No sooner had they done so than the Government ended its back-to-the-office message. Now, not only are employers’ efforts at virus protection largely wasted, they are being told they must take responsibility for employees’ working conditions at home. The new chairman of the Health and Safety Executive has announced that employers who “ask” their staff to work from home should conduct risk assessments. If sitting at the kitchen table is giving a worker a bad back, the HSE will offer a meeting (on Zoom, of course) to check up on the kitchen furniture and if necessary to take the matter up with their employer.
At this point, employers might reasonably be feeling rather aggrieved. Instead of paying for Perspex partitions, air-conditioning upgrades and hand sanitising stations, it seems they should have been arranging home deliveries of ergonomic desks and chairs for all their staff. In a tough economic climate, with countless at breaking point, this is not the news they want to hear.
As with so many of the rules currently being made in Westminster, there are costs attached. Employers may be meeting the bill for now, but as businesses falter and work dries up, WFH may turn out to be very expensive for us all.