Friday 18 June 2021 9:33 am

PM keen for UK workers to return to office but govt leaves decision up to businesses

The Prime Minister is understood to be against large-scale working from home continuing beyond final lockdown restrictions easing, as the government hands discretion to “employers and employees”.

Boris Johnson is opposed to the level of working from home seen during the pandemic becoming permanent and had hoped to ease guidance this month, The Telegraph first reported.

He is also said to be in favour of encouraging people to return to offices as soon as possible.

It comes as the Prime Minister was accused of rushing to get the city back to pre-pandemic levels too soon last year, when lockdown was lifted in July.

A government source said: “What we’re not looking to do is make working from home, as people have done from Covid, a permanent thing. I don’t see us ending up there in any way.”

It comes after media reports that ministers have proposed legal changes that would prevent employers from forcing staff to come into the office, unless they can prove it is essential.

The government is keen to boost flexible working and allow people to work from home should they wish to, and is planning a consultation on the matter later this year, a minister said this morning.

Despite the Prime Minister’s alleged personal preference, crime and policing minister Kit Malthouse told Sky News: “We don’t have any intention to make it compulsory to return to the office.”

“This is a situation for employers and employees to discuss and negotiate themselves,” he added.

The government consultation on the change of legislation is understood to be taking place this summer.

Speaking to City A.M. last week, small business minister Paul Scully also suggested the government would pass the decision to individuals and companies and said “personal discretion is the key thing” when it comes to returning to the workplace.

“Whenever the work from home message ends, it will be down to what’s best for the business and the worker,” Scully added.