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The Government could recommend a return to working from home for a limited period if Covid hospitalisations continue to rise.
Working from home could form part of the Government’s Plan B if the number of people who are hospitalised with Covid continues to rise this winter.
The Prime Minister announced that Plan A involved booster vaccinations for over 50s, vaccinations for 12 to 15 year olds, its Test, Trace and Isolate plans for those with Covid symptoms [backed by Statutory Sick Pay for those who can’t work because they are forced to isolate], clear guidance and communications, support for the NHS, managing border risks and supporting vaccination programmes abroad.
If this fails to keep numbers down and if the NHS becomes overwhelmed with the combination of Covid and winter flu, the Government is considering measures such as urgently communicating the need for behaviour changes to the public, vaccination passes in places such as nightclubs and large crowded settings, imposing compulsory mask wearing in certain areas and time-limited working from home.
However, on working from home the Government states: “The Government recognises this causes more disruption and has greater immediate costs to the economy and some businesses than the other Plan B interventions, so a final decision would be made based on the data at the time.”
The guidance says Government experts have advised that “high levels of homeworking have played a very important role in preventing sustained epidemic growth in recent months”, but it adds that it has had a negative economic impact on city centres and transport.
Kate Palmer, HR Advice and Consultancy Director at Peninsula, said: “While the main focus of the Prime Minister’s plan is vaccine rollout and booster jabs, he also mentioned the possibility of a Plan B, including a potential return to home working and mandatory face coverings.
“It is vital for all employers to start planning now, both in terms of continuing to encourage their employees to be vaccinated against both COVID and flu, as well as ensuring employees have everything they need in place to work from home again, should it become necessary.”