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When does working from home end in the UK? Now that Prime Minister Boris Johnson has outlined plans to learn to ‘live with Covid’, many are wondering if they will have to return to office soon.
Before Omicron symptoms emerged as a new variant, many people were slowly returning to work from the office. In a sign of a slow return to some normalcy, research from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggested that the seven in 10 people returning in November 2021 were relishing the chance to work somewhere different. But with a spike in cases, the government activated plan B and we went back into a kind of lockdown – with restrictions on working outside the home.
Now lifted as part of Plan A measures, another return to the office looks promising for those looking to resume their new routine. But the rules set by the UK government don’t apply everywhere in the UK when it comes to Covid-19, so that’s what you need to know.
When does working from home end in England?
the work from home is now over in England, following the Prime Minister’s statement in the House of Commons on 19 January. This means that from January 20, anyone who does not want to work from home does not have to – provided their office is open.
Mr Johnson said: ‘From now on the government is no longer asking people to work from home and people should now talk to their employers about the arrangements for returning to the office.
As well as scrapping working from home, the Prime Minister announced that proof of double vaccination was not required to enter places of entertainment. He also confirmed that people could stop wearing face masks in many public places as all Plan B measures, put in place during Omicron’s peak in December, were coming to an end.
“The latest data from the ONS today clearly shows infection levels are falling in England,” he said. “And while there are places where cases are likely to continue to rise, including in primary schools – our scientists believe it’s likely that the Omicron wave has now peaked nationwide. “
When Plan B restrictions were in place, guidelines changed to encourage those who could work from home to do so again. However, many offices remained open during this time, having been closed for the previous three closures.
When does working from home end in Scotland?
The work from home rule is should end in early February. It is however still in place at the moment, with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon suggesting Scotland will return to a “more hybrid approach” from the start of next month.
She said Scotland was “entering a calmer phase of the pandemic again” but there was still “significant pressure” on the health service due to the latest wave of coronavirus.
Official guidance on the Scottish Government website reads: ‘From 17 December 2021, by law businesses, places of worship and service providers must take reasonable steps to minimize the risk of incidence and spread of the coronavirus. Supporting employees to work from home whenever possible is an important part of this. »
When does the work from home law end in Wales?
The work from home requirement in Wales, enacted last year, will end on January 28, 2022. Unlike other countries, Wales has enshrined its work-from-home requirement in law. From this date at the end of January, it will evolve to become an orientation.
Although the government has stressed that this is in no way an encouragement to return to the office and that staff should not be ‘forced or pressured to return’ after this date unless necessary important business.
Official guidelines say that from January 28, “working from home remains important but moves from law to guidance”. Also from this date in Wales:
- Discotheques will be able to reopen
- Covid passes will not be required for large indoor events, nightclubs, cinemas, theaters and concert halls
- There will be no restrictions on dating
- No table service requirements in hospitality areas, nor the need to keep a physical distance of 2 meters.
This means that those who wish to work from a desk should be able to do so, subject to approval from their workplace.
Although there is some skepticism that lateral flow testing could produce a false negative or positive, this is unlikely. The UK’s four nations have urged people to keep testing regularly and take their boosters to keep reducing the spread of the virus.
When does the rule end in Northern Ireland?
The advice in Northern Ireland is to work from home if possible.
In November last year, Health Minister Robin Swann said he believed anyone working from home should do so again. But he acknowledged that not all employers have the means to continue this situation any longer.
So, although the work from home guidelines in Northern Ireland have been reiterated by the executive, it is not the law.
However, companies must comply with a legal obligation to guarantee a social distance of 2 m in the workplace. And where this cannot be achieved, the company should help apply other mitigation measures to reduce the spread of the virus.
Can I still work from home if I wish?
If you want to work from home after the guidelines are lifted, you should talk to your employer.
The Prime Minister has removed all requirements to work from home. Now employers have the power to dictate whether it is mandatory for staff to be in the office at work or whether they can work from home as they used to.
But as the government removed restrictions, some employers have been told they need to put measures in place to protect employees. This includes requirements such as good office ventilation.
Anyone employed for at least 26 weeks by a company also has the right to request flexible working. This may include a request to work from home. Employers are required by law to deal with such claims in a ‘reasonable’ way and if they are found not to have done so, the employee can take them to an employment tribunal.
Such requests can of course be refused by employers, however, if there is a valid reason. For example, if there are any security risks associated with working from home.