Staff are to be told not to return to their offices even as Covid-19 restrictions are lifted


Office staff are set to be told to keep working from home even as other lockdown restrictions are eased, the Daily Mail can reveal.

Boris Johnson is not expected to give a firm date for when workers will return to their desks as he unveils his plans for a return to normality on Monday.

It means the ‘work from home if you can’ message will continue to guide employers for the foreseeable future.

But ahead of any return, companies are reportedly drafting ‘no jab, no job’ contracts to force staff to get Covid-19 vaccinations.

Bosses in the care home sector as well as large international groups including an energy firm are making arrangements, top lawyers warned.

Boris Johnson is not expected to give a firm date for when workers will return to their desks as he unveils his plans for a return to normality on Monday (file photo)

Many large firms have already told staff they should work remotely, with some even delaying a return to the office until at least the end of the year.

However, some studies claim that productivity is hampered as workers log in from their kitchen table rather than at their desk.

Tory MPs urged the Government last night to provide clarity on when staff might be able to return to their offices.

Former party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said: ‘We need to get people back to work as soon as possible.

‘There are lots of reasons why work is important to our lives. It affects people’s physical and mental wellbeing and there are issues around productivity.

‘I would like to see as much detail as possible in the road map to help people to make plans. They need to know in advance.’

The message to work from home was introduced at the beginning of the first lockdown last March.

But as the surge in Covid cases eased over the summer, it was changed to urge employees to return to their offices to get Britain working again, sparking fury from Labour MPs and unions. 

Tory MPs urged the Government last night to provide clarity on when staff might be able to return to their offices. Former party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said: ‘We need to get people back to work as soon as possible

Tory MPs urged the Government last night to provide clarity on when staff might be able to return to their offices. Former party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said: ‘We need to get people back to work as soon as possible

Announcing the third national lockdown at the beginning of this year, the PM said people should go into work only if they ‘absolutely’ could not work from home.

Asked whether the new road map would change this message, a Government source said: ‘I don’t think that will happen. We have a way to go before that changes.

‘We wouldn’t bring in a new message at this stage because it will confuse people. The road map is to set out where we’re going.’ 

Mr Johnson will publish his blueprint, setting out the earliest dates at which the array of restrictions could be lifted, on Monday.

He is expected to chair a meeting of the Cabinet’s ‘Covid O’ committee this week and will then present the document to Parliament before making a televised address from Downing Street.

Mr Johnson (pictured) will publish his blueprint, setting out the earliest dates at which the array of restrictions could be lifted, on Monday

Mr Johnson (pictured) will publish his blueprint, setting out the earliest dates at which the array of restrictions could be lifted, on Monday

It is not clear when the road map will run until, but the expectation is that working from home will be the norm for office staff for some time yet.

Ahead of a return to the office, companies have begun drafting ‘no jab, no job’ contracts despite lawyers warning they are ‘risky’ and likely to be challenged.

Bosses in the care home sector as well as large international groups including an energy firm are making arrangements, top lawyers warned.

The move could mean both prospective and current employees would need to have the coronavirus vaccine to work at an organisation.

Asked about businesses who introduce a scheme, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said it was ‘up to them’.

The Government has so far said it has no plans to introduce a passport scheme, with Mr Zahawi previously describing their use as ‘wrong’ and ‘discriminatory’.

Bosses in the care home sector as well as large international groups including an energy firm are making arrangements, top lawyers warned (file photo)

Bosses in the care home sector as well as large international groups including an energy firm are making arrangements, top lawyers warned (file photo)

Barchester Healthcare, based in London and with more than 200 care homes, said applicants refusing to have a jab without medical reasons would not be hired.

Pimlico Plumbers also said it would have a ‘no jab, no job’ attitude towards new workers, the FT reports.

The newspaper spoke to law firms – which refused to be named – which said some companies were already looking at getting current employees vaccinated.

A lawyer in the City of London said putting clauses in contracts to force people to be jabbed was risky but easier to defend in the care sector to protect patients.

Another said some multinational companies – such as a large energy firm – are considering the idea.

Mr Zahawi said yesterday that the Government was ‘not planning a domestic passport’.

He told BBC Breakfast: ‘It’s up to businesses what they do, but we don’t yet have the evidence of the effect of vaccines on transmission.’

Downing Street slapped down Dominic Raab on Sunday after the Foreign Secretary suggested documents could be required before going into shops.

Mr Zahawi told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme yesterday: ‘It’s a combination of rapid testing as well as the mass vaccination programme that will get our economy back on its feet and venues open again.’

Last October, a study by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found bosses believed the nation was less productive when working from home.

It found companies were twice as likely to see a fall in productivity when staff worked remotely than if they were at their desks in the office.

Of those bosses who have increased homeworking through the pandemic, almost a quarter said that productivity had gone down. 

Only 12 per cent said output had improved as a result, while around half said it made no difference. 

As a result, less than a fifth of businesses expect to keep more working from home after the pandemic is over, with two-thirds set to go back to their old setup permanently, the ONS found.

The remainder have not yet decided whether they will bring workers back, it added.

A CBI and PwC survey of the financial services industry found three-quarters of firms were reviewing their office space requirements, as expensive city centre sites go under-used.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk