MILLIONS of staff could be given the “default” right to work from home – and it could be ILLEGAL to force them back to offices.
News that workers may not return to offices comes as ministers draft a blueprint for a ‘new normal’ that will allow the UK to “live with Covid” after July 19.
? Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest updates
Millions of people could be given the ‘default’ right to work at home in the future under new plansCredit: Alamy
But the plans are set to spark a fierce Cabinet battle – as both Rishi Sunak and Boris Johnson have spoken of their wish to get Brits back at their desks.
The pair are among those who fear a permanent home-based work life could create “zombie towns”.
It comes as:
A Whitehall source told the Daily Mail: “We’re looking at introducing a default right to flexible working.
“That would cover things like reasonable requests by parents to start late so they can drop their kids at childcare.
“But in the case of office workers in particular, it would also cover working from home.
“That would be the default right unless the employer could show good reason why someone should not.”
Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove suggested this week that a hybrid model that included home working was likely to become the norm for millions.
And he said: “We won’t go back to the status quo.”
A leaked memo suggests we’ll all be asked to continue working from home if we can – even after the delayed ‘freedom day’ in July.
However, mandatory working from home will be scrapped – giving many a choice about whether they’ll tackle the commute again, Politico reports.
But Brits will likely be given a choice about whether they’ll face the commute againCredit: Getty
There’s likely to be a row over the plans – as Boris Johnson wants workers to return to their deskCredit: Reuters
But the PM this week set back the UK’s ‘freedom day’ to July amid surging cases – and it’s thought a return to the office isn’t on the cards for weeks to come
Civil servants suggest a “hybrid approach” where the Government puts in place measures to help those who don’t need to physically attend work.
They say offices should be kitted out with new ventilation and face masks should remain in communal areas.
But perspex screens between desks, which were put in place by many employers last year, could actually increase spread of the virus and should be binned.
The document also warns there may need to be a return to tougher social distancing measures in winter to avoid a fourth wave.
Scientists have advised the Government that self-isolation for Brits who have Covid symptoms should become the norm from now on.
That means those who have much more minor ailments like the common cold could be forced to stay at home until they get a negative test.
No 10 insisted that no decisions have yet been made on the proposals, with a review into long-term social distancing measures still ongoing.
A government spokesman said: “We have paused at Step 3 for up to four weeks due to the new Delta variant, and we will continue to assess the latest data on this variant over the coming weeks.”
It comes after a new survey revealed a third of employees are now working from home — and 85 per cent of them want to keep it that way.
But the analysis also suggested employers are more sceptical about the change.
Almost two-fifths expected most of their staff to return to the workplace within the next three months.