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‘Right’ to work from home will be hard to protect

If jobs become scarcer soon, employers will find it much easier to bring staff back to the office  (Pixabay)
If jobs become scarcer soon, employers will find it much easier to bring staff back to the office (Pixabay)

Another law firm, Osborne Clarke, has said regular attendance in the office is a requirement to be considered for a bonus.

Specifically staff will have to be at their desks “more often than not” say the big cheeses at the firm — interpreted as an average of at least three days a week, according to the lawyer website Legal Cheek. It follows a similar move by US giant Skadden Arps earlier this year. There will be more.

The comments underneath the story offer an insight into how such less than subtle financial carrots to encourage presenteeism are likely to go down. One, under the giveaway nom de plume “OK Boomer”, suggests that such a “paltry bonus” will barely cover the cost of the extra commuting and the policy will trigger a wave of “quiet quitting”. It is clear to see battle lines being drawn up here.

Many younger workers now see the “right” to work from home without the stress of commuting as a core element of their employment package that for some outweighs traditional financial rewards.

But there is no doubt that as the memory of lockdowns starts to recede into the rear view mirror more employers will start to apply the pressure. While the country is still at full employment, that may prove an uphill battle. Many staff will look elsewhere for more amenable bosses rather than return to the misery of pouring themselves onto crowded and expensive trains every morning.

But if and when jobs become scarcer and employers can afford to be more picky, that will not be an option.