Lowest-paid should be able to access flexible working

Flexible Working

A poll by the TUC has highlighted there may be an “emerging class divide” in the future of flexible working arrangements.

The poll found that 60 per cent of people in higher-paid occupations had worked from home during the pandemic, compared to 23% of people with low-income roles.

The union body is arguing that “working class” jobs, which are typically lower-paid, have less access to remote working or that employees in these roles are more likely to have flexible working requests denied.

The research also showed many employers are still unwilling to offer flexibility despite the majority of workers (82%) across all occupations wanting to have access to some form of flexible working.

One in six would not offer flexibility to those unable to work from home and only 6% whose employees could work from home would offer them flexibility.

Workers who desire flexibility are not just seeking it in terms of location, they are also seeking flexibility over working hours, with 64% of those who responded to the survey hoping to take up a flexible working pattern, such as flexi-time, part-time or compressed hours.

The TUC is now calling on the Government to “urgently modernise” the right to flexible working in the long-awaited Employment Bill. Whilst it is impossible for every worker to work remotely, giving everyone in every job the right to work flexibly in some form or another would ensure that no one is missing out just because their job demands that they be physically present at their employer’s place of business.

Among the things the TUC wants to be added to the bill are a ban on zero-hours contracts and more choice and notice of shifts.

As the country slowly relaxes restrictions, many workers who have enjoyed working from home will want to keep doing so. With many businesses getting ready to move to a hybrid model it is looking likely that they will be able to, but we must not forget the workers who have been continuously going to their workplaces.

Many employees who have been unable to work from home are working in key services, such as social care, essential retail and food production, and are often the lowest-paid members of the workforce.

If employers are unable to raise wages, then perhaps an appropriate way to give thanks for their continuous hard work would be to offer them flexibility that would allow them to work their hours and manage their personal responsibilities too.

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Posted on June 29, 2021