Flexible Working is NOT a Right to be Earned

In Scotland, it’s been revealed that only high earners have the luxury of flexible working. Just over half of Scottish workers who earn less than £20,000 annually can work flexibly. Compared to 73% of workers earning over £50,000. These shocking figures come from a report from Flexibility Works and prove that not all’s fair in flex and work. 

The benefits of flexible working are getting harder and harder to ignore by employers. And with two in five Scottish workers admitting that the flexible option is the only way they’re able to work, this statistic simply isn’t good enough. 

The Office Wars

The first assumption many people will have when reading these statistics is that the low paid workers who were used in the survey, may have jobs they don’t lend themselves as well to flexible working. However, Nikki Slowey, director, and co-founder of Flexibility Works, put this idea to bed. 

“Initially we thought this was because more low paid workers are in frontline roles, such as in the care, manufacturing, and hospitality sectors, where employers need to be more open-minded and creative to create flexibility,” she said.

“But our figures show this isn’t the case – frontline or not, the higher earners always have significantly more flexibility than lower earners.”

It would suggest then that the only reason for the shocking disparity between earners is trust. For whatever reason, higher earners command more trust in their jobs that allow them to work flexibly.

Slowey says, “Lack of trust is likely to be part of the problem because we know some employers still expect workers to ‘earn the right’ to work flexibly; but the full reasons are something we need to explore further.”

Trust Goes Both Ways

The issue of ‘trusting’ higher earners and that trust in a role must be ‘earned’ is ridiculously old fashioned.  As we’ve discussed time and time again, the pandemic proved that businesses won’t come to a screeching halt if workers work or home or around other commitments. 

Employees, or those looking for work, in Scotland who earn less than £20,000 will be losing trust in their employers if they are not allowed the same rights as workers with a higher salary. Those on a lower income may rely on flexible working more than those who earn more for childcare or caring arrangements. It’s simply unfair to not allow them this basic right.

Flexible Working Costs Nothing

Clare from East Lothian, Scotland works as a family support worker and is one of the few ‘lucky’ low earners who works flexibly.

“No one comes into my line of work for the money but having a good work-life balance makes a world of difference,” she says. “My husband works shifts so I sometimes need to be able to pick up my children at short notice and on different times and days in the week. If I couldn’t work flexibly, I’m not exaggerating to say that I couldn’t work. It just wouldn’t be feasible for my family.” 

The study is based on research with more than 1,000 Scottish workers, 248 employers and 216 unemployed Scottish adults looking for work. It found that salary was the key differentiator on whether someone worked flexibly or not.

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