Returning to work – what do employers need to do?

Duties on Employers:

By law, employers have a ‘duty of care’ for staff, customers and anyone else who visits the workplace. Employers must do all they reasonably can to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of people at work. Now the Government has said guidance to work from home is being removed, employers should complete a risk assessment and take reasonable steps to prevent any harm identified in order to protect themselves.

To achieve this employers need to consider;

  •  how the workplace will re-open,
  • how to keep it safe and  clean (sanitisation, ventilation, social distancing, screens, one way traffic, limiting people in communal areas)
  • the needs of employees which may include flexible working arrangements / hybrid working or reasonable adjustments particularly in case of Disabled Employees

Employers need to talk with employees – transparent and open lines of communication are essential. Employers should encourage staff to talk to them about any concerns they have, and try to resolve them together.

Clinically Vulnerable People:

  • Employers need to consider what additional measures may be required and speak to employees about this
  • Discuss concerns
  • Advise what measures are already in place
  • Consider if they are disabled and if so what reasonable adjustments may be needed
  • Consider working from home and hybrid working

The employer must make ‘reasonable adjustments‘ for disabled staff.

If someone refuses to go to work after all reasonable options have been considered, the employer could start a disciplinary procedure.

However, if an employee or worker refuses to work because they reasonably believe that the working environment is not safe and they’re then treated less fairly by the employer as a direct result, they could make a claim to an employment tribunal.

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