Grant Shapps has defended his comments urging Britain’s workers to return to their offices - made while conducting interviews from his Hertfordshire home.
The transport secretary faced criticism for telling people 'it is now safe to return to work' following the coronavirus pandemic, while pictured in front of a bookcase in his home study.
Appearing on LBC Radio Breakfast, host Nick Ferrari said: 'I’m sitting in my studio in central London. Unless I am mistaken you are in your study in Hertfordshire.
'So I am back to work, Secretary of State you are not. Why? Discuss…’
Shapps replied: “That is true. For this morning’s round [of interviews] this works very well.
“Last week when I spoke to you – same time, same place, as it were – my place was different. I was in Cardiff.”
He added: “I was actually going in on an ad-hoc basis throughout, there were just things that I had to do. Of course I did half a dozen of those Downing Street press conferences during the height of this and that necessitated going into the office.”
The controversy came as Boris Johnson prepared to launch a major drive to persuade more Britons to return to their workplaces - as remote workers were warned they could be more at risk of being sacked.
A warning from an unnamed government minister reported on Thursday that remote workers could “find themselves in the most vulnerable position” if employers look for cutbacks.
Working from home “could prove problematic” for some employees if their bosses are only seeing them once a fortnight, the source said.
Labour has accused ministers of 'threatening' workers and of 'forcing' them to make an 'unconscionable' choice between their health and their job after a Government source said people who continue working from home could be the first to go if firms restructure.
Labour’s shadow business minister Lucy Powell said: “It beggars belief that the Government are threatening people like this during a pandemic.
“Forcing people to choose between their health and their job is unconscionable.
“Number 10 should condemn this briefing and categorically rule out any such campaign.”
Shapps suggested many people will want to go back to their places of work because there is a limit 'in human terms' to remote working.
Speaking on Sky News, he said: 'What we're saying to people is it is now safe to go back to work and your employer should have made arrangements which are appropriate to make sure that it is coronavirus-safe to work and you will see some changes if you haven't been in for a bit as a result.'
He added: 'We're absolutely clear that employers and employees need to work together to resolve this and there are of course a whole host of sort of employee protections in place if employees have concerns about the work place for example, then the Health and Safety Executive, the local authority will be the right places to go.
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