A report published this week by the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) highlights that in terms of flexible working, the UK is lagging behind its European competitors and failing to exploit innovative working methods.

The EOC report follows a recent International Labour Organisation (ILO) survey revealing a quarter of UK employees work more than 48 hours per week, more than any other developed country.

Trade organisation, Work Wise UK welcomed the report and said it further reinforces its call for the UK to adopt new innovative smarter working practices.

Phil Flaxton, Work Wise UK’s chief executive said: “Although there has been progress in the adoption of innovative working styles, this report highlights we have a long way to go.” The percentage of companies practicing flexi-time in Germany and Sweden at 90% are almost double that of the UK at just 48%. And in the case of teleworking rates, Germany, Sweden and Denmark are double (40%) that of the 20% in the UK.

Flaxton said: “There are numerous reports indicating the UK’s poor productivity compared with competitors. This is a wake up call to employers who if they continue current archaic nine-to-five working practices, will not only miss out on productivity gains, but risk government legislation.”

At the EOC launch of the report leader of the opposition, David Cameron MP called for both public and private organisations to make flexible working more widely available. This is putting pressure on the government to legislate to extend current flexible working rights for employees, he said.

Sir Digby Jones, UK Skills Envoy and former director general of the CBI, recently signed the Work Wise UK Concordat backing the implementation of smarter working practices across the UK. He said: “The nature of work is changing, and UK business needs to come out of the dark ages and realise that it cannot continue to use working practices that originate from the 19th century. It needs to modernise, change its approach, retrain its management, and understand the benefits of new smarter working practices.”

Jones also recently launched the new Work Wise UK Quality Mark, which will allow any organisation to gain recognition for their successful introduction of new smarter working practices in the workplace.

The new Mark will be assessed using the Work Wise UK Standard, which provides a framework both for organisations that have already introduced smarter working practices and wish to go further, or those that are just realising the benefits and want to start reforming their working practices.

The standard has been developed over a 12-month period, in collaboration with the TUC, Transport for London, HBOS, NHS, BT and the Association for Commuter Transport, bringing together the best in current thinking.

For further information about Work Wise UK and the Work Wise UK Quality Mark, visit the Work Wise UK website.