One third of women feel unsafe commuting in the dark – can employers help?

Wednesday 20th December 2023

A recent survey concluded that as many as one in three women feel unsafe commuting home from work in the dark.

So, does this mean employers have yet more onerous duties to safeguard their employees? Indeed, is there anything employers can do to protect their employees and make them feel safer?


Survey findings

The survey, which was conducted by an HR company, Remote, asked 1000 working women in the UK were asked how they felt about their commute home in the dark. The result showed that one in three women felt unsafe during their nighttime commute.

The survey findings also highlight the emotional impact of travelling home in the dark, with 47% of women feeling ‘unease’, 44% said they felt anxious and 40% expressed feelings of vulnerability.

The results pose an immediate pressing issue given we are in the depths of the winter months with sunsets as early as 4pm. The conventional 9-5 or 6 schedule, means many individuals travel home in the dark.


Recent ruling

A female staffer who worked late-nights at a takeaway shop recently won her tribunal case over ‘unsafe’ walks home. She claimed discrimination after her boss ignored her fears of commuting home alone in the dark when she was required to work past the end of her shift. Fathimath Athi, who represented herself at the hearing, produced statistics that showed women felt more frightened than men when out in the dark alone. The judge found that she had been ‘disadvantaged’ and discriminated against by being required to work beyond her agreed hours. The tribunal ruled that she was treated in a “hostile, intimidatory and violent manner” and awarded her £16,465.54 in damages as a result.

Although this case involved more than just the issue of late-night walks home, it still adds to the general concern.


Employer responsibilities

The survey findings emphasise the need for employers to reassess their policies to alleviate concerns. 85% of the survey respondents expressed a desire to prioritise safety on their travel home by changing their commute pattern. This would rely on the willingness of employers to provide enhanced flexible working options for their employees.

We have seen a trend towards change in working hours through the recently launched ACAS ‘Flex to Work’ campaign which assists employers in acting reasonably when dealing with flexible working requests. This comes ahead of new flexible working legislation that is due to come into force in 2024. This will permit employees to make two flexible working requests in any 12-month period, and they will no longer need to set out a ‘business case’ for their flexible working requests. Upon receiving a request, employers will be required to deal with it in reasonable manner, and to make a decision within two months of the request.



Employers are encouraged to keep up to date with the changes in this area and to take the necessary steps and amendments in order to protect their employees.


If you would like any further support with working policies and flexible working requests, please speak to a member of the employment team who will be happy to assist.