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UK government will not impose flexible work model on finance, says minister

·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in London

By Huw Jones

LONDON (Reuters) - Financial firms should use their experience in the COVID-19 crisis to consider how flexible working could help create a more diverse workforce but the government will not impose a model, Britain's financial services minister said on Thursday.

Britain has said pandemic restrictions will lift on July 19, including ending a request to work from home wherever possible.

Financial services minister John Glen said leaders in the financial services industry were thinking about the benefits of flexible and remote working for staff in the longer term.

"I don't believe it's right for government to prescribe a single model of how to do this," he told a City & Financial conference on women in finance.

Banks and other financial firms have differed on how swiftly and extensively they want to bring staff back to the office and how much time staff will be allowed each week to work from home in the longer term.

The finance ministry has been pushing to increase the number of women in financial senior roles through its Women in Finance Charter. Women have said their careers can be held back because of a lack of flexible working hours.

"What I want to see from financial services sector is a real commitment to tangible action that will improve diversity in the sector and a clear plan on how to get there," Glen said, adding now was a chance to consider "real opportunities that can be taken".

The Bank of England and Financial Conduct Authority published a paper on Wednesday to push financial firms to diversify their workforce, ahead of formal proposals to be presented next year.

The paper proposed targets and linking pay to how well managers met them, as well as collecting more data to measure progress, including data on part-time or flexible working.

Glen said work was ongoing to collect data on the socio-economic backgrounds of staff and how the menopause affected women's career prospects.

(Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Edmund Blair)

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