HAMPSHIRE employer Zurich has seen demand for part-time work almost double since it introduced a flexible working initiative nearly two years ago.

The insurer became the first of its kind to advertise all new vacancies as potential part-time or job share opportunities, alongside flexible working, in 2019.

The company, which has 600 staff attached to its Whiteley site, also used gender-neutral language in every job ad.

Since then, demand for part-time jobs has almost doubled, from six per cent to 11 per cent. Nearly one in four new female hires has been part-time since then – up from 10 per cent in 2019 to 23 per cent.

But even though the flexible working initiative is gender-neutral, the number of part-time new hires among men has remained constant at only two per cent.

Job applications to Zurich from both men and women have risen by 66 per cent since the flexible working initiative was launched.

Although job vacancies in the UK are at their highest since records began, 74 per cent of job ads do not offer flexible working options. An estimated 16million people are planning to leave their jobs in the next six months, with the majority searching for a better work-life balance.

Zurich is urging the government to legislate so that all employers over a certain size make their jobs available on a part-time and flexible basis where possible.

Steve Collinson, HR director at Zurich UK, said: “As advocates of flexible working for over a decade, we know that people still want to progress their careers whilst managing a whole host of other commitments.

“Our approach is about removing barriers for those who need flexibility. We are urging the government to make businesses like ours advertise all roles as being available on a more flexible basis wherever they can.

“Our part-time jobs initiative means we’re able to access a whole new pool of talent. This is a priority for us in the current climate but also benefits working parents, carers, those with portfolio careers or other interests they want to pursue. As the labour market tightens, employers need to rethink their approach to attracting and retaining talent. Workers want a new deal and are no longer prepared to work in outdated and rigid patterns.”

Caroline Nokes, MP for Romsey and Southampton North and chair of the House of Commons’ select committee on women and equalities, said: “Over the course of the last two years, we have seen an increase in people wanting to work more flexibly, and be able to adapt their work patterns around a variety of other responsibilities. I am pleased to see this initiative from Zurich, recognising the impact that the way you advertise roles can have on the number and diversity of applicants.

“As we build back from the pandemic it is going to be crucial to find different ways to make sure as many people as possible are playing as full a part in the workplace as they can, and flexibility will be key to that.”


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