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U.K. Says Home Working Held Back Pay and Promotions Before Covid

Andrew Atkinson
·1 min read

(Bloomberg) --

Working from home in the U.K. tended to hurt the careers of those doing it before the pandemic, new government data show.

Those who mainly worked at home were significantly less likely to be promoted, receive a bonus or training, according to figures published Monday by the Office for National Statistics. Last year, home workers also put in more hours of unpaid overtime.

“This may suggest that they were less productive than those who never worked from home,” the ONS said. “However, it could also reflect biases in the labor market, with people who worked mainly from home being overlooked for promotions and bonuses due to a lack of visibility at work. It could also reflect a preference for non-monetary benefits, such as flexibility and a shortened commute.”

The gradual easing of lockdown restrictions means companies are now having to decide whether to ask their employees to return to the office at some stage or allow them long-term flexibility.

Companies including Nationwide Building Society and PricewaterhouseCoopers have already told staff they can work from anywhere in future. The trend is starting to reshape the housing market, with areas outside big urban centers seeing strong demand from people anticipating an end to the five-day-a-week commute.

The ONS said about 36% of employees did some work at home in 2020, an increase of more than 9 percentage points from 2019.

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