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Can My Employer Make Me Return to the Office?

can my employer make me return to the office

For most of us in the UK, July 19th will go down in history as 'freedom day', the day when most legal COVID-19 restrictions were lifted! With the pandemic affecting our normal working lives for almost two years now, there's one question hanging over a lot of people's heads - can my employer make me return to the office?

Does the government advise a return to the office?

Yes. As of the 19th of July, Prime Minister Boris Johnson encouraged employees to start a "gradual return to work". So, the message of 'work from home where possible' has now transitioned to 'start planning a safe return to the workplace. The government is hoping that as more people return to work, it will help companies who have struggled during lockdown to get back to normal & start earning money again. In addition, the government is keen to cut the cost of paying furloughed staff by encouraging offices and other businesses to bring their employees back to work.

Are you allowed to ask to work from home?

There are a lot of people who are still very cautious about returning to work, and rightly so. The pandemic isn't over, and (if you read our latest blog) you'll see we're actually at the beginning of the third wave! For that reason, you might feel inclined to ask your employer if you can work from home a little longer. If you ask your employer and explain your concerns, they may allow you to continue to work from home on a full or part-time basis, however, your employer doesn't have to agree.

Will working be more flexible in the future?

Now that people have had a taste of working from home and the better work/life balance it offers, there are calls for a more flexible attitude to working in the future. The Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development that represents HR professionals, says they think there'll be a lot more freedom and flexibility in the future! Here's why:

"People generally want a mix of workplace and home working, and the possibility of more choice in their working routines, meaning hybrid working can provide an effective balance for many workers." 

With that in mind, it's possible that a lot of employees (including yours) will look at ways to make your working schedule a bit more flexible in the future. If you're unsure what approach your workplace is taking, we'd recommend arranging a one-on-one meeting with your manager or boss. They should be able to advise you on the companies current thoughts & plans, while also listening to any concerns you may have. 

Does my employer need to take COVID-19 precautions?

Yes. As we've mentioned, the pandemic is far from over and people are still getting sick with the virus every day. That being said, with more and more people getting vaccinated, there's a much lower chance of serious illness if you do catch COVID-19. So, what precautions do employers have to take to keep you safe in the workplace?

  • Continue social distancing guidelines to keep employers separated as much as possible
  • Frequently clean and sanitise the office and communal areas
  • Provide additional handwashing or hand sanitisation stations around the office
  • Staggering start and end times to help with travel to work & to limit the number of people in the office at any one time
  • Minimising unnecessary visitors to the workplace
  • Encourage employees to take lateral flow tests on a regular basis

If you're keen to continue working from home, but your employer isn't allowing it, you should take a look at some of the work-from-home positions we're advertising here at Hyper Recruitment Solutions.

Work-From-Home Jobs >

Read More: Advantages and Disadvantages of Remote Working