Anna Ritchie Aallan from Close The Gap campaign group.
Gender pay group Close the Gap, which published the report, is now calling for widespread “cultural change” to address the issue.
The right to request flexible working was extended to all employees in 2014, but today’s study shows no early evidence that it has resulted in the “normalisation” of flexible working, as was envisaged.
Anna Ritchie Allan, executive director at Close the Gap, said: “Flexible working is a critical factor in enabling women to balance work with caring, supporting women to progress into senior roles, and it’s also a necessary step in closing the gender pay gap.
“There is clear and mounting global evidence that flexible working is good for business and many employers are already reaping the benefits that flexibility can bring. Companies that don’t provide flexibility are missing out on female talent as many women are working below their skill level in the only part-time work that’s available.
The statutory right to request to work flexibly was extended to cover all employees in 2014, rather than only those with children under the age of 17. It found there was no evidence of an increase in formal flexible working since the extension of the regulations to all employees in 2014.
Only 12 per cent of jobs paying more than £20,000 are advertised as having flexible working options. This particularly affects women returning to work after taking time out to care. There has been a 29 per cent reduction in the use of term-time working and a 35 per cent reduction in job-sharing, which are both overwhelmingly done by women.
Close the Gap has called on employers to consider a range of recommendations in the report, including an assessment of flexible working across their business to identify where “rigid” working hours may be a barrier to women’s progression.
All jobs should be advertised as being considered for flexible working, while managers should also be encouraged to be ready to listen and come up with “creative solutions” to flexible working requests.
This new research has emerged at a critical time as the UK Government this week announced plans to consult on changes to the law that would improve transparency around employer policies on flexible working and introduce a requirement for employers to consider advertising all jobs as flexible.