Women in Law

Law still rigid on flexibility

New research has revealed the legal sector is falling way behind other professions when it comes to advertising well paid jobs with flexible working hours.

Extensive research, funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, found that only 3% of job advertisements for senior legal roles mentioned flexible working.

The worst offenders – at 2% – were IT, communications and engineering. Healthcare came best of all, topping the league table at 20%.

Half the working population in Britain – that’s over 14 million people – want to work flexibly, based around the hours they work or the location of where they work, but this new research, which analysed 3.5 million recruitment ads across the UK, shows just over 6% of all ads in all sectors talked about flexibility.

The stark truth from this analysis from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation – an independent organisation that is seeking to inspire social change through research, policy and practice, goes against what most British businesses claim when it comes to offering staff flexibility around their hours and working from home.

Almost all – 94%% to be precise – of organisations in the UK now offer some form of flexible working, and nearly three quarters of all managers say their organisation supports flexible working. Which begs the question, why not talk about it happily and openly in your recruitment advertising?

Other key findings include:

  • London is the worst place to find flexible work with decent pay
  • And flexibility falls as salaries rise.

Six per cent of jobs paying a salary between £20,000 and £30,000 offer flexibility. This figures falls to 3%, for jobs paying between £40,000 and £50,000 and for high income earners, receiving a salary of between £100,000 and £200,000, just 2% of jobs ads mention the ‘f’ word.

With so many ex-City lawyers who left the profession to start their families and now wish to return to their careers on a flexible basis, both sets of findings make for uncomfortable reading. And it puts even greater focus on the work that companies like Obelisk Support are doing; creating opportunities for women to return to their legal careers in a way that works for the clients, the lawyers and their families.

The research showed the number of jobs advertised with flexible working as an option varied hugely across the sectors. Health and social care performed best, with 20% of jobs advertised offering flexibility. Education came second, with 13% offering flexibility. Law was just one percentage point off the bottom of the league table, above the engineering, manufacturing and the creative industries of PR, advertising and marketing, who all scored 2%.

Experts say the way companies are recruiting people ignores the revolution now taking place in the world of work across the UK, driven by technology and changing values within society.

By not talking about flexibility at the recruitment stage, businesses are not attracting the most talented people around, who want to work but work flexibly. In turn, this also means the top talent are often accepting roles below their skills and abilities.

Have you seen a job ad that talks about flexible working in a really positive way? Or a shocker we should know about? Send your best ads and stories to the Attic Online.

By The Attic

The Attic Online is Obelisk's place to think. Known for bringing both clients and lawyers a brilliant mix of news, think pieces and lifestyle features, the Attic is fast becoming one of the most valued and refreshing sources of information and inspiration within the legal sector.