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TUC calls for right to work flexibly to be extended as people urged to return to the office

Responding to last week’s announcement by the Prime Minister that the work from home guidance will be withdrawn from 19 July, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady has commented:

“As the work from home guidance ends, employers must acknowledge that one size does not fit all. They should consult their staff and unions about continuing flexibility in working patterns and location.

“Flexible working isn’t just about working at home. It can mean having predictable or fixed hours, working as a job-share, or working flexitime, term-time only hours or compressed hours.

“No one should miss out on flexible working. Ministers must bring in a new right to flexible working for every worker, in every job. Otherwise there will be a new class divide between those who can work flexibly from home, and those who can’t.”

On wider issues of safety at work, Frances added: “Ministers must consult with unions and employers on clear and consistent guidance for workplace safety after the end of restrictions, in every type of workplace. Otherwise we risk widespread confusion.”

On the topic of requiring face coverings, Frances added: “In particular, ministers must consult unions and employers before making any changes to the guidance on face coverings in sectors where they currently must be worn, such as retail.

“The government has to take the lead – not wash its hands of its responsibility to keep workers and the public safe.”

On the failure to take action on sick pay, Frances said: “It beggars belief that the government is still refusing to provide decent sick pay. Ministers have the power to make self-isolation effective overnight – and cut transmission immediately. All they need to do is raise statutory sick pay to the level of the real Living Wage, and make sure everyone can get it.

“As infections surge this remains a gaping hole in our defences against the pandemic.”

Health and safety

TUC polling published last month revealed that many employers have still not taken the necessary action to ensure that workplaces are COVID-secure:

  • Nearly half of workers (46%) say their employer has not taken technical measures to improve airflow at their workplaces.

  • 1 in 6 staff surveyed (17%) say they have not been given Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

  • 3 in 10 staff (29%) said they were not consulted by their employer on a COVID-secure risk assessment.

  • 1 in 10 (11%) say that social distancing still isn’t enabled in their workplace.

  • To date not one single employer has been fined and prosecuted for COVID health and safety breaches during the pandemic.

Flexible working

TUC polling published last month revealed that:

  • Four out of five (82%) of workers say that they want to take up some form of flexible working in the future.

  • But only half of workers (54%) say they have the right in their current job to request a change to their regular working hours to fit around other commitments.

  • People in higher-paid occupations are much more likely to have worked from home during the pandemic (60%) than those in working-class jobs (23%).

TUC July 2021

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