Following today’s Senedd report into the future of remote working in Wales, the Wales TUC is calling for any investment in home or remote working to be matched with investment in helping those who can’t do their job from home. This could include measures such as subsidised public transport costs, engaging workers on the location of childcare facilities, or even altering school catchment areas to consider where people work as well as live.
“Home and remote working bring lots of benefits to many workers, and a lot of people will want to continue working in this way or in a blended model once the pandemic is over.
“But we have to pursue a model that empowers workers to take the decision that suits their needs the best, and we can’t just assume that public investment will result in fairer outcomes because intentions are good. This isn’t how our labour market works.
“Instead, we need to go in eyes wide open about the challenges of intervening here and also put in place mechanisms to ensure workers are heard along the way. Otherwise, we risk compounding privilege and disadvantage.”
New polling carried out by YouGov on behalf of the Wales TUC found:
Research looking at how working patterns changed during the first lockdown found that those working exclusively from home were more likely to be graduates and be in higher-paid roles too. And those in lower paid occupation groups tended to be much less likely to work from home – only around 1 in 5 of those in elementary occupations were working from home. 84% of those with low levels of formal qualifications were working outside the home.
The Wales TUC’s call follows the publication of the Senedd Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee’s report into remote working. That report recommends that the Welsh Government should clearly set out the socio-economic impact of its new remote working policy and address concerns that it risked largely benefitting only affluent workers.
Shavanah Taj added:
“The big shift to remote working during the pandemic has disproportionately benefitted middle class people – so we need a clear focus on how can we make sure that we’re making labour market interventions that are truly inclusive, and don’t reinforce privilege.
“Lots of jobs can’t be done from home. And lots of these jobs are done by those who continued going out to work throughout the pandemic to run our health services, provide food for us and keep our utilities functioning. It’s absolutely right that the Welsh Government is looking now at how we can give more people support if they want to work remotely but that should be in the context of a wider set of measures that make work easier for everyone.”
Note to Editors