Last reviewed 16 June 2021

A minority of employers are breaching official guidance by forcing staff to “needlessly” work in offices and other workplaces according to the TUC which argues that this is part of a wider health and safety enforcement crisis.

Its research has found that 9% of staff have been put under pressure by their bosses to return to the workplace, a number that nearly doubles (to 17%) for disabled workers.

With the Prime Minister having recently confirmed that Covid restrictions will be kept in place for at least another month, including the advice to work from home wherever possible, the TUC has said that the Government must send a “clear message” to employers not to breach the current guidance.

Emphasising that employers have a duty to make sure their staff are safe, the union body said that it had found 25% of people are working from the office or other workplaces despite being able to work from home.

Companies should make use of the furlough scheme if they cannot enable workers to work from home, it has suggested.

The TUC survey also found 46% of respondents saying that their employer has not taken technical measures to improve airflow at their workplaces; 29% were not consulted by their employer on a Covid-secure risk assessment; 17% have not been given personal protective equipment (PPE); and 11% say that social distancing is still not enabled in their workplace.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Employers should not be able to ignore government safety guidance with impunity. It puts workers at risk and increases community transmission. The Government must send out a clear message to employers to play by the rules or face serious action”.

Comment by Opeyemi Ogundeji, researcher and employment law writer at Croner-i

Many employers would have brought staff back into the office, or prepared for this shift from homeworking, as it was believed that all coronavirus restrictions will be lifted on 21 June 2021. Given the serious impact the restrictions to curb coronavirus has had on businesses across the UK, it is no surprise that employers are eager to get back to some sort of normality. However, with guidance remaining unchanged, employers who are bringing employees back to the workplace, despite the latest development, must ensure that the provisions of all Covid-secure guidance are achieved.