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Permanent switch to working from home could lead to more gender inequality, experts warn 

A permanent switch to increased home working after the pandemic could result in more gender inequality, experts have warned.

As the end of Covid restrictions get closer, bosses are considering whether to bring back employees full time or to move forward with a hybrid model that would see employees split their time between the office and home.

But employment experts have warned a hybrid model could impact gender equality

A permanent switch to increased home working after the pandemic could result in more gender inequality as women may be more likely to work from home, experts have warned

Professor Cary Cooper, a psychologist from Alliance Manchester Business School, said: 'Employers now see that employees don’t have to show face time.

'The big question we don’t have the answer to is, during this 15-month period, have enough men said to themselves life isn’t just about work. Did they begin to reprioritise and understand how important the family is?'

Cooper told the Guardian that if men choose to take up the offer to return to the office while women use the hybrid model, it would be problematic, adding: 'Women will be working substantially from home and the men will go in more days a week than the women, and that will adversely affect their career.'

 It comes as millions of office staff could be given a 'default' right to work from home under post-pandemic plans from ministers.

The proposals would change the law to make it impossible for employers to insist on staff attending the workplace unless they can show it is essential.

The Government will consult on the plan – part of a drive to promote flexible working – over the summer, ahead of possible legislation later this year.

An employment expert has said if men don't realise the value of family and opt to head back to the office full time, the hybrid working model could inadvertently impact gender equality

The plans are concerning for Joeli Brearly, founder of the charity Pregnant Then Screwed, who said those with caring responsibilities will choose to split their time at the office and at home.

She said those who choose to work from home will not have as good a relationship with their managers and could look 'less committed' to their job.

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove suggested last week that a hybrid model that included home working was likely to become the norm for many, adding: 'We won't go back to the status quo.'

It could effectively allow the millions of office staff who have worked from home during the pandemic to remain doing so for all or part of the week, indefinitely.

Yesterday, a leaked Cabinet Office presentation on the post-Covid 'new normal' revealed ministers had been told they should not encourage workers to go back to their desks even if all social distancing measures are lifted on July 19.

Ministers were told that the Government was now 'actively looking at ways to help people continue working from home if there is no need for them to be in an office'. A formal consultation on giving workers a legal right to work from home goes a stage further however.

Ministers were also advised that face masks were likely to be needed 'in some settings', potentially for months or even years. And there was a warning that restrictions on foreign travel may have to remain in place for a 'significant period'.

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