Tuesday 18 May 2021 / 10:30 PM Andy McDonald / Employment

‘Two-tier world of work’ exposed as Labour calls for legislation to ensure benefits of flexible working are felt by all 

Labour analysis of new ONS statistics has revealed that chief executives and people in London are the most likely to work from home, both before and during the Covid-19 pandemic, while younger people and those in the North East are the least likely.

Labour is today setting out that, without legislation from government, the country risks sliding further into a ‘two-tier world of work’ – with certain people and parts of the country benefiting from a move to flexible working, whilst young people, key workers, and certain places risk losing out.

Labour has today called for legislation to be introduced to enshrine workers’ rights to flexible and remote working.

The Employment Bill, first promised in 2019 to “protect and enhance workers’ rights”, has been repeatedly promised by ministers yet has failed to materialise.

The statistics show the younger you are, the less likely you are to work from home; and people in London and the South East are most likely to work from home while people working in the North East are the least likely.

  • 21.4 per cent of chief executives mainly work from home, with 69 per cent working from home during the pandemic.
  • 10.5 per cent of workers in London and the South East mainly work from home, compared to 6 per cent of workers in the North East and 6.7 per cent in the East Midlands.
  • 35 per cent of workers in London worked from home during the pandemic, compared with 19.5 per cent of workers in the North East.
  • Only 4.1 per cent of 20-24 year olds and 6.5 per cent of 25-29 year olds mainly work from home, compared to 8.3 per cent of those over 35, 9.4 per cent of those over 40, and 9.6 per cent of those over 45.

Labour has also warned of a ‘one-sided flexibility’ for employers unless legislation is introduced to update employment rights and protections in line with the changing world of work.

Andy McDonald MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Employment Rights and Protections, said: 

“The pandemic has lifted the lid on our country’s two-tier world of work. This risks becoming more entrenched without employment law fit for the 21st century.

“It is totally wrong that CEOs and people living in London are far more likely to be able to work flexibly than younger people, key workers and those in the North and Midlands.

“Labour is clear that the cards should not be stacked against you because of where you live, your occupation or your age.

“We desperately need legislation that keeps pace with our changing world of work, with stronger rights for people to work flexibly where possible. The Conservatives promised it – they’ve got to deliver.”