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Let’s Talk about Flex: parents call for more flexible working, but three quarters say they don’t have the option

As families across the country return to work and school this month, research commissioned by McDonald’s UK reveals that parents want to move away from traditional 9-5 working patterns.

  • Nearly 60% of parents want to work more flexibly and would prefer to start work between 6am and 8am
  • But three quarters (73%) of parents say they do not currently have the option to work more flexibly
  • Figures released as McDonald’s UK and Anna Whitehouse (Mother Pukka) launch first Let’s Talk About Flex Event today

As families across the country return to work and school this month, research commissioned by McDonald’s UK reveals that parents want to move away from traditional 9-5 working patterns.

As one of the largest employers in the UK with a workforce of more than 120,000 people, including thousands of parents, McDonald’s wanted to understand working lives in the UK. The study was conducted over the summer by YouGov with 1,100 parents across the country.

The research found that over three quarters of parents think flexible working would allow them to juggle work with home commitments, yet 73% say they do not have that option in their current role. To champion flexible working, McDonald’s has partnered with flexibility campaigner Anna Whitehouse (Mother Pukka), CIPD (the professional body for HR and people development) and Working Mums.

Work that works for parents

The study found that parents prefer jobs that offer early starts and a shorter working week, with only 5% opting to work the traditional ‘9-5’:

  • 59% of parents in full-time employment would prefer starting work between 6am and 8am
  • If given the option, 39% of parents would opt to work longer hours in return for a shorter working week. This is particularly true of those with children under four years of age with the number rising to almost 50%
  • Over three quarters of parents think flexible working allows them to manage commitments outside of work

Let’s Talk About Flex

To further understand and meet people’s needs from work today McDonald’s UK is teaming up with Anna Whitehouse (aka Mother Pukka) founder of MotherPukka.co.uk and the brains behind the #FlexAppeal campaign, to host a series of free-to-attend ‘Let’s Talk About Flex’ events at McDonald’s restaurants.

On Wednesday 19th September the first event will be held in North London during which attendees have the chance to meet one of three experts in flexible working both for employers and employees including:

  • Sue Coe, Head of Employment at Equality and Human Rights Commission
  • Steph Douglas, Founder of Don’t Buy Her Flowers
  • Ben Willmott, Head of Public Policy at CIPD

Attendees will have the opportunity to book one-to-one consultations to get tailored advice. Further events will follow in Glasgow and Manchester in October and November.

Anna Whitehouse, also known as Mother Pukka, commented:

“I have been freelancing for most of my working life, but it’s only as a parent that I’ve realised how important some flexibility is, and how hard it is for two parents to work full-time in office jobs. That is why I’ve been lobbying the government and spreading the word with our Flex Appeal campaign for three years and we are delighted to be working with McDonald’s using their footprint across the country to help us spread the message further.”

Gillian Nissim, Founder of Working Mums, commented:

“The potential to rethink how we work, where we work, when we work and why we work is immense – especially for parents. Growing numbers of people with children are feeling frustrated with the strait jacket of working a 9 to 5 and want a job that fits better with their commitments outside of work. This research further illustrates how flexible working can be mutually beneficial for both employees and employers, providing more motivated, loyal and productive employees.”