Working safely during coronavirus

If staff are worried about going to work

During the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, some staff might be anxious about safety and going to the workplace.

Employers should encourage staff to talk to them about any concerns they have, and try to resolve them together.

If someone does not want to go to the workplace

Some people might not want to go to the workplace, or might not be able to.

For example, this might be because they’re:

  • worried about catching coronavirus
  • at high risk if they catch coronavirus
  • caring for children
  • pregnant
  • living with someone who has been advised to stay at home by their doctor because they have a serious health condition

The employer should:

  • listen to any concerns staff may have
  • take steps to keep everyone safe at work
  • reassure staff by telling them how the workplace has been made safe

As well as following working safely guidelines, ways to help keep people safe could include:

  • extra car parking where possible so they can avoid using public transport
  • furlough if someone's temporarily unable to work
  • different working hours temporarily to avoid peak times

If someone still does not want to go to the workplace, they may be able to arrange with their employer to take holiday or unpaid leave. The employer does not have to agree to this.

If someone refuses to go to work, the employer could start a disciplinary procedure.

Employees are protected by law from being treated unfairly ('suffer detriment') if they reasonably believe going into work or doing certain tasks would put them in serious and imminent danger.

If the employee is refusing to go into work because they reasonably believe it's not safe and they're then treated unfairly by the employer, they could make a claim to an employment tribunal.

Raising an issue

If an employee or worker has concerns, they should speak with their employer or manager.

Employers and managers should take any issues raised by staff seriously.

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