The BBC has seen a draft of back to work advice which suggests maximising homeworking and reducing contact at work.
Employers are likely to be told to maximise homeworking, introduce screens and restrict hot desking as the lockdown is eased, according to a draft report of government guidelines seen by the BBC.
The guidelines are due to be released at the weekend. The BBC says they are likely to include restrictions on hot-desking, closure of staff canteen, the staggering of shift times to ease pressure on transport and limits on lift capacity as well as the use of screens.
There are concerns, however, about access to personal protective equipment, given shortages in frontline services and the TUC has said in a letter to the Business Secretary that it is worried that the non-binding guidelines are too vague and give too much power to employers to decide what is safe, for instance, when it comes to social distancing, face to face meetings, cleaning practices and the use of PPE. There are also concerns about employees who are vulnerable being forced to come into work, for instance, those with asthma or pregnant women.
EY has also issued guidance on how to make workplaces safer. It says only staff who cannot work from home should be asked go in; desk-sharing should be stopped or reduced; one-way systems should be used to reduce contact; hand sanitisers and screens should be provided for staff; meeting rooms should only be used if necessary; and workplaces should be cleaned more frequently.
Meanwhile, reports suggest businesses are expected to abandon up to a fifth of their office space as part of a permanent shift towards working from home post-coronavirus. Several major employers say they are already looking at ways to cut costs by reducing their office estates, including Barclays and advertising firm WPP.
And Chancellor Rishi Sunak is facing calls to extend the furlough scheme and/or change it to allow employers to use it to top up wages for those having to work reduced hours. Figures show nearly one in four employees in Britain have been furloughed since the scheme started.
The TUC is calling for the Job Retention Scheme to continue throughout lockdown and be made more flexible at the end of lockdown to allow short-working while people transition back to normal hours. And it says it must be extended beyond lockdown for high-risk groups who must remain in social isolation for longer.
It is calling on the Government to also set up a Job Guarantee Scheme to help prevent the pandemic being followed by a major unemployment crisis and prolonged recession. This would include the creation of additional jobs that would not otherwise be created by employers, for instance, linked to the green economy, with secure contracts of at least six months and wages that pay at least the real Living Wage as well as training opportunities to help people move into longer-term work.