking the initiative to make flexible working the norm in recruitment.

Speaking to HR magazine, she said: “It is great to see employers taking matters into their own hands. This has been the case since the pandemic too; in lieu of government support for flexible working, companies are ripping up their rule books and reimagining a workplace that works for their employees today.

"The more employers who take control and move to flexible working by default, the more impact we as a collective can have to put pressure on the government to drive lasting legislative change. Flexible working for all is good for businesses and it’s good for people and we need to embrace this as one united team.”

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed the unemployment rate in the UK dropped to 3.5% between June and August 2022, the lowest rate since 1974. 

The number of payrolled employees in the country reached a record 29.7 million in September 2022, up 69,000 on the previous month.