A quarter of UK workers would be willing to take a pay cut in exchange for more flexible working hours, a report has found.
More than a fifth of employees without children said parents already receive better support than those without children, according to a survey of 2,000 adults and 500 businesses by a think tank run by Scottish Windows called the Centre for Modern Family.
But most companies would not consider offering more flexibility any time soon, according to the research.
Some 65 per cent of businesses acknowledged that flexibility increases productivity and wellbeing in the workforce.
More than 70 per cent of medium-sized companies (50-249 employees) said they would never consider offering full-time working from home. Over half of them thought this would be logistically too difficult to implement, while over a third worried it would impact negatively on the business.
More than half of companies said they gave more flexibility and support to mother with young children. But the numbers dropped for fathers, who are supported by only 35 per cent of companies.
Older workers and other employees who may have caring and volunteering responsibilities or a desire to attend additional training or classes outside work were given even less support, with 26 and 34 per cent respectively.
Anita Frew, chair of the Centre for the Modern Family, said that while businesses appeared to be taking steps towards meeting the needs of parents in the workplace, barriers existed when it came to extending policies to support employees more widely.
"Although employers have taken promising steps towards offering more flexible working hours, there is still work to be done to ensure these policies are being rolled out to all employees,” she said.
"Our economy depends on a skilled and motivated workforce that functions productively, and our best hope of achieving this is through encouraging employers to adapt to the evolving needs of the workforce,” she added.
Medium-sized businesses said they struggled the most. More than 20 per cent said they do what is legally required of them in terms of flexibility for families, but not any more than this for other employees, the study found.
Professor Sir Cary Cooper, CMF panellist and professor of organisational psychology and health at Manchester Business School, said there is evidence that compressed hours can actually make people work more effectively.
“Flexible working is no longer something to be viewed as reserved for working parents, but something that will help increase the wellbeing of all employees. Finding ways to open these opportunities more widely – to those with other commitments such as caring for a family member, attending a training course or regularly playing for a sports team – will go a long way towards retaining top talent,” he said.
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