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An ONS report shows remote workers have traditionally missed out on promotion opportunities and rewards. Campaigners hope Covid-19 interest in remote working will shine a spotlight on inequality issues for flexible workers.
People who mainly or wholly worked from home before the pandemic were less likely to be promoted or receive bonuses, according to a new study.
A report for the Office of National Statistics shows people who mainly worked from home were less than half as likely to be promoted than all other workers between 2012 and 2017, when controlling for other factors.
Moreover, people who mainly worked from home were around 38% less likely on average to have received a bonus compared with those who never worked from home between 2013 and 2020, when controlling for other factors. This suggests employers need to do more to address equality issues for remote workers to ensure they remain visible. Flexible working campaigners say it is vital for greater awareness of these equality issues if a two-tier system is not to be widened after Covid. They say this could impact the gender pay gap if women are more likely to work from home.
The report also looked at the impact of homeworking on hours during the pandemic. It showed homeworkers were working more hours and working later than other workers, but were less likely to be off sick. For instance, people who completed any work from home did six hours of unpaid overtime on average per week in 2020, compared with 3.6 hours for those who never work from home. Homeworkers were more likely to work in the evenings compared with those who worked away from home in September 2020. And the sickness absence rate for workers doing any work from home was 0.9% on average in 2020, compared with 2.2% for those who never worked from home in their main job.
The ONS says 35.9% did some work at home in 2020, an increase of 9.4 percentage points compared with 2019 and the type of people who worked from home changed. This is reflected in pay. The average gross weekly pay of workers who had recently worked from home was about 20% higher in 2020 than those who never worked from home in their main job, when controlling for other factors. However, the ONS says that this rise in pay for homeworkers is part of an ongoing trend as more senior jobs are able to be done from home.