Last reviewed 21 April 2021

Inequalities will widen as the employment market recovers, with women, carers, older workers, those with health concerns and low-paid workers at most risk of being excluded from any future jobs recovery.

And this is despite the fact that they are the groups that need homeworking or part-time hours the most, according to research by flexible working specialists, Timewise.

It warns that these groups will struggle the most to get back into work after the lockdown eases, specifically because of the low rate of flexible hiring.

“In spite of massive increases in flexible working in the UK since Covid-19,” Timewise said, “the ratio of new job vacancies offering flexible working has hardly shifted at all: four in five vacancies still make no reference to flexible working options.”

The figures come from Timewise’s sixth annual Flexible Jobs Index which has scrutinised the wording of six million jobs vacancies from the past year, isolating those offering flexible work.

This year’s report, which is available by emailing Jo.burkill@timewise.co.uk, has been divided into pre, during, and post the first national lockdown.

It highlights that the proportion of job vacancies in the UK which do offer flexible options, rose to 22% during the first national lockdown. This is an increase of just 5% from the 2019 figure.

Timewise isolated a small sub-sample of 1000 job adverts which do offer homeworking, and also referenced the pandemic. More than half indicated these roles will revert to the office when possible, suggesting, the consultancy said, that some of the flexibility presently on offer to candidates is just short term.

Timewise CEO Emma Stewart said: “Women, carers, older workers and those with health concerns are currently at the greatest risk of becoming ‘flexcluded’ from work, as new ways of working fail to be reflected in employers’ recruitment advertising. We are calling on employers to simply adopt the same approach for job seekers as they are currently taking with employees, and to say so in job adverts.”

Comment from BrightHR’s CEO Alan Price

Where flexible working is concerned, employment law does not give employees an automatic right to be given flexibility in their roles, only the right to request it if they are eligible.

However, employers may find that not adopting this method of working may isolate members of their existing workforce, forcing them to find alternative work and detract new talent from their business. To curb this, employers may need to explore ways to remain competitive while maintaining their business’ core values.