Labour has called on the government to clarify its position on office working, after suggestions that it is considering legislation to make working from home a “default” right.
Angela Rayner MP, Labour’s deputy leader, criticised the lack of clarity on plans for office-based workers, and called for stronger rights for staff “so that workers are not pressured or blackmailed back into unsafe workplaces”.
The government’s roadmap for unlocking the UK economy had initially suggested that all restrictions would be removed in England from Monday, 21 June. However, that has been extended until at least 19 July to give more time to vaccinate people.
Ministers have been advised that removal of all restrictions on workplaces could be risky, according to a document first reported by Politico. Instead, the government is thought to be considering advice for a hybrid approach, blending continued home working with some time in the office when necessary.
According to reports, the government is considering proposals that would potentially see the law changed so that employers would have to prove it is essential before being able to insist employees attend the workplace.
“Throughout this crisis this government has failed working people time and time again, from refusing to classify Covid as a ‘serious’ workplace risk to failing to crack down on unsafe workplaces and rogue employers who have put their staff at risk,” Rayner said.
“As we emerge from this crisis, we cannot have one-sided flexibility that allows employers to dictate terms to their workers when it comes to flexible working arrangements.”
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), which represents human resources professionals, has called for a change in the law to allow employees to request flexible working from the day they start.