SCOTS-BASED employers offer staff most flexibility around their work, with a new report claiming bosses are cutting themselves off from almost half the jobs market by failing to offer any leeway.

A study of 3.5 million job advertisements found only a small percentage mention any kind of flexible working options despite increasing numbers of people wanting adaptability around hours and location.

Scotland, followed by Northern Ireland and the north of England, had comparatively greater opportunities for candidates looking for flexible jobs.

London fared the worst, with the authors claiming employers have not felt the need to adapt to demand for flexible jobs due to the plentiful supply of candidates.

But even then just seven per cent of quality jobs north of the Border offer more scope for manoeuvre around part-time or remote working, compared with six per cent in Wales and five per cent in most of England.

In the south east of England the figure drops to just four per cent and within London, lower again at three per cent.

The report, funded by social welfare think-tank the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), found engineering, manufacturing and creative industries such as public relations, advertising and marketing, which are hit by a skills shortage, rank the lowest when it comes to advertising jobs with working options.

Health and education jobs were found to be leading the way.

It also found that opportunities decline as the salary rises, with a candidate looking for work below £30,000 finding around twice the job vacancies compared to someone looking for a job at over £40,000.

In all, it claims 14.1 million people in the UK are believed to want or need flexible work, equivalent to 46 per cent of those in employment.

However, an average of just 6.2 per cent of quality roles coming to the market offer salaries of £20,0005 per year or more and some degree of flexibility, meaning that millions face limited opportunities to progress their careers and earnings.

The first national research of its type, report has been compiled by a company specialising in the field of flexible working, Timewise.

Chief executive Karen Mattison, who co-authored the research, said: "Businesses are missing out, as they consistently fail to realise just how important flexibility is to people looking for a new role. This often results in the best talent having to trade down, and take jobs way beneath their level of skill and ability. It's time we reboot the way we recruit in Britain.

"The world of work has experienced a revolution; technology advances and recent legislations have facilitated a huge growth in flexible working, yet this has not been reflected in hiring practices."

Emma Stewart, the frirm;s co-chief executive, added: "It is time to stop talking only about the glass ceilings, and do more to understand the 'sticky' floors in UK businesses which are stopping talented people from progressing."

Lynn Rattigan, chief operating officer at Ernst and Young, aid: "One of the major challenges facing most businesses across the country, is attracting and retaining the right people. Yet many organisations are restricting their search by applying the traditional concept of a 9-5 working week, which is fast becoming an outdated concept.

"There is a growing pool of talent, not just parents, who are looking for flexible roles that allow them to balance their professional and personal ambitions. "