Leader Cllr Lib Peck blogs about the importance of promoting flexible working and the benefits of being a Timewise council...
As the elections approach and Labour Groups across the country write manifestos, I urge colleagues to champion working people by committing to flexible working.
At Lambeth, we have worked in partnership with Timewise, the UK’s flexible working specialists, for the last 5 years, and became one of their first accredited Timewise Councils in 2015.
To help me explain just how powerful a tool flexible working could be for your local authority, I’ve highlighted some of the ways that Lambeth has embraced part-time and flexible working – and what we’ve gained as a result.
Flexible working is good for employees and employers
Flexible working is increasingly sought-after by employees, for a range of reasons. As well as supporting parents and carers to manage their responsibilities, it is becoming a more common route into phased retirement, and is a top priority for the millennial generation. With 87% of full-time employees now either work flexibly or wish they could, it’s something that employers need to take seriously.
Indeed, there is a very strong business case for flexible working, which is particularly important for local authorities in the current financial climate. Flexible working and flexible hiring have been shown to help employers:
- Find, motivate, progress and keep the best people
- Improve diversity and reduce their gender pay gap
- Increase productivity
- Reduce their estate and cut business costs
Furthermore, research by Timewise shows there are more than 400,000 people in the UK who can’t work unless they can find a part-time or flexible role, and a further 1.5 million who are trapped in poorly-paid part-time roles beneath their skill level. Introducing flexibility at all levels can therefore have an impact on:
- Child poverty and in-work poverty
- Welfare dependency
- Social mobility
- Work-life balance and its links to mental and physical health
Lambeth Council has benefitted from flexible working
At Lambeth, we’re already reaping these rewards. The changes we’ve made since becoming a Timewise Council include:
- Introducing remote working and hot-desking across the council, which has led to a reduction from 12 offices to just four, and working towards a people to desk ratio of 10:5.
- Supporting managers to recruit and manage flexible workers, and making flexibility our default, which has widened our pool of candidates and allowed us to hire and keep some fantastic individuals.
- Helping unemployed people back into work and enabling people trapped in low-paid work to move into more highly skilled and better paid part-time roles though our Step Up programme.
And it doesn’t stop at our office door. We’re also using our position as a large local employer to encourage our network of suppliers to introduce similar initiatives, so the impact of this work can be felt by even more of our local constituents.
Will you commit to championing flexible working if you’re elected?
Since we became a Timewise Council, 18 more councils have come on board; but that still leaves 400 across the country who haven’t embraced flexible working. Yet it’s such a powerful statement for local authorities to make; and one that local people of all ages and genders would welcome.
As the party for working people, Labour can and should embrace flexible working across the country. Let’s work together by committing to championing flexible working as Timewise Councils.
Lib Peck, March 2018
If you’d like any more information about flexible working in general or the support that Timewise offers, please get in touch with me on LPeck@lambeth.gov.uk, or take a look at www.timewise.co.uk.