What are my rights if my boss wants me back in the office?

The government may lift it’s ‘work from home’ order within weeks. But does that mean you have to go back to the office?

empty office


We’ve seen Covid restrictions lift this week across the UK. And more are still planned next month.

There’s still some doubt about exactly when the government will undo it’s ‘work from home’ order. But it’s likely to happen some time soon. 

While some folk are desperate to get back to the office, at least for some of the week. Others are understandably anxious.

Rustom Tata, partner at law firm DMH Stallard and head of the firm’s employment group, outlines the latest position with regard to getting people back to the office.

Employer’s right

Employers don’t have an absolute unfettered right to require employees to return to the office.

With so much of the working population still not having had the opportunity to be vaccinated and the relative uncertainty of the effectiveness of the vaccine in terms of reducing the rate of transmission, it would be a bold employer who just presses ahead regardless with a requirement for everyone to return to the office.

While many organisations are gearing up to return to the office over the next few weeks, the key will be for the employer to listen to the employee’s concerns to establish whether the employee has a good, objective reason for resisting.


Most employees will want to return, partly as they have missed the office environment, and they won’t want to be left behind.  However, those employers who are simply saying that they expect office life to be how it was before, will be either taking a calculated risk, or may be unaware of the potential challenges that they face.

Even for those returning to the office, we still await the government guidelines on social distancing within the office, and as now, employers will need to ensure that they provide a safe environment for their workers.  The one caveat, is that a ‘safe’ environment is not the same as one which is wholly risk-free.

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