The Daily Telegraph

Workers at odds with bosses over returning to the office

- By Lucy Burton, Tom Rees and Hannah Boland

BOSSES are on a collision course with staff over a shift to permanent home working as official figures indicate huge numbers of employees want to stay away from the office.

The Prime Minister’s delay to the Covid-19 roadmap yesterday evening means hopes have been dashed for organisati­ons seeking a return to normal from next Monday.

However, figures from the Office for National Statistics released yesterday suggested that many staff are hopeful that they will not have to return permanentl­y at all.

A total of 85 per cent of adults who are working from home want to adopt a “hybrid” approach after the pandemic by splitting their time between home and the office, data from the ONS revealed.

At the same time, almost two in five firms expect more than three quarters of staff to be in their normal workplace post-covid, indicating that businesses and employees could be at loggerhead­s when the Prime Minister’s work from home advice is lifted.

Joseph Lappin, head of employment at law firm Stewarts, said that workers were unlikely to have reasonable grounds to defy instructio­ns to return to the office once restrictio­ns are lifted.

He said: “If employers instruct staff to come back, to go back to the office, in ordinary circumstan­ces that would be a lawful and reasonable instructio­n.”

Half of Britons are already at their place of work as of mid-may while a quarter remain at home and 11pc are hybrid working, the ONS said.

Work from home advice will remain in place until the middle of next month.

The move is expected to stoke tensions between staff and bosses, prolonging the pain suffered by city centres reliant on office commuters.

Mr Lappin said employers could face legal action if they fire staff who refuse to return to the office while work from home advice is in place.

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