BOE Still Expects Staff to Return to Office at Least Once a Week

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The Bank of England said it expects staff to be physically present at work “at least one day a week and generally more” as part of its return to office plan.

The U.K. central bank said the next phase of the plan starts next week, involving initiatives “aimed at facilitating hybrid working,” according to a statement on Tuesday. The bank denied reports that it had abandoned a policy “for staff who have not already returned to the office to begin doing so.”

“This isn’t right,” the BOE said. 

What has changed, however, is that “we don’t feel the moment is yet right for us to require our staff to return to the office where, for a number of reasons, some might in the current environment have genuine and valid health concerns about doing so.”

British authorities announced last week that the U.K. had seen the most deaths and hospitalizations from Covid-19 since early March. Cases, propelled by the delta variant, have surged in the U.K. over the summer period. That’s despite nearly 80% of the population over the age of 16 having had two doses of the vaccine.

The BOE said about a quarter of staff attended its “central London sites at least once last week” in person. “We would expect those numbers to increase further as the new phase in our return to office program begins next week. Our Leeds and Debden sites have already returned to pre-pandemic occupancy rates,” it said.

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