Policy Paper:

Flexible Working and the Gender Pay Gap

Thursday 20 February 2020

There are many ways to work flexibly. The main examples include working from home, flexibility in start and finish times (‘flexitime’), compressed hours, job-shares, and part-time working. CMI has created this guidance document jointly with the Government Equalities Office (GEO) to help you understand how you can implement a flexible working policy in your workplace, and how this can address the Gender Pay Gap.

Flexible working makes good business sense. If implemented well, it can boost the attraction, retention, progression, and well-being of employees.

It can also help close the gender pay gap. This is why CMI and the Government Equalities Office have worked together to prepare guidance for senior leaders and line managers on how to make flexible working a reality and help close the gender pay gap.

CMI Flexible Working Guidance

How can flexible working help close the gender pay gap?


More flexible working may allow you to attract a wider pool of talent into jobs where women are under-represented.


Flexible working may enable you to retain women who are not available to work full-time, or to retain those who are suffering from excessive work-life conflict.


Offering more flexible work in senior positions is particularly important to ensure that employees who work part-time in your organisation are able to progress.


Well-designed flexible working can help boost employee well-being by reducing the work-life conflict they often face.

Challenging gender norms

Opening all positions to flexible work, and to part-time work in particular, ensures they are open to people with caring responsibilities. It also has the potential to challenge the stereotype that caring responsibilities are women’s work by signalling that positions that are currently held by men also offer flexibility.

What can line managers and senior leaders do?

Line Managers

CMI and GEO have identified five actions that line managers can take to promote flexible working.

  1. Get informed

    Make sure you understand the statutory right to request flexible working, and be familiar with your employer’s policies on flexible working.

  2. Get equipped

    Line managers play a critical role in promoting flexible working, and in making flexible working really work. Make sure you have the skills and knowledge to implement flexible working in your workplace.

  3. Be proactive

    Don’t wait for someone to ask if they can work flexibly. Start the conversation.

  4. Call out bad practice

    Line managers play a key role in changing attitudes. So challenge any behaviours or comments that suggest those who work flexibly are somehow less productive.

  5. Be a role model

    Why not work flexibly yourself, and champion flexible working across your organisation?

Senior Leaders

CMI and GEO have set out five steps that senior leaders can take.

  1. Advertise and offer all jobs, including senior roles, as having flexible working options, such as part-time work, remote working, flexitime, job sharing or compressed hours.
  2. Role model flexible working
  3. Communicate your flexible working policy and encourage discussions about flexible working at timely moments
  4. Train line managers to implement flexible working in a way that reduces work life conflict
  5. Measure and evaluate your policies

Further Information about Flexible Working

For more detail on each step, plus useful statistics and online resources, check out the full guidance document.

Flexible Working guidance document

Find more CMI resources on flexible working, including case studies, news stories and research explainers, in our blueprint for balance.

Blueprint for Balance

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