This information is produced by PSC Support as general guidance about returning to work from 1 August 2020. It is for guidance only and not a replacement for legal advice.
Should I be returning to work?
You must not go to work if you or anyone in your household has COVID-19 symptoms.
Instead of telling people to work from home, the Government is now giving employers more discretion and asking them to make decisions about how their staff can work safely. That could mean continuing to work from home or returning to the workplace. If the workplace is open, employers must follow guidance on making the workplace safe.
Your employer should talk to you about what steps they are taking and only bring you back to your place of work if it is safe to do so.
How will my employer make my workplace safe?
Each devolved nation has developed its own guidance on working safely, which employers must follow if they are open. Workplaces following these guidelines might be called ‘COVID-secure’ or ‘coronavirus-safe’.
- Observing the “1 m plus” rule of social distancing
- Introducing one-way systems to minimise contact
- Frequent cleaning of objectives and communal areas
- In shops, storing returned items for 72 hours before returning them to the sales floor
- Table service only in indoor pubs and restaurants
- Collecting customers’ contact details for the NHS Test and Trace system.
If you have concerns about your workplace safety and your employer has not addressed them, you can contact your local authority or the Health and Safety Executive who can force employers to take a range of actions to improve control of workplace risks.
Long-term health conditions
PSC is a long-term, progressive health condition and therefore can be considered a ‘protected characteristic’ under the Equality Act 2010. Someone with a protected characteristic is protected by law against unfair treatment and dismissal.
Under the Equality Act, you have the right to formally ask for a written formal risk assessment to ensure that your workplace is Coronavirus safe when you return back to work.
As an employee/ worker it is your responsibility to ensure that the risk assessment for your workplace meets your needs, and that it is safe for you to return back to work.
If you have any concerns on the basis of your health condition, you can speak to your healthcare team and ask them to issue you with a letter confirming your health condition. You can present this to your employer to request further furlough leave (if you have already been “shielding”), or holiday leave, or unpaid leave or flexible working arrangements to which you’re entitled under current employment and coronavirus laws.
As an employee/ worker, you have the choice of whether or not you fully disclose your long-term health condition to your employer. It may well be in your interest to do so as your employer can prepare a personalised risk assessment for your return back to work during this Coronavirus pandemic.
If you do choose to disclose your health condition to your employer, this should not result in indirect or direct discrimination against you. It is illegal for your employer to discriminate against you either directly or indirectly due to this disclosure, and you can take your case to ACAS.