The CMA’s Annual Report and digital markets - a time of change
So the Prime Minister has announced that most restrictions in place due to the coronavirus pandemic will be lifted on 19 July, despite acknowledging that the pandemic itself is far from over and that case numbers are expected to continue rising.
Details of exactly what the lifting of restrictions will mean (including new guidance) are to be announced on 12 July. However, what we do know is that the guidance that those who can work from home should do so will cease to apply, as will social distancing rules and the legal requirement to wear face coverings.
No doubt some employers will be relieved that they will finally have discretion to require their staff to return to the office, although it is not unfettered. Some of the US banks including JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs have already made clear they are impatient for this moment. Others, however, are advising caution. The CIPD issued a statement to the effect that “Freedom Day shouldn’t signal a mass return to workplaces” and that employers “should consider greater freedom and flexibility in how, when and where people work when Covid restrictions ease”. Frances O’Grady, the General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress, also cautioned employers against issuing blanket requests for staff to return to the office and encouraged them to consult their workers about continuing flexible working patterns and location.
Notwithstanding the changes in the Government’s stance, the legal position and rights of employees being required to return to the office (explained in our article in January), remain the same.
Potential key issues:
Ending lockdown restrictions will no doubt be a relief to many, but it will also be an unnerving experience which employers will have to manage carefully. After over a year of working from home and other flexible working arrangements (which clearly did “work” since most City institutions are still alive and functioning), the cat is now well and truly out of the bag, and it is far too simplistic (and unrealistic) to expect that life in the City – and the daily commute into the Square Mile - will simply revert to the way it was before February 2020. It is clear that we are now entering a new normal which employers and employees will have to work together to define in the interests of all concerned.
If you have any questions or concerns about the content covered in this blog, please contact a member of the Employment Law team.
Natasha acts for both employers and senior executives in a wide variety of sectors including (but not limited to) financial services, law firms and other professional services firms and retail and luxury brands.
Natasha is a tenacious litigator and an astute negotiator. She acts in relation to the full range of employment-related issues. She particularly enjoys handling whistleblowing and discrimination cases and helping clients achieve success.
Özlem is a Professional Support Lawyer in our Employment Team.
Before joining Kingsley Napley, Özlem was a Tutor and Team Leader at BPP University’s Law School, teaching on the Legal Practice Course. She taught the Employment Law, Business Law & Practice, Corporate Finance and Equity Finance modules of the course, as well as the skills modules of Interviewing & Advising and Professional Conduct & Regulation. She also supervised a number of Masters level projects on employment law related topics.
Professional Support Lawyer
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