People unable to work from home have been given the green light to return to their jobs as part of the Government’s gradual plan to get the economy back on track after the Covid-19 lockdown.
Employers that do ask workers to come in have been told to put in place a number of measures to protect them from contracting coronavirus, such as keeping offices well ventilated and staggering shifts.
While many people had been sent home indefinitely as part of the Government’s lockdown, on Sunday night Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that those unable to work from home – such as those in construction or manufacturing – should return to work.
He recommended walking, cycling or driving and to avoid public transport where possible. Those that can work from home should continue doing so.
However Dan Hobbs of 5 Essex Court, a barristers’ chambers, said Mr Johnson’s speech had created a “grey area” and given employers the impression they had the power to tell workers to come in.
“The Government said if you can’t work effectively from home you should go in but it has left it up to businesses to decide what constitutes working effectively,” Mr Hobbs said. “What if you can do 99pc of your work from home but not the rest?”
Some employees have reported feeling pressured into returning to the office. They are concerned about the increased risks they face on public transport and in the office.
So what are your rights if your employer says you have to go back to work?
How to ask a question
Marianna Hunt will be answering your questions on going back to work at 1 p.m. today. Leave your questions in the comments section of this article or send them to [email protected] If you would like to remain anonymous please disclose this when you ask your question.
If you’re considered to be vulnerable
Government advice remains that vulnerable people should have zero social contact. Those considered to be especially vulnerable to coronavirus should continue to severely limit how much time they spend outside the house, including the over-70s, people with underlying health conditions such as diabetes or asthma and pregnant women.
For those employed in an industry that has been told to get back to work this creates a problem.
One woman who is five months from giving birth asked her employer, a City firm, if she could work from home and was told she should come in as normal. “I asked my manager again, reminding him that I am pregnant, and was told I could work from home if I really wanted to but that it would be noted on my record,” she said.