Skip to navigation Skip to content Skip to footer

Coronavirus - if you're worried about working

This advice applies to England

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 can't work or decide not to 

You have the right to be safe where you work whether you work full time or have a zero-hours contract.

You can take lateral flow tests to protect yourself and other people. You can order lateral flow tests on GOV.UK.

If you're 'clinically extremely vulnerable'

You can check if you're clinically extremely vulnerable on GOV.UK.

If your job can't be done from home

You can talk to your employer to make sure you’ll be safe at work.

If your job can be done from home but your employer won't let you

If you can work from home but your employer won’t let you, this could be disability discrimination. 

You can find out how to talk to your employer or raise a grievance against them.

If you decide not to go to work, you could get a fit note to say you can’t work. Check how to get a fit note.

You can check if you can get statutory sick pay (SSP).

You should also check what benefits you can get.

If you think your employer is treating you badly, you can talk to an adviser.

Check what your employer should do to keep you safe at work

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 were shielding because you’re clinically extremely vulnerable, you’re likely to be covered.

If you’re disabled, your employer might need to do extra things to help you work. It could also be easier to negotiate with them about making your workplace safer.

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.

It might be a reasonable adjustment for your employer to tell people around you to wear masks or face coverings - this might include members of the public. It depends on the situation where you work, for example:

  • how close you are to other people
  • how good the ventilation is

If you need more help to work, you might also be able to get support from Access to 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 live with someone vulnerable

Your employer doesn’t have to make changes to protect people you live with, but you should still ask your employer what they can do to help. They might agree to let you work in a way that will keep everyone safe.  

You can find out how to avoid spreading coronavirus to people you live with on the NHS website. 

You can also check what to do if you need to be off work to care for someone.

If you care for someone vulnerable

You should explain your situation to your employer as soon as possible. 

You can also check what to do if you need to be off work to care for someone.

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.

Check your rights at work if you’re pregnant.

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’ve been unfairly dismissed in the last 7 days 

You might be able to get your employer to keep paying your wages if you've been unfairly dismissed for certain reasons, like: 

  • health and safety 

  • whistleblowing 

You should talk to an adviser for help. 

If you don't want to go to your workplace 

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.

You should tell your employer if you have a health condition that means you’re ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’. 

You can check if you’re clinically extremely vulnerable on GOV.UK.

There are other things you can do - for example, you could ask your employer if you can:

  • use some of your annual leave to take paid time off
  • take unpaid time off

You should also check what benefits you can get.

If you’re clinically extremely vulnerable, you could ask your doctor for a fit note to say you can’t work. Check how to get a fit note.

You should check if you can get statutory sick pay (SSP).

If your employer won’t help with your concerns

You should talk to an adviser. They could help you negotiate with your employer.

Did this advice help?
Why wasn't this advice helpful?

Please tell us more about why our advice didn't help.

Did this advice help?

Thank you, your feedback has been submitted.

Additional feedback