TUC says disabled workers would benefit from continued remote working opportunities

LONDON, ENGLAND — As debate continues on whether or not working from home will become the status quo as the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic recedes, the Trade Union Congress (TUC) has asserted that workers with disabilities in particular stand to benefit from a continuation of the remote working trend.

In a recently published report, the TUC turned its attention to the demographic, which it asserted is often left out of critical conversations about remote working.

“The last 18 months have been dominated by discussions about flexible working, in particular home-based working. However, the experiences of disabled workers have largely been absent from these debates,” the TUC report read.

“Genuine flexible work has significant benefits for working people. It is invaluable in helping people achieve a balance between work and home life and is also associated with improved well-being. This is particularly true for disabled workers, where flexible working could be a reasonable adjustment and, both in terms of hours and location, can remove barriers they experience in getting and keeping jobs.”

Accordingly, the TUC noted “significant demand among disabled workers for flexible working”, outlining that the percentage of the demographic more likely than others to spend most of their time working from home increased from 13 percent pre-pandemic to 53 percent amid the pandemic.

“In terms of location, despite the challenges that some workers experienced during the pandemic, nearly all disabled workers (90 percent) who had worked from home during the pandemic wanted to continue doing so in some form, either completely remotely or a hybrid working arrangement after the pandemic,” the TUC reported.

“Across all disabled workers who can work from home, including those who had not done so during the pandemic, this figure is 75 percent. In addition, over two thirds of disabled workers (68 percent) wanted some form of hours-based flexibility such as flexi-time, compressed hours or part-time working.”

The preference is not without its drawbacks, however, as the TUC pointed out that “fears have been raised that after the pandemic has ended, those who continue to work from home, likely to be disproportionately disabled people and women, will be subject to discrimination and disadvantage as a result of their work location”.

It recommended, “One important way of addressing this risk is to make flexible working truly the default, unlocking the flexible working available in all job roles and making it the norm in all workplaces.”

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Trade Union Congress report “Disabled workers’ access to flexible working as a reasonable adjustment” - https://www.tuc.org.uk/sites/default/files/2021-10/DisabledWorkersFlexibleworking2.pdf

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