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Commute Times Rising for Women

Date: 13 November 2012

TUC analysis of the latest Labour Force Survey figures has revealed that average commute times for women have increased in the last six years, while those for men have fallen slightly.

The research, released as part of Work Wise UK’s annual Commute Smart Week initiative, reveal that the average commuting employee spends 52.8 minutes a day (4 hours 24 minutes per week or more than 5 weeks per year for those travelling 44 weeks a year) commuting to and from work, a slight decrease of 0.4 minutes compared to 6 years ago.

But detailed analysis shows that while on average, men still spend more time that women travelling to and from work,  men now travel for 0.2 minutes less than 6 years ago (now 58 minutes), but women 0.6 minutes more (now 47.4 minutes). The trend for women has increased most sharply in Scotland and London with women in London now commuting for longer on average than men anywhere else in the country outside London.

The figures also show regional differences, with men in the east of England suffering the worst upward trend to 65.2 minutes, up by 3.8 minutes and placing them second only to London, but commute times for men in Wales falling by 4.6 minutes to 41.4 minutes.

Commenting on the research, TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: “The average commuter spends the equivalent of more than five weeks a year just to get to work and back. With rising transport costs far outstripping pay rises, reducing the number of peak-time commutes would save both time  and money for hard-pressed workers."

“Recent trends suggest there is a link between long commute times and longer hours in the office, with the growing number of men in part-time work having shorter journeys to work."

“This trend is concerning if it means part-time workers and those needing to balance work with caring responsibilities are being excluded from certain types of jobs."

“Businesses should use Commute Smart week to ask whether all those journeys are really necessary.”

Work Wise UK Chief Executive Phil Flaxton said: “Commute Smart week will remind employers that there is another opportunity to change attitudes and thinking in relation to working practises.

"As winter approaches, are we going to see business interrupted by poor weather and disrupted travel? Or should we grasp the opportunity by changing the way employees work and commute and introduce more flexibly to cut out these restrictive influences on business performance?"

"More and more business are reviewing their working practises and thinking hard about how they manage people. Managing by outputs is the key, forget about presenteeism and concentrate on creating a workforce that is flexible, responsive and delivers the business plan."  

“Commute Smart week provides a real opportunity to revise tired working practises, how and where people work and set about adopting flexible approaches to people management as a key component of effective change.”

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