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james bruce
james bruce, Solicitor-Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 454
Experience:  Owner at James Bruce Solicitors
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I am currently working from home as i can be fully

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Hi - I am currently working from home as i can be fully functional from home during this pandemic - my employer wants us to go back to the office on 1st June despite government guidelines - it is a shared building with other businesses - do i have the right to refuse seeing as i am capable of doing my job from home 100%?
JA: Have you discussed this with a manager or HR? Or with a lawyer?
Customer: Not yet - its difficult as the manager is also my Uncle
JA: What is your employment status? Are you an employee, freelancer, consultant or contractor? Do you belong to a union?
Customer: an employee
JA: Anything else you want the Lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: No

Hello i am James a solicitor,

You can refuse to go back if you believe that there would be a danger in you going to work – and according to Section 44 of the Employment Act you have the right to question safety arrangements at your place of work without recrimination. However if you were to refuse to return, the conciliation service Acas has explained on its website that you would have to have a valid reason for doing so. They have said that if, for example, you are in a high risk group for coronavirus, and would be unable to follow social distancing at work or while travelling to work (on public transport for example), you need to let your employer know this. If you have another reason, such as caring for children or someone who is shielding and you don’t want to risk catching the virus at work and passing it on to them, you should also raise these concerns with your employer ahead of any planned return. People are being encouraged to walk or cycle to their place of work (Picture: PA) They could potentially discuss steps to protect you such as offering car parking space to prevent you having to use public transport, changing working hours to avoid peak time travel or even keep someone who does not want to return on furlough. If you still don’t want to return you could ask for time off as holiday or unpaid leave – but they don’t have to agree to it. Acas also warns that a person could face disciplinary action if they do not have a valid reason not to return to work – even under the current circumstances.

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Customer: replied 13 days ago.
Hi James thank you for your reply - Whilst i understand the above - my employer has taken steps to make the workplace Covid-secure but only in our office - as i mentioned we have a shared office with shared aircon, lifts, entrances/exits, the building has advised they have made it Covid secure also - i think my main question is the government have advised work from home if you can - i can work from home fully functional - im struggling to understand the unnecessary risk of going into the office at this point. I do also live with someone with severe asthma and both my parents are classed as vulnerable (not critical) so my worry is when the government do allow us to see family members am i putting them at extra risk for no reason? Or basically what you are saying regardless if i can work from home my employer can force me to come into the office?