TUC analysis shows growth in homeworking has stalled

By agency reporter
May 24, 2018

New analysis from the Trades Union Congress (TUC) to mark National Work from Home Day (18 May 2018) found that 1.6 million employees regularly worked from home last year.

The analysis shows that one in 16 (6.1 per cent of the workforce) worked from home in 2017 – unchanged from the year before, but up from one in 20 (5.1 per cent) in 2005.

The analysis reveals that:

  • Gender: Four out of 10 homeworkers are women (41 per cent). The gap with male workers has reduced somewhat since 2005 when women made up 35 per cent of homeworkers.
  • Age: The proportions of homeworkers increases with age, with 16-19 years olds least likely to home work (two per cent) and over 60s most likely (11 per cent).
  • Region/nation: The South West has the highest percentage of employees working from home (nine per cent), and Northern Ireland the lowest (two per cent).
  • Industry: Agriculture has the biggest share of employees (23 per cent), followed by the information and communication sector, where nearly one in five works from home (18 per cent). Accommodation and food services are the lowest (one per cent).
  • Occupation: Managers are most likely to work from home (12 per cent) followed by ‘Associate Professionals’ (nine per cent) such as architects, engineers and designers. In contrast, the lowest rate of homeworking is ‘Elementary Occupations’ (two per cent) such as cleaners, unskilled manufacturing labourers and street vendors.

While some work can only be done on premises, the TUC believes that there is still greater opportunity for home working in most employment.

There are around 4 million more UK workers who say they would like to work from home for at least some of their working week but are not given the chance.

For employers, homeworking makes recruitment easier, can increase productivity, and reduce premises costs. For workers, homeworking can save time and money on commutes, give more flexibility over working time, and make it easier for carers and parents doing the school run.

Home working is also an important way for some disabled people to access the labour market. Around 200,000 disabled people currently work from home regularly, and the TUC believes that homeworking could play an even larger role in helping to close the employment gap with non-disabled workers.

The TUC believes that there is still employer resistance to home working from many, despite the benefits that it brings. And lack of access to fast and reliable internet may be a constraint in some parts of the UK.

The TUC General Secretary, Frances O'Grady, said: “Lots of people would like to work from home but have not been given the chance by their boss. That’s a shame, because it can benefit employers as well as workers.

“Homeworking can improve productivity and it can stop the loss of experienced staff when they need more flexibility for family responsibilities. It has wider benefits too, like less traffic and pollution, more accessible work for disabled people, and keeping premises costs down. Many bosses already recognise that homeworking can make staff happier and more effective. But other employers need to catch up. Trade unions can help negotiate home working policies that work positively for both employers and staff.

“The government can help by investing in broadband infrastructure so that every worker can get a high-speed connection at home. And we encourage businesses and public services to include homeworking in job design and recruitment.”

Chief Executive of Work Wise UK, the organiser of National Work from Home Day, Phil Flaxton said: “During the past decade there has been a substantial increase in 21st century Employers who have embraced modern, smarter working practices, such as homeworking, to the benefit of their organisation and its Employees. However, it is clear than even more Employers need to follow their example by introducing new ways of working that reflect the changing world of work.”

“Organisations that do not embrace these modern working practices and discuss with Employees how and where they work, may find it detrimental to productivity and staff retention levels.”

“For an increasing number of the UK’s working population the world of work has changed and it no longer confined to commuting to a place of work five days a week.”

* Read the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) guidance for workers and employers on working from home here

*TUC https://www.tuc.org.uk/

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