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Lockdown 2021 – Are You Allowed to Work from Your Office?

So here we are once again. A New Year, but the same raging pandemic. And as lockdown 3.0 (technically, but probably only the second “proper” lockdown) is underway, we’re greeted with lots of the same guidance very much open to interpretation.

 

“Work at home where you can” has been the guidance for much of the last year in reality. But has it changed for lockdown? And are you actually allowed to work from the office?

 

What’s the official guidance?

Well, let’s start with the official guidance:

 

You may only leave your home for work if you cannot reasonably work from home. Where people cannot work from home they should continue to travel to their workplace. This includes, but is not limited to, people who work in:

  • critical national infrastructure
  • construction
  • manufacturing
  • childcare or education
  • essential public services
  • This is essential to keeping the country operating and supporting sectors and employers.

    Government Guidance on Lockdown Restrictions

    The Key Bits

    The key bits here are:

    • “if you cannot reasonably work from home…”
    • “This includes, but is not limited to…”

    So this is really open to the interpretation of different businesses.

    Can you reasonably work from home if you have nowhere to work? Or if you do’t have the equipment? Or access to the files? 

    Can you reasonably work from home if you simply cannot get stuff done at home because of your own focus? That’s probably a blurrier line than if you have genuine equipment needs, however.

    So am I allowed to work in my office during lockdown?

    Yes.

    If you cannot reasonably work from home then government guidance suggests you should travel to work. 

    Other Considerations

    If there will be people working in your office, do bear in mind there are guidelines for social distancing in workplaces and making your office more covid safe.

    Another consideration might well be how safe your commute is. Some people might well feel very uncomfortable travelling on public transport, whereas those travelling by car to get to their office have an arguably “safer” commute.

    Should I work in my office if I’m shielding

    No. The advice is clear on this. If you are shielding you should stay home. 

    ACAS has advice for employers in the event that you have employees who have to shield.

    Ultimately, they suggest furloughing any employees who have to shield if possible. 

    If you’re self employed and shielding will mean a loss of income for you, check out this Government resource on what help might be available.

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