Home working to stay for Shropshire Council

Shropshire Council, one of the county's largest employers, has confirmed hundreds of its staff will continue to work from home – despite the government saying people can return to the office.

The local authority said it would be encouraging its workers to continue to work at home where possible, as it has throughout the pandemic.

It comes despite the Government's rule changes earlier this week, which mean people are no longer automatically being asked to work from home.

The council's confirmation comes as a business leader said the pandemic had fundamentally changed the way people work, with expectations that scores of Shropshire businesses are set to continue with staff at home, while major office spaces could no longer be required.

Shropshire Council's situation also has the issue of Shirehall's future looming in the background. The council's Shrewsbury base is where the majority of its workers have historically been based, but the authority is planning to leave the building and move into a new town centre premises.

Telford & Wrekin Council has confirmed a different approach to its Shropshire neighbour, saying that staff who work from offices are being asked to return "in a phased way".

Shropshire Council's chief executive, Andy Begley, said the authority would not be changing its approach, with Covid cases high, and hospitalisations on the rise.

He said: “The easing of restrictions affects people in different ways – some will welcome the news and others will be anxious.

"Our staff are no different. As a council we're committed to supporting staff, keeping staff safe and minimising the spread of Covid-19.

"Since restrictions began to ease in the spring, while the majority of staff have continued to work from home, if there is a clear business needs or due to personal circumstances, staff have been able to work from a number of offices.

"While many people find working from home better for them, some for a variety of reasons, may not. This approach allows us to recognise there is no one size fits all for our staff

“Cases remain high in Shropshire and hospitalisations are slowly increasing, so we will not be changing this approach. We will keep measures in place in our buildings and will keep these under close review in line with government guidelines and local public health data.

“We are continuing to encourage staff to work from home where they can, taking account of personal circumstances. If staff do need to visit an office, there is guidance in place to allow them to do so safely.”

David Sidaway, chief executive of Telford & Wrekin Council, said: “As a council, we do a wide range of very different jobs on behalf of our communities. Many of our employees do not work in an office on a regular basis, but those who do are being asked to return in a managed way from July 19.

“We are supporting council employees to social distance in the office, wear masks and, like others across the borough, will be encouraging everyone to check for Covid with a test twice a week.”

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