Major new research reveals that for 1.9 million people, the major block to higher wages is the lack of quality part time or flexible jobs, NOT a lack of skills.

12 January 2016

  • For 1.9 million people, the major block to higher wages is the lack of quality part time or flexible jobs, NOT a lack of skills. And of these, almost 400,000 people are locked out of work completely due to the part time low-pay trap. This is a significant barrier to the UK achieving full employment.
  • First national research of its kind, offers an in-depth analysis on how unlocking a higher volume of quality jobs to flexible or part time hours could increase job mobility and tackle underemployment.
  • The research, conducted by flexibility experts Timewise and funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), highlights that working more hours is NOT the only answer to raising the incomes of low wage families.
  • The research ‘How flexible hiring could improve business performance and living standards is published today by Timewise and JRF.

Whilst UK employment continues to grow at record-levels for full time posts, the picture is much less promising for quality part time and flexible roles[1].

New research today, by flexibility experts Timewise, reveals that there are nearly 2 million Britons[2] – including parents, people with disabilities and older workers – who are either workless, or working part time below the hourly pay rate[3] required to achieve a minimum standard of living as set out in today’s research. This is not due to a lack of skills, but by a severe shortfall of quality and part time and flexible jobs.

In the context of confronting poverty, the study also reveals that out of the 2 million who are currently locked out of skilled work, due to needing part time hours, 200,000 of these are people in poverty[4] and have the skills to potentially lift their families out of poverty, IF a quality job offering some form of flexibility on hours or location was available.

Additionally, the research also reveals that there are 7.4 workless people who are seeking every quality flexible job vacancy compared to 1 workless person for every quality full time job. This severe lack of quality flexible jobs represents the biggest bottleneck for the British economy to achieving full employment.

This one-of-a-kind research – funded by JRF – suggests that an eight-fold increase in the number of quality flexible job vacancies would be needed for supply versus demand to match that of quality full time jobs.

Flexible Jobs Index

Today’s new research follows on from the Flexible Jobs Index published in June 2015 – the first ever look at the UK’s flexible jobs market. The report highlighted that only 6.2 per cent of quality jobs mention flexible working options from the point of hire[5], despite nearly half of the UK workforce wanting flexibility in their next job.

Timewise argues that employers who offer flexible working to existing employees – almost 96% of businesses[6] – can be persuaded to embrace flexible hiring when they recognise it as a way to achieve a competitive advantage on talent. And in doing so, can deliver significant social as well as business benefits.

Call to action

Timewise Foundation’s Joint CEO, Emma Stewart MBE, is making a range of recommendations to Government based on the research, to help stimulate the flexible hiring market as well as improve knowledge about flexible working. These include:

  • Ensuring that low income parents moving onto Universal Credit are supported to increase their earnings through access to better quality flexible jobs, not just by working more hours
  • Piloting a national careers advancement service that includes employer facing support on flexible job design, to help businesses understand and embrace flexible hiring and low paid workers progress in work.
  • Encouraging Government to take a leadership role as an employer by routinely advertising its own quality vacancies as ‘open to flexibility’ at national, devolved, regional and local levels.
  • Asking larger employers to report on the pay gap between full time and part time earnings by occupational grouping and pay grade for existing employees.

Emma Stewart MBE, Timewise Foundation Joint CEO, who authored the research, said: “Flexible working, from the point of hire, needs to be part of the debate on how to raise living standards for the millions of UK households stuck in low pay, alongside tax credits and the National Living Wage. For the first time, our research highlights that 1.9 million people are prevented from earning their true market value, not by a lack of skills nor a lack of jobs, but by a lack of quality jobs with flexible working options.”

Julia Unwin, Joseph Rowntree Foundation Chief Executive, said: “Locking people out of high quality work traps individuals in low pay and low living standards, and limits the wider economy. If we are to achieve a prosperous, poverty free UK, we need to develop a jobs market which allows workers to achieve their potential and progress at work.

“Employers have a vital role to play through creating ‘people-ready’ jobs which take caring responsibilities and disabilities. Opening up high-quality jobs will also help to drive productivity, boosting businesses’ bottom lines and the wider economy.”

