Workers will be encouraged to return to the office as part of a major media campaign to be launched by the government next week.
The television and newspaper messages will promote the government’s aim to reduce the number of employees working from home amid fears that town and city centres are becoming ghost areas as workers stay away.
A report in the Telegraph said the campaign would push the emotional and mental health benefits of mixing with colleagues but also said that ministers would warn that those working from home could be more vulnerable to being sacked.
Labour has criticised the plans as being “unconscionable” while the CBI said any return to work push should involve a “hybrid” approach that did not force people to return.
Labour’s shadow business minister Lucy Powell said: “It beggars belief that the government are threatening people like this during a pandemic. Forcing people to choose between their health and their job is unconscionable.
“Number 10 should condemn this briefing and categorically rule out any such campaign.”
Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, director-general of the CBI, said a hybrid approach with home and office working was the best way forward.
Speaking to Times Radio on Thursday, Fairbairn said: “This is not about compulsion. I couldn’t say that more strongly.
“This is about creating the opportunity and the confidence to get to a hybrid that gets the best of both worlds. We’re certainly not there yet.
“Our offices are at risk of dying. And we would regret that very much if we allowed that to happen.”
A government spokesperson said: “We are working closely with employers across the country to help them make workplaces Covid-secure and give people confidence to go back to work during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Next week we will showcase the benefits of returning safely to work and raise awareness of companies getting this right.
“We’ll also provide practical steps businesses are taking to ensure offices are Covid-secure as well as alternative ways of travelling to work.”