Coronavirus - if you’re worried about working
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 more worried about working if you:
- have a health condition that means you’re ‘clinically vulnerable’ - check if you’re clinically vulnerable according to the guidance on GOV.UK
- have been shielding because you’re ‘extremely clinically vulnerable’ - check if you’re extremely clinically vulnerable according to the guidance on GOV.UK
- are living with someone who's extremely clinically vulnerable - they might have been shielding
- are pregnant
- are over 70
Check the guidelines for staying safe at work
The government said people should work from home if possible until 1 August 2020. After 1 August 2020, Your employer can ask you to come back to the place you usually work, but they must do things to 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.
It’s a good idea to check if you’re disabled under the Equality Act 2010. A disability could be physical or mental - you could be covered even if you don’t consider yourself disabled. If you’re disabled it could be easier to negotiate with your employer about making your workplace safer.
If you've been shielding because you're extremely clinically vulnerable
Government guidance says you can go back to work from 1 August 2020 if you can’t work from home and your workplace is safe enough.
If you were previously shielding and working from home, your employer shouldn’t force you to return to work.
If you’re in an area where there’s a local lockdown, you might get a letter from the NHS telling you to shield again. If you didn’t get a letter and you think you should have, ask your GP.
You can check if you’re ‘extremely clinically vulnerable’ according to the guidance on GOV.UK if you’re not sure.
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’ – check how to ask your employer to make reasonable adjustments.
You might also be able to get support from Access to Work to help you work. For example, they could pay taxi fares if you can’t safely use public transport because of coronavirus. You can find out more about Access to Work on GOV.UK.
If you think your workplace isn't safe
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 furloughed, you can ask your employer if they'll furlough you. 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 furlough you if either:
- you were already furloughed for at least 3 weeks before 1 July 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 before 1 July 2020.
If you’re currently 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.
If your employer can't or won’t furlough you
There are other things you can do:
- use some of your annual leave to take paid time off
- ask your employer to pay some of your wages as an advance or give you a loan - you’d have to pay the loan back
- if you look after children, you can ask your employer if you can take unpaid parental leave
- if you’ve been told to shield because you’re extremely vulnerable, you might be able to get sick pay - check if you can get sick pay
If your employer won’t help with your concerns
You should contact your nearest Citizens Advice. An adviser could help you negotiate with your employer.
If you think your work should be closed
Some businesses have been told to close because of coronavirus - for example, pubs and restaurants.Check which businesses should be closed on GOV.UK.
If you’re still working and you think the business should be closed, you can report your employer to the police or Trading Standards. Find your local Trading Standards Office on GOV.UK.