For many workers, it’s time to get back into the office. It seems the era of working from home is coming to an end.
Although many companies are asking their workers to return to the office – there is a lot of confusion around the regulations.
Let’s try to clear these up.
The current guidelines still suggest that if you can work from home, you should. If you can’t, you should travel into your place of work (as many have done so over the course of the pandemic).
But be aware, you shouldn’t go to work if:
- You’re self-isolating because you have coronavirus symptoms
- You’ve been in contact with someone who has tested positive
- You’re in quarantine after travelling abroad
Does the Government Want People Back to Work?
A review of social distancing is due to be published on the 17th of May and all restrictions are expected to lift on the 21st of June, at this stage, it is expected that the Government will encourage people to get back to work.
This is to help companies which have suffered during lockdown, particularly those in city centres which rely on office workers.
The Government is also keen to reduce the amount it's spending on furlough by encouraging businesses to reopen.
Can I Keep Working From Home If I Want To?
You can request to continue working from home, but be aware, your employer doesn’t have to agree.
Several companies have already said they expect to have a mixture of office and at home workers.
This is partly due to the effectiveness and popularity of home working, but also the costs saved by not needing to pay for office space.
Will My Workplace Be Safe to Work in?
In England, the current guidance means employers need to undertake a Covid risk assessment and take precautionary steps such as:
- Minimising unnecessary visitors
- Social distancing
- Frequent cleaning
- Extra handwashing facilities
- One-way systems
- Staggering start/end times
- Face coverings must be worn
- Lateral flow tests encouraged
There's more detailed guidance for specific industries including construction, hospitality and manufacturing.
If employees feel unsafe, they can contact their local authority, Citizens Advice or the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The HSE has carried more than 200,000 inspections to check companies are following Covid rules, and can force firms to take action if not.
Is It Safe to Use Public Transport?
It is generally safe, however, the risk depends on how crowded it is, and your distance from other people.
To stay as safe as possible, wear a mask, keep windows open, and avoid peak times where possible.
Many public transport companies have increased cleaning and services to avoid overcrowding.