Jo James, CEO of Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce, hits out at law to ensure home working plans


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One of the county's leading business figures has hit back at speculation the government could change the law to allow staff to keep working from home - even after the pandemic has ended.

Reports today in the Daily Mail suggest Whitehall is considering a change in the law which would "make it impossible for employers to insist on staff attending the workplace unless they can show it is essential".

It claims the government intends to consult on the plans later this summer and the changes in the law could follow later this year.

It comes as the expected lifting of the work-from-home guidance was delayed as Boris Johnson was forced to push 'Freedom Day' back to July 19 because of a rise in cases of the Delta variant of the virus - first seen in India.

But Jo James, chief executive of the Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce, which represents firms across the county, says the power as to where people work must remain the hands of the employer.

She explained: "If there are plans to change the law to make it mandatory to be able to work from home, I don't think that's right.

"It's up to each business to make that decision based on the individual business' circumstances.

"There will definitely be a change, but we seeing that come from business itself."

Workers across the UK have been prevented from returning to offices full-time during the pandemic due to guidance to work-from-home guidance and concerns over social distancing.

If July 19 goes ahead as planned, it is expected those restrictions will be lifted.

Adds the chamber chief: "I think the law is fine as it is and it's not for the law to dictate where your staff work or when they work.

"That has to be the right of the business and I think the majority of businesses will do what works well for them and their employees. But good employers will look at a more flexible approach.

PM Boris Johnson announced a delay for Freedom Day earlier this week
PM Boris Johnson announced a delay for Freedom Day earlier this week

"I think we will see a blended approach going forward with some wanting to split their time between home and the office.

"But home-working isn't for everyone. Not everyone's home is suitable for home-working and not everyone likes the isolation."

The Mail quotes a Whitehall source saying: "We are looking at introducing a default right to flexible working. That would cover things like reasonable requests by parents to start late so they can drop their kids at childcare.

"But in the case of office workers in particular it would also cover working from home – that would be the default right unless the employer could show good reason why someone should not."

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