Torsten Bell, Director of the Resolution Foundation, said: “Employment is at a record high. But the UK can do better still. We’ll need to get millions more people into work if the UK is to become a genuine world leader on employment.

“To achieve this goal, more needs to be done to encourage people on the fringes of the labour market into work. Flexible hiring and more quality part time jobs should be a key part of this strategy for full employment.”

Download How flexible hiring could improve business standards and living standards report here

– ENDS –

For more information or to arrange an interview:

Please contact  Daniela Marchesi:

t: 0207 633 4553; m: 0797 3300059



1. To meet basic minimum income standards (MIS), people in the three groups under study for this report (parents, older people and disabled people) need to earn at least £10.63 per hour. This hourly rate establishes the target pay threshold for a ‘quality’ job, for which the full-time equivalent salary is approximately £19,500 a year.

2. Research methodology: Timewise has worked with the Centre for Economics and Social Inclusion (Inclusion) and vacancy analysis experts Talent Cube to produce this research. The analysis was based on data from the Labour Force Survey (2014), JRF’s MIS research (2014), the Family Resources Survey (FY 2012/2013), plus the Flexible Jobs Index – an analysis taken from over 3.5 million job adverts on UK jobs boards (July to December 2014).

3. There are 1.9 million people (predominantly parents, older people – aged 50 and above – and disabled people) who could benefit from a quality flexible job and hold the necessary qualification levels (National Qualifications Framework – NQF – Level 3 or above, or a trade apprenticeship) to attain one. A large majority – 1,559,000 people – are currently in part-time work below the pay rate for a quality job. A further 154,000 people are not working and seeking part-time work. There are 198,000 people who are workless and have no preference between part-time and full-time work.

4. Poverty impact analysis (using the usual measure of 60% of equalised income before housing costs)shows that 202,300 well-qualified people in the target groups are in poverty and could benefit from quality part-time work. Of these, 25,200 would actually move out of poverty if they got this work.

5. The Timewise Flexible Jobs Index research is based on the analysis of data from over 3.5 million
job advertisements, across 122 national jobs boards, in the period July to December 2014.

6. Source: Navigating Choppy Waters: CBI/Harvey Nash, Employment Trends Survey, 2011.

About Timewise

Timewise ( is the UK’s first market place for candidates who want some flexibility on where and when they work. Experts in flexible hiring, with 10 years of experience, Timewise is led by founders Karen Mattison and Emma Stewart, who have been made MBEs and won a range of awards for their work (see below). Timewise runs multiple services designed to boost the number of jobs that are advertised with flexible working possibilities in the UK.

The Group’s three business divisions include:

1. Timewise, consultancy working with businesses to help them make flexible working a commercial success – sharing market insights, delivering training and consultancy and sharing research

2. Timewise Jobs ( the UK’s first national jobs board exclusively for roles which are part time or open to flexibility, with over 70,000 registered candidates

3. Timewise Foundation, market making through sharing learnings with policy makers, opinion formers and employer networks. This public affairs work promotes the social and business benefits of quality part time and flexible work, aiming to influence both the mainstream recruitment market and public policy

Timewise’s work has been recognised by thought leaders, policy makers and the business community, including: Resolution Foundation, the Confederation of British Industry, the Greater London Authority, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the Cabinet Office, the Recruitment Employment Confederation, the Chartered Institute for Professional Development and the British Chamber of Commerce.

Organisations that have advertised jobs through us, or used our consultancy service, include EY, Diageo, ITV, Sony Entertainment, Macmillan Cancer Support, McDonalds, EasyJet and more.


Karen and Emma have been named ‘Breaking the Mould’ award winners by the Institute of Directors (November 2014), ‘Women Changing the Business World’ by the IoD’s Director magazine (February 2014) two of the UK’s ‘Top 50 Radicals’ by the Observer and NESTA (Feb 2012) two of the ‘most exciting social entrepreneurs to watch’ by Real Business Magazine and named ‘Small Business Heroes’ by Management Today (May 2013).

About the Joseph Rowntree Foundation

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) is an independent organisation working to inspire social change through research, policy and practice. For more information visit