Employers ‘miss out’ on up to 1.9m highly qualified candidates due to lack of flexible working

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Employers that fail to offer flexible working are losing out on a good proportion of highly-qualified recruits, a report has warned.

The report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), which looked at parents, older people and disabled people, found only 6.2 per cent of ‘quality’ job vacancies were advertised with options to work flexibly. This compared to 47 per cent of those asked who said they wanted to work flexibly.

The study quantified a quality job as one with a full-time equivalent salary of £19,500.

According to the findings, 1.9 million people who could benefit from a quality flexible job hold the necessary qualification levels to attain one (National Qualifications (NQF) Level 3 or above, or a trade apprenticeship).

Helen Barnard, head of analysis at JRF, said: “The report shines a light on what employers might be missing out on. If we have 1.9 million people who have the qualifications to do a better paid job that are working below that qualification level, what that implies is that there are a lot of employers who have staff who could be contributing more, but because they need some form of flexibility those employers are missing out on that.”

Barnard said employers often used flexible working as a retention tool, but were failing to offer it at the point of employment, which could mean they were “missing out on a big pool of candidates”.

“There are a lot of people who do not apply for jobs because they appear to be full-time and inflexible, whereas if you advertise jobs as ‘open to flexibility for the right candidate’ you can find there is a big pool of people out there who bring qualifications and commitment and very often are willing to go above and beyond the standard job,” she added.

The research said offering quality roles with flexible hours could help raise 25,200 people out of poverty. It said more than 1.5 million people were currently in part-time work below the pay rate for a quality job. A further 154,000 people are not working but seeking part-time work.

According to JRF, people in part-time work are often paid less because of the types of occupations likely to offer part-time roles. The report said 77 per cent of full-time workers with NQF Level 4 and above work in managerial, professional and associate professional jobs, while only 56 per cent of part-time workers with this level of qualification work in these types of roles.

The study found part-time workers earn less per hour than their full-time counterparts at every level of qualification. A part-time worker qualified to NQF Level 4 and above earns £3.51 less, those with trade apprenticeships earn £3.42 less and NQF Level 3 workers earn £2.64 less.

Barnard said she would encourage employers to put ‘open to flexibility’ into job adverts to allow the conversation about flexible work to be had, adding this didn’t mean they were committed to hiring flexibly for a particular role.

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