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PRESS RELEASE: Growth rate of jobs ads offering flexible working options SLOWS

Timewise warns that how firms hire is now ‘perilously’ out of touch with how people live their lives and choose jobs.

  • 9th annual Flexible Jobs Index by Timewise reveals a SLOWDOWN in the growth of the rate of job ads offering flexible working options: ‘back to a slow climb up a steep mountain’.
  • Major data set – annual analysis of c.6 million UK job ads offering decently paid roles (£20K FTE+), advertised this year.
  • Typically the volume of job ads offering flexible working creeps up by 1 or 2 % a year.
  • An accelerated rate of growth was seen in the pandemic:
    • +9% in 2021
    • +4% in 2022.
  • This year, growth has fallen back to a sluggish +1% rise. Analysis on ‘why’ below.

Tuesday 14 November, 2023: The rate of job vacancies being posted with the promise of flexible working, has slowed down to pre-pandemic levels.

For the 9th year in a row, the social enterprise Timewise has analysed nearly 6m UK job ads to see what portion are being offered with part-time and flexible options – within the wording of vacancies themselves.1

This year’s Timewise Flexible Jobs Index, backed by Lloyds Banking Group, shows negligible change on the previous year’s volume of job adverts, overtly offering some form of flexible working at the point of hire.

Just 31% of UK jobs now offer a flexible option when advertised2, a figure that appears to have reached a plateau following the rapid increase in job ads offering hybrid working during the pandemic.  

An accelerated rate of growth was seen in the pandemic:

  • +9% in 2021
  • +4% in 2022

The growth rate has returned to the pre-pandemic increase of 1 per cent a year.

It is important to note that few job ads have ever referenced flex options in the UK3, where the recruitment market fails to reflect what’s actually happening within jobs.

Even now, most job vacancies in the UK, 69 per cent (or nearly 7 in 10) make NO mention of flex options at ALL4. While 6 in 10 UK employees actually work in flexible jobs5.  Meaning the UK hiring market is vastly out of kilter with flexible working that’s actually happening in the workforce.

Flexible Jobs –  desire Vs lack of availability

  • 31 per cent of jobs offer flexible working options.
  • 60 per cent of employees are in flexible jobs.
  • 87 per cent of people want flex in their next role6

Clare McNeil, Director of Timewise’s Innovation Unit says:
“The volume of job ads offering flexible working options has trebled since 2015. However since the end of the pandemic this has fallen back to a slow climb up a steep mountain. Just 31% of UK job ads now offer some form of flexible working up front, meaning parents, carers and all those who need flex, have just one third of the UK jobs market to search within. People who want flexible working account the majority. Yet they are treated as if they are the exception. This is indicative of a market failure – and one that shows businesses are perilously out of touch with what employees are looking for, given the grave talent shortages many face.”

Nicky Elford, Head of Colleague Propositions and Policy, Lloyds Banking Group says:

“We were one of the first organisations in the UK to open flexible and agile working options for all new roles, recognising that this allows us to attract a wider and diverse pool of talent. Through our Flexibility Works proposition launched earlier this year we have a range of options for our people including reduced hours, more informal everyday flexibility and increased flexibility for bank holidays. In addition, from 1st January 2024 all our jobs will default to be available for job sharing, regardless of role or level. We believe that it is not just about attracting new talent but enabling people to take their flexible patterns with them as they progress in their careers.”

Earlier this year the CIPD reported that 4 million people in the UK are leaving their jobs, specifically citing the lack of opportunity to work flexibly, and 2 million leaving their sectors for good.

10 key trends from this year’s Flexible Jobs Index:

  1. Part-time  is still largely only advertised as an option for lower-paying jobs:
    • Part-time arrangements are more than twice as common in jobs paid £20k-£34k FTE (15%), than those paid £35k-£59k FTE (7%)
    • And three times more common compared to those paid £60k or more (5%)
  2. Home-working (including hybrid working) tends to be offered in higher salary bands:
    Timewise says this is evidence of the UK jobs market dividing into ‘Flex Haves’ (office workers) and ‘Flex Have Nots’ (frontline workers).

