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Newspaper headlines: Office return ‘hypocrisy’, and flexible hours push

Newspaper headlines: Office return 'hypocrisy', and flexible hours push 2

By BBC News

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image captionHealth Secretary Matt Hancock has given an interview to The Times warning that England could face nationwide restrictions and extensive local lockdowns in the case of a second wave of coronavirus this winter. He said the second wave was “avoidable but it’s not easy” as people spend more time indoors. The main picture on the front of the paper is of JK Rowling with Robert Kennedy’s daughter, Kerry, after the former gave back a human rights award she had received following criticism of her views on gender and trans issues.
image captionThere are hopes a life-saving Covid-19 vaccine will be ready before Christmas, the Daily Express reports. The paper carries comments from deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam who said scientists were “making progress” in developing vaccines. Another senior medical expert told the paper that a breakthrough on the vaccine is close.

image captionMeanwhile, the Bank of England is “not out of firepower” to fight the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis, the FT Weekend reports, quoting Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey. Mr Bailey has rejected the idea that central banks lacked ammunition to fight off recession.

image captionLeading with an investigation into Boohoo, the Guardian says the fast-fashion retailer has been selling clothes made by at least 18 factories in Leicester that audits say have failed to prove they pay workers the minimum wage. The documents, the paper says, suggest that, in parts of the supply chain, workers may be paid as little as £3-£4 an hour. Boohoo said the documents seen by the paper appear to be a “selection of commentary from a limited number of the third-party audits that have been completed”.

image captionOutgoing BBC boss Tony Hall takes centre stage on the front page of the Daily Telegraph, telling the paper the corporation needs to embark on a “big push” to move staff outside London in order to boost diversity of opinion. Lord Hall told the paper he believed 70% of the BBC’s personnel and budget should be placed in regions to reflect more views of licence fee payers. He also defended the BBC following the controversy surrounding the decision not to sing Rule, Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory at the final night of the Proms. Meanwhile, rail commuters will be offered three-day season tickets to entice staff back to offices, the paper reports.

image captionAlso leading on the BBC, the Daily Mail says there are plans to decriminalise the failure to pay the £157.50 TV licence fee. The paper cites Whitehall sources who said the need to reform the BBC had been reinforced by the Proms row and over-75s now being charged for licences. Ministers, the paper says, are expected to make a final decision next month on whether non-payment should be a criminal offence.

image caption“Brought back together by mum,” is the headline on the front page of the Daily Mirror. Princes William and Harry have reportedly reunited to finalise details for the statue celebrating the life of their mother, Princess Diana, the paper reports. A royal insider is quoted as saying there are hopes the move will “help to heal old wounds”.

image captionAnd the Are You Being Served actress Mollie Sugden, who played Mrs Slocombe, never discussed her “pussy” – a long-running joke in the 1970s and 1980s series – with her family, the Daily Star reports.

Despite the government’s appeal for people to go back to the office, The Times says three quarters of the country’s biggest employers

are looking at a permanent switch to flexible working.

Thirty-two out of 43 companies questioned by the paper – including major banks and professional services firms – say they’re considering whether to allow staff to work from home more regularly or all the time.

Some are yet to set a date for re-opening their headquarters.

The Daily Mail accuses the business secretary of hypocrisy on the issue – after counting the number of civil servants arriving at his department.

On Thursday morning, it says just 95 people walked through the door – out of a workforce of 1,800.

“How can Alok Sharma expect to convince white collar Britain to return to the office”, the Mail asks in its editorial, “when he can’t even persuade his own staff to come in?”

The Daily Mirror agrees that ministers should not campaign for people to go back to work if it’s not safe to do so, while the Independent website describes such pressure as “illogical, ill-judged and ill-timed”.

image copyrightEPA

image captionThree quarters of the country’s biggest employers are looking to allow staff to switch to flexible working
The outgoing BBC director-general, Lord Hall, tells The Daily Telegraph that more staff should be moved out of London to better reflect the views of licence fee payers.

He suggests that 70% of personnel and resources should be based in the regions – rather than the current 50% – to change the dynamic of the organisation’s output and give “everybody, whoever they are, something”.

Lord Hall also uses the interview to repeat that the decision not to sing “Rule, Britannia!” and “Land of Hope and Glory” at this year’s Proms was a creative rather than political one.

The Guardian leads on new allegations about the wages paid to factory workers in Leicester making clothes for the online fashion retailer, Boohoo.

The paper says reports produced by external auditors have highlighted issues in at least 18 factories – including discrepancies in working-hour records – making it impossible to check whether workers were receiving the minimum wage.

In some cases, it’s claimed they may have earned as little as £3 an hour.

Boohoo tells The Guardian that it’s suspended trading with a number of manufacturers until its own concerns have been resolved.

image captionOutgoing BBC boss Tony Hall has suggested that more of the corporation’s personnel and resources should be based in the regions
The i weekend says that supermarkets in the UK are using twice as much throwaway plastic each year as previously thought.

Research by Greenpeace suggests that 114bn pieces of single-use plastic – including milk packaging and wrappers for fruit and vegetables – is bought to be thrown away.

The study concludes that 45bn of them could be eliminated from shopping baskets within five years by selling items loose and asking customers to use refillable containers.

And the smiling face of Sue Davies appears in The Sun – after she bought a lottery ticket to celebrate ending five months of shielding, and went on to win £500,000.

The 64-year-old asthma sufferer from Swansea made the purchase during only her second trip to the supermarket since March.

She and her husband, who currently live in a council bungalow, hope to buy their own house with the money.

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