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Flexible working in the UK- Statistics & Facts

Flexible working arrangements are becoming increasingly popular to workers in the United Kingdom, with economic, technological and social trends all encouraging this development to continue. The number of part-time workers in the UK for example, has increased from 6 million in 1992 to 8.59 million by 2019. This equates to a 43 percent increase in the number of part-time workers compared with a growth of just 23 percent in the number of full-time workers during the same period. It is also likely that the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which hit the UK in early 2020, will have a long-term impact on flexible working, especially when it comes to working from home.

Between 1998 and 2019, the number of people who mainly worked from home increased from 2.92 million to 4.61 million. As a share of all workers, people who worked mainly from home accounted for 14.2 percent of the workforce in 2019, with South West England the region with the highest share of home workers at 18.3 percent of its workforce. While over half of the UK's agriculture workforce regularly worked from home, only 5 percent of those working in the accommodation and food services sector did, highlighting a significant disparity in the share of home workers by industry sector. Although certain industries clearly do not lend themselves well to working from home, advances in internet connectivity and communication software have made it far easier for people to telework.

As flexibility in where people work has grown, so too has flexibility in when people work. As of 2019, almost 4.1 million people in the UK were able to take advantage of flexi-time, an arrangement that enables workers to, within certain parameters, choose their start and finish times. A less common arrangement is the compressed working week, whereby employees work for 4.5 days a week, or for 9 days a fortnight, in place of the traditional 5 day week. Other types of flexible working contracts such as annualized hours or term-time working have also increased in recent years.

In general those who have been able to partake in flexible working have seen it as a good thing. A majority of both men and women stated that flexible working was a positive experience, with just two percent of men and five percent of women seeing it as a negative one. There is also broad support for further flexibility, with 63 percent of British people supporting the introduction of a four-day working week, while the traditional 9 to 5 working day is one of the least popular working times for British adults.

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Flexible working in the UK

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