Millions of people could get ‘default’ right to work from home under new proposals

Millions of office staff could be given a ‘default’ right to continue working from home after the Covid pandemic, under new plans being considered by ministers (Photo: Shutterstock)

Millions of office staff could be given a ‘default’ right to continue working from home after the Covid pandemic, under new plans being considered by ministers.

The proposals would change the law, making it illegal for employers to insist staff attend the workplace in person - unless they can show it is essential.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

However, the plans - which could reportedly potentially come into place later this year - could cause a backlash, amid fears it could prevent a return to normality in city centres and towns.

'We are looking at introducing a default right to flexible working'

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.”

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.’

A leaked Cabinet Office presentation on how England can eventually ‘live with Covid’ also recommends that the Government should not actively tell people to go back to the workplace - even if all social distancing measures are lifted on 19 July.

There will not be legal requirements on home working, which will give employers the choice on whether to make their staff return to the office, according to Politico.

The leaked paper also tells ministers to err on the side of caution and encourage a hybrid approach, rather than a full time return to the office.