Project: Empower

» Coronavirus – if you’re worried about working

15 May 2020

If you’re worried about work because of coronavirus, there are:

  • laws your employer should be following to make sure you’re safe
  • things to think about if you’re deciding whether to work
  • ways you might be able to keep getting paid if you decide not to work

You might be worried about working if you:

  • have a health condition that means you’re ‘vulnerable’ – check if you’re vulnerable according to the guidance on GOV.UK
  • are pregnant
  • are living with someone who has to stay at home because they’re ‘extremely vulnerable’
  • are over 70

If you have a condition that means you’re ‘extremely vulnerable’, you need to avoid face-to-face contact with others and stay at home for 12 weeks. This is known as ‘shielding’.

Check if you’re ‘extremely vulnerable’ according to the guidance on GOV.UK.

If you’re shielding you won’t be able to go to work, but you can work from home if it’s possible.

Check the guidelines for staying safe at work

You should be working from home unless it’s not possible. 

When your job can’t be done at home, your employer should keep you safe from coronavirus. This could be by:

  • letting you travel to work at quieter times of the day
  • reducing how much face-to-face contact you have with the public
  • making sure that staff stay at least 2 metres apart in your workplace

You can read the government guidance for making workplaces safe on GOV.UK.

If you’re pregnant

Your employer has an extra responsibility to make changes to your job so it’s safe for you to keep working. If they can’t make changes to make sure you’re safe, they could give you a different role to do.

If it’s still not safe for you to keep working, you might have a right to stay at home and still get your full pay.

If you’re disabled

Your employer might have an extra responsibility to make changes to your work to help you work. For example, they might have to give you a different job to do. 

This is called making ‘reasonable adjustments’.

Talk to your employer

Talk to your employer if you think there’s more they could do to keep you safe. Try to be constructive and explain what you need to happen so that you’ll feel safe at work.

If you don’t want to work

Your employer doesn’t usually have to pay you if you stop working. There are things you might be able to agree with your employer that mean you can still be paid if you stop working.

If you’re not already on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (known as being ‘furloughed’), you can ask your employer if they’ll put you on it. You’ll be paid 80% of your normal pay up to a maximum of £2,500 a month.

Your employer will only be able to use the scheme to pay you if either:

  • you’ve already been furloughed before 11 June 2020
  • you’re returning from maternity leave, adoption leave, paternity leave, shared parental leave or parental bereavement leave

If you’re returning from one of these types of leave, your employer must also have used the scheme to furlough other employees.

If you’ve already been furloughed, ask your employer to keep you on the scheme.

You should tell your employer if you have a health condition that means you’re ‘extremely vulnerable’ or ‘vulnerable’ – they might be more likely to agree to furlough you or extend your furlough. You should explain that the government guidance says you need to take extra care to avoid contact with people.

If you can, ask your doctor for evidence of your condition.

If your employer agrees to furlough you, find out how the scheme works

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