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Gender gap in commuting times

A gender gap between in commuting times has been revealed by recent research from the TUC.

From the age of 30, a difference emerges between men and women in the amount of time it takes them to get to and from work. It becomes increasingly pronounced into their early 40s, and is not fully equalised afterwards.

Analysing official figures, the TUC said that UK commute times for women reach their longest when they're in their late 20s at 54.6 minutes each day. But travel times for men carry on increasing, reaching an average of 67.2 minutes by their early 40s. At this age, men were found to spend 17.4 minutes longer commuting than women.

The TUC speculated that the difference was down to the impact of childcare responsibilities. Women with children, it suggested, were more likely to move jobs to be closer to home, so that they could pick up children from nursery or school more easily. It said that fathers, on the other hand, tended to follow jobs with higher earnings to cover childcare costs and travelled further from home to do so if necessary.

The TUC said that many women took a cut in pay when they found a job closer to home. But reducing the commute needn't mean taking home less pay. Flexible working, being given the opportunity to work from home, and making use of mobile technologies and the internet, can make it easier for parents to balance the competing demands of family and work.

Currently, parents of children aged 16 or under, or disabled children under 18, have the right to ask their employer for more flexible working patterns, whether it's hours, times or place of work. To do so they should have worked for their employer for 26 weeks continuously and not have made a similar request in the last 12 months. Employers can only refuse the request if there are clear business grounds.

The Government is proposing to extend the right to request flexible working to all employees and remove the statutory procedure for considering requests. This is expected to become law in April 2014.

Acas has detailed information on The right to request flexible working and has published the Advisory booklet - Flexible working and work-life balance . Acas training is also available on Flexible working and improving Work/life balance.

Visit the Acas Training and Business Solutions area for more information.

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