Billionaire businessman Sir James Dyson has condemned government plans to extend employees’ rights to work from home as “economically illiterate and incredibly counterproductive”.
The founder and chief engineer of Singapore-based multinational technology company Dyson said the move would “hinder employers’ ability to organize their workforce”.
Writing in The Times, the entrepreneur questioned why companies invest in the UK when they have little control over ‘how and where’ staff can work, adding that Dyson currently has 3,500 workers in Britain.
“The government’s misguided approach will generate friction between employers and employees, creating further red tape,” said Sir James.
“Employers, who are tasked with being competitive and developing their workforce, know the enormous damage that (working from home) does to both companies and employees.
“If they can’t stay competitive, they will go bankrupt and the jobs will go to other, more ambitious economies. It is significant that only 7% of people involved in the recent government-led consultation were employers.”
The businessman, second in the Sunday Times 2022 rich list in August with £23bn, said flexible working had impeded in-person collaboration and training, vital to the development of new technologies and the maintaining competitiveness against global rivals.
“This is what makes us successful. In other countries where Dyson operates, we are given the freedom to organize how and where our staff perform their assigned roles,” she said.
“In no other country have we experienced such overreaching in terms of government telling us how to organize our business. Imposing this policy during what will likely be one of the worst recessions on record is economically illiterate and incredibly self-defeating.
“The UK increasingly looks like an apathetic global anomalous, determined to meddle 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 leave us 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 S$1.5bn (£903m) in expanding its its research and engineering capabilities in the city-state.
In announcing the move from the UK in 2019, Dyson’s chief executive said the decision had “nothing to do with Brexit” but was about “future-proofing” the company.
As reported at the time, the development came shortly after Singapore and the EU agreed to a historic free trade deal.
Sir James, who continued to argue in June this year that Brexit ‘would work’ and urged people to be ‘patient’ as he spoke to Times Radio, had previously told the government to leave the EU without a deal .
In 2014, when Dyson pledged £1.5bn of investment in the UK, then Prime Minister David Cameron described the company as a “major British success story”.