Commute times add up to five extra weeks work a year

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date: 11 November 2011

embargo: 00.01hrs Monday 14 November 2011

Employees spend nearly 200 hours a year travelling to and from work - adding up to around five weeks extra work - according to a TUC analysis of official statistics published today (Monday) to mark the start of Work Wise UK's Commute Smart week (14-18 November).

The TUC study found that the average commute times for men are 26 per cent greater than for women - an average of 6.2 minutes longer on each commuting journey.

Men spend an average of 219 hours commuting per year, compared to 174 hours for women - a gap of 45 hours over the 12 months.

The gender commuting gap is biggest in the South East (8.8 minutes for each journey), the East of England (8.6 minutes) and Scotland (7 minutes).

The gap is smallest in London (3.3 minutes for each journey) and the North East (3.6 minutes). Women in London have longer average commute times than men who work in every other part of the UK.

London has the longest commute times for both male and female workers at 37.8 minutes per journey each way, while Northern Ireland has the shortest at 22.4 minutes.

A recent report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that workers with the longest commutes tend to earn more than those with shorter journeys to work.

With increasing congestion on the roads and public transport problems significantly adding to people's commute times, the TUC is calling on employers to offer smarter flexible working options to help staff avoid unnecessary and costly commutes.

Next year's London Olympics offers the perfect opportunity for workers in the capital to embrace smarter working such as home working and staggered start and finish times, says the TUC.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: 'Unnecessary long commutes are frustrating and expensive for staff, and bad for business too.

'Smarter working must be part of the modern economy. Staff want greater access to flexible and high quality home-working and employers need to do more to provide it.

'The link between long commutes and better pay is a concern as it can discriminate against women, who still bear the greatest share of childcare responsibilities, and do more than their fair share of work in the home. Eliminating the need for long commutes can also broaden access to a wider range of jobs for those unable to travel from home.

'With the 2012 Olympics set to bring many more people to the UK, employers and unions should consider how they can work together to manage the expected congestion and cut out some of these unnecessary rush-hour journeys.'

Chief Executive of Work Wise UK Phil Flaxton said: 'In this day and age, old working practices dictating that employees must travel vast distances to sit at a desk every day are outdated.

'British workers are frustrated at the amount of wasted time caused by long, arduous journeys to and from work. Smart commuting, flexi-time and remote working can offer an ideal solution, giving a range of benefits for employees and employers alike.

'Not only is the amount of time commuting an issue, the 9 to 5 culture with its peak travel times generates congestion on the rail, underground and road networks and as a consequence, increases stress for commuters.'

NOTES TO EDITORS:

Average single commuting journeys (minutes)

Region

Male

Female

All employees

Male-female gap

Average commute time to and from work each year - all employees (hours)

North East

25.6

22.0

23.7

3.6

179

North West

27.9

21.8

24.8

6.1

182

Yorkshire and the Humbers

26.7

22.2

24.4

4.5

179

East Midlands

26.7

21.1

23.9

5.6

175

West Midlands

26.9

22.6

24.7

4.3

181

East of England

32.3

23.7

28.0

8.6

205

London

39.4

36.1

37.8

3.3

277

South East

32.4

23.6

28.0

8.8

205

South West

26.1

20.5

23.2

5.6

170

Wales

25.6

19.9

22.6

5.7

166

Scotland

29.5

22.5

25.9

7.0

190

Northern Ireland

25.1

19.9

22.4

5.2

164

Total

29.9

23.7

26.8

6.2

197

Source: Quarterly Labour Force Survey, October - December 2009. Figures for employees only.

- The link between commute times and pay is analysed in the ONS article www.ons.gov.uk/ons/dcp171776_227904.pdf

- More information about Commute Smart week is available at www.workwiseuk.org

- All TUC press releases can be found at www.tuc.org.uk

Contacts:

Media enquiries:
Liz Chinchen T: 020 7467 1248 M: 07778 158175 E: media@tuc.org.uk
Rob Holdsworth T: 020 7467 1372 M: 07717 531150 E: rholdsworth@tuc.org.uk
Elly Gibson T: 020 7467 1337 M: 07900 910624 E: egibson@tuc.org.uk

Phil Flaxton, Work Wise UK M: 07831 112639 E: phil@workwiseuk.org

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