Official guidance says employees should work from home where possible (Image: Getty Images)
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Workers could be given the right to work from home by default under new post-pandemic plans.
The proposals would change the law to block employers from insisting staff attend the workplace, unless it is essential to their job.
The Tories pledged to extend "flexible working" in their 2019 manifesto – but the plans were held back by Covid.
A consultation will now be held late this year, officials have confirmed.
The latest government guidance says that employees should work from home where possible. But if you can't do your job from home, you can be called in to work.
Working from home has become the norm for many for over a year
(Image: Getty Images)
Employers must ensure there are certain safety measures in place before allowing workers to return.
These include increasing the distance between workstations to allow for social distancing, and encouraging mask-wearing when walking around the building.
The government had hoped to end all legal restrictions at the now-delayed step four roadmap date of July 19.
But a leaked memo yesterday revealed advice that ministers should avoid telling people to return to the office even when ‘step four’ of the delayed lockdown roadmap happens in England.
Instead, ministers should either stay neutral or actively encourage people to continue working from home, it claimed.
A Whitehall source told the Daily Mail: "We are 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."A senior source was reported to have said that Boris Johnson continued to believe in the benefits of office working.
But Matt Hancock supported the idea in comments almost a year ago. The Health Secretary said flexible working is the "new norm" and was something all "good employers" should accommodate moving forward.
Asked if he would consider enforcing this through legislation, he replied "yes", adding: "the way you could look at it is there's a right to request flexible working."
Boris Johnson announced earlier that the end of lockdown would be delayed
(Image: via REUTERS)
The end of the current Covid lockdown restrictions has been pushed back by another four weeks, meaning millions of workers will be asked to continue to work from home until at least early summer.
In a statement to the public on Monday, the Prime Minister said that Covid restrictions would not be fully lifted until July 19, with unvaccinated people to have their inoculations fast-tracked.
In a press conference, the PM said it was a "difficult choice" to push back restrictions being fully lifted, but said he was "concerned" about the delta variant.
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"I think it is sensible to wait just a little longer," he said.
Despite the easing of restrictions since March, everyone who can work from home should still do so under current guidance. This will remain in place until all measures are relaxed.
"I am confident we won't need more than four weeks – it's unmistakable clear that the vaccines are working – but now is the time to ease off the accelerator."