Working Families, the work-life balance charity, and leading childcare provider, Bright Horizons, have launched a new report, with key recommendations for employers taken from the 2019 Modern Families Index.

Available at, the report focuses on flexible working and the reality of flexible jobs from the perspective of working parents in the UK.

Their experience shows that, while flexible working is widespread, it is patchy in some sectors and for some workers.

Issues around job design, workloads and organisational culture undermine some of the benefits of flexibility, and proper management of flexibility to ensure it works is, for many parents, missing.

Job design and flexible recruitment are seen as potential solutions to some of these issues and are central to many of the report’s recommendations.

“It is clear that flexibility is an attractor and retainer”, Working Families said. “If jobs are flexible and well-designed, people want to stay in them.”

The Modern Families Index is an annual study exploring how working families combine work and family life. It looks at how parents are experiencing life outside of work through the lens of their employment and asks parents what needs to change for them to better manage the demands of home and work.

In 2019, the study was based on a survey of 2750 working parents with children under 13. The sample is drawn equally from across 11 UK regions and nations to help achieve a balanced picture of working arrangements, types of employment and income.

“From a work-life fit and flexible working point of view”, Working Families said, “we have considered the key takeaways for employers.”

Comment by BrightHR Chief Technological Officer Alastair Brown

Although flexible working continues to get a lot of attention it does not mean that employers will soon be expected to permit it across the board.

Allowing a particular employee to work flexible hours may simply not be a viable option for the company and business needs will always come first. For this reason, there is no legal obligation upon employers to permit employees to work flexibly and this is not going to change any time soon.

That said, employers should not rule it out completely.

Flexible working can be very popular among a modern workforce if managed correctly, particularly working parents who may otherwise have to take lengthy time away from work to facilitate childcare.

Last reviewed 13 May 2019