Alan Price, the CEO of BrightHR, which provides HR support for 33,000 small and medium businesses, said most were not yet requiring all their employees to return, largely due to social distancing measures and childcare concerns.
Mr Price added that, for smaller businesses, September – when children return to school – would be the “watershed moment”.
Many of those working from home are beginning to argue that there has not been a big drop in productivity, and that they are spending more time working because they are not having to commute. Since the start of the pandemic, BrightHR has recorded a 50 per cent reduction in sickness and a 75 per cent reduction in lateness.
But some employers who asked their workers to return on Monday morning found that they did not shown up to work but logged on at home as they had been doing throughout the pandemic.
Mr Price said: “Some employees have pointed out that their contract says that their place of work can be altered, but employers have rightly said that they can alter it but the employee can’t do it themselves. It is the employer who has the control over that.”
Some bosses, particularly in small businesses, argue that they cannot give staff the range of tasks or communicate effectively when people are at home, Mr Price said.
Ms Jacobs added that employers had reported people refusing to return to the office or come back from furlough with some having even left the city or the country during lockdown.
But an “us and them” division is emerging between those who had been furloughed or not and those who were attending work or working from home, Mr Price said.
“We have seen grievances from people who have had to go in to work. We have seen some complaints about the fact that their colleagues have no travel time or travel costs and they do,” he said.
Under the new rules, employees have to return to work if told to do so, unless they can prove their employer is not complying with Covid-secure measures.
Ruby Dinsmore, an employment solicitor from Slater and Gordon, said: “As an employee, you must comply with a reasonable management request.”