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  • Ministers must also consult with unions and employers on workplace safety guidance to prevent “widespread confusion”
  • Union body criticises lack of action on sick pay

Responding to today’s (Monday) announcement by the prime minister that the work from home guidance will be withdrawn from Monday 19 July, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“As the work from home guidance ends, employers must acknowledge that one size does not fit all. They should consult their staff and unions about continuing flexibility in working patterns and location.

“Flexible working isn’t just about working at home. It can mean having predictable or fixed hours, working as a job-share, or working flexitime, term-time only hours or compressed hours.

“No one should miss out on flexible working. Ministers must bring in a new right to flexible working for every worker, in every job. Otherwise there will be a new class divide between those who can work flexibly from home, and those who can’t.”

On wider issues of safety at work, Frances added:

“Ministers must consult with unions and employers on clear and consistent guidance for workplace safety after the end of restrictions, in every type of workplace. Otherwise we risk widespread confusion.”

“On the topic of requiring face coverings, Frances added:

“In particular, ministers must consult unions and employers before making any changes to the guidance on face coverings in sectors where they currently must be worn, such as retail.

“The government has to take the lead – not wash its hands of its responsibility to keep workers and the public safe.”

On the failure to take action on sick pay, Frances said:

“It beggars belief that the government is still refusing to provide decent sick pay

"Ministers have the power to make self-isolation effective overnight – and cut transmission immediately. All they need to do is raise statutory sick pay to the level of the real Living Wage, and make sure everyone can get it.

“As infections surge this remains a gaping hole in our defences against the pandemic.”

Editors note

Flexible working

TUC polling published last month revealed that:

  • Four out of five (82%) of workers say that they want to take up some form of flexible working in the future. 
  • But only half of workers (54%) say they have the right in their current job to request a change to their regular working hours to fit around other commitments. 
  • People in higher-paid occupations are much more likely to have worked from home during the pandemic (60%) than those in working-class jobs (23%). 

Health and safety

TUC polling published last month revealed that many employers have still not taken the necessary action to ensure that workplaces are Covid-secure:

  • Nearly half of workers (46 percent) say their employer has not taken technical measures to improve airflow at their workplaces
  • 1 in 6 staff surveyed (17 per cent) say they have not been given Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
  • 3 in 10 staff (29 per cent) said they were not consulted by their employer on a Covid-secure risk assessment
  • 1 in 10 (11 per cent) say that social distancing still isn’t enabled in their workplace

To date not one single employer has been fined and prosecuted for Covid health and safety breaches during the pandemic.

-BritainThinks conducted an online survey of 2,134 workers in England and Wales between May 13 and May 21 2021. All respondents were either in work, on furlough, or recently made redundant. Survey data has been weighted to be representative of the working population in England and Wales by age, gender, socioeconomic grade, working hours and security of work in line with ONS Labour Force survey data.

- The Trades Union Congress (TUC) exists to make the working world a better place for everyone. We bring together the 5.5 million working people who make up our 48 member unions. We support unions to grow and thrive, and we stand up for everyone who works for a living.


TUC press office 
020 7467 1248

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