Unions warn of new class divide as Derbyshire Dales among most likely in the UK to work from home

New figures suggest that Derbyshire Dales residents were more likely to work from home last year than almost anywhere else in Britain, as unions warn the trend risks a new class divide.

Wednesday, 26th May 2021, 2:14 pm

Office for National Statistics (ONS) data estimates that 61 per cent of the 31,740 employed adults in Derbyshire Dales worked from home at some stage in 2020 – up from 44 per cent in 2019, and one of the highest rates in the UK.

26 per cent of all workers were home-based at some point in the week of the survey – more than double that of 2019 – but it ranged from 71 per cent in the London borough of Richmond to nine per cent in South Ayrshire.

Information and communication workers were most likely to have avoided the office (69 per cent) while just 11 per cent of accommodation and food service workers were able to do the same.

If the switch to home working persists beyond the pandemic, the UK may need a new bill of employment rights.

Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress, said: “It’s likely many will want to spend more time working from home than before, and it’s vital that employers have constructive discussions with staff and unions.

“A sole focus on home working rights would create new inequalities for those who cannot easily work from home, but the Prime Minister’s failure to include an employment bill in his legislative programme is a colossal failure to address the needs of working people. He must bring forward new rights to flexible working.”

The issue is not simply about who gets to enjoy flexible working, as separate ONS statistics found home workers doing an average six hours of overtime per week, compared to four hours for those travelling to work.

Government guidance encouraging people in England to work from home could end June 21, but campaign group Work Wise UK said the way companies work may change after lockdown.

Chief executive Phil Flaxton said: “Will we end presenteeism, reduce commuting, or make hybrid working the norm? If working people are given a say and their needs are respected, it could mean healthy changes that benefit the whole population."

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said the Government will not bring forward an employment bill until the pandemic is over, but it has reconvened the Flexible Working Taskforce.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together.” – Andrew Wakefield, editor.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​