Ed Miliband calls for new laws to protect the rights of workers with advent of home-working

Shadow Business Secretary Ed Miliband has urged the Government to consider new legislation to “enshrine stronger rights” for staff amid the dramatic transformation in working practices caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Shadow Business Secretary Ed Miliband has called for clear guidance from the Government to help businesses begin their recovery in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. (Picture: Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

Thousands of businesses across the country are faced with the challenge of bringing staff back into offices and workplaces after an absence of 14 months caused by the Covid-19 crisis.

However, with the advent of home-working now expected to be a legacy of the coronavirus pandemic, Mr Miliband has called for new laws to protect the rights of employees.

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The Labour MP for Doncaster North said: “The pandemic has accelerated changes in the way businesses and employees want to structure their work and lives.

“As we look ahead to our economy reopening and advice on working from home changing, we need legislation to enshrine stronger rights for people to work flexibly where possible.

“The Conservatives promised an employment bill - they've got to deliver."

Mr Miliband also warned that clear guidance must be provided by the Government to help provide clarity to business owners and allow some certainty which is vital to aid the economic recovery in the wake of coronavirus.

Figures published by the Government showed that the magnitude of the recession caused by the pandemic is unprecedented in modern times.

The gross domestic product (GDP) declined by 9.8 per cent last year, the steepest drop since consistent records began in 1948.

During the first lockdown, the UK’s GDP was 24 per cent lower in April last year than it was only two months earlier.

Mr Miliband said: “Businesses have operated under historic uncertainty during this crisis, worsened by the stop-start changes in advice and with details of economic support having far too often played catch up with public health announcements.

"It is right we have a clear roadmap and Labour supports that. But it is crucial the Government communicates clearly with businesses ahead of every stage of that roadmap about reopening, advice on working from home, and guidance on workplace safety.

“This information must not be drip-fed via the media. Economic support must also remain responsive to the public health situation and the roadmap timings.”

The Government is currently reviewing social distancing guidelines which a Cabinet Office spokeswoman said will inform the guidance from working from home.

She added that employees should “continue to work from home where they can” until the review is completed.