Over 21 million hours a day spent commuting by UK workers

Workers spend up to 78 minutes commuting every day, research by the Trades Union Congress has revealed.

In total UK workers spend 21.8m hours travelling to and from work every day, with £266m-worth of working time lost to travel each day.

Workers spend on average 52.6 minutes commuting every day, but London workers have the longest commute, averaging 78 minutes, followed by workers in the South East who travel for 56.4 minutes a day.

Workers in Wales and the South West have the shortest average journeys to work of 41 minutes and 44.8 minutes respectively.

Data from the official Labour Force Survey revealed that men working full-time spend 7.6 minutes longer commuting than women who work full-time.

Men in the South East spend 13.6 minutes more commuting to work than women – the largest gap in the UK.

Meanwhile workers in well paid jobs, such as managers and senior officials (68.6 minutes) and professionals (61.4 minutes), have the longest commute times while those in low paid occupations, such as cleaners and labourers (40.4 minutes) and retail and customer services (41.4 minutes), have the shortest commutes.

Employees working part-time hours were also found to have shorter average commute times than full-time workers.

Men working full-time spend 60.4 minutes commuting compared to 42 minutes when they work part-time, while women working full-time spend 52.8 minutes travelling to work compared to 38.6 minutes for part-timers.

Brendan Barber, the TUC’s General Secretary, said: “UK staff experience a double-whammy of working some of the longest hours in Europe and then spending nearly an hour every day getting to and from work.

“All that wasted working time spent stuck on crowded trains and congested roads costs the economy over a quarter of a billion pounds every year, not to mention the stress it causes staff and the time it means they miss spending with friends and family.

“Parents who can’t do long commutes because of school or nursery runs often have to take lower-paid work nearer home instead.

“With employers focused on getting through the recession, many will have taken their eye off the ball in offering flexible working.

“But remote working and flexible shifts can reduce commute times, save on office space and reduce energy costs – saving companies money and helping staff enjoy a better work-life balance.”

The TUC’s research has been published to coincide with the start of Work Wise UK’s Commute Smart week (9-13 November).

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