The TUC has written to ministers to raise urgent concerns about the government’s back-to-work safety plans. The union fears that new guidance – which is due to be published before restrictions are lifted on 19 July – will be “vague” and result in widespread confusion.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has told the Daily Telegraph that he wants as many people as possible to return to offices as soon as work from home guidance is lifted on 19 July. But the union body says the government is refusing to consult with unions and employers on the latest guidance that will “affect millions of working people” and argues that the government’s decision to deny unions and employers ‘meaningful input’ into the new guidelines is a worrying development.
In May of 2020 when ministers last proposed people return to their workplaces unions and employers were given the opportunity to scrutinise the guidance and press for changes. But this time around the new workplace safety plans have been presented as a “fait accompli” to worker and business groups.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “We all want working life to get back to business as usual.
“But as restrictions are lifted and increasing numbers return to their workplaces, it is crucial that we get workplace safety right, and give workers and members of the public confidence.
“This is how we get the country up and running again – not hobbled by rising infections and enforced` self-isolation taking workers out of workplaces.
“The TUC has real fears that clear, detailed guidance for employers will be replaced by vague exhortations to employers to do the right thing, resulting in confusion.
“Government must not offload its responsibility to consult on guidelines to protect the health and safety of workers. And it must not gamble the safety of key workers, from bus drivers to supermarket staff, on an individual customer’s sense of personal responsibility.”