EHRC statement on government's campaign to encourage workers back to offices
Caroline Waters, Interim Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said:
“The pandemic has seen many employers rip up the red tape and scale up their flexible working practices. Having been forced out of offices and to adapt to working from home overnight, many employers have seen the benefits of flexible working and have said they will continue with a more flexible approach beyond the pandemic.
“This has presented an opportunity to drive up flexibility for everyone, unlocking more career opportunities for disabled people and helping people to balance the complexity of working from home with caring responsibilities and family life. Having seen how it is possible to work flexibly and retain productivity, we cannot backtrack now. Reopening offices does not need to mean the end of homeworking and there should be no question of people’s jobs being vulnerable if they do not return to the office.
"The lessons of 2020 show that different forms of flexible working can be combined to create effective working conditions which benefit both employer and employee. We’d urge the Government to bring forward its planned consultation on flexible working and reiterate our calls for it to be the default, unless there is a genuine business reason not to, and to make it a day one right.”