In-house has long made much of offering a better work-life balance than private practice. But as expectations and responsibilities rise for GCs, can in-house keep delivering on flexible working?
In June 2014 the government extended flexible working rights to more than 20 million employees across the UK in a policy shift that recognised the traditional nine-to-five routine no longer dominates British workplaces. But if such attitudes are relatively new to much of the economy, lawyers in in-house roles – traditionally a more progressive environment than private practice – have long put a premium on agile working.
Flexible working, defined as any pattern other than going into an office for five full days a week, can encompass part-time hours, job shares, nine-day fortnights or working from home. According to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), as of August 2015, eight million people work part-time in the UK out of just over 31 million in the UK workforce, while four million are estimated to primarily work from home. The biggest driver for flexible working requests remain parental responsibilities, but such arrangements have become more accepted for a wider range of reasons, including carer responsibilities, chronic illness, charity work or even the desire to pursue outside interests.