As guidance to work from home ends, more of us are set to return to the office.

With the government no longer instructing people to work from home if they can, employers can now start to plan a return to workplaces.

Although the government has recommended this be a gradual return over the summer period, you may be understandably feeling concerned or anxious after an extended period away from the workplace.

We want to make sure you know what to expect, so here’s what you need to know about returning to work.

Can my employer ask me to return to my normal workplace if I’ve been working from home?

Yes. When you enter into a contract to work for an employer you have to comply with ‘reasonable management requests’. That means your employer can ask you to return to your normal workplace if your original contract specified that you would be office-based or based elsewhere.

Many employers should be looking into or actively encouraging a blended working model – whereby you would work sometime at home and sometime in the workplace if reasonable.

You can ask to keep working from home, but your employer doesn’t have to agree. You should start by having an open conversation with them about your wishes, and consider making a flexible working request, which is a legal right all employees have. This would include your reasons why working from home is better for you and will also help the business.

What safety measures should be in place?

Your employer has a legal duty, and under your contract, to ensure that your workplace does not pose a risk to your health and safety and includes risks from Covid-19.

Employers should complete a Covid risk assessment and take steps to prevent transmission, including frequent cleaning and social distancing. Whilst wearing a mask indoors is no longer mandatory, employers are free to set their own policies or rules in place to require workers or customers to wear masks.

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What if I need to self-isolate?

If you’re self-isolating you shouldn’t go into work, this applies if you have coronavirus symptoms or have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus.

You must tell your employer that you have to self-isolate. If you’re unable to work from home, you may be entitled to benefits, Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) or a self-isolation grant.

Remember, despite the final coronavirus restrictions being lifted in England on 19 July, self-isolation still applies until 16 August. This means that everyone, even those double-jabbed or under-18s, must quarantine for 10 days if they are in contact with someone who has tested positive.

To help with the return to the workplace, last month new national flexible rail tickets were launched which will help save passengers hundreds of pounds. This flexible season ticket will match modern working habits if you need to travel to work a couple of times a week and provide customers with eight days of travel in any 28 days, anytime between two named stations.

To find out more, visit: Southern Rail 

If you have any concerns about returning to work, it’s important to talk with your employer as soon as possible so that you can reach a solution that works for both of you.

If you are struggling with a problem regarding returning to work, for help visit: