Campaign to encourage workers back to offices
People will again be encouraged to go back to their workplaces as part of a government campaign starting next week.
Employers will be asked to reassure staff it is safe to return by highlighting measures taken to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Business leaders have warned of damage being done to city centres as people stay away from offices.
And Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said some things were “impossible” to do remotely.
But Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he cared more about how employees performed than where they were working from.
The campaign, which will launch as most schools in England and Wales reopen, will predominantly be promoted through regional media, BBC political correspondent Iain Watson said.
Whitehall sources insist the campaign will not suggest those who continue to work from home are at any greater risk of losing their jobs.
Labour’s shadow business minister, Lucy Powell, said no one should be forced “to choose between their health and their job” and the government should “categorically rule out” any campaign suggesting people could lose their employment if they refused to return to the office.
The messaging comes as head teachers say they are ready to welcome young people back to school in England and Wales full-time next week.
That should make a return to the workplace more feasible for many parents.
The head of employers’ organisation the CBI warned this week that city centres could become “ghost towns” if the prime minister did not do more to encourage workers back to the office.
Dame Carolyn Fairbairn said thousands of local businesses that relied on passing trade were suffering as office workers stayed home.
Some prominent Conservative MPs share her concerns and have urged ministers to deliver a clear and consistent message that it is safe to go back.
But Mr Hancock said getting staff back to work was a “matter for employers” and, when asked about the Department for Health and Social Care, that his main concern was how employees performed.
“Some of them have been working from home, some come in sometimes, some are in full-time – and what matters to me is that they deliver and, frankly, they’ve been delivering at an unbelievable rate,” the health secretary told Times Radio.