On the face of it, this is an amazingly progressive move by one of the most regressive governments in UK history.
According to the Mail (and other news outlets), Boris Johnson is pushing forward with a 2019 Tory manifesto commitment to give people the right to work from home unless employers can demonstrate that office working is essential.
Consultation on the plan will take place over the summer, hopefully taking into account the experiences of firms whose employees have worked from home during the Covid-19 crisis.
A survey has shown that 71 per cent of firms found home working either made no difference to their productivity – or boosted it.
Labour has raised concerns over the plan.
In a comment, Angela Rayner said:
We cannot have one-sided flexibility that allows employers to dictate terms to their workers when it comes to flexible working arrangements.
The starting point must be a strengthening of workers’ rights on flexible working so that workers are not pressured or blackmailed back into unsafe workplaces.
From the Mail‘s article, that’s not what’s going on here. But I can’t advise anyone to trust the Tories to do the right thing, so we’ll have to stay sceptical until we can read the small print of the proposed legislation.
Personally, up until Covid, This Writer seemed to have a unique perspective on home working.
I quit the last newspaper to employ me as a staffer because I wasn’t allowed to work from home after the local office that was my base was moved from a barely-manageable 27 miles from home to a diabolical 41 miles away.
When the idea of moving the office’s location was mooted, I complained vehemently (although admittedly I wasn’t then the monster who writes for you today).
Because most of my stories were generated in the area where I lived, it meant I may spend a huge amount of working time on the road – time better-spent working on news stories.
I said the only way I would be able to carry on is if I worked from home four days a week (not five, because sometimes attending the office can be important).
It wasn’t until after the office move had taken place that I was told that this would not be permitted. The impression I had was that managers assumed I wouldn’t actually do any work without one of them looking over my shoulder.
So I quit. I leave it up to you to judge whether the collapse of the Mid Wales edition of that paper a few months later had anything to do with my departure and the reason for it.
Of course, all of the work I have done on Vox Political has been from home. It is now my main source of income and at one point last year I had nearly 180,000 hits in a day.
So, y’know, I’ve always been convinced that home working is not only possible, but profitable.
I’m glad Covid has demonstrated this more widely.
And I hope the Tory government recognises it in any legislation it brings forward.
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