Reaction after update to working from home guidance

Retail NI welcomes the update to working from home guidance

By Claire Cartmill
Monday, 6th June 2022, 5:15 pm
Updated Monday, 6th June 2022, 5:51 pm

The working from home guidance which was put in place in response to the Covid-19 pandemic has been updated.

The decision follows an assessment by the Executive Covid-19 Taskforce. It balances health, economic and social considerations and takes on board the latest medical and scientific advice. All remaining Ministers have signalled they are content with the change.

A TEO spokesperson, said: “While the threat from Covid-19 has certainly not disappeared, it has receded. The guidance ‘work from home where possible’ position is therefore not proportionate at this point. As with the removal of other Covid-19 measures, this should not be interpreted as meaning there is no risk from Covid or that the pandemic is over. While life continues to get back to normal, we must remain careful.

Retail NI chief executive Glyn Roberts

Employers may still wish to consider how remote or flexible working could be used effectively to meet organisational need, for instance through adopting a hybrid working approach.

“Where staff are attending or returning to workplaces, employers should carefully consider what practical mitigations might be put in place.

“This update reflects the evolution of our response to the pandemic. Our vaccination programme and the use of innovative Covid-19 treatments means the risk of serious illness has been significantly reduced. By taking sensible precautions in our everyday lives, we can continue on the route back to normality.”

Reacting to The Executive Office’s announcement, chief executive of Retail NI, Glyn Roberts, explained: “Retail NI welcomes the update to working from home guidance. Employees returning back into the office will provide a much-needed boost to high streets across Northern Ireland. Safely reopening offices and workplaces is not only vital to increase high street footfall, but also for our economy and returning our society to normal.”

Belfast Chamber chief executive Simon Hamilton

“As an organisation, we have been calling on employers from January to safely bring their employees back to the office and it is great to see Northern Ireland finally aligning with other parts of the UK with its return-to-workplace message. Over the coming weeks and months, we hope to see a more full-scale approach from other Northern Irish businesses in returning employees to the workplace.”

Belfast Chamber has also welcomed the decision to update NI’s work from home guidance with the removal of the advice to ‘work from home where possible’.

Welcoming the move, Belfast Chamber chief executive Simon Hamilton, added: “This is good news and something which Belfast Chamber has encouraged Ministers to do for some time. Whilst other jurisdictions had updated their work from home guidance months ago, NI had lagged behind so this is long overdue but no less welcome. Belfast Chamber members have invested heavily in making their offices safe places to work and we are pleased to see that fact reflected in this common sense decision.

“This step in the right direction will allow many businesses to introduce new models of working and will also provide a much needed boost for businesses in places like Belfast city centre as staff return to offices on a more regular basis.”