Your Rights: COVID In The Workplace

Find out more about your right to be safe at work during the pandemic…

Working through a global pandemic has raised all sorts of questions and concerns from employees of all ages and backgrounds who work in offices, buildings and hospitals across the country. Those who are clinically vulnerable are especially worried about being safe at work and rightly so. Whether you’re a full-time or part-time employee, you have the right to be safe at work. It doesn’t matter if you have a permanent, temporary or zero-hour contract – this is your right.

How Should My Employer Keep Me Safe?

Your employer should be following the comprehensive government guidelines to make sure their employees are working in a safe environment during the pandemic. These guidelines change depending on which part of the UK you live in. You can click here to find the relevant guidance.

If you believe that your employer is not meeting these requirements and are worried about your safety, ask for a meeting to discuss your concerns. Your employer may be able to put extra measures in place to make you feel safer at work. If you’re clinically vulnerable and can work from home but your employer is refusing to let you, this could be classed as disability discrimination. It’s always best to try and talk to your employer first but if they refuse to budge, you may want to raise a grievance against them.

How Do I Know If I’m Clinically Extremely Vulnerable?

There are a wide range of conditions and illnesses that fall under the clinically extremely vulnerable category. These include conditions such as autism and Type 1 diabetes. You may already know that you are considered clinically vulnerable because you have shielded in the past. If you’re unsure, you can click here to check if you’re disabled under the Equality Act.

If you’re disabled, you have a right to ask your employer to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ within the workplace to help keep you safe. This could mean improvements to ventilation or increasing the distance between you and other colleagues or customers.

Scared To Work Because I’m Shielding Someone Vulnerable

You may be worried about catching COVID because you care for someone who is vulnerable. Talk to your employer about your situation and share your worries. They may be able to offer remote or flexible working. It’s important to remember that your employer does not have a duty to do this because the vulnerable person in question is not their employee, but they may be understanding and sympathetic to your concerns and offer potential solutions. If they are unable or unwilling to be accommodating, you may have to look for alternative employment where you feel safer.

I Don’t Think My Workplace Is Safe

Sadly, some employers will not follow the guidelines or introduce the measures needed to keep their employees safe. They may be ignoring social distancing rules or basic hygiene practices. If you believe this to be the case with your workplace, start by talking to your line manager about your concerns. Talk to HR, if possible, and be clear about what measures are needed to keep you and your colleagues safe.

If your workplace refuses your requests or you don’t feel comfortable approaching them, you can reach out to Citizen’s Advice to get advice and support. Click here to contact a CA adviser.

Getting More Support

If you feel like your anxiety about COVID is getting the better of you, there are lots of ways to get help. Try one of these anxiety apps or reach out to talk to someone. You could chat to a friend, a family member, or speak to a trained professional in confidence on our free app. Click here for more support around COVID fears.


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