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Sir James Dyson condemns Government plan to extend work from home rights

Prominent Brexit-backer and billionaire businessman Sir James Dyson has condemned Government plans to extend employees’ rights to work from home as ‘economically illiterate and staggeringly self-defeating’ (Jeff Overs/BBC)
Prominent Brexit-backer and billionaire businessman Sir James Dyson has condemned Government plans to extend employees’ rights to work from home as ‘economically illiterate and staggeringly self-defeating’ (Jeff Overs/BBC)

Billionaire businessman Sir James Dyson has condemned Government plans to extend employees’ rights to work from home as “economically illiterate and staggeringly self-defeating”.

The founder and chief engineer of Singapore-based multinational technology company Dyson said the move would “hamper employers’ ability to organise their workforce”.

Writing in The Times, the entrepreneur questioned why companies would invest in the UK when they had little control over “how and where” staff can work, adding that Dyson currently has 3,500 workers in Britain.

James Dyson
Sir James Dyson still employees 3,500 people in Britain despite moving the company’s headquarters to Singapore (Matthew Fearn/PA)

“The Government’s misguided approach will generate friction between employers and employees, creating further bureaucratic drag,” Sir James said.

“Employers, who are charged with being competitive and developing their workforce, know the huge damage (working from home) does to companies and employees alike.

“If they can’t remain competitive, they will fail and jobs will go to other, more ambitious economies. It is telling that only 7% of those involved in the recent consultation conducted by the Government were employers.”

The businessman, who was second on the 2022 Sunday Times Rich List in August with £23 billion, argued that flexible work prevented collaboration and in-person training which was vital to developing new technology and maintaining competitiveness against global rivals.

“This is what makes us succeed. In other countries where Dyson operates we are given the freedom to organise how — and where — our staff carry out the roles they are contracted to,” he said.

“In no other country have we experienced such overreach in terms of the Government telling us how to organise our business. To impose this policy during what is likely to be one of the worst recessions on record is economically illiterate and staggeringly self-defeating.

“The UK increasingly looks like a lackadaisical global outlier that is determined to interfere in business and drive away investment.”

He concluded by accusing the Government of being more interested in short-term populism than improving economic performance, adding: “Britain is losing the race, becoming less competitive, and this policy will make us fall even further behind.”

It comes after the outspoken Brexiter moved Dyson’s headquarters from Wiltshire to Singapore, and in March 2022, the company revealed plans to invest 1.5bn Singapore dollars (£903million) in expanding its research and engineering capabilities in the city-state.

British inventor James Dyson
British inventor Sir James Dyson was the second richest person on the 2022 Sunday Times Rich List in August at £23 billion (Matthew Fearn/PA Archive)

In announcing the move away from the UK in 2019, Dyson’s chief executive said the decision had “nothing to do with Brexit” but was about “future-proofing” the business.

As was reported at the time, the development came shortly after Singapore and the EU agreed a landmark free trade agreement.

Sir James, who as of June this year continued to maintain that Brexit “would work out” and urged people to be “patient” while speaking to Times Radio, had previously told the Government to walk away from the EU without a deal.

In 2014, when Dyson promised £1.5bn of investment in the UK, the then prime minister, David Cameron, described the company as a “great British success story”.