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Surge in home working but some sectors left behind

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New analysis shows the numbers of regular homeworkers have tripled since the pandemic.


6.3m people now mainly work from home, according to the report by the TUC, up from 1.8m people in 2019. It means that nearly a quarter, or 22 per cent of workers, now use home as their main place of work.

The TUC urges however for caution around the long-term scale of the increase. Many workplaces and workers are still trialling new arrangements for homeworking and hybrid working, it points out.

Nearly a quarter, or 22 per cent of workers, now use home as their main place of work. Photograph: iStock

And despite a consultation last year, the government has still not set out concrete plans for new flexible working rights. This means many workers are getting left behind the times, with reports of employers turning down homeworking requests without good reason.

The study, which drew on Labour Force Survey data, found significant variation across different employment sectors. This ranges from communication (58.9%), finance (46.5%), professional and scientific (43.2%) to accommodation and food services (3.2%), retail (9.2%) and transport (9.5%).

People in higher-paid occupations were also much more likely to have worked from home during the pandemic (60%) than those in working-class jobs (23%).

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: "Everyone should have access to flexible working. But while homeworking has grown, people in jobs that can’t be done from home have been left behind. They deserve access to flexible working too. And they need new rights to options like flexitime, predictable shifts, and job shares.”

The study was carried out alongside Work Wise, which set up the annual work from home day held on Friday 20 May. Work Wise UK Chief Executive Phil Flaxton said: “How, when and where we work has changed dramatically.

“However, it is vital that the UK does not become a nation of those can and those who cannot work flexibly. Working people need a say on what works for them – and what doesn’t. These new approaches cannot be a ‘one size fits all’.”

Read the report: bit.ly/3LBCkwC

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