TUC calls on employers to allow more homeworking

Date: 21 May 2019

Low angle shot of a man working from home on his laptopThere are 374,000 more employees in the UK working from home when compared to 10 years ago, according to new TUC analysis published to mark Work Wise UK’s National Work from Home Day, which took place on 17 May.

However, despite a 27.7% increase in the number of UK homeworkers in the past decade, the TUC believes that too few bosses are giving their workers the option of working from home, which, it argues, could “help people to see more of their family and improve [their] work-life balance”.

The TUC estimates that some four million more UK workers would like to work from home for at least some of their working week, but they aren’t given the chance. The TUC’s analysis also found that:

  • There are almost twice as many men as women homeworkers, but women are catching up, with 36% more working from home than ten years ago.
  • People who own their home are 73% more likely to work at home than those who rent.
  • Older workers are more likely to work at home, with 7.4% of 40-59 year olds homeworking, but only 3.4% of 20-29 year olds.
  • 11.9% of managers work at home, more than any other group.
  • England’s South West has the UK’s highest proportion of home workers, with one in 12 workers based at their home. Northern Ireland has the lowest, with just one in 32 employees working from home.
  • Homeworking can be an important way for workers with disabilities to find employment, said the TUC, with some 230,000 people with disabilities currently believed to be working from home.

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The TUC wants employees to have “a right to positive flexible working from day one”, with employers required to advertise all jobs on that basis. TUC general secretary, Frances O’Grady, said: “In many cases, homeworking is a win-win-win. Workers get more time with their families; employers can boost productivity and hang on to experienced staff; and the environment benefits as well.

“But too many employers are clinging to tradition, or don’t trust their staff enough to encourage homeworking. They need to catch up. Unions can help negotiate homeworking policies that work for both employers and staff. And government should be investing in broadband infrastructure, so that every worker can get a high-speed connection at home.”

Phil Flaxton, Chief executive of Work Wise UK, said: “While it’s encouraging to see a significant increase in the number of employees working from home, for it to be accepted more widely, there still needs to be a cultural shift.

“Attitudes are changing on how we balance or mix work and lifestyle. Increasing mobility and technology is shifting the acceptance or need for traditional nine-to-five work patterns, to be replaced by a more flexible approach to the working week, and this trend will continue, as more of us embrace new, smarter ways of working, such as working from home.

“More employers need to realise the tangible benefits of changing outdated working practices, to reflect the connected world in which we live. These include, increased productivity, staff retention, less absenteeism and reduced employee burnout.”

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