  3. Most sought after forms of flex are frozen:
    Just 12% of UK job ads offer part-time hours – the exact same volume as 2022.
    And just 12% of UK job ads offer remote working options – again the exact same volume as 2022.

  4. Hybrid – slow rise:
    7% of job adverts offer hybrid working, compared to 5% last year. A slight increase.

  5. The Four Day Week – hasn’t translated into recruitment yet:
    Mentions of a ‘4 day week’ in job adverts – ie. offering four days, but paying 5, were so negligible as to be omitted from analysis. This could be because the market is still in its infancy.

  6. Best sectors in which to find flex:
    Sectors offering the highest rates of flexible job vacancies are social services jobs (45 per cent) and health-related roles (38 per cent). However these are also often sectors with highest levels of insecure work.

  7. A key trend in a frontline industry:
    Hospitality now ranks alongside the above public service sectors as having a higher than average rate of flexible vacancies, having leapt from 33% last year to 43% in 2023. This may reflect labour shortages in the sector, and possibly also businesses running on reduced hours to cope with lower demand in the tough economic climate.

  8. Best job types for flex:
    Many office roles have higher than average rates, led by HR (39%), finance (38%) and marketing (38%). Hybrid working is naturally particularly prevalent here.

  9. Worst role types for flex:
    Role categories with rates well below average include construction (10%), manufacturing (11%), and maintenance/repair (13%).

  10. UK picture:
    The availability of flexible job vacancies is broadly similar across the UK, but with Wales (35%) and the South West (36%) slightly out in front. Northern Ireland (28%), Greater London (29%), Yorkshire & the Humber (30%), the East of England (30%) all have rates slightly below the UK average (31%). 


For more information, interviews or case studies please contact Jo Burkill on / 07960 472097

Notes to editors

1 Methodology: the Timewise Flexible Jobs Index 2023 is based on analysis of over 5.7 million UK vacancies, advertised on job boards between 1st January and 30th June 2023. The data source is Lightcast, and job adverts were filtered using 19 keywords relating to different forms of flexible working. As our aim is to track employer behaviour in offering flexible working for quality jobs (rather than in insecure jobs where flexibility is common and pay is often below national living wage), the following types of contracts are excluded from the analysis where it has been possible to identify them: self-employed, freelance, zero hours, commission only and temporary posts. We have also excluded all job adverts paid less than £20,000 per annum – a proxy for the national living wage.

2  From p.9 of the 2023 Timewise Flexible Jobs Index: “The rate of flexible jobs in 2023 (31%) represents a negligible increase on the previous year. The impact of the pandemic has plateaued. During 2020 and 2021, forced home-working and the subsequent shift to ‘hybrid working’ for many jobs led to increases of around 4 percentage points per year. But this has not developed into longer term momentum towards a more flexible workplace.”

3 From page 9 of the 2023 Timewise Flexible Jobs Index: proportion of flexible jobs advertised shows that growth was slow but steady, until the pandemic accelerate change:

2015 10 per cent
2016 11 per cent
2017 12 per cent
2018 13 per cent
2019 15 per cent
2020 (Q1 pre pandemic) 17 per cent
2021 (Q1 lockdown) 24 per cent
2022 (post pandemic) 30 per cent
2023 31 per cent

4 In the research, 69% of UK job ads posted included no flexible working options whatsoever, accounting for nearly 7 in 10 of all roles advertised.

5 According to the 2023 Flexible and Hybrid Preferences report from the CIPD,  6 in 10 employees already work flexibly in some way:

6 Timewise commissioned a survey from ComRes in 2017, 3,001 UK adults online between 13th and 26th June 2017. Within these sub-samples: 1,250 full-time employees; 750 part-time employees; 500 self-employed people; 501 people who were not working but wanted to work. All participants were aged 18+. The data for full-time employees and for part time employees was weighted to be representative of the UK working population for those employment types; other data were unweighted.

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