Unions tell govt to drop “scare campaign” to pressure workers back to offices

The TUC has urged the government to produce a "credible plan" to improve safety in workplaces instead.

1 Sep 2020| News

Photo by Drew Beamer

Although Downing Street has distanced itself from Friday’s Daily Telegraph headline – “Go back to work or risk losing your job” – it has confirmed an advertising campaign will encourage workers to return to the office.

The pressure is also falling on workers from elsewhere. There are reports of employers attempting to entice staff back with car parking spaces, extra childcare and even free food.

Meanwhile, Steve Barclay, Treasury Secretary, told Times Radio that businesses must try to bring their workers back to the office to “get back to normal” for the sake of economic recovery.

But unions and industry leaders have warned that without a “credible plan”, no amount of begging or scare tactics will help workers to feel safe leaving their homes.

“Throughout this crisis millions of people have worked extremely hard from home, often in cramped bedrooms with limited equipment or balancing work with childcare,” Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the TUC, said.

“Many now want a better balance of office- and home-based working. But before this can happen, ministers must take responsibility for guaranteeing workers’ safety with a fast and reliable test and trace system, and better enforcement of transport safety and workplace risk assessments.”

Some influential business leaders agreed, including Kate Shoesmith, Director of Sales and Marketing at the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, who said “public health and safety has to be the number one priority” and that “government’s focus should be on making sure their guidance is clear, that public transport can be used safely, and that businesses have access to enough health and safety supplies”.