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Job moves on hold for Scottish parents over lack of flexible working employers urged to include flexibility in job adverts

Hundreds of thousands of working parents in Scotland say a job move is off the cards because they won’t be able to replicate the flexibility they have with their current employer, according to a new report.

The Modern Families Index 2020 in focus: Scotland report, published today (23/1/19) by Family Friendly Working Scotland, which is part of UK work life balance charity Working Families, shows 55 per cent of Scottish working parents don’t intend to change jobs for at least two years simply because they fear they won’t get the same flexibility elsewhere (1).

The charity, which previously released research showing just one in eight (11.9%) Scottish jobs with full-time-equivalent salaries of at least £20,000 were advertised as flexible, is now calling on employers to state flexible working opportunities more openly on their websites and in job adverts (2).

Nikki Slowey, co-director of Family Friendly Working Scotland, said: “People are far more likely to apply for and change jobs if they know flexible working is available. And businesses are more likely to find the quality and quantity of new-recruits they need as a result. A few extra words in a job advert could make all the difference.

“The business case for flexible working is well established and many progressive Scottish employers already embrace flexibility and reap the benefits. But many more are still on a journey towards making flexible working the norm. We often hear of companies that have created a really supportive policy around flexible working but no-one knows about it, whether they’re existing staff or potential candidates. We hope our new research reminds employers how important work life balance is to our modern workforce and that, for many employers, all they need to do is shout about ways of working they’ve already agreed.”

Zurich Insurance Group, which employs approximately 240 people in Scotland, started advertising all vacancies as a ‘part time, job share or full time working opportunity’ in April 2018. Women applicants for senior management roles increased by 45 per cent in the first three months.

Pauline White, who works in Zurich’s Glasgow office and is vice chair of the company’s internal Women’s Innovation Network, said: “We added nine words to all job adverts and were delighted with the result. The insurance industry has traditionally not been very flexible and that has put women off. We’d previously introduced much more flexibility for employees and this was working well for them and for us a business. We were looking at how else we could remove barriers particularly – but not only – for women and decided to flag our flexible credentials in job adverts and we’ve not looked back since.”

Repeated studies including by Manchester Business School and the Chartered Institute for Personnel Development show offering flexibility increases staff motivation, productivity and loyalty while reducing time off sick. (3)

The new report by Family Friendly Working Scotland includes data from more than 500 working parents in Scotland. It shows 53 per cent of Scottish working parents currently work flexibly. Almost half (47%) said this was to accommodate childcare, while 39 per cent said it was for wellbeing management and 27 per cent said it was to pursue hobbies and interests.

Sixty per cent of Scottish working parents who worked flexibly said they felt happier as a result and 58 per cent said they were more motivated at work.

The research also showed that creating the right work life balance is often more important than salary or professional success for working parents. More than a quarter (26%) said they would take a pay cut to work fewer hours, while more than a third (34%) said they wanted to downshift roles for less stress.

The research comes soon after the UK government set out plans to improve support for working families in December’s Queen’s Speech. This includes making flexible working the default way to work unless employers have a good reason not to. (4).


Journalists requiring more information including case study interviews can contact Jenny Legg on 07725 619304 or email

Notes to editors:

The Modern Families Index 2020 in focus: Scotland report surveyed 507 working parents in Scotland. It is a supplement to a wider UK report, the Modern Families Index, which includes data from more than 3,000 working parents across the UK. The UK report has been published annually by work life balance organisation Working Families since 2012.

The UK Modern Families Index is the most comprehensive study of how working parents manage the balance between work and family life in the UK. The full report can be found here:

The Flexible Jobs Index Scotland report was conducted and authored by Timewise, and commissioned by the Scottish Government working in partnership with Family Friendly Working Scotland.

The research was based on the analysis of over 230,000 job adverts in Scotland, in the period from September to December 2016. Further analysis on part time earnings, employment patterns and levels of underemployment were conducted using the Household version of the Annual Population Survey July 15-June 16, and using the current Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF).

ACAS and the University of Manchester Business School - Flexibility in the Workplace: Implications of flexible work arrangements for individuals, teams and organisations. Published 2017

Queen’s Speech reference (pages 43-45)

Family Friendly Working Scotland aims to create and support working culture change in Scotland that builds economic success and improves the lives of families. It is part of Working Families, the UK’s work-life balance organisation.

Family Friendly Working Scotland works with employers, government, families and others to promote a flexible and family friendly working culture. This is a way of working which delivers business success and enables employees to have a good balance between work and home life.

Spanning boundaries between private, public and third sectors, we offer practical support to employers and share best practice. We also raise awareness of the issues and benefits around flexible and family friendly working. Acting as a nucleus, Family Friendly Working Scotland promotes innovative and sustainable ways of working that are good for families and the Scottish economy.

Visit or @ffworkscot on Twitter.

Working Families is the UK’s work-life balance organisation. We help working parents and carers—and their employers—find a better balance between responsibilities at home and in the workplace.

We provide free legal advice to parents and carers on their rights at work. We give employers the tools they need to support their employees while creating a flexible, high-performing workforce. And we advocate on behalf of the UK’s 13 million working parents, influencing policy through campaigns informed by ground-breaking research.

Visit @workingfamuk on Twitter and Instagram

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