Employee rights to work from home and ask for flexible hours could be strengthened as ministers look to enshrine ‘freedoms people have gained to set their own working patterns’ during the pandemic.
The Government is said to be preparing to bolster the right of employees to work from home with a public consultation on the issue due to launch later this year.
It could mean more people being able to retain high levels of working remotely or even completely avoid a full return to the office.
The moves will inevitably prompt concerns about the future of struggling city centres.
The emergence of the plans, first reported by The Times, comes after Boris Johnson said earlier this week that he did not believe the pandemic would lead to a fundamental change in the way people live and work in cities.
The Government is said to be preparing to strengthen the right of employee’s to work from home with a public consultation on the issue due to launch later this year. (Stock image)
Boris Johnson said earlier this week that he did not believe the pandemic would lead to a fundamental change in the way people live and work in cities
The PM predicted that the nation’s ‘great cities’ would soon be ‘full of buzz and life and excitement again’.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is reportedly looking at how to extend current flexible working rights which allow workers to ask their employer to change their hours.
Firms are supposed to consider the requests and make a decision inside three months.
An extension of rights could see people able to request ad hoc flexible working or to work from home whenever it suits them.
The Times said some Government figures are in favour of enshrining a simple legal right to work from home after the pandemic necessitated a huge shift in how many people do their jobs.
One minister told the newspaper: ‘Covid has moved the flexible working agenda on years.
‘As we recover from lockdown there’s lots we can do to keep the freedoms people have gained to set their own working patterns.’
Any move to boost working from home is likely to prompt further concerns about the future of struggling city centres. Oxford Street in central London is pictured on March 23 this year
It comes after Mr Johnson said at a Downing Street press conference on Monday that he does not ‘believe this is going to mean a fundamental change to the way our life in our big cities really works’.
Describing his time as chairman of Transport for London (TFL), he said: ‘I remember the better remote communication gets and the more people can see each other and talk on mobile devices… the more actually they want to see each other face to face.
‘And that, I’m sure, will come back and I think that London, our great cities, will be full of buzz and life and excitement again, provided that people have confidence about coming back into those city centres.
‘I’m a sceptic when people say this is going to lead to a massive change in urban life, I’m doubtful.’