Boris Johnson to press ahead with back to work campaign despite rise in coronavirus cases

Unions accuse Government of 'bullying people back to work' amid claims fewer than half of workplaces are Covid-secure

Boris Johnson is to press ahead with a campaign to get people back to the office despite the increasing rate of coronavirus cases

Downing Street insisted there had been no change to the Prime Minister's advice that people should go back to their workplaces if they can do so safely.

However, unions have launched a fresh fightback against the return, claiming that fewer than half of workplaces have put adequate social distancing measures in place. 

An information campaign in local and national newspapers encouraging workers to return to the office had been due to launch last Friday but was delayed in the wake of concerns over a second wave of coronavirus (see graphic below).

Number 10 said on Friday that the campaign remained "in train" and would launch "shortly", with sources suggesting it will be rolled out early next week.

Mr Johnson has faced criticism from Tory backbenchers for doing too little to get workers back to the office as pubs, restaurants and other businesses that rely on office workers struggle to survive (see graphic below for details of how Britain's return to work compares to other countries).

The TUC said a survey of 2,100 workers had found that just under half of their employers had introduced adequate social distancing measures in the workplace.

One third of those surveyed said they were worried about not being able to socially distance from colleagues, and a similar number were concerned their workplace would not be cleaned properly. 

The TUC said the survey cast "huge doubt" on Health Secretary Matt Hancock's claims that the vast majority of workplaces are Covid-secure.

Its general secretary, Frances O'Grady, said: "Making sure workplaces are safe is key to preventing the spread of Covid and getting our economy back on its feet.

"Rather than trying to bully people back into offices, ministers should change the law to require all employers to publish their risk assessments, and make sure workplaces are safe. They should crack down on bad bosses who risk their workers' lives."