All workers should be given access to flexible working, not just home workers, the TUC has said, warning that the rise in home working could lead to inequalities.
The Prime Minister has signalled that everyone may return to offices as of 21 June – although many firms are choosing to operate a hybrid working policy, being a mix of office and home.
The union body warns of ‘a new class divide’ between home workers and those who have been working from workplaces and says the expansion of flexible working patterns must include all workers – regardless of their occupation.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “It’s likely that many workers will want to spend more time working from home than before. And it’s vital that employers have positive and constructive discussions with staff and unions about how to make this work.
“But a sole focus on home working rights would create new inequalities for those who cannot easily work from home. All workers need stronger rights to the full range of flexible working options like flexitime, predictable shifts and job shares.”
She said that the Prime Minister must bring forward new rights to flexible working for everyone, regardless of job type.
However, others argue that decisions on home working should be left out of regulations. Speaking on Work From Home Day, 14 May, Professor Len Shackleton, Research Fellow at the Institute of Economic Affairs, said: “We are going to be seeing more home working in the future than in the past.
“Where this suits both employers and employees, this is good news. However, it is not clear that there is any reason for government to intervene to encourage home working, or to regulate further the conditions under which it takes place.”
He said that home working’s attractiveness varies ‘wildly’ between older workers and younger workers, those with adequate housing and those living in cramped conditions.
“Until more is known about long-term suitability and effectiveness of home working, it would be foolish to rush into imposing new one-size-fits-all regulation.”
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