Low interest by companies in flexible forms of work
Compared to other EU countries, employees in the Czech Republic rarely adopt flexible forms of working. According to a recent survey conducted by the recruitment agency LMC, the modest increase in flexible working during 2010 was due to the return of female top managers to work from maternity leave. Part-time jobs are the most common form of flexible working. Pensioners, rather than mothers on parental leave, were found to be the most frequent users of flexible forms of work.
About the survey
In March 2011 LMC, the most significant online recruitment agency in the Czech Republic, commissioned a survey on the utilisation of alternative forms of work (in Czech) in order to identify the extent to which these forms of work are used. The survey was carried out by the research agency Factum Invenio through telephone interviews with human resources (HR) staff at 855 companies selected by quota sampling.
Incidence of flexible working
During 2010 the incidence of flexible working time arrangements in the Czech Republic grew slightly from 5.1% to 5.9%, improving the country’s position in the European Union from last place to fourth from last. Nevertheless, analysts estimate that the increase of this form of working did not result from systematic measures or changes in the corporate environment, but from the return of top female managers from maternity leave or parental leave. Such women are in a better negotiating position to obtain approval from their employers for flexible working.
Types of flexible working
According to LMC data, part-time work, the most sought-after form of flexible work, was granted to a mere 1% of employees. Nonetheless, among the employees who have flexible types of working arrangements, the majority have flexible working hours.
Of the various forms of alternative types of working arrangements, most companies use part-time jobs (60%), followed by flexible working hours (45%). Only 14% of companies offer a combination of working in the office and from home, and job sharing and working solely from home are largely unknown forms of flexible working in the Czech Republic.
Who utilises flexible forms of work?
The use of flexible types of work was mentioned by 78% companies though the percentage of their employees using these forms of work was very low.
The most significant finding was that pensioners, rather than mothers on parental leave, were the most frequent users of flexible forms of working (Figure 1). The next most frequent users are the older working age group (50+), with mothers of young children occupying only third place. The main reason for this is that a lack of capacity in pre-school childcare facilities prevents many women in the Czech Republic returning to work at all until their child is at least three years old.
Figure 1: Employee groups using flexible forms of work
Source: LMC (2011)
The survey results further implied that Czech companies usually offer flexible work mainly to older employees and employees of retirement age, whereas foreign companies located in the country focus more on women on maternity and parental leave.
The size of the company also plays a significant role. In larger companies flexible working arrangements are more likely to be offered to mothers on maternity or parental leave, students and persons with disabilities, while small companies offer this type of work mainly to people in the highest working age group and working retirees.
Part-time jobs are used most by employees in the public sector, where the arrangement is put in place by as many as 86% of organisations (Figure 2).
Figure 2: Sector usage of different forms of flexible working
Source: LMC (2011)
Companies have little interest in flexible working
Although the job advertising websites Jobs.cz and Prace.cz showed a significant increase (38%) in March 2011 in offers of all forms of work, the share of alternative working arrangements in the total number of advertisements fell by 13%.
If companies want to achieve flexibility, they usually use an arrangement whereby work is performed outside the regular employment contract.
The survey findings imply that companies are not interested in increasing the number of part-time jobs available, although the demand for part-time jobs is much higher than the number of part-time positions offered.
LMC (2011), Průzkum využívání alternativních forem práce ve firmách působících na českém trhu práce [Survey on utilisation of alternative forms of work in companies pursuing business in the Czech labour market], Prague.
Štěpánka Pfeiferová, Research Institute for Labour and Social Affairs