Professional contractors play a key role in helping UK business to remain competitive, the REC’s new Flexible Work Commission report maintains.

The international study interviewed 29 employer organisations and businesses in the UK and abroad about their experiences of a range of flexible working arrangements. Among the recommendations arising from the interviews is the urgent need to broaden the concept of flexible working in the UK beyond simple ‘family friendly’ policies. Training managers and leaders to lead teams of flexible workers such as skilled PAYE Umbrella Employees will help improve productivity and staff morale, the report finds. It also argues that new patterns of flexible working should be taken up more extensively in the public sector.

The chair of the Flexible Work Commission, former Director General of the British Chamber of Commerce, David Frost, said: “Whilst unemployment in this country stands at over 2.5m, it is still significantly below levels experienced during previous recessions. A key reason for this is that business has adopted a range of flexible working practices that have enabled them not only to sustain their companies but also, and importantly, to hold onto their employees. This flexibility was not seen in previous downturns.”

He went on to say that the recession could bequeath a “positive legacy” to the UK economy if organisations that had benefited from innovative flexible working arrangements during tough times went on to share their knowledge with other employers.

REC chief executive Kevin Green added that flexible work arrangements, notably part-time working and contracting, had played a significant role in “keeping people in work and companies in business during this recession.”

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