In the WFH revolution, these workers are falling behind

Organizations need to be mindful of the impact on family earnings, StatCan recommends

In the WFH revolution, these workers are falling behind

Remote working is predicted to drive deeper inequalities between white-collar and blue-collar workers in a post-pandemic world, new data from Statistics Canada suggest.

Not all Canadians have been given the flexibility of working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Only 40% of Canadians can work remotely amid the crisis. Those who don’t have the option face greater economic disadvantages, StatCan found.

“The economic lockdown to stop the spread of COVID-19 has led to steep declines in employment and hours worked for many Canadians,” StatCan said.

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People who work in essential services and those who have jobs that observe physical distancing or can be done remotely have a lower chance of experiencing work interruptions than others.

The WFH option, in particular, reduces any threat against their economic security, the study found.

But families with lower levels of education and income are said to be the “least likely” to have jobs that enable telecommuting, so the “risk of experiencing a work interruption during the pandemic might fall disproportionately on financially vulnerable families,” StatCan said.

“These work interruptions will likely increase family earnings inequality, at least during the pandemic and economic recovery,” the agency said.

The likelihood of having the WFH option increases sharply based on the income earner’s educational attainment. On average, two in three primary income earners who hold at least a bachelor’s degree are given the option, compared with only one in three who are high school graduates.

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In terms of gender, women also have more opportunities for remote working, the study found. Half of single women in Canada can work from home while only 33% of single men can do so. Among dual-earner families, 62% of women have the leeway to work from home, while only 38% of men do.

“Part of this gender difference,” StatCan said, “is likely explained by the fact that men and women often work in different jobs.” Occupations in agriculture or construction, for example, are dominated by men and require workers to be on site.

“For these reasons, the long-term impacts of the recent work interruptions on family earnings inequality will be worth monitoring after the pandemic subsides,” the analysts said.

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