The government needs to issue clearer coronavirus guidance for workers to address concerns employees are being unnecessarily forced to go into work, said Rachel Reeves, chair of the business select committee.
In a letter to business secretary Alok Sharma, Reeves said the committee had received hundreds of messages from workers concerned about their employers’ response to coronavirus, including a lack of social distancing in the workplace and asking workers to come in to work unnecessarily.
Reeves said the committee had received over 600 such messages from people working in a wide range of sectors and settings including office-based staff, furniture manufacturers, estate agents, and law firms.
“It is clear that either the guidelines announced by the Government are insufficiently clear, or that employers are not following the rules,” said Reeves in the letter.
“When workers are coming forward in their droves to say they are being forced to go to work or that their employer is simply not offering enough support to help them work safely, then it’s vital the Government comes forward with immediate clarification on which businesses are truly “essential”, she added.
The letter, dated yesterday, also calls on the government to provide more specific guidance on social distancing in the workplace.
On Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK under lockdown, with people only allowed to leave their home for a limited range of reasons.
These reasons include “travelling to and from work, but only where this is absolutely necessary and cannot be done from home”, but there have been calls for clarification over the restrictions amid uncertainty over what work is considered “absolutely necessary”.
This morning, London mayor Sadiq Khan called on Johnson to ban construction work in the capital, warning that London’s transport network was nearing breaking point.
The business department has been contacted for comment.