Environment Secretary George Eustice said he does not have a target for the number of staff he wants back at their desks in his department next month.
The Cabinet minister said he wanted to ensure “as many people as possible are able to return to work” – but that not everybody would be able to do so safely at the same time.
His comments come as the Government seeks to encourage employees to return to their workplaces amid concerns over the impact on town and city centres if staff stay away.
Mr Eustice was asked during an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme whether the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs had a target for staff returning after the bank holiday.
Fewer work stations
“We don’t have a target other than to make sure that it is safe for people to return to work, and that does require, for instance, fewer work stations,” he said.
“So not everybody – we won’t get a 100% return-to-work – but we want to ensure that as many people as possible are able to return to work, even if it’s for some days a week so you don’t have an entire team in everyday.
“That’s the kind of approach we’ll be taking and it’s the sort of approach that I’m sure many other businesses will be too.”
Lawrence Waterman, chairman of the British Safety Council, said there was “no evidence” that workplaces are safe.
He told Today: “I think many of us don’t understand why there’s such firm advice with ministers stating that workplaces are now safe – there’s no evidence for that.
“Indeed, there is an argument which says that workplaces are so rarely inspected with the cuts that have occurred to the Health and Safety Executive and to local authorities over the last 10 years, that it’s probably more likely that you’ll win the lottery than be visited by an inspector.”
Since you are here
Since you are here, we wanted to ask for your help.
Journalism in Britain is under threat. The government is becoming increasingly authoritarian and our media is run by a handful of billionaires, most of whom reside overseas and all of them have strong political allegiances and financial motivations.
Our mission is to hold the powerful to account. It is vital that free media is allowed to exist to expose hypocrisy, corruption, wrongdoing and abuse of power. But we can't do it without you.
If you can afford to contribute a small donation to the site it will help us to continue our work in the best interests of the public. We only ask you to donate what you can afford, with an option to cancel your subscription at any point.
To donate or subscribe to The London Economic, click here.
The TLE shop is also now open, with all profits going to supporting our work.
The shop can be found here.
You can also SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER .