Half of UK firms to only ask vaccinated staff to return to offices

More than half of businesses will ask only vaccinated employees to return to the office when lockdown restrictions ease, according to a new survey.

Only one in four employers feels confidence over being ready for a safe return to office working. Picture: Oli Scarff/Getty Images.

The findings of the research also show that less than a third of employers (31 per cent) are intending a full-time return to the office although 33 per cent are planning for a part-time return by the end of the year. Concerns over mental health of employees and worries about impact on the profitability of home working are key drivers in the desire for business to return to offices and other workplaces, according to the survey conducted by Yonder on behalf of Cignpost Express Test

The survey also found that only one in four businesses is confident it knows how to return its staff to the office safely, although almost half of firms say they plan to carry out regular Covid-19 testing for their workforce.

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Nick Markham, co-founder of Cignpost Express Test – which operates a Covid-19 testing centre in Edinburgh – said: “With the end of lockdown restrictions on the horizon, this research shows that many businesses are confused about how to return their employees to the office quickly and safely. It is clear that every business needs a step-by-step Covid safety plan to help them return their staff to working normally in offices again.”

Last week, a survey by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) found that 43 per cent of business leaders polled thought that access to offices should be restricted for those staff who have decided not to get the jab, while 44 per cent disagreed.

More than half of UK business managers said they believe it is their job to encourage employees to get a vaccination to make sure workplaces are safe for the return of staff.

The CMI poll also found that half of the leaders questioned voiced concerns about how to manage any potential workplace conflict between staff reluctant to get the vaccination, and colleagues feeling unsafe working with those employees.

Some three-fifth of managers surveyed for the report said that testing was already available or would be made available for employees, although this is not expected to be mandatory.

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