UN labor agency says working from home likely to persist in coming years

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The trend adopted by various organizations to have their employees work from home may persist in the coming years despite the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines, the United Nations labour agency (ILO) said on Wednesday.

The agency said the number of persons who worked from home prior to the health pandemic accounted for almost eight percent of the global work force, but has now “increased sharply.”

ILO called for greater protection of the employees working from home, whom it says experience poor working conditions, face greater health and safety risks, and lack access to training, which can affect their career prospects.

“Homeworkers earn on average 13 per cent less in the United Kingdom; 22 per cent less in the United States; 25 per cent less in South Africa; and about 50 per cent in Argentina, India and Mexico”, ILO said in its report themed “Working from home. From invisibility to decent work.”

According to the labour agency, prior to COVID-19, there were approximately 260 million home-based workers globally, representing 7.9 per cent of global employment.

However, in the first few months of the pandemic, an estimated one-in-five workers found themselves working from home. Data for the whole of 2020, once available, is expected to show a “substantial increase” over the previous year, said the agency.

It noted that the trend may continue and take on greater importance in the coming years, bringing renewed urgency to the need to address the issues facing homeworkers and their employers.

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