Unequal flexi work options creating two-tier workforce

The difference in flexible working arrangements being offered to different regions across the UK risks fracturing the workforce, cautions the CIPD.

The professional body for HR analysed data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and ranked UK regions and nations by use of flexible working arrangements.

The data found the use of different flexible working arrangements is unequal across the UK, with large differences in the types of flexible working arrangements offered in different regions. 

Workers in south-east England have the best flexible working options, followed by the east of England, while workers in the Yorkshire and the Humber region are least likely to have flexibility in their role. 

While Scotland is ranked fifth overall, the CIPD is concerned about the gaps between the types of flexible working arrangements that are on offer.

Lee Ann Panglea, head of CIPD Scotland and Northern Ireland, said the disparities in flexible work options in Scotland is a serious cause for concern.

She said: “We see huge differences in the availability of flexible working across the UK, but also within Scotland itself.

“It is important that we all recognise that homeworking is only one type of flexible work, not all jobs can be done from home, not everyone can work from home and not everyone wants to work from home.”

Panglea advised Scottish employers to think creatively about the flexibility they can provide to those that need to be in the physical workplace as well as those who can work remotely, ensuring everyone has fairness of opportunity.

“An increase in the use of different arrangements such as flexi-time, compressed hours or job shares will empower people to have greater control and flexibility in their working life.

“It will also help organisations to foster more diverse and inclusive workplaces and can improve wellbeing and productivity,” she said.

The CIPD has called for the right to request flexible working from day one, so everyone can benefit from having more choice and a say in when and how they work.

To compile the league table, the CIPD looked at three types of flexible working.

The first was flexibility over when someone works, which included flexible hours, flexi-time, annualised hours, term-time working, job share, four and a half day week, zero-hours contract.

The second was flexibility over where someone works, and whether they were able to work from home.

And the third was informal flexibility which looked at how start/end time is determined, the ability to take a couple of hours off during the working day to deal with personal matters, if employees can take leave at short notice, frequency of unforeseen work demands or if they are available for work in free time.


League table: the areas with the most flexible working arrangements


The South East


East of England


Northern Ireland






The North East


The North West


The South West


The West Midlands




The East Midlands


Yorkshire and the Humber