The UK Government has launched a reckless campaign calling a mass return to offices and workplaces across the UK. It relies on employers having taken measures to make workplaces COVID secure.
This irresponsible call follows the government’s announcement yesterday of 1,502 newly-confirmed cases of COVID-19. Speaking to the BBC from the safety of his home via Zoom, the UK Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, has hypocritically claimed that “it is now safe to return to work”.
Yet, when discussing his own staff, the UK Health Secretary, Matt Hancock has asserted that “what I care about is that people perform” not whether they work from home or in the office. The Scottish Government is taking an evidence-based approach to the return to work of non-essential offices.
Alyn Smith MP has called for a change in the law to protect workers’ rights in the recovery from COVID-19, arguing that workers concerned with returning to the office and commuting should be able to continue to work from home if possible.
The government’s announcement has sparked concerns those who choose to continue to work from home instead of returning to the office will be at greater risk of losing their jobs.
Alyn Smith MP said:
“The UK government cannot make people choose between their jobs and the health of themselves and their loved ones.
“Once again, this Tory government is choosing to prioritise the economy over the health and safety of the public. The return to the workplace for office-based employers must be proportionate and based on clinical evidence of the continued spread of the Covid-19 virus.
“The UK government must respond to shocking assertions – that those who choose to continue to work from home instead of returning to the office are at greater risk of losing their jobs – by legislating to protect employees in what is an unprecedented set of circumstances.
“The UK government should act with caution and follow the lead of the Scottish Government, whose guidance published earlier this week rightly envisions remote working as remaining the default position for those who can.”