Sir Keir Starmer has called on the Government to provide extra childcare support for parents to help them get back to the office.
The Labour leader said families are being put in an “impossible position” over returning to their workplaces just as the summer holidays begin.
He issued the warning after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced an end to the Government’s “stay at home” messaging.
In an announcement on Friday, Mr Johnson scrapped official guidance to “work from home if you can” as he seeks to revive the crippled economy.
From August 1, employers will be able to discuss with staff proposals for them to return to offices and workplaces that have been made safe against Covid-19.
But Sir Keir said on Sunday that parents would be penalised due to no extra help being provided for families over the holiday period.
He said: “We all want society to get moving again, but it requires a clear plan and national leadership from the Government.
“Despite ordering millions of parents back to the office, the Prime Minister has refused to provide any extra help for families, penalising parents by putting them in an impossible position.
“Parents got a back-to-work notice on Friday just as the summer holidays began.
“But they got no support for structured activities, no summer catch-up schemes, and no support for a childcare sector on its knees.
“If we are going to reopen our society and economy safely and successfully, we need the public to have confidence in the Government’s advice, we need test, track and trace to be working properly, and we need proper support for children to learn and for parents to get back to work.”