Work from home guidance: Your rights if your employer asks you to return to the office

Britons have been urged to “return to work gradually” as of July 19, marking the end of the Government’s 16-month long work from home guidance. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he did not expect every worker to return to the office on Freedom Day when lockdown restrictions officially lifted and all businesses could open. However, workers will no longer be told to work from home where possible.  

The Scottish and Welsh governments have kept work from home guidance in place but are expected to make similar announcements in the coming weeks, as they move to lower “alert levels”.

Here is everything you need to know about your rights while the limits are still in place. 

Employers will gradually start to encourage their workers to return to the office, though it will still be up to employers to decide whether it is necessary or not for employees to be physically present at work. Many businesses may choose to keep staff working remotely for the foreseeable future. 

Any employee who is asked to continue going into work should make sure to check their employer has conducted a risk assessment and implemented the official guidelines on how people can work as safely as possible during Covid-19.

Limits on social contact have been scrapped, including the rule of six, as have some social distancing rules, such as the one metre plus guidance. This means employers have fewer restrictions to follow in offices. 

For people who are considered extremely clinically vulnerable, exceptions can be made. The Government has said that many of those who can work from home are expected to continue to do so throughout the summer. 

Alexandra Mizzi of Howard Kennedy, a legal firm said: “Employers might see more staff refusing to attend work. Employees could site section 44 of the Employment Rights Act which protects them against detrimental treatment if they leave work in a situation of serious and imminent danger and argue that they will not return to work until they have received the vaccine.”