Coronavirus: Half of UK employees ready to return to work

Workers are keen to return to work if safety measures are in place. Credit: Getty Images

Half of UK employees are ready to return to work if COVID-19 safety measures are in place, with younger workers being the most eager, according to a survey.

People working in consumer goods are the most happy to go back to work after lockdown, some 72%, while those working in hospitality and the public sector are least confident, at just 40% and 41% respectively.

The survey by global law firm DWF, comes ahead of the government announcement this evening when prime minister Boris Johnson will outline the roadmap to release lockdown. This is expected to include the continued use of social distancing and travel restrictions.

If some staff are allowed to return to work, more than two thirds would be happy to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) on public transport and in the workplace, say the survey results.

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A further 79% would be comfortable having regular temperature tests and COVID-19 antigen tests. But the least popular measure would be signing up to a central government tracing app, which has less support at 62%, with 16% saying they would refuse it altogether.

Of the 2,000 people polled, younger workers appeared the keenest to be allowed back to work with 68% of those aged 18 to 24 and 58% of 25 to 34-year-olds ready to return immediately. Just 8% of workers aged 18 to 24 believe now is too soon. 

Kirsty Rogers, employment partner at DWF said: "It is evident from the survey that the British workforce is keen to get back to work – but with conditions. They expect their employers to follow the guidance coming from government, keep them informed and ensure that their workplace is safe to return."

When asked who has primary responsibility for their health and safety at work, 63% of people said it was their employer, with 29% of workers believing it was their personal responsibility.

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Rogers added: "It is vital that employers have carefully considered what measures will work for them.  This should be supplemented by a clear risk assessment and robust policies and procedures. They must clearly communicate changes to the workforce; help the workforce to understand steps they are taking to protect health and safety. There should be special consideration for those workers particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, or those with caring responsibilities."