More flexibility is key to boosting labour market supply across the UK

New analysis demonstrates the popularity of flexible working options among people with caring responsibilities

2 June 2022

By Rosie Fogden

3 minute read

More flexible working opportunities could help fill the rising numbers of vacancies across the UK by enabling parents and carers to work more hours. Across the UK, businesses are finding the supply of workers constrained by falling EU applications, young people staying in education and mass resignations as people re-prioritise their lives. CPP survey data show that embedding flexible work policies would help boost this supply.

CPP’s recent What Women Want report found that five million women would want to work more hours if they had access to flexible working and this extends to male parents and carers too. We found that in the North East and North West, around half of those with caring responsibilities would work more hours if their employers offered more flexibility – 54% and 50% respectively. Yorkshire & Humber isn’t far behind, with 43% of parents and carers agreeing. Nationwide, nearly one in four people said that they would want to work an average of 10 additional hours if their employer allowed them to work more flexibly.

Significant numbers of parents and carers also say that having the chance to flex, compress or stagger their hours, or to work remotely, would allow them to start an entirely new job – 28% in the East Midlands, and around one in five in both Wales (22%) and Yorkshire & Humber (18%).

Strikingly, parents and carers in all regions consider more flexible work opportunities to be the most beneficial form of support while working, above higher benefit payments and access to affordable social or childcare.

Flexibility is currently concentrated in high-paid jobs, but unemployment is higher among low-paid workers. In an increasingly tight labour market, employers need to think creatively about how to fill roles and retain current staff. Our analysis shows that offering increased flexibility could help employers attract more candidates and help people with caring responsibilities into work. Smart employers in all industries should look at what flexibility they can offer in order to avoid unnecessarily losing staff and to attract talent.

In its 2019 manifesto the Conservative party promised to encourage and consult on flexible working but it has failed to bring forward an Employment Bill that would make these changes a reality. With costs rising across the board, it should be a priority to help people, particularly those on low incomes, to increase their earnings wherever possible. So CPP is calling on the Government to establish a national target to ensure that 70% of non-emergency roles are advertised as flexible by 2025 and to require all employers to consider flexible working arrangements for all new applicants.

Notes

CPP commissioned Yonder to conduct an online survey of 2,002 UK adults of working age (16-64) between 3rd to 7th March 2022. Quotas and weights were employed to ensure the sample was demographically representative of the UK adult population. Survey results were published alongside CPP’s What Women Want report and are available on the CPP website at: https://www.progressive-policy...;

Jobs in high vacancy rate sectors based on ONS data on Vacancies and jobs in the UK: 2022 and Workforce jobs by region: March 2022.