Pandemic narrows gap in pay and opportunities for home workers

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Before 2020, people who worked mainly from home were usually female and were on average paid 6.8 per cent less than those who never worked from home, latest official figures show.

The Office for National Statistics report follows home working patterns and trends between 2011 and 2020. It indicates that perceptions about home working as well as who does it and what opportunities they have, have undergone a shift.

Between 2011 and 2017, workers who were consistently based at home were less than half as likely to have received a promotion compared with office-based colleagues. In common with previous studies, the ONS says that such home workers may have been ‘overlooked’ due to ‘reduced face-to face interaction with colleagues and managers.’

Before 2020, people who worked mainly from home were usually female and were on average paid 6.8% less than those who never worked from home. Photograph: iStock

Prior to 2020, home workers were also 40 per cent less likely to have received education or training compared to those who had never worked from home. This has reversed in the pandemic, with the likelihood increasing that home workers are offered training.

Commenting for Business Leader magazine, Jamie Mackenzie, Director at Sodexo Engage, said: “It’s no surprise that the data from the ONS reveals a substantial increase of homeworking in 2020. What is welcoming news, however, is that where previously homeworkers were less likely to be rewarded with promotions or bonuses than their commuting colleagues, the data shows us that attitudes towards home-working are evolving.

“With reward and recognition a key motivating factor for staff, snubbing certain employees based on how and where they choose to work could be extremely detrimental to businesses when it comes to talent retention. In a post-Covid workplace, employers must understand that many employees will want to retain a degree of flexible working and therefore reward and recognition policies need to evolve to appreciate individual circumstances and ensure a system of fairness.”

In total during 2020, 35.9 per cent of the employed population did some work at home, an increase of 9.4 percentage points compared with 2019.

London reported the highest proportion of homeworkers in 2020 as 43.0% worked from home at some point in the past year, up from 31.0% in 2019, reflecting the type of industries in the capital.

In 2020, those who mainly worked from home were paid 9.2 per cent more on average than those who never worked from home.

The ONS said: “The gap in pay between exclusive homeworkers and those who never work from home has been decreasing over time, as homeworking has become a more widely accepted and encouraged form of flexible working.”

Homeworking hours, rewards and opportunities in the UK: 


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