UK falls behind Europe on flexible working

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UK falls behind Europe on flexible working

Less than half of UK firms offer flexi working, says survey.

The UK is falling behind European competitors in offering flexible working arrangements to employees, says new research.

Only 48 per cent of UK organisations offer flexitime to their staff compared to 90 per cent in Germany, 94 per cent in Sweden and 92 per cent in Finland, according to a Cranet (Cranfield Network) survey.

The figures are worse for teleworking with just 20 per cent of employees being given the option, compared to 44 per cent in Germany and Sweden, 40 per cent in Norway and 39 per cent in Denmark.

It is often claimed the UK has a more flexible approach to working than other European countries giving it a source of competitive advantage, but the research reveals this is not necessarily the case.

However, the proportion of UK organisations using other flexible working arrangements is on a par with other European countries, including part-time working (97 per cent), job-share (55 per cent) and home working (32 per cent).

The Cranet survey of comparative human resource management was carried out by a worldwide network of 40 business schools, coordinated by Cranfield School of Management in the UK.

Professor Shaun Tyson, director of Cranfield School of Management’s Human Resource Centre, said while there may be more restrictive labour laws in some European countries than in the UK, the development of flexible working time and flexibility of contract was almost universal.

"Some of these practices are seen by employees as part of the social contract in that they produce family friendly working conditions, as well as offering efficiency savings for employers," he said.

The survey contains data from 8,000 organisations across 32 countries between 2003 and 2005.

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