Government still encourages working from home despite Boris Johnson urging public to do the opposite

PUBLISHED: 14:31 13 July 2020 | UPDATED: 14:31 13 July 2020

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, wearing a face mask, talks with a paramedic during a visit to the headquarters of the London Ambulance Service NHS Trust. Photograph: Ben Stansall/PA Wire

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, wearing a face mask, talks with a paramedic during a visit to the headquarters of the London Ambulance Service NHS Trust. Photograph: Ben Stansall/PA Wire

Despite Boris Johnson’s repeated calls for people to return to work, the government advice is unlikely to change urging people to work from home where they can.

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The Prime Minister said people “should start to think about getting back to work” if their employers had made their workplaces safe against coronavirus, having made similar remarks before the weekend.

Speaking to reporters at LAS headquarters in Waterloo, Johnson said: “Where businesses have made a huge effort to make the workplace safe, I do think people should start to think about getting back to work but provided we all continue to follow the precautions.”


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Justice Secretary Robert Buckland, however, when asked about the official guidance on the government’s website, confirmed it is for people to work from home where possible.

He told ITV: “That’s still there – work from home if you can, if you are able to do things remotely then carry on.

“But also work with your employer, your firm or particular entity you are with and increasingly we will see more and more people coming back to work in a staggered way but in a safe way as well.”

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Downing Street has said that the formal advice on home working is unlikely to be altered this week.

During a briefing with reporters, the prime minister’s official spokesman was asked about the discrepancy between Mr Johnson’s stance and the official advice.

The spokesman said: “What the advice says is that employers should decide in consultation with their workers whether it is viable for them to continue working from home.

“Where it is decided that workers should come in to their place of work, then this will need to be reflected in the risk assessment and actions taken to manage the risk of transmission.

“The PM set out on Friday that if you’re obeying the guidelines, and provided it is safe, then you should look to go back to work.”

Asked whether the guidelines would be updated, the Number 10 spokesman said: “The guidance we have is under review but it does say employers and employees should discuss and agree working arrangements to best suit the needs of the business.”

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