Three times as many people worked from home last year than before the pandemic – with more than one in five saying it is now part of their usual routine.
The new research published by the Trade Unions Congress for National Work from Home Day highlights a surge in home working – but also shows the increasing geographical inequality in its takeup.
The findings come as Boris Johnson and other senior government ministers make renewed pleas for workers to return to offices, where the prime minister said staff were “more productive, more energetic, more full of ideas”.
The government had announced new proposals to make flexible working the default by making it a legal right for workers to request arrangements from day one in a job. However these measures, and the long-awaited Employment Bill they were set to be part of, were missing from the Queen’s Speech, signaling they are not on the government’s agenda. BEIS received 1,600 responses to the consultation, which it says are still under review.
“The government promised to modernise employment law to make flexible working options the norm for every job. But Boris Johnson has cancelled plans for an employment bill this year. And it is mostly people in working-class jobs who are left out. That’s not fair – ministers must step up and do what they promised,” said TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady.
The TUC analysis of Office for National Statistics collected in 2021, highlights a widening north-south divide, with almost one in three employees in London now frequently work from home, dropping to just one in nine in Northern Ireland, and one in six in the north-east.