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Commute times = five extra weeks work a year

Unions call for more flexible and home working

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

The statistics show 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) also 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.'

November 2011


Further insight

Check out Andy Lake's blog Time on the Road Could be Time Spent with You for a critique of these figures and a look at challenges facing the unions as they embrace flexible working.





Brendan Barber

"Smarter working must be part of the modern economy" - TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber




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