44% are now working from Home and that is a good thing, but safety must be paramount for everyone who cannot.
“The Government’s injunction to continue to work from home if you possibly can is wonderful news for the environment and has, at a stroke, decentralised work from our major cities. I hope this practice will continue and continue to expand long after the Covid-19 crisis is over” says Michael Fabricant. “This time last year, only 12% of the working population did so from their homes. The internet revolution has made new forms of working possible.
“But for the 56% of those who cannot work from home – those in manufacturing, retail, cleaning, teaching and others – they have every right to expect their work environment to be as safe as it possibly can be.
“This means ensuring that there is social distancing in place and, where necessary on strict medical grounds, adequate supplies of PPE are available.
“In Staffordshire, a flexible and local decision making approach has been adopted with respect to the return of schools. The County recognises the highest priority and consideration must be the safety and wellbeing of children, young people, staff and others. And that includes ensuring social distancing is observed. But I recognise that parents and teachers will still have concerns and these must be addressed before all schools can return.
“Similarly, I believe an early return to the House of Commons is unwise. Social distancing rules set by the Speaker for the safety of staff means that in the Chamber, only 47 MPs out of 650 will be allowed to attend so it will not be a return to business as usual. The current “hybrid” arrangements, however, while not perfect mean that MPs can work from home while ALL can still take part in voting on legislation, asking questions, scrutinising the Government, speaking in debates, and undertaking constituency work. The cramped conditions of the ancient Palace of Westminster is not the ideal environment for providing safe working conditions for the thousands of staff who work in the building as social distancing is impossible in its narrow corridors; and having people arrive there from other parts of the country which are still experiencing high infection rates is an epidemiologist’s worst nightmare.
“It will be some months yet before the Government will be able to change the instruction ‘work from home if you possibly can’ so in the meantime, everyone who has to go out to work should remain alert to danger and take all possible precautions. This has to be a partnership between employees and management” Michael adds.