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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 73939
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor
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I have a question about working from home, Manager,

Customer Question

Hi, I have a question about working from home
JA: Was this discussed with a manager or HR? Or with a lawyer?
Customer: Manager
JA: Does the workplace operate with employees, freelancers, consultants, contractors or with unionised employees?
Customer: Employees
JA: Is there anything else the Lawyer should know before I connect you? Rest assured that they'll be able to help you.
Customer: I would like to know what are employees rights if asked to go back to work when they are able to work from home perfectly well, and also if you live with someone vulnerable. Can a business be reported for not following government guidelines?
Submitted: 15 days ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 15 days ago.

Hello, I’m Ben. It’s my pleasure to assist you today. I may also ask for some preliminary information to help me determine the legal position.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 15 days ago.

Can I just check how long you have worked for your employer? and what is the nature of the work you do?

Customer: replied 15 days ago.
Hello, ok thank you
Customer: replied 15 days ago.
I cannot talk on the phone at the moment
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 15 days ago.

The pop-up offering you the chance to request a phone call is automatically generated by the site and you have already paid for a written response so that is the part I will continue helping you with as soon as you can provide the information requested

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 15 days ago.

How long you have worked for your employer? and what is the nature of the work you do? Thank you

Customer: replied 15 days ago.
I am asking in behalf of a family member, they work for a school but in the accounts department. Not sure exactly how long they have worked there but I think it is about 2 years
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 15 days ago.

OK thank you. Is it possible to find out, so that I can best advise?

Customer: replied 15 days ago.
I will ask and get back to you
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 15 days ago.

Thank you. I will receive a notification when you respond with this information.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 15 days ago.

Hi there, for the time being I can still advise without the requested information. The current Government guidance about work states the following:

“You should continue to work from home where you can. If you cannot work from home you should continue to travel to your workplace. You do not need to be classed as a critical worker to go to work if you cannot work from home.”

Be advised that this is only guidance, it is not a law and in the end it is up to the employer to determine the best way to approach this.

The fact that the employer has someone vulnerable living with them does not change things as the employer has no legal responsibilities towards any other members of the employee’s household. Their sole responsibilities would be towards their employee which are as follows:

Employers have general obligations under law to look after the health, safety and wellbeing of their workers and they must do whatever is considered reasonably practicable to achieve this. Many of these originate from The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, which include the following obligations:

- Provide a safe place of work, including safe environment, plant and systems

- To carry out various risk assessments and to control any identifiable risks

- Provide adequate training for any health and safety related tasks

- Provide adequate facilities for staff welfare at work

Under common law, the employer also has an implied duty to provide reasonable care of its workers and that includes the more general obligations of preventing hazards, injury or death.

If the employer has introduced adequate measures considering the specific nature of the work and the risks involved, an employee can only remain off work if they are still shielding or self -isolating, which would only be covered by sick pay.

If there are concerns with health and safety risks or breaches in the workplace, the first step would be to raise a formal grievance to officially bring the issues to the employer’s attention. The outcome of the grievance can be appealed if it is not satisfactory.

If the grievance does not help resolve the issues, it is worth checking whether there is a formal health and safety reporting policy which can be used to make a formal report to the employer, or other appropriate body. The Health and Safety Executive (https://www.hse.gov.uk/) is the central enforcing body for health and safety laws, so any breaches of health and safety can also be reported to them if necessary.

If the employer fails to take the necessary steps to deal with any obvious health and safety issues, or whatever they have done is unreasonable and wholly inadequate, it is also possible to take further action under Sections 44 and 100 of the Employment Rights Act 1996. These provide certain legal protection where employees refuse to come into work because they genuinely believe they are going to be exposed to a serious and imminent danger. If an employee relies on this protection, their employer should not penalise them in any way and if they do, they could potentially challenge it further in the Employment Tribunal.

Finally, if the employee believes that they can no longer continue working there as a result of these issues, they could even consider resigning and making a claim for constructive dismissal in the Employment Tribunal.

Please see here for more details on the above rights:

https://www.pureemploymentlaw.co.uk/coronavirus-workers-health-and-safety-concerns/

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 15 days ago.

Hopefully, I have answered your query in a way that is simple and easy to understand. If anything remains unclear, I will be more than happy to clarify it for you. In the meantime, thank you once again for using our